Posts Tagged With: foraged food

Spring foraging and Ramp Sliders

Easter weekend has over the years become a Ramp Feast. ( Ramps are wild onions that grow for only short period of time in the Appalachian Mountains every spring.) This year we struggled to get out into the woods. Cold, rain and snow every weekend made the prospect of taking Christopher foraging a little unpleasant. So we finally got to head out for Morels (a wild mushroom) and ramps this weekend and were surprised with both.

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Cleaned wild ramps ready for cooking

We have missed Morel season the last two years and have come home empty-handed but this weekend we found several and ended up with a few pounds of ramps from a family friends property. This was also our first real trip to the woods with Doc our puppy coonhound. What an adventure we had and what a wonderful lunch the ramps and mushrooms turned into.

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Morel and Pheasant tail mushrooms washed and ready to eat.

Our morning started with a rather long walk into the woods to find the right conditions for Morels and along the way I spotted some wonderful spring sights.

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Red Buds blooming lighting up the dark forest with the bright pink flowers.

 

 

After a few hours in the woods we had our bags were full and empty tummies. It was time to make a lunch with some of our treasures. I made hamburger sliders with sautéed ramps and mixed cheeses. It was fast, easy and delicious.

I used Kings Hawiian sweet dinner rolls for a bun and good quality ground beef. Making about 6 sliders from a pound of beef. The magic ingredient was the wine sautéed ramps. I took about 10 ramps cleaned and sliced them very thin and added them to a skillet with one teaspoon bacon grease, wilting the greens down. When the greens wilted I add 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup Marsala Wine and reduced the heat and simmer with salt and pepper for about 8 to 10 minutes. While the ramps simmered I made and cooked the burgers and topped them with a Colby/ Jack shredded cheese mixture. Assembled it all on a dinner roll with a little mayo and topped with two heaping spoonfuls of wine soaked ramps.  What a pleasure it was to eat and what a joy to make again.

Happy Spring Foraging to all of You!

 

Ramps with bacon grease and Marasal wine

Sliced Ramps with Marsala wine carmelized in bacon grease.

Ramp and Cheese Sliders spring wild food

Wine soaked ramp and cheese slider on a Kings Hawaiian dinner roll.

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Categories: Appalachina Mountains, cheese, Easter, Foraging, Mushrooms, organic food, ramps, Ramps, snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Foraging spring greens and weeds

A friend sent this to me on Face Book just a few days ago. It makes me wonder how many of us really understand how foraging can help control evasive plants. It also made me want to share this with any one who likes foraging for greens. Wild Garlic Mustard is found growing almost everywhere in the Eastern US and can be cooked and eaten like any other bitter green. Another green that is problematic in our area and across the south is Stinging Nettle.  Hardy and fast spreading by seed if given the right  growing conditions these plants crowed out natural flowers and plants . Animals do not like the smell or taste of the Garlic Mustard or Stinging Nettle so they are not controlled by the environmental conditions .

Garlic Mustard Pull flyer

Forest Service Garlic Mustard flyer

 

 

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Wild Mustard in Bloom

If you are in the West Virginia area and have time to help with this problem and enjoy the outdoors and cooking free wild food we could use your help. My family hopes to attend one of these pulling dates and make a nice side dish of Garlic Mustard Cakes when we get home.A dish made from boiled greens drained to remove bitterness, eggs for a binder and Italian bread crumbs fried in brown butter.

April and May is prime pulling time before the plants start to seed and West Virginia could use all the pickers we can find. We are allowed to take home as much of the Garlic Mustard as we wish but they would love for us to remove some of the plants also. For ideas on how to cook the wild greens  follow this link Cooking Mustard Garlic. Hope to see you in the woods picking this spring.

