Posts Tagged With: Corn bread

Celebrate Easter with Trout and Ramps .

It is official spring has come to the Mountain State. Trout and Ramp Season has begone and I am getting excited for the first skillet full of the wild food that is traditional in West Virginia.  My husband’s family have enjoyed fresh trout and ramps for generations. As far back as the family story can remember. The family enjoyed the freedom of the Mountains where tiny speckled fish and ramps are always a part of the celebration spring.

Brookie3_Handy

Brook Trout by Mat Hardy from Trout Unlimited

Often my husband and his father would take off in the middle of April for a trout fishing trip with hopes of also gathering a burlap sack of ramps. The farther from civilization they drove the smaller the trout got and the larger the ramps grew. So off on some deserted logging road on a mountain top, where a small stream started, my father-in-law and husband would be found fishing. The tiny native trout with copper skin and bright orange spots are fighters like anything that lives so far into the mountains.Making an almost freezing morning exciting as the two would wade the stream looking for ramps along the way.

Field of wild growing Ramps

Field of wild growing ramps

When the noon day sun would finally reach the steam at the bottom of the holler they were fishing the two would break for lunch. The two eating pepperoni rolls off the tail gate of an old truck, they would talk about if the fishing was good enough to spend more time in the water or if it was time to trade the fishing poles for a ramp hoes. Neither father or son would want to leave the peacefulness of the rushing spring water but they knew more treasures waited for them on the mountainsides.

Tom fishing on a cold Easter Morning

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County, West Virginia

 

The team would drag themselves up the steep banks of the mountains with a short-handled hoe, looking for clumps of green in the otherwise brown forest floor. If ramps were spotted, one would yell out to the other in the other wise silent woods and the digging would start. Gathering just enough of the bulbs for the family and leaving many to spread out the seeds of future plants.By late afternoon the two would shimmy back down the mossy covered banks to the truck. Fresh fish would be in the cooler chilling, topped with a sack of muddy ramps. The two would ride the bumpy road back home for a fest of fresh spring foods.These foods were almost impossible to get any other time of the year and the deep joy of finally being free from the winter always made the meals more pleasant.

Often the first dinner that we fix of ramps is meatless. Not for any reason other than it seems fitting that such an early spring meal would have also been meatless for  generations of homesteaders of this land. They would have enjoyed a meal of fresh ramps with brown beans, cornbread and maybe if their storage was good fried potatoes. Our ancestors would have celebrated that fresh greens had to grown again and life had returned to the hills they called home.Ramps brown beans and fried potatoes cornbread

So as my family celebrates Easter weekend, I am not only thinking of my Savior and his miraculous life, I am thinking of countless generations of West Virginians who have come before me. I am thinking of the blessings and bounty of another spring and of how to share its traditions and stories with the next generation. How a fish and a sticky bulb were not a trendy food but a way of life for the mountain people of Appalachia and how I can keep the spirit of thankfulness alive.

Happy Easter my friends enjoy Spring !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Corn bread, country cooking, Country life, Easter, fishing, Homestead, ramps, Ramps, trout | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Don’t toss out that ham bone, make Split Pea and Ham soup

I had a busy day today and have been working on cleaning out my freezer. One of the things that I wanted to use up was a meaty ham bone that was in my freezer from this spring. Our family usually has a large ham for both Easter and Christmas and I always save the bone for soup or beans. So today with the high temperatures only reaching 35 F degrees I thought Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with that ham bone sounded wonderful.

 

Splitpea and ham soup corn bread and sweet icetea on a very cold winter night

Split pea and ham soup corn bread and sweet ice tea on a very cold winter night

One of the great things about split peas is that they do not need soaked. I also love that in the slow cooker they cook down in a matter of 5 hours. So dinner was ready as I finished packing up another of the hundreds of boxes we have in the house now. We are packing to move once again but this time I think this is the last move for many years. So this soup was perfect as we work on getting things ready for the 19 mile move. 5 hours in the slow cooker and about ten minutes prep time and we had a great dinner.

For this soup you do need about a one pound ham bone or two ham hocks. They add a wonderful smoky flavor and the meat is a nice contrast to the creamy peas.

Slow cooker split pea with ham soup

1 pound split peas

3 carrots

1/2 large yellow onion

3 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons celery flakes

1 bay leaf

1 meaty ham bone or 2 ham hocks

5 cups chicken stock or 5 cups water with bouillon cubes

Salt and Pepper to taste

Wash and sort peas putting them in the base of a 5 quart slow cooker,

Split peas in slow cooker

Split peas in slow cooker

Then add carrots, onions, garlic, spices and top with ham bone.

split peas topped with vegetables and ham bone

split peas topped with vegetables and ham bone

Cover with broth and cook on high 5 hours or low for 7 to 8. Remove bone, meat should just fall off, then cut remaining meat off bone when cool and add back to soup pot. Usually the soup is pretty salty so salt at the end of cooking. The soup will thicken as it cools so this is one soup that needs to cool just slightly for my family.

I usually make a sweet corn bread or muffin to go with the salty soup. The left overs freeze well and keep the deep smokey flavor. Hope you think of this the next time you have a holiday ham and don’t know what to do with the bone.

Yes, I did say we are moving and that will be a post for this weekend… closing is tomorrow. I will be packing up the computer very soon so my posts will be a little slow for a little while as we get settled again in another home. I will write about all of it soon. Thanks to all the new followers. I am really glad you have joined me and my family on our adventures. We will be moving closer to the mountains and will see more snow in the winter but it will be nice to have several hundred acres of open space behind the house that my family can hunt, forage and hike on!

 

 

 

Categories: Corn bread, Ham, Moving Day, soup, soup | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

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