The artichoke on the right is fresher than the one on the left. Notice the bright green color and tight head on the right, very little browning of leaves. The artichoke on the left has shrunken, collapsed on itself, indicating a loss of moisture and freshness.
The top quarter is trimmed away and discarded, and the cut edges rubbed with the fresh lemon half.
Tear away the tough lower leaves, and use a paring knife to trim the rough edges. Note the stem in the background, with the brown end. Cut the brown end off and discard, and use a paring knife to peel away about an eighth of an inch all around.
Photo on right of trimmed Stem.
Acidulated water keeps the trimmed artichoke from oxidizing.
Halved artichoke, choke scooped out with a serrated grapefruit spoon. The choke is aptly named, prickly and inedible.
Carbon steel wok with water coming to a boil, lemon slices as an aromatic.
Halved artichokes in bamboo steamer, with peeled stem alongside.
Bamboo steamer with lid on, water boiling, and artichoke halves cooking for not quite 20 minutes.
Cooked artichoke halves with sliced stem, and lemon butter for dipping.
Please see my April 24, 2013 column in the Fort Collins Coloradoan describing cooking directions, and recipes for Blender Hollandaise and Lemon-Butter Sauce.