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, community service, country cooking, Foraging, Monongahela National Forest, organic food, regional food, Uncategorized, West Virginia, wild greens | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Bee Hive at a Time

bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm

Bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm 2002

I have spent several years thinking about becoming a beekeeper and this year I will officially have my own hive. I have followed blogs and read books and talked with several beekeepers about the hobby.  I have been supportive in my gardens to feed all pollinators and like any normal person I love honey. So this February I enrolled with about 40 other community members in a Department of Agriculture class titled “Beginning Beekeeping” given through the Lewis County,W.V. Extension Office. The class was what I needed to feel like I can become a responsible beekeeper.

One of the wonderful things about the class was to see who also enrolled in the very inexpensive class.They are the faces of people who I see almost everyday,there were farmers, business owners, teachers, retired state employees, gas men, salespeople and few children all eager to learn how to help the bees. It was an equal mix of husbands and wives and families who all felt the drawn to honey and the plight of the bees. Maybe it was a mixture of love and fear that made all of us trudge to the 4 classes almost 2 1/2 hours long in the cold evenings of February.

Living in an agriculture heavy state bees are a serious topic of conversation.My community worries about the future of our farms and orchards with less pollinators . They want education and they want to help bees.The classes were eye-opening for all of us. According to USDA’s 2014 report open pollinated soybean and apples are our state’s 3rd and 4th largest cash crops. Those two bee loving crops produces $25,708,000 dollars of produce for our state’s economy. This is only the information on registered producers who sell for profit. The effects of low bee populations are dramatic when you add in all the other fruit and vegetables that are lower on the list and all the produce from the back yard farmers that sell or give away their produce. It is overwhelming that all of this money rests on the winged shoulders of our bee population.With bees in decline all of us at this class understood the importance of our attempt on a small-scale to help.

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Honey sweetens the pot for beekeepers who want to also make a profit from caring for the bees. In our class were able to get enough information about bee keeping to think seriously about what we will do with the honey. Our family plans to eat and give away honey with the comb in jars, so we will be doing a more historic and traditional way of processing our honey then many in our class. Most members will be removing the honey with a centrifuge system that should make honey production faster and easier.

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

As spring arrives I will be writing more and sharing photos of our last class where all of us beginners will get a hands on chance to open and split a hive, take a look inside the hive and look at the condition of the queen and the comb. It will be just before then that we should have our hive and begin setting it up in the yard. Around the same time our bees should arrive and we will take the first steps in this adventure. I am looking forward to sharing my new hobby with my husband and two sons. If I am lucky maybe they will also see the value in raising these very important pollinators and will see the overall benefits to our family, community and state. If Christopher finds any interest in the bees he can even use them as a 4-H project to educate other kids about bees, honey and how important they are to our world.  It is because of all people I call my friends that I think together we can make a difference in our environment one hive at a time.

Categories: 4-H, Apples, Beekeeping, Foraging, hobbies, Honey, Preserving, rural life | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Venison, Wild Mushroom, Lasagna

Deer season started today, so to honor my husband and all the wild game he provides for my family, I made this wonderful venison  meal.

I love to cook with wild foods and two of my favorites are Venison and Wild mushrooms. I had a few pounds of ground venison in the freezer from last year and about a pound of frozen wild mushroom from summer.The mushroom I am using is a  Chicken Mushrooms ( Laetiporus- Cincinnatus) the orange verity. I also had home-made Marinara sauce out of the garden. All that I needed from the store was cheese and noodles.

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

This was the foraged mushroom that I had a portion of frozen.

white spore, Chiken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

white spore, Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

The stems of the mushroom can be woody, I saute’ them  chopped in butter with a little onion and garlic before I brown my meat. It can take several minutes to make the mushroom stems soft. I like to use bigger pieces so they do not lose their texture in the cheese mixture. I cook the mushroom mixture a little longer then what it takes to soften the onions. Set it aside to wait assembly of the lasagna.

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

I then brown about a pound of ground venison with a little oil to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Browning ground Venison

Browning ground Venison

Because Venison is so low in fat the moister you see in the photo is not oil but moister from the meat. It will cook off and I add Salt and little pepper and one quart home-made Marinara Sauce or your favorite sauce. Adding 1/2 cup water to store-bought sauce or 1 cup to my thick sauce to add the additional moister for Oven Ready Noodles. If you use regular cooked noodles you would skip the water.

