Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 63
singing in the garden
Ramps are considered a real treat and
there are festivals to celebrate them,
but because they are so pungent, I
don't eat them very often.
When the ramps begin to fade,
the asparagus poke up. For me, spring
isn't really here until the peepers sing
and the asparagus rise. I have discovered a secret wild asparagus patch
where the spears are as big around as my thumb. It's in
one of our meadows and the sheep feast on it until the
end of March. Then they are moved out to mountain
pastures, and it's mine. Planted by birds, those asparagus are far better than the ones I grow in my yard.
At the same time that we pick asparagus, we also
start hunting for morels. The first time I ate one of these
wild mushrooms I tossed and turned all night, sure I
would be dead in the morning. I grew up on mushrooms wrapped in cellophane, and I wasn't sure a wild
one could be trusted. But, morels are pretty safe to pick
since there aren't any other mushrooms that resemble
these brainy looking fungi. They grow in abandoned
apple orchards and old growth ash
I am a terrible mushroom finder.
I don't have mushroom eyes like my
oldest son, Justin. Morels disguise
themselves by looking just like the
patches of withered leaves where
they grow, but still I love the thrill
of the hunt. We like them dipped
in batter and deep-fried, or sautéed and scrambled with
When the morels are finished, it's time for the rhubarb from the old patch in Geneva's abandoned garden.
It's also time for the wild strawberries that grow on the
brow of my hill. These two spring foods compliment
each other when baked in a pie.
Once the wild strawberries are done, then the party
is over. It's time to look to my own tame garden for lettuce and peas. While I love to eat things I've grown, my
heart will always be with food that comes from God's
hands to my mouth. I love to eat where the wild things
March/April 2018 63