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April 26, 2011

The wonders of Wild Ramps / Leeks

Filed under: Food,Wild Edibles — Tags: , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

During one of my long runs for my marathon training a couple weeks ago, I was running through a woods trail and I ran past what seemed to be a field of greens that popped up almost overnight, I had been through about 3 days earlier and there wasn’t anything green, and all of a sudden, 4 inch tall plants.  I stopped for just a moment to investigate and I quickly realized that these are the wild ramps that I keep hearing about (I broke off a leaf, and it smelled very much of onions).

I had never heard of ramps until this last year, which seemed odd to me because its the kind of thing I normally seem to know about.  However it turns out I have just always known them as Leeks.  As far as I can tell, ramps and leeks are the same thing, it seems like if you find them up north they are called leeks and further south they are called ramps.  I found a couple references that mentioned they may be different plants, but they are so closely related it would take an expert to tell them apart.

Ramps are an easy wild edible for you to safely identify, wild onions do not have any real poisonous look alikes, as long as you can break a leaf and it smells like an onion, and the same with the root, it will be from the onion family and is edible, if you pick something that the leaves or root does not smell like an onion, you have found something else that I wouldn’t suggest eating!

So for the past two weeks, Meagan and I have been having ramps in everything.  I picked a bag full a couple days after I initially found them, and then I have since been back and picked another good sized bag of them.  These are a great edible, because of how easy they are to prepare, and the fact you use the entire plant, not just the bulb or root of the plant.  For the most part, we have been just chopping the whole plant up to use in stuff, we haven’t been treating the leaves and the bulbs different.  The only place we used one or the other was in some BLT sandwiches we had tonight, we just cut the leaves off to put in with the lettuce in the BLT.

We have probably done a dozen meals so far with the ramps, but to just highlight a couple of them:

The above picture is of some perogies we made, they are just frozen perogies we prepared, we then stir fried some portabello mushrooms in butter and at the end we added some fresh chopped parsley (from the aquaponics) and we tossed in the ramps.  You don’t want to cook the ramps, you just want to wilt them.  Put the perogies together with the mushroom and ramps, then add some fresh chopped tomatoes and a bit of sour cream and you have an easy awesome meal!

This picture is just a simple baked potato with shredded extra sharp cheddar, sour cream, and some diced ramps.  Also we found that using Hawaiian pink sea salt really brings out the flavor.  Also on the plate is the prepared ramps, just dice up a couple of those per potato and you are good to go.

We are already dreading the end of the ramp season, we still have a few weeks left, but we are getting quite spoiled by having a nice bag full of them any time we feel like getting them out.  You could substitute green onions for them most places, but they are way more expensive (especially since the ramps are free if you can find them!), and the ramps do have a unique flavor all their own.

April 25, 2011

Picture of the week (Trout Lily)

Filed under: Picture of the week,Wild Edibles — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 6:13 am

I have been very busy the last couple weeks trying to get out and find as many wild edibles as I can.  Last Thursday I headed out on my Kayak and went down to one of the islands on the Chagrin river to explore it and see what I could find there.  Wow, I found so much.  I am still working to identify a bunch of what I found last week.  One plant that I just learned about this year is the Trout Lily, I have been finding Trout Lily’s all over the place now that I know what to look for, and they have made a nice snack while I am out, the bulb root is edible on these and it tastes a bit like cucumbers.  However from reading Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, you only want to eat a few of them as Trout Lily’s can have the effect of being a mild emetic (A substance that induces vomiting, like syrup of ipecac), however you would only run into that if you were to feast on the plant from my reading.

Also of interest, all of the greens in the background of this picture are wild onions.  Almost the entire island was covered in them!

April 19, 2011

Lake Erie Sunset, Take 2

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

Yesterday I posted a picture of the sunset of Lake Erie, however I couldn’t just post one picture, I took about 40 pictures while I was there.  Today I thought I would post up one of the pictures I got with a large spray coming over the breakwall there.  I hope you enjoy the picture, I have many more I would love to post, but they tend to start looking the same after a bit :-).

April 18, 2011

Picture of the week (Lake Erie Sunset)

Filed under: Outdoors,Picture of the week — Tags: , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

As I was driving past one of the small parks on Lake Erie last evening, I saw a beautiful sunset in progress, though I missed the best part of the sunset by about a minute.  I didn’t have my regular camera with me, so I had to use my iPhone, but I got some great pictures anyways.  We had quite the windstorm over the weekend (We didn’t have power at our house for about 9 hours on Sunday!), a constant wind like that always makes some really nice waves out on the lake.

