On a frozen Saturday afternoon, one of our favorite things is to curl up and watch “Moveable Feast” on PBS. It is a delightful cooking show, but one of the interesting aspects of the program is that the host, Australian chef Pete Evans, makes “road trips” to the area he is visiting, and likes to use locally grown produce in his recipes. This past week, he was visiting Connecticut, and used an amazing selection of food including fresh honey, organic heirloom pork, and a harvest of baby turnips, tender young beets, and colored carrots that made me wish we could go out and pick something from our own garden! But he used one ingredient that was new to me: ramps. Do you know what they are?
Ramps are a type of wild leek/onion that grow in north-east North America. On the show, they looked like young green onions. The chefs said that the ramps don’t have a very long season, so they are a treasured cooking ingredient. They have an interesting garlic flavor, and on this show, they were pickled, and then mixed with other veggies, like lightly steamed turnips and beets that were cooked whole, leaving the stems and leaves on. How appetizing it all looked! The fresh produce grown in that area, and used by chef Pete and another guest chef, Jacques Pepin, was treated with the joy and respect they might give to very expensive ingredients. It made me realize how lucky we are as gardeners to be able to grow these treasures in our own back yards, and maybe sometimes we don’t fully appreciate them the way we should!
We don’t have ramps in our area, but I looked up some recipes (the pickled ramps intrigued me!) and they suggested using tender green onions or young leeks as a substitute. So if you are wanting to try an adventurous new recipe, maybe this is it! It looked absolutely mouth-watering mixed with those fresh vegetables!
Think about spring when you join us at the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society’s first meeting of 2014 on Thursday, February 20 in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. Our guest speaker will be Frank Woloschuk, a wonderful gardener who will be telling us all we need to know about succulents. As gardeners, there is always so much to learn! Frank works at Skinner Garden Classics, and he is also going to tell us about what’s new this spring! So mark that date down, February 20, and we hope you will join us!
Okay, I know that I am an eternal optimist, always mentioning spring, but we know it will come eventually! To have a bit more of a spring jump-start, and to find out about heirloom seeds and local food producers, plan to attend the Assiniboine Food Security Alliance 4th Annual Prairie Sun Seed Festival on Saturday, February 22 from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. at Dr. Brass School in Yorkton. You will meet people who embrace the concept of locally grown food, and preserving heirloom varieties of seeds. Warren Crossman sent me some information about the event, and there will be exhibits of all kinds, workshops on topics like saving seeds, growing in raised beds, a primer on potatoes, and an overview of the progress of the community garden. There will be a seed swap table, and seed sellers, too. I know I’ll be making a beeline to Agrarian Garden, where Kathy Crossman sells those amazing bean seeds that we bought last year; we had an astounding crop!
Lots to look forward to, gardeners! Have a great week!