Still from "A Place at the Table"
For the May Chronogram, I wrote about three movies that deal with food in various ways. Two documentaries, one about hunger and the other about small farms under siege by the USDA, and a drama about a couple who forage mushrooms for restaurants in New York City. They are all well worth checking out.
This is a shot of my little ramp patch. (Likers of the blog on Facebook already knew that; just saying). I planted these about four years ago, near the stream, under some trees. They have taken hold quite well, and are beginning to spread. It’s hard to resist pulling them up, but I do, so they will continue to multiply. What I do instead is to cut one leaf off, leaving the rest. Thus do I get to have my ramps and eat them too.
*Edit* It’s worth mentioning that they like to be under deciduous trees, not conifers, and thus be mulched naturally with leaves. Full sun is not advised. They evolved to thrive on forest floors, near water, so do your best to provide them with that sort of environment. The North side of your house, mulched with whatever you rake off your lawn, can work. I tried a few spots and this was the clear winner.
While the rest of the world goes bananas for them, remember that growing your own is the only sure way to protect wild populations from the depredations of both amateur and professional foragers. Ramps spread slowly, and can take years to recover from overeager harvesting. If everyone eats wild ramps, they’ll disappear. Cultivating your own patch(es) is the way to go. They transplant well, especially earlier in the season, so when I do forage them I always set aside a meaningful percentage to stick in the ground. Over time this should wean me off of foraging. Bulbs can also be ordered from here, the only commercial ramp farm that I know of in the country, though the season has passed and you’ll need to wait until February to order.
A trip to the market yesterday for some fish yielded a couple dozen beautiful mahogany clams and, at the behest of the child, a lobster. He loves to peer into the tank and tell the fish guy which one he wants. The clams were twelve cents each, which is wonderful, so I was OK with shelling out (get it?) about thirteen bucks for a lobster we could all share. And the chowder I had decided to make as soon as I saw the clams would welcome the addition of lobster to make it a fancier Sunday dinner.
Keep reading Fuck The Yankees…
There are plenty of arguments in favor of gardening, and they’re all important. Exercise, connecting with nature, saving money, controlling your food supply, eating food at the pinnacle of freshness, learning to ferment to handle the surplus, and so on. It’s not like I need to make the argument. But for me there is one overarching reason that trumps all the others combined: inspiration.
Keep reading IT’S ALIVE…
I’m still not done with charred scallions; a fat and unruly bunch still remains from my spring cleaning of the garden prior to the new load of compost being spread around for this year’s planting. I’m going to plant twice as many this fall, and leave them unprotected and neglected all winter just so I can have even more next spring to char and chew and enjoy while I mutter insults about all the wimpy vegetables that can’t endure the intemperate hardships of our climate and still make for such sweet eating come the thaw.
Keep reading Green Onions…
Among the many pleasures of spring are the season-straddling meals, which retain some of winter’s rich comfort quality while opening up to the verdant splendor of new growth. And morels. Lots of morels. Throw in a duck leg, some transformed leftovers, and kumquat/absinthe marmalade, and you’ve got yourself an exemplary dinner.
Keep reading A Leg Up…
Fresh morels, sautéd in butter with wild garlic, white wine, heavy cream, and herbes de Provence, make excellent crostini on homemade sourdough.
Oh, and I just saw that Edible Hudson Valley has the last issue online. You can read my piece about Tuthilltown’s fire and their new gin, and also my article about homemade vinegar. I also took the photos for both. Enjoy.
Shrimp and saffron are a magical combination. Flowers and shellfish have an affinity in general; I remember Grant Achatz telling me that it was one of his favorite combinations when I praised his dish of scallops, lilac, and lavender during our meal at Alinea in 2009. Now that flowers are beginning to appear, this is a combination I plan on exploring further in the coming months. Keep reading Shrimp And Grits…
I’ve written before about leeks in vinaigrette being one of my all-time favorite appetizers. Leeks have a particularly savory completeness to their flavor, an almost meaty umami element that’s extremely compelling and addictive. They take well to all forms of cooking, and their silky texture when perfectly done—slick layers sliding apart under the fork—is hard to beat for sensual pleasure in the vegetable kingdom.
Keep reading Know’st Thou Fluellen?…
For the April Chronogram, I wrote a piece about making one’s own maple syrup and the many other wonderful things that can be done with maple sap.
Photo by Jennifer May