Foraging

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With spring comes a season for foraging. The other day my husband, Paul, and I went for a walk and came upon a woodland field full of ramps. In case you are not familiar, ramps are the equivalent of wild leeks. They grow in large masses in early springwoods. When I see ramps I feel a tingle of hope, realizing that life has again been reborn.

The moment Paul and I crawled under the fence into the woods my nose started to wrinkle.

“I think a skunk must have just been here.” I said. “What’s that smell?”

Paul knew better. “Those are the ramps.”

“But I never smelled them before. Why now?”

“It must be a bigger patch,” he answered nonchalantly. His head was aimed at the top of the hill, trowel and plastic bag in hand. I followed.

We kneeled down on the damp earth, and dug a few patches.

“Let’s get enough for a few ramps quiches and some ramps pesto,” I urged. I had just come across a really easy recipe and my mouth was already watering at the thought of pasta pesto with ramps. Here it is:

Ramps Pesto
2 bunches ramps, washed, trimmed and chopped in ½” sizes
¼ cup parsley (optional)
¼ cup raw cashews (or pine nuts)
¼ cup grated parmesan or Asiago cheese
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (more if needed)
salt & pepper to taste.

Mix all together in the food processor until it reaches a granular puree. Add more olive oil if necessary.

Store in fridge.

Makes about 1 cup.

We made pesto that night and put it on some gluten-free pasta. It was delicious. I’m still savoring the taste. Warning: Within a day after, I also smell it when I sweat! Happy foraging…

What is your favorite food to forage for? 

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22 Responses to Foraging

  1. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hey Eileen and Paul, You two are having fun on your romps! Paul looks great and he owes it all to Eileen for sure! Hurrah to Eileen! I do not forage, but my parents’ next door neighbors, The Frothinghams used to like morrells! I think it was in there New England blood– morals do mushroom, don’t you think? Actually, I do pick up silver shells and sea glass on my summer
    walks at Old Silver. Well, on to my herb garden planting. Have fun…

    • Judy Wallick says:

      Elaine~ trying to figure out which Frothinghams were your parents’ neighbors. Where were those morrells? Hank Frothingham and I, coincidentally, are enjoying ramps pesto and ramps on pizza, eggs, etc. I dug them in VT.

    • See glass and silver shells sounds heavenly! Isn’t it amazing how mesmerizing they can become? And then when we get them home … where to put them all? I have a friend who keeps a large glass bottle filled with her sea glass, and another friend who puts little piles of shells and stones on the corner of each riser of her stair case. I do a version of that with mine. Good luck in your garden!

      • Sea glass and silver shells sounds heavenly! Isn’t it amazing how mesmerizing they can become? And then when we get them home.. where to put them all? I have a friend who keeps a large glass bottle in her kitchen window filled with her sea glass, and another friend who puts little piles of shells and stones on the corner of each riser of her stair case. I do a version of that with mine. Good luck in your garden!

  2. Matt S. says:

    I LOVE ramps, and will forward you a photo from another Vermonter of his (secret) patch “somewhere near Bethel.” I love them lightly sautéed with fiddleheads! My mouth is watering just thinking about them…

  3. Sue Dixon says:

    Eileen: I’m enjoying your blog! My grandfather was a intrepid forager and I have many cherished memories at his side gathering mushrooms, nuts and other gifts of nature. Thanks for sharing a recipe.

  4. Diane F says:

    Happy to see you are ramping up the romps!

  5. martin rosen says:

    thanks for taking us along on your tramping and ramping…
    martyand joan rosen

  6. Nancy says:

    You are so lucky. I wish we had them. I tried them at a function last spring. The chief told us where and how to find them. I came home and asked Mike and Tony if they had ever seen them in our woods. I will remember to remind Mike to look. I did see Trillium today. That was a joy in itself.

  7. Trillium are some of my favorite wild flower. I especially like the burgundy colored ones.

  8. joaneee says:

    An old man was walking down the beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.

    As the old man approached the young man, he asked; “Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?” The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish, exclaimed the old man. “How can your efforts make any difference?”

    The young man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said;

    “It makes a difference to this one!”

    What a lesson to be learned here!!

    I love this Maine story and the Anne Morrow Lindbergh quotes from her book are as special as could be . . . but love it when you collect just a certain color of sea glass – I like the pale blue and then display it in a beautiful vase — mine is thick glass rectangle and it is so eye catching.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this story Joan. It is a great one. I loved Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book and am glad to be reminded of this piece of wisdom. Sea glass is indeed a beautiful thing to collect.

  9. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Eileen,
    CORRECTION: Please note that the word “there” should read “their” in my entry. I have never ever made such a ridiculous stupid grammatical error. Sorry to clog your book blog with a dumb error.

    By the way could you please let Judy Wallick that Richard and Dr. Helen Frothingham were
    my parents’ next door neighbors. Richard was a Harvard graduate who worked in MA banking and passed away at 94 years of age. a long time ago. Helen, his wife, earned her doctorate degree later in her life. They were extensive travellers and may have foraged all over the WORLD.

    waiting for next week’s post from you…

    • Elaine, if this is the most ridiculous grammatical error you have ever made, then you must be some kind of a genius! I can assure you that 1. I didn’t know tis it, and 2. would not in the slightest have judged you for it.

      I’m afraid I don’t know Judy Wallick or Richard and Dr. Helen Frothingham. How is it you think I might know them?

  10. I remember the survival trips we had at Treetops camp. Mostly we ended up surviving on blueberries and cattail roots. Too bad the ramps were not near our rumps.

  11. Louise Gilbert says:

    Woe is me–no ramps to romp for in Marin County…..that I know of…they look delicious and thanks Eileen for the recipe….have you tried making scrambled eggs with ramps and feta cheese? Take care and Paul is looking great! hugs. Louise

  12. I have made ramps with scrambled eggs but next season I will definitely add feta cheese! Thanks for the hint! I’m writing from Germany, where Paul and I are doing a roots trip for him. I’ll write more about that for next week’s post.

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