While attempting to figure out 'what's next' (Build a kitchen instead of renting? Go work for someone else?), Spring came along and told me to hurry up.
The month of April and the first half of May saw me house & dogsitting which conveniently offered plenty of time to hike around local wooded areas giving myself and the dog some much needed exercise. While we walked (or in Folly's case, chased wild turkeys) we watched the ground for constant new growth and did a little soul searching.
#UglyIsBeautiful Although not wild, the grassy asparagus is now popping up in the gardens I'm attending this year. Some are straight; some not so much. Tip: sometimes with young crowns of asparagus there are teeny tiny spears that sprout and want to fern. Advice I received from an asparagus farmer was to cut them off - you don't want anything going to fern right away (as long as the crowns are old enough to harvest).
It was really important to me to be able to grow my own food this year. Plans fell through in early spring (I should've listened to my gut!) and fortunately I was able to make other arrangements. The idea is to not only grow enough to eat, but also enough to play around with and experiment with different cooking and preserving techniques. It can be expensive having to purchase an extra pound of this or that to see 'what happens' and growing it myself will lower my food bills. This also gives me the opportunity to grow vegetables and herbs not available at local farms.
Asparagus, ramps, and mushrooms combined with HOPE Eco-Farms Shepard's Harvest cheese, Marquis wheat sour-pizza-dough, goat cheese, and the bbq. Pizza doesn't have to be just tomato sauce and mozzarella. Besides the black pepper and olive oil in the ramp green pesto, this whole pizza is composed from local ingredients.
What to do with all those ramps? Some are being fermented and pickled; some are quick pickled and sealed in jars; some of the leaves were dried; some are in a spring kimchi with other seasonal vegetables; and some will be roasted and combined with cheddar cheese in sourdough bread baked in the wood-burning oven. I also eat them sauteed/grilled/roasted for dinner.
Food can conjure up many emotions and memories with just an aroma.
On the last ramp foraging day I told my neighbour what I was up to. When I came home he asked me how I did (thought I was exaggerating about how many ramps there are) and I gave him a handful with big, pungent bulbs. Off he went into his kitchen and not ten minutes later he came back out to sit on his patio and relish his sandwich: butter, ramps, slice of cheese, and salt & pepper. He remembered eating them all the time as a kid. I thought it was sweet he offered me a bite!
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.