Shirley Conran famously said that life’s too short to stuff a mushroom. Not if you follow the Slow Life it isn’t. But I would draw the line at peeling asparagus, which is what Simon Hopkinson recommends in his new column, “Simon’s Kitchen” in Country Life magazine. In fact I think he makes rather a mess of this simplest of vegetables by recommending that the asparagus, once peeled, should be cooked at a rolling boil for 5-6 minutes. I think that after 5 or 6 minutes the tips will be over-cooked and there’s a danger that the rest will be mushy. Hopkinson is led into this trap by his belief that “there’s nothing worse than undercooked asparagus that crunch when you bite them”. I disagree- overcooked is worse. My method for cooking asparagus is to steam them in a fish kettle, melting the butter at the same time, as shown in this photo. After four minutes steaming the asparagus will have turned a bright green colour and the butter will have melted. Nothing could be simpler, or more delicious.