My older brother and his family came to the mountains from their home on the coast of South Carolina for spring break. Of course, dogwood winter showed up to greet them with a blast of cold air that pretty well froze their thin, southern blood! Nevertheless, we got out to enjoy a hike with some spectacular views. Then, having earned […]
It’s ramp season once again! The patch on my neighbor’s property is flourishing. I dug a few ramps Sunday and added a few to a tomato and avocado relish last night in place of green onions. That’s my preferred way to use them–as a seasoning or embellishment. But there are plenty of other ways to use them to add some zing to your spring menu. Goodness knows all the trendy restaurants are doing it! Which put me in mind of that scene in the movie Forest Gump where Bubba is listing all the ways you can eat shrimp. So I thought I’d compile a ramp recipe list for your Appalachian edification! Ramp pesto Ramp carbonara Ramp omelet (one of my favorites–see picture) Ramp focaccia Pickled ramps Ramp-aroni rolls (see Fish Hawk Acres in Buckhannon for these!) Ramp dip Creamed ramps Ramp kimchi (hmmmm) Fried eggs and ramps Buttermilk-fried ramps (yes, please!) Ramp chimichurri Potato ramp soup Ramp jam Ramp pizza Bacon and ramp vinaigrette Ramp aioli Fried ramps and potatoes And, of course, boiled ramps with a splash of vinegar There’s more, but I expect you’ve got the idea. Suffice it to say ramps are almighty versatile! (And if you want to see a menu that weaves ramps throughout, check out this one for a ramp dinner to benefit the library in my home town.) What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?
This past Saturday I had a chance to travel to the 1700s French & Indian War at Ft. Dobbs near Statesville, NC. Friends of mine are reenactors who planned to attend the War for Empire weekend with their Dragonfly Traders tent. Lorraine offered to outfit me. Well, YES. I’ve been to living history events before, but always as a visitor. […]
It’s officially the time of year when seed catalogs become irresistible. I pore over gaudy pictures of corn with luxurious silks, scandalously red tomatoes, strawberries glinting like jewels, and squash that make me wonder why I don’t eat vegetables ALL the time. And I begin to dream of gardening. Of course, the dream is nothing like reality. There’s no thought of the tractor breaking down while disking the garden. I forget the bazillion rocks we “harvested” from the freshly plowed rows on the farm each spring. And weeds? Come on . . . as long as we don’t let them get ahead of us . . . But my husband is the voice of reason. And he reminds me that I’m not even very good at gardening. Last summer I estimate that I got at least $15 worth of cherry tomatoes from the $14 plant I kept in a pot out front. (We won’t talk about the cost of potting soil.) And my herbs are certainly a savings over buying those plastic packs at the grocery store. As long as I remember to use them. Last summer’s potatoes were certainly a savings since I just planted some old, store-bought spuds that had sprouted in the pantry. I at least broke even on that one. And yet . . . When I see the sign at Southern States advertising onion sets. And picture sweet peas flowering on a trellis made from […]
Vermont gets most of the maple syrup press, but Appalachia produces it’s fair share of the sticky, sweet stuff. West Virginia has 75 or so farms producing more than 2,500 gallons of syrup in a given year. And February into March is harvest season. The trick is to tap maple trees when the days are getting warmer and the nights […]
A reviewer recently commented that she really enjoyed one of my books but took issue with my use of you’uns instead of y’all. Now, in both of our defenses, I’d like to point out that she thought the story was set in Wise, Virginia. Now, that’s a real place where locals probably do say “y’all.” My story, however, is set in the fictional Wise, West Virginia, where locals definitely say you’uns. So, what’s the difference between the two colloquialisms? Growing up I knew lots of folks in central WV who said you’uns. As in, “You’uns come on in for supper.” Or, “Are you’uns going to the swimmin’ hole today?” Then I moved to South Carolina and fell in love with y’all. And, honestly, I’m much more likely to say y’all than you’uns. It just trips off the tongue. It’s true that you can use the terms interchangeably. They mean, essentially, the same thing. And yet, there are nuances to each. Here’s a definition of you’uns from urbandictionary.com – “A term used in southern and central Appalachia and adjacent areas to address a group of people.” Or, to be more specific, “An expression used to describe a group of people that can fit into the cab of a 1964 Dodge Stepside truck.” I do enjoy specificity. The definition for y’all, on the other hand, is simply, “a contraction for you all.” The urban dictionary does go on to make the point […]
It’s January. In case you hadn’t realized. At the grocery store these days, I can buy strawberries and asparagus. This (along with an occasional warmish day) adds to my delusion that spring is just around the corner. The sun stays up just a little longer, rises just a little earlier. And yet . . . we still have February to get through. I’m just dreaming of sunshine and wildflowers. My great-grandmother had no such luxury. The turn of the year was the lean time back in the early 1900s when she was growing up and raising her family. It was when last season’s put up food began to thin out. It would have been a long time since last fall’s hog killing, the shelves in the cellar would have more empty jars, and even the wild game would be getting thin (in quantity and quality). Lean times. Running to the store for fresh produce wasn’t an option. Chickens don’t lay as much in the winter and the cow’s milk has less cream. Christmas is past and Easter is months away. This would have been the time when mountain folk began to dream of poke, creases, dandelion, dock, and other spring greens. So in honor of these lean days, here are two recipes. The first is a “lean times” recipe using corn cobs to make jelly. The second, well, you judge what sort of recipe it is. These are both from […]