Monday, 9 April 2012

ramps and spring ephemerals

Last weekend my daughter Alex and I went for a walk in two different woods. Both were predominantly hardwoods but the first had lots of hemlock and cedar and the second was an archetypal sugar bush. Lots of lovely spring ephemerals: bloodroot, hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, blue cohosh, trillium in bud and ramps (or wild leeks!). About a month early for everything.

Blue Cohosh


 We happened to have a spare "doggie bag" and so were able to pick some leeks. Ramp foraging is quite contentious both because they are an at risk species and very slow growing. It can take them 8 to 10 years to propagate by seed.  Division by bulb is faster and that is the source of the controversy. Quite often foragers have felt it necessary to pick the bulb since the leeks are so small. Ramps have disappeared from Manitoba and commercial harvest and sales were banned in Quebec a few years ago.

Ramps on the woodland floor
Alex knew we needed to pick by pinching the stem at ground level (leaving the bulb)  and taking just a few from each clump.

We used them to make a fabulous vichyssoise with some of last year's Yukon Gold potatoes and chicken stock I had canned a couple weeks ago. Tonight we had some lightly sauteed in olive oil as an accompaniment to salmon. And tried a wild leek pesto to freeze for a taste of spring next winter.

Here's an interesting blog post on wild leeks - scroll down to the third entry:

And finally, a great sighting, the first in 22 years - two trumpeter swans. Apparently they mate for life, certainly their movements were sympatico. They were like synchronized swimmers.

A Pair of Trumpeter Swans

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