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Category Archives: Foraging

“Ramp” ing It Up

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It’s that spring ritual for me. If it isn’t asparagus, it’s ramps. If it isn’t ramps, it’s morel mushrooms. And, when they are done, it becomes garlic scapes. Etc. Etc.

I post every year about those fleeting specialties that grace our table in all their glory.

Ramps, last year, for example. That post also mentions the fresh morels from Jenny’s Market. Yesterday when I saw the signs on route 32 for the market, they highlighted the seasonal goodies like the mushrooms.

I have also written many posts on asparagus, and on garlic scapes, but today I want to show another simple preparation with the ramps that were still available at the Silver Spring farmer’s market.

Ramp pesto.

I found a recipe in Laurie Lundy’s amazing book on Appalachia. The book is called Victuals, pronounced viddles, according to the introduction. I also grew up hearing it pronounced at vittles. No matter, it is a very complete collection of recipes and their history in the Appalachian communities.

I ended up using her guidelines for ratios, but using what I had in the pantry.

4-5 ounces of ramp leaves. Three large bulbs. I blanched the leaves. Wrung them out after their ice water bath. Put them and the bulbs in the food processor with about 1/2 cup of pistachios. Added 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Poured in the olive oil while watching it emulsify. A little salt and pepper to taste. I used this pesto on pasta, and on flatbreads. Added it to an omelet with sautéed potatoes. Put a little on a freshly baked potato. I made it twice already in the past two weeks.

Ramp season is fleeting. They are wild, and not agreeable to cultivating.

An interesting fact I recently heard on the newest Parts Unknown. The West Virginia episode that premiered last week. The farmers in West Virginia are paid $2 a pound for ramps that are taken to New York City where they fetch up to $32 a pound. Talk about a markup!

We pay about $4 a bunch to the West Virginia farmers who frequent the Silver Spring market. Those bunches weigh about 5-6 ounces so they are getting around $12 a pound by selling direct to customers here. A big difference in price.

If you get the opportunity to buy from the local communities, they do far better than selling through distributors.

Now, I just need to head up to Jenny’s and get some locally sourced morels.


Rural Development

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The Fairy House Version. Yes, it is fairy house development season out at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday the 23rd at 10 AM.

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I mean, if you were a woodland fairy, wouldn’t you enjoy this waterfront property complete with outdoor seating and water features? The imaginative homes crafted by our local children are always fun to explore.

This event is immensely popular.

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For all ages. And, all skill levels. Just bring your love of the outdoors, and let your children create memories in the forest.

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Details here.

Twilight Hiking for the Family

Out on the Howard County Conservancy trails at Mt. Pleasant. Friday night, 5-7 pm.

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This is the description from the web site.

“Walk through the meadow and along the stream to the woodland campfire ring. Listen to the birds singing at dusk. Gather around the crackling fire and hear legend-stories about the Equinox, sing old-time songs, roast marshmallows, and enjoy s’mores. Hike back in time to watch the sun set over horizon –exactly due west – and hear other interesting astronomical facts about the Fall Equinox.”

You can look for milkweed.

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Or maybe check out all the walnuts that have fallen from the trees along the trail.

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Pre-register if you can, so we know how much food to buy and how many volunteers we may need.

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Loving the fact that we are well into my favorite season around here.

The 4F Club

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Friends. Farms. Families. Foraging. The theme for today’s post. Much of today centered around these words. Like foraging.

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Those wild asparagus that live out by my driveway. I harvested five of them so far this week. Just enough to add to dinner. Which began from my Friends and Farms basket.

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There was a very nice brisket in the basket. As well as some Baby Bella mushrooms. Both showed up in dinner. We did slow cook the brisket on Thursday, but the leftovers became dinner tonight.

As for families. Part of the dinner came from Jennys. Subject of yesterday’s post. New red potatoes. Snap peas.

Part of dinner came from my garden.

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The first spring onions.

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A little sauté. Then an addition of sour cream. The leftover brisket.

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All served with a Friends and Family wine from RdV Vineyards.

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You could call it Beef Stroganoff from another mother. Since it really didn’t follow any Stroganoff recipe.

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It still tasted great, even without the pedigree.

