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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Last year I posted a call to the ADF-Naturalists email-list for everyone's regional early springtide inventories, tagged with a zip code for anyone wanting to check on the citation's region with Google Maps, etc.... This year, to round up folks' reports of the early-emerging flora, I'm coming-in too late for most of us except for possibly some of the most northernly / colder regions.
My own region is already well under way with our roadsides bristling with Coltsfoot and Japanese Knotweed shoots, the woods now full of Spring Beauties, Dutchmens' Breeches, Toothwort, Bloodroot, Trilliums, Wild Ginger and Jack in the Pulpits...
Having first discovered some last year while rockhounding about 40 min southeast of my (zip 15226) home in western PA, this year I've had an enhanced interest in RAMPS... If you've not encountered them, they're probably best described as wild leeks; garlicky yet much more subtle but strong enough to stand up to un-careful cooking than do garden leeks (which so easily lose their flavor in the cooking). They are not the ubiquitous chives-lookalikes wild onion or wild garlic, seen commonly throughout the east, which typically are waaay too strong for culinary use. Patches of ramps are pretty easy to spot, looking very much like a bed of Lilly of the Valley, just much longer-leaved and taller with their clustered root-bulbs very reminiscent of green onions.
Mid-April is "RAMP SEASON" and during these weekends there are literally dozens of Ramp-Festivals to be found all over West Virginia and adjoining states (and elsewhere throughout Appalachia ). On Saturday last weekend Diana and I went to what was to be personally my first Ramp-Festival, at Mt.Morris in Greene County PA, a mile or two from the Mason Dixon Line. Well, I'd not held my expectations too high and it was just as well - - but it was quaint and fun and did help to get us started... From there we drove about 15 miles further east, over to my rock-collecting site, and dug up a bunch of our own to take home.
On the drive home the atmosphere in the car was already hinting at the thick fog of "rampishness" which would fill our house on Sunday afternoon. Diana roasted a ramp-stuffed chicken with more of them up under the chicken's skin. She also made a big steaming skillet of sliced potatoes and ramps. When the chicken was done she made an amazing chicken-ramp gravy from the drippings. Although the aforesaid ramp-fog was pushing me to the verge of nausea and headache - - when it came time for dinner, all was forgiven... it was simply "ramptastic" !
They're still out there... go get'em !
- EARRACH of Pittsburgh
Posted by Eric C at 7:25 PM