Then mix together in a large bowl the Cheese mixture of your choice. I like ricotta cheese in my lasagna for two reasons. First it has a lower moister content and will not get really runny with the Oven Ready Noodles. Secondly the flavor to me is better when mixed with Italian seasonings.

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Then add sauce to venison and place about 1/2 cup in bottom of 13 X 11 pan cover with uncooked noodles.

Venison marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Venison Marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Cover noodles with cheese mixture and top with sauteed mushroom and onion mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

I then top this with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and cover the top with more venison sauce topping that with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Back in the oven lightly covered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes and let stand at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven. This allows the cheese to set up while cooling and keeps the lasagna firmer when cut and not too hot to eat.

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

Ingredients

1 pound wild mushrooms

1 med onion

1 teaspoon or two cloves garlic

2 teaspoons butter

1 pound ground venison

1 quart or more Marinara sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup fresh shredder Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 1/2 table spoons Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon parsley

1 box Oven Ready Noodles… the non-boil kind

Directions

  1. Saute chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter a minute or two more than when the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Brown 1 pound of venison in large skillet, add salt and pepper and 1 quart of Marinara Sauce. Simmer until warm and bubbly.
  3. In a 13 X 11 backing pan spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup meat sauce in bottom of pan, making sure to cover entire bottom of pan adding more if needed.
  4. Cover sauce with one layer of Oven Ready Noodles.
  5. In large bowel add all but a handful of cheeses. Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and two eggs. Mix until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic salt to cheeses and mix.
  7. Scoop cheese mixture over Oven Ready Noodles and smooth out.
  8. Cover cheese with mushroom and onion mixture, spread evenly cover with 1/2 cup sauce below noodles.
  9. Cover with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and top with sauce, topping with left over cheese.

10.Cover loosely with tin foil  and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

So with high hopes I can fill my freezer again this year with fresh organic meat..best of lucky Tom, Cody and Bill may you hunting season be filled with the joy of nature and thrill of the hunt and the knowledge that you have provided another year of food for your families.

Categories: cooking, deer hunting, Foraging, Hunting, lasagna, mushroom hunting, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Venison, venison Lasagna, venison Lasagna, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seeds, Magical, Mystical and Divine

Yesterday as I stood at the dock of our local feed store, Southern States, I watched small pellets of snow falling in the cold morning air. Yet when I looked closer at the mysterious dust that slowly covered the roof of my car and the shoulders of my sweater I realize that the white dusting is not snow at all but seeds. Seeds are wafting down through the air from the milling machine that I hear grinding away in the loft of the steel building. Some of the pieces appear as crushed corn, others are millet, cotton seeds and shells from soybeans. The mixture is for bird seed, I think, and the finches swoop in, landing on top of a stack of pallets at the end of the dock to steal what no human would want. My hair and sweater  are white in a matter of minutes and the older farmer standing next to me laughs at the sight of our hair white with corn dust. What a strange and wonderful way to start my day. It Reminded  me how wonderful, powerful and mysterious seeds are and what they can mean for us.

Cars at loading dock at Southern States

Cars at loading dock at Southern States

When I returned from Southern States I also started to clean out our garden. Trying to gather up the last of the died plants. The tomato vines,the pepper stocks, the Zinnia stems and a rotten watermelon are all that is left of the work that my garden did over the summer. As I move through the rows I come to Christopher’s Zinnia’s that bloomed like wild this summer. They died in mid bloom by a hard frost about a week ago. They are all that remains standing in the garden and still have seeds in side the brown dead blooms.  I though to myself that I should gather up some of the seeds for next year before the birds discover that in side this wrinkled crusty shell  there lives a hundred small seeds.

