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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.

#hocofood