Yesterday I had an idea we should go out and look for ramps (a type of wild leek). I had a spot in mind, and it's always fun to go hiking with a goal. I'm quite interested in foraging; in California finding my first golden chanterelle mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns got me curious to learn more. I'm not very good at sitting still, so line fishing doesn't interest me much. I did set a crab pot a few times off my kayak, but while I loved looking at them up close, I did feel a certain guilt about the cooking process (although I didn't feel bad about the eating part!). So foraging for plants is my preference.
Ramps are wild leeks that are among the first plants to pop up in spring. They are alliums, in the same family as garlic and onions. Ramps have become pretty popular for foragers and in many places are over-harvested. The best way is to just take a small amount of what you find in the wild, and only take a few leaves instead of the bulbs or roots. They are quite distinctive with sharp-tipped leaves and purple stems, but the most distinctive thing about them is the smell. It's extremely strong, just a few leaves gave my backpack quite a nice odor. Somewhat garlicky, oniony, wild.
I made a ramp butter with my leaves. I considered using them in a stir-fry but didn't want the taste to get lost. It was a simple recipe with sauteed ramps, then butter and a little lemon and salt in the food processor. I can't wait to try it on salmon and bread tonight!
Other highlights of the walk: sycamore seed pods, a fire hydrant that won't be putting out any more fires, Virginia bluebells just starting to bloom (The bushy green plant, I'll admit I did keep hoping they were actually ramps), and a pair of black-capped chickadees.
Here are a few pics, plus a throwback of my old crab trap!