Deafd Zinnia Bloom in the Garden 2015

Dead Zinnia Bloom in the Garden 2015

So I gathered up about 12 seed pods and headed to the house to pull them apart. Remembering that before the frost I pulled the last few rounds of green beans off the plants to store as seeds for next year. I have been waiting for them to dry  so I can shuck the seed pods to store them for planting next year. So my garden will be full of green beans again.

Shucked green beans, leather britches or seeds for next years green beans

shucked green beans, leather britches or seeds for next years green beans

Dry Shucked green beans, Leather Britches, or dried white beans

Dry Shucked green beans, Leather Britches, or dried white beans

Then over the weekend my family also gathered the chestnuts and hickory nuts in our yard and the surrounding woods. this means I will have a few for winter cooking. The hickory nuts looked like they were ready crack open their hard shells and begin to grow if only the weather was getting warmer not colder.

ripe chestnuts in the back yard

ripe chestnuts in the back yard

Hickory Nuts with shell

Hickory Nuts with shell

What still surprises me every year that I plant a garden is the power inside a seed. That each one is the renewed life of what was lost only a few months ago. It really should come as no surprise to any of us that we instructed by Dr’s to eat more seeds, get more of our protein from seeds and try to get our oils from seeds instead of animal fats. They hold inside their shells the power and energy to renew life. They are the grand magic that holds with in them all the secrets of our living world. With just a little water and warmth, they begin the life cycle again in hopes that life will continue again, that we will see the spring flowers, see the fruit of their labor and again reap a harvest. It is miraculous that some how every thing we see in nature comes from a seed.

The seed is also one of the most used symbols in religious texts and a common metaphor used for writers and poets. It is the seeds ability to transform from a small brown stone, shedding its shell, pushing through the hard earth and reaching up to grow, that is stunning. How they survive the elements and sprout leaves and roots to one day become some thing enduring that fascinates me. It is hard to believe that about 6 months ago, this was just an avocado pit, a seed, that I lovingly planted in hopes of one day having an Avocado tree of my own.

Avacado tree from seed

Avocado tree from seed

One day the tree will be taller and stronger than me. It should live longer then I do and could produce fruit for generations. It can produce more seeds than we can count and one day may be the parent to a hundred trees. So with in one seed is the energy and potential to create hundreds if not thousands of trees. This is why the great texts  use the metaphor of the seed. To teach us about life, death and rebirth. That nothing really ever ends that it is only a transformation from one form to another. The seed lives in the fruit of the living tree, becomes the hardened seed when death and harvest comes, to sprout and regenerate when the seed roots,and finally grows sharing its new life. If only we could look at our lives in the same way and see the beauty that is found in the seed. That death and life are only part of a greater pattern of events. That life is the bounty of nature and that we are just simply seeds at heart.

popular tree seed pod

popular tree seed pod

Categories: Change, Fall, Foraging, gardening, Nuts, Preserving, seeds, water | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Scraps of Home Made Apple Sauce.

Apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and apple cider vinegar are things I try to make for my family every fall. I try very hard to forage my apples to use in these recipes. I hate to see one of my friends let a tree full of healthy organic apples go to waste. So every summer I start looking around at who has apples that they do not use and try to remember to ask them if I can have them. This summer I was a little unsure of where I was going to get my apples. We moved and I did know to many people who had apple trees in our new area. I remembered a huge apple tree at my favorite public library. Why not ask the librarian of the Lewis Bennett Library  what they were going to do with some of the apples…. it couldn’t hurt to ask right?

So after asking the  head Librarian Karen about the apples, she said no one had asked for the apples and most of the time the apples just fell and made a huge mess on the library side-walk. She let me have as many of the apples as I wanted. The tree is well over 100 years old and they do nothing to maintain the tree so they are again chemical free, of unknown species and cost me nothing, a perfect fit for my foraging personality.

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library the tree is in the right of this photo three stories tall and full of apples

So after a couple of hours with my apple picker in the yard of this historical mansion I had filled my buckets with about 70 pounds of a soft yellow-green apples.

