Wild leeks, aka ramps – Foraging for local food is always in season

Wild Leeks, (Allium tricoccum) also known locally as ramps, grow wild and fairly abundantly here in our Eastern Ontario woods. It’s a spring delicacy to look forward to each spring, easily harvested before the blackflies arrive, and prized for their culinary value because they’re versatile to cook with, and so very tasty!

Foraging food from the woods is a joy everyone should experience and leeks never disappoint! There are dozens of ways to cook and eat them.  From omelettes to pesto, soups, sandwiches, salads, or even pickled, and that’s just for a start, foodies are coming up with new ways to enjoy leeks all the time.

With that in mind, and after perusing through some food photos on Pinterest, I was intrigued by Hassleback potatoes enough to make them. Thought they’d be the perfect candidate for my leeks harvest, too.

I washed the harvest, chopped them up, squeezed some lemon juice on them and voila.. (see photo!). I stuffed the potatoes, which look like edible accordions, along with the baked chicken thighs, which were also stuffed with mushrooms, goat cheese and the rest of the ramps. Delicious!

If you don’t have access to leeks where you are, I am offering several tasty culinary goodies from my harvest at the store. We’ll have our own hand made, locally sourced and locally created herbal Vinegars and condiments available again this spring, while supplies last,  which offer a taste of these delightful plants.

With regards to the leek pesto I created, silly me forgot to take a photo. In any case, here’s an easy recipe (below) that anyone can do.  It is lovely drizzled all over fresh pasta or spread on some crusty baked bread. Nice as a dip or on salad, too!

The directions are similar to a basil pesto, but with a substitution of leeks. One could experiment and add both!

Ingredients:

  • Dozen leek leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts (roasted)
  • (optional) 1/2 cup of fresh parsley

Combine in blender and mix to a smooth paste. Enjoy!

Happy foraging, but please note: Don’t take more than necessary from the wild. Take a few, but leave most behind. – Thank you!

Gardening experiments on the windowsill

With the proper amount of sunlight, basil (pictured here), and other culinary herbs can be grown year round on a windowsill.

The ability to pinch fresh foliage from herbs grown in my kitchen for flavouring recipes during winter months has become less of an experiment and more of a necessity in our house!

Beyond that, there are many simple gardening experiments people of all ages might enjoy. Many of us may recall planting bean seeds in cup with wet paper towel during grade school in an effort to see how they’d grow.

When the mood strikes, I plant seeds from fruits and veggies purchased from the grocery store, especially during winter, just to see if anything will happen!

That’s where the potato in the photo comes in. I simply cut it in half and placed it on the dish in a bit of water. Since it’s actually sprouting, I’ll go a step further this spring and plant it outside in a container to see if it will produce an actual crop!

The other picture here is a container by our kitchen sink where I’m growing Amaryllis seedlings.

A few weeks ago I was enjoying some of the sweetest of Clementine oranges from Spain. Those delicious fruit had many seeds in them so I (somewhat mindlessly), stuck a few seeds into the soil. In all honesty, I completely forgot about them until I went to water my plants the other day. I saw the sprouts emerging  and was absolutely tickled. Next thing you know I began to envision a lush tree full of those lovely fruit growing in my dining room, and me plucking them at will off the branches. Talk about an active imagination!

However, with a positive outlook and an open mind, I’ll likely continue experimenting with these kinds of benign windowsill gardening trials, and encourage my fellow gardeners to give them a try, too!

Spring is in the air…!

A big welcome back, spring… you’re my favourite season of them all. You’re full of potential and a new start to another year in the garden. I can hardly wait!

Yes I know.. we’re supposed to enjoy each season as it arrives and at first I really do try. But as the weeks drag on and while the snow piles up, admittedly the only thing that gets me through winter is looking at beautiful landscaping pictures on Pinterest.  That, and planning what changes and additions I can make in my own garden.

The photos I’m sharing here are actually crocus pictures from last April. We still have much snow on the ground in my neck of the woods, but with the equinox on our doorstep there is light at the end of the tunnel!

So, like many other like-minded itchy green-fingered people living in a northern climate, I shall celebrate the official beginning of spring by sowing and starting some seeds indoors.

Happy Spring!