Monday, April 28, 2008

My Friend's Mountain


When I was in fourth grade, we read My Side of the Mountain. This is the tale of a boy who feeling neglected by his family decides to move (alone) to a plot of land owned by his family in the Catskills. The main character goes on to live fairly successfully by creating a shelter in a rotted tree, eating acorn pancakes (how did he fix their poison, I can’t remember) and hawking. I wonder if this book is read in schools these days, what with its spirit of ingenuity and childhood empowerment—it would likely strike fear in the hearts of all helicopter moms.

Why was this story so attractive to me? Years later, my husband and I came to the conclusion it was the not the solitude of the boys quest that was attractive but the self-sufficiency and ability to eat off the land. We are so disconnected from our food sources generally. Over the years, our food industry has succeeded in taking us further from the natural. When I was little, the only food that was in bags was carrots and iceberg lettuce. Now everything is contained in plastic. (The Graduate was right.)


So recently, my husband and I decided to take advice from Cincinnati Locavore and went foraging. With a prearranged agreement with friends who have a wooded lot, we walked under tall trees and upon deep leaf litter. In this lovely setting, we found wild garlic and dandelion greens. Near the end of our trek (it was actually not very long) we found a lovely patch of ramps. We only pulled up a few; waste not…

With our bounty we made, farmers cheese crepes filled with farmer’s cheese, ramps, potatoes, and dandelion green salad. Not everything was local in this meal—thanks to our American processing methodology, I have no idea where my flour comes from.

Recipe:

Farmers Cheese Crepes

I really didn’t measure at all when I made these in part because I was fairly confident that they wouldn’t succeed. I put ½ cup of farmer’s cheese in a bowl and added a bit of flour (1/3 cup or so) and then a bit of soy milk until I got a thin batter (like crepe batter). I filled them with sautéed leeks, sautéed potatoes, and a bit more farmer’s cheese. (Make sure to salt and pepper the filling)

7 comments:

Columbus Foodie said...

I've always wanted to go foraging, but here in the burbs, we lack the greenspace necessary to be successful at it. I need to find some woods, stat.

Lovely ramps, BTW.

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

A very well written post MM..enjoyed every bit of it and beautiful photos too!!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

lovely post! I am quite sure that there are forage-able foods around where I live, but I don't really know how to identify most of them (besides dandelion and certain mushrooms). How did you learn what is edible and what is not?

Also, the crepes sound absolutely delicious!

maybelles mom said...

thanks for all the compliments, first. As for what is edible, when i was in middle school, i had a teacher take our class forage with me when we read My Side of the Mountain, so I remember the ramps and the garlic. I have not however eated anything else wild--yet. I am trying to research this--I know that Cincinnati Locavore has a listing for Wildman Steve Brill's book. I don't have it but I am thinking about getting it.

Maggie said...

Beautiful pictures as always and your crepes sound wonderful.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus is THE classic foraging book and can be found in most libraries.

If you are interested in a great read about self-sufficiency and organic farming (before it was called that) that is also very relevent to Ohioians read Louis Bromfield's The Farm. It's one of my favorite books.
There is a ton of info about Bromfield at the Ohio state park that was formerly his home, Malabar Farm.

The CFT said...

Really great post. Bar Cento has introduced a foraged salad, but I can't imagine anything beats what you get after gathering the stuff yourself.

fluffernutter said...

I saw those ramps and my heart beat faster. You're lucky to have them nearby. Whole roasted ramps with butter and