Loving these days with all the markets, farms and my garden kicking into high gear.

The Long Hard Winter

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Today, while making dinner I noticed the deer hanging at the edge of our yard, out by the field. Three of them in all.

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These two, an older and younger doe, were trying to find something in the berry bushes and the trash trees along the property line.

This one, who came later,

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hobbled off towards the evergreens.

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Yes, this one was crippled, and limping. Eating the white pines. Not their favorite food, but just about all that is out there these days. They are coming right up to the house at night.

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The bottom half of this tree is pretty much devastated by them. They have also eaten every piece of young growth on the azaleas.

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With all the snow on the ground, they are desperate to find food. This has been a harsh cold winter.

I have found rabbit scat beneath the bird feeders. That eagle has been hovering around here, looking for something to eat. The hawks are having a hard time, as the fields covered in snow make it impossible to find animals on the ground.

I don’t know the solution to this situation. Only a prolonged period of warming, that will uncover the ground vegetation, can solve the deer and rabbit food source scarcity.

We need the weather to change. It isn’t just the people around here hating winter. I think the animals are fed up with it too.

A Tub Full of Basil

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Plus, lots of other goodness from my gardens.

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This is just the basil from my garden here at home. There is at least that much more out at the Conservancy in my community garden. That basil, I may be giving away to anyone who wants it. This basil, along with some of my arugula

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will become pest cubes for the winter. The arugula and leaf lettuces are coming along nicely. I thin them out every few days. It may be fall but the plants keep on producing.

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This is my “sunshine” tray. It sits by my French doors. I am still getting tomatoes and peppers to ripen. Today I also did a steam cook of peppers and onions, which went into the freezer to save for the dead of winter.

It is close to garlic planting time. And, for those of you lucky enough to have walnut trees

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this seems to be a bumper crop year.

The Harvest Report

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My first year keeping track of what I have harvested.

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I am now keeping a notebook logging in the veggies and herbs that I harvest from my gardens.

The winner so far:

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Scallions. Fifty four of them to date. Thinning out those onions has given me more green onions than I can quickly use. But, that’s a good thing. I use them all the time. The onions in the garden benefit from the thinning.

I also have a dozen spears of asparagus from my forage site. Less than other years, so far. Still, a little bit of asparagus will brighten up many dishes.

17 ounces of greens. Chard and kale, mostly. The row cover makes all the difference.

A dozen garlic scapes from my back yard. And a handful of spring garlic. Add some herbs for garnish. Like thyme, basil and dill.

All in all, not a bad haul for the first month.

Here’s to a very productive gardening season.


Springtime Recipe Inspiration

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I haven’t done a recipe round up in a while. With the explosion of late spring vegetables, I think I should gather together all my links to the dishes, desserts, salads, suggestions, etc. that I continue to mention in my CSA posts.

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Like my garlic scape pesto. Here in the middle of the very fleeting garlic scape season. The simplest version combines a cup of scapes (cut in small pieces), a half cup freshly processed Parmesan, a half cup toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Put fresh Parmesan cut in chunks into food processor. Pulverize. Add scapes, mix. Add pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle oil in until you get the creaminess you want.

As for other things to do with scapes, grill them. Lightly oil them. Put on a really hot grill and keep turning them so they don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper before serving. They melt in your mouth.

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Asparagus. Like the wild ones growing in my yard. They will turn green when you move the mulch. I like a simple dry grill method. Put in a basket. Dry grill for a few minutes. Just before taking them off the grill, brush olive oil on them and light salt and pepper them. Once on the table, shave Parmesan on them.

I also blanch them, then cut in small pieces. Make a simple egg/milk/herb/S&P mix and put into large non stick oven proof pan, lightly oiled. Once it begins to set up, dump the blanched asparagus on top, pick any grated cheese and put it on top and finish in the oven on 350 degrees.

I also put those blanched pieces mixed with any pasta, and a healthy spoonful of any pesto on top. Finish again with cheese.

Am I in a Parmesan rut or what?

Let’s move to strawberries and rhubarb.

Already wrote about that barbecue sauce.

I’ve made sweet desserts like crisps and crumbles, but can’t find all the recipes for them. The Food Network one was used at least once.

