Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Leeks


Our neighbor, Gina, wanted to know if we would like some leeks. She had "too many," she said. Expecting the large supermarket variety from Costa Rica or some other exotic local, I nodded "sure." "Mmmmm," I said to the young woman as she opened the bag, "are you sure those are leeks?" "I think so," she replied, "at least that's what Crazy Fred our handyman told me. He finds them in our woods and cow pasture." Increasingly skeptical and not wanting to risk poisoning my bride, I told her I wasn't sure what they were and would "check them out." Googling" is the operative verb as to what happened next!

It seems in the Blue Ridge area and down the Appalachian chain leeks are known as "ramps." Memories of Euell Gibbons recommending the flavor of pine cones as well as Grape Nuts Flakes came flooding back. Further research revealed a few recipes and much praise of their "delicate and mild" onion flavor. Mmmmm. The cleaning process began early the next morning with visions of fantastic omelette's in mind.

Oh... they were so good. Now I can add them to the list of things to look for in the spring, like morels, that I can hardly ever find. Some time later, I asked Gina how she liked the leeks. She replied that she had "thrown them away." "You didn’t seem too sure about them," she added. Oh dear.

12 comments:

  1. I've heard people speak of the flavor of ramps. Never tried them. Leaks are good, even leak soup isn't bad.
    Marnie

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  2. Well they look good. I have never heard of them before but I would certainly try them.
    Bet your neighbor won't listen to you anymore.

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  3. As you do doubt know, ramps are highly prized around these mountains. People jealously guard their best places for finding them. It is important not to gather all the ramps in one area, but to leave enough to propogate for next year. Some communities even have Ramp Festivals although I've never been to one.

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  4. The Appalachian version of Ramps are not mild. The smell stays on your breath for more than a few days. Cosby, TN has a Ramp Festival. Yep, everything served is cooked with ramps in the recipe. I went once. That was enough for me.

    Leedra’s Photos For Fun

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  5. I've often enjoyed leaks in May. Just about the same time as the trout are hopping and the morrels are popping.
    One nice variation is a trout stuffed with a leak or two cut in half. You can't get much better.

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  6. I remember hearing of ramps some time ago but have never tried them. I guess you'll just have to "ramp" it up a notch now and search out the secret spots where wild leeks grow.

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  7. I've heard of them, but never tasted one. They sound really good!

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  8. Oh, you make my mouth water! Looking at your pics, I can still taste the ramps that we dug in the Alleghenies--early in the spring (when small) to cook with eggs or ham, later in the summer (when fat) for potatoe soup, and that we ate raw so that we would stink so badly the teacher would send us home...[try this and you'll be out in the dogbox with "RapidRickTD."

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  9. Troutbirder, just a note about Big Hole River grayling: a barely viable population (perahps 500 breeding age fish) are barely hanging on. All voluntary efforts to restore habitat and reduce irrigation diversions from the river have been too little too late--e.g. the population has declined by about half in the past 5 years. I am signed on a plaintiff in the Center for Biological Diversity's appeal to the US Fish & Wildlife Service to list the fish under the Endangered Species Act. A settlement is pending, and hopefully will come soon enough to help.

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  10. LOL!! I think there is a moral in there somewhere TB. :)

    I love leeks in soup and did not know that they grow wild like this. How wonderful to be able to go into the woods and pick your own.

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  11. Can't say that I've ever heard of them but that omelette sure looks good.

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  12. Nice photos there. We get them around here as well, but I haven't harvested any yet :)

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