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

Most people call these deer apples and never plan to use them at home but let the deer enjoy them.Today I was able to make 6 quarts of apple sauce from 8 pounds of these little apples.( I have a DIY post about how to make  Home Made Apple Sauce here) They made a very nice sweet apple sauce so I am guessing they are a golden delicious type of apple developed in Clay County West Virginia around the time the house was built.

Quarts of home made cinnamon apple sauce

Quarts of home-made cinnamon apple sauce

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

To make Apple Cider Vinegar I took the peals and cores from these apples and split them between two gallon containers. I left enough room at the top to let water stand over the top of the cores and peals. The apples will begin to ferment under the water’s surface but Some mold may grow if a peal is sticking up to high.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Next I added 2 and 1/2 quarts of warm water that I had added 2 1/2 heaping tables spoons of white sugar to each jar. Making a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water. The sugar helps feed the Bactria to get a good start to the fermentation. It also adds a sweetness to the vinegar. I use most of my vinegar for cooking so I want a strong apple flavor without much sweetness. If I was drinking this everyday I would add more sugar to make to flavor more drinkable. One recipe I read had 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon. It is not necessary to use this much sugar, apples ferment quickly! Apples have a lot of  natural sugars and yeasts that ferment so well it is hard to stop raw apple juice from turning to wine and vinegar in a matter of days with out a chemical to stop the fermentation. Believe me no sugar is really needed to ferment apples, we have had a few drunk cows on the farm from eating rotten apples in the pasture,what a funny sight !

Quart jar and sugar bowel

Quart jar and sugar bowel

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

Here I am trying to keep the apples under the water surface with a small bowel to prevent mold or scum from growing around the top of the jar. I then cover the jars with cloth to prevent bugs or dust from getting into the jars. I store my jars in our laundry room. Where the temp in the summer is more constant much like a cellar. It never freezes but is never as hot as the house on a hot summer day. The best fermentation happens between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Now I wait two weeks to strain out the apple cores and peels. The fermentation will actually take several weeks and the smell of vinegar will increase as the amount of sugar decreases. At about 4 weeks the sugar should be eaten up by the bacteria that converts the sugar to alcohol than into vinegar. At this time you can filter the vinegar to make it look clear or rack it just like wine. I will filter mine with cheese cloth just to remove the large pieces of apple and return the vinegar back to the shelf for two more weeks to make sure that all the fermentation is finished at 6 weeks. If by chance you notice that the apple cider vinegar has a slimy pad floating in it (smile really big)… you have grown a “Mother” or “Scoby” that should be removed and  stored to make the next batch of ACV ( apple cider vinegar) and reduce the time for fermentation to about 4 weeks on another batch.

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

The raw ACV can at this point be bottled and kept in the refrigerator and it will be good up to 1 year. My family goes through about 1 gallon in a year so this is the amount I try to make. If you want to keep it on the shelf for easy storage then the you need to cook and bottle the ACV. The cooking process does two things. It will kill the good Bactria growing in the ACV ( pasteurizing the ACV)  but will also stabilizes it so that you can store it almost indefinitely. ACV is processed like any other canned food with sterile bottles or jars and correct processing times.

So if you are a fan of raw apple cider vinegar you can make this for pennies. I think the most expensive part would be to get containers. Most families do not use as much vinegar as we do so with just an old spaghetti sauce jar ( 1 quart size) and 3 apples you could make enough ACV for at least 6 months. It is just another way to make some thing from free healthy foraged food.

So when I finally get the 18 quarts of apple sauce finished, the 8 pints of apple butter, the 10 jelly pints of apple jelly, and the gallon of apple cider vinegar finished in 6 weeks, I will feel like I stocked my pantry well from these free ugly old deer apples that no one wanted! Here at links to my post on Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Jelly they are also made with free apples and made much like this with a two for one process.

