Preparing asparagus is a snap -- literally. For slim, tender stalks, all you need to do is snap off and discard the woody base.
For thick stalks of asparagus, peel away the tough outer layer. The easiest way is to grasp the base of the asparagus in one hand and use a vegetable peeler in the other, carefully peeling toward (but stopping short of) your hand and rotating the asparagus as you peel. You'll wind up with a short piece of stalk with the peelings attached; you can easily snap it off at the point where the peeling stops.