April 4, 2011

Picture of the week (Marsh Grass)

Filed under: Picture of the week,Wild Edibles — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I got this picture while I was out scouting for wild edibles last week, I loved the way the head of this marsh grass looked against the sky.  In this area, you will find this particular grass growing almost anywhere there is water, I have been out trying to find a place where I can pick cattails, but everywhere I go is just packed solid with this marsh grass.  I decided to do some research on this and found out its technical name is Phragmites, and it appears that it is an invasive species (Which doesn’t surprise me with how prevalent it is here).

I was a bit surprised to find out however that this is a wild edible, I haven’t taken the time yet to try it, but I will in the near future.  From my research it appears the new shoots are edible in the spring (you peel off the hard outer layer, and the inner part is edible), and the roots of it are edible as well.

If you didn’t recognize it from the shot above, here is a picture that shows the full plant.  Looking back, this marsh grass has made it into a picture of the day before, it is the tall grass you can see in the background on my very first picture of the week I did on the blog here (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2010/05/picture-of-the-week/).

April 2, 2011

Marathon Update – 17 Miles & Mud

Filed under: Running — Tags: , , , — Marcus @ 12:48 pm

Its been a tough couple of weeks running wise, I am trying to get adjusted to running outside and I missed another of my long runs last week (I ran 13 miles instead of the 16 I was supposed to).  This week I didn’t make it out for my two shorter runs because I was too tired to do it (And I have found that is when I tend to get hurt).

However, I feel that I made it back on track all in one run today, today was a 17 mile run, the furthest I have gone before today was 15 miles, and I didn’t do so well with that run.  However today went very well, this was also my first long run I have done outdoors, my longest run outside before today was 8 miles, and that was the run that triggered my bout of Peroneal Tendonitis (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2011/03/marathon-update-ouch-peroneal-tendonitis/).  I decided to just go for it today and try a really long run outside because I couldn’t face spending 3 hours running at the gym and probably having a really awful movie on.

While I was out a couple weeks ago scouting places to take my wild edibles group, I found out that I could string together trails at three different parks here along with a few miles of running through some nice neighborhoods, I decided to give that one a run today, it turns out the route is 6 miles each way which is a great distance.  I get to run along two different trails that are along lake Erie and about 2 miles of trails going through the woods.

Having a long trail that goes through very interesting areas made all the difference in the world, running back and forth on a boring route makes it really easy to decide that you are going to cut things short, but with the longer run, you have the knowledge that you are upwards to 6 miles away from your car and that the fastest way back is to run :-).  The miles were pretty easy up until about mile 13-14 where my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back hurt.  Though I realized pretty quickly that it actually hurt more to walk than to run, so on I pushed.

Going through the woods there was a ton of mud, there were fairly long stretches I had to walk, but the walking was every bit as challenging as running as they were really slick.  I ended up running over several roots that hit my arches well I ran and I found out that was about the most pain I have ever felt in my feet (The roots were under leaves so you couldn’t even see them, evil!).  However even with the mud and the pain from the roots, it was well worth running through that section of woods because it was such an interesting trail.

I am still going to physical therapy, I am going every other week.  The girl I am working with there has been working on getting me more flexible, and most importantly working the knots out of my calves.  There is a very noticeable difference in my runs before and after I go to physical therapy.

So there you have it, it turns out I can run 17 miles, and I am feeling much better about my marathon to know that I am back on schedule, these distances are hard, but that is expected.  We will see how I feel tomorrow though (The day after a long run tends to be brutal).

April 1, 2011

Kayaking across ice

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 6:14 am

So I have been itching to get out on my kayak this year, I bought a wetsuit that came in last week and I have been looking for a good opportunity to get out there.  Last night on my way home I decided to give it a run.  The new wetsuit works great!  I was able to kayak down to Anchor Island (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2010/08/kayaking-exploring-geocaching-nice-way-to-start-the-day/), and then I headed down to lake Erie.  The lake is not really frozen, but there is a lot of ice out there that is pushing into the river, this picture shows me in the Chagrin River and you can see the outlet into Lake Erie.  The ice was fun because you would just paddle really slow and the ice would kind of move around you, I didn’t go that far into it because I didn’t have a lot of time before dark, but I am glad I got out before all the ice was gone.

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