Categories: apple butter, apple cider vinger, apple sauce, Apples, fermentation, Foraging, Lewis Bennett Library, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cream of Potato, Wild Ramp and Ham soup

For anyone who loves spring in Appalachia there is nothing more defining in the spring then the smelly Ramp. A wild onion that many of us in the hills love and look forward too every year. The traditional way to cook a Ramp is to chop up the greens and all, frying it in bacon grease until soft and serve it with the traditional brown beans( pinto usually) corn bread and fried potatoes. I love this just like any hillbilly, but on occasion, I like to use ramps more like garlic and bring out more of their subtle  flavor. I came up with this recipe last spring  after we had a large amount of ham left over after Easter. Ramps are at the peak of their short month-long season during this time of the year and we loved this to use up left overs. I have other posts about Ramps if you want more recipe ideas.

Cream of Potato Ramp and Ham soupe

Cream of Potato Ramp and Ham soup

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

These are ramps that we forage for and then clean and freeze every spring for summer and fall use. Sadly, they never make it to winter because our family likes to eat them to much. So here is another way to eat a small bunch of ramps without using all the greens. A great way to use up wilted ones or some with out the green stems.

 

Ramps and Potatos

Ramps and Potatoes

 

This very simple soup is ready in about 30 minutes and produces about 6 servings..

Cream of Potato,Ramp and Ham soup

1/2 stick of butter

1 cup chopped ramp bulbs and 6 to 8 ramps with tops chopped fine

2 gloves or garlic minced

4 cups water

3 chicken bouillon cubes

5 med potatoes

1 1/2 cups left over smoked ham

3/4 cup instant potato flakes

1 can condensed milk or 8 0z of whipping cream

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon celery flakes

salt and pepper to taste

 

 

I started with 5 med white potatoes peeled and diced into medium-sized chucks and about 1 cup ramp bulbs and about 6 ramps with tops and about 1 1/2 cups diced ham. Make sure that the ramps get well washed to remove any hidden dirt and chop them fine. They are hard like garlic so mince well to make sure they soften quickly.

melt 1/2 stick butter in the bottom of a 5 or 6 quart stock pot add minced ramps with tops and garlic and season with about a table-spoon salt and a dash of pepper. Saute until soft and aromatic about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, 3 bouillon cubes and chunks of potato simmer with Bay leaf about 20 minutes. Until the crisp edges of the potatoes begin to soften into the stock. Then add parsley and celery flakes and about 1 to 2 cups diced smoked ham. The soup appears to have a light green cast to it at this point.

ramps, stock and potatoes simmering

ramps, stock and potatoes simmering

 

Simmer again for about five minutes and then add 1 can condensed milk and about 3/4 cup potato flakes (you can substitute cream here, I usually always have canned milk on hand so I use it). This will thicken the soup and make it creamy without losing all the texture of the potato chucks in the soup. Make sure the potatoes are soft all the way through at this point, try to stab a chuck with a fork. The potatoes should fall apart or smash when stabbed, if not, continue to simmer for several more minutes. Remove the bay leaf and allow to cool and thicken. I wait about 8 to 10 minutes to thicken the soup.If it still seems to thin, add a few more tablespoons of instant potatoes and add more pepper if needed. Once you add the milk the color appears more of  a light tan with the green floating in the soup. Beware, if you add to many greens to the soup it will turn a wonderful grass-green color. I made a batch this way and a couple of my friends felt put off by green soup, so you may want to limit that amount of greens you add.

soup with condensed milk added

soup with condensed milk added

 

This soup also brings out he aroma of the ramps so if you are not completely used to the smell of roasting garlic or of fresh ramps you may not find the aroma of this soup appealing. Our family on the other hand looks forward to the smelly little guys and knows that with that scent comes a wonderful taste of spring. I hope you enjoy and eat more Ramps.

Field of wild growing ramps

Field of wild growing ramps

 

Categories: country cooking, Foraging, Ham, ramps, Ramps, soup | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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