Kale. Chard. Greens. Nothing really fancy but lots of inspiration out there.

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Kale chips are fun. Mess around with your favorite spices.

Also, that night I made one of my famous frittatas. Anything with that egg mixture, can be one light fresh seasonal awesome feast.

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I suppose what I am saying here is this. Whatever is the freshest stuff you can find. Bring it home. Lightly treat it. Lots of olive oil, a little salt and pepper. My addiction to parmigiano reggiano.


It’s not yet corn, squash, zucchini or pepper season. Be patient and enjoy what has just been picked.


Fresh Food Overload

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As in too many sources of what came into the house today.

Friends and Farms. Lancaster Farm Fresh. Foraged asparagus. Harvested spring garlic and garlic scapes.

Is it any wonder I get overwhelmed. At least I didn’t pick veggies at Larriland today.

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Scapes and spring garlic. Let’s start with the back yard. I have 18 plants out there. Two, I found to be waterlogged and a loss. Four I harvested today. They were too small to become heads of garlic. Hence, spring garlic. With a couple of scapes in the mix.

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Asparagus. A couple more spears of my wild asparagus. There are two more ready to be harvested in a day or two. Not bad, but this year much less than previous years.

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Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA. This is week three of the spring/summer CSA. I have a half share. Today eight items plus my weekly chicken share.

We got:

Salanova lettuce
Garlic Scapes
Red leaf lettuce
Yellow chard

A whole chicken this week. A Freedom Ranger heritage chicken.

The chard already made it into tonight’s frittata.

As for Friends and Farms.

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This week was my eggs and yogurt week in the rotation. Proteins included chicken breast and a pork chop (destined to become an Asian element of a stir fry).

Green cabbage and carrots. There will be cole slaw.

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That’s because we had a pork butt a few weeks back that is happily becoming pulled pork compliments of 100 days.

The rest of the basket included Asian greens, broccoli, scallions, hydroponic tomatoes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

I like getting small amounts of varied vegetables.

This method of shopping has been interesting, and a challenge to boot. Some days the large amount of greens is intimidating but it’s good for us.


The First Harvests

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It’s always exciting when we switch from planting to harvesting. This year I am keeping a record of what we get, from the multiple sites where I have vegetables and herbs growing.

My favorite microsite is my foraged asparagus.

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At the top of our driveway, where the asparagus is growing wild. Today, I got one new spear, added to the six already picked. Last year I think I counted 42 spears. Let’s see what this year produces. And, yes, that is crape myrtle, with the asparagus firmly entrenched under it.

Up at the community garden, it was time to thin the greens.

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By the way, three inches of rain will penetrate the heavy row cover. The weeds are coming in, so I weeded and thinned today.

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I have mostly kale and chard up there, but did add some recently sprouted arugula. Today’s take. Two ounces. They will grace an omelet this weekend.

Notice the chive flowers. I inherited massive amounts of chives, and a few varieties of sage in our plot. I took the best flowers to use in that omelet, and admired the bicolor sage that recovered after the winter.

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This sage is tiny but my common sage bush is doing well also. I love sage when I make pork dishes, and in tomato sauce with sausage.

Today I was also fighting the pests. On the cucumbers and the eggplant. Potato beetles on the eggplant and cucumber beetles chewing off my young cucumber shoots. Garden Safe to the rescue, we hope. I am on a 7 day schedule with this OMRI approved insecticide. These pests already killed off four cucumber plants, and made a mess of the leaves of the rest.

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If you look behind the plant stick, you will see one of the potato beetles. Soon to meet his maker, like his brethren I squashed that were noshing my pink eggplant leaves. I think I do need to cover the eggplants. And, those are weeds you see. I am trying to keep up with them, but this blasted rain just makes everything grow so fast.

I came home with this.

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Some greens. A few blossoms. The one two foot long asparagus from the driveway.

Tomorrow, I may head out to the garden in the yard and harvest spring garlic. At least three of the eighteen plants in the back yard aren’t that big, and they won’t mature enough before the heat of summer. They will flavor a few meals this week.

Not bad for mid May. I can’t wait for tomato season, but this is a good beginning.


Trying to garden organically is tough, but I will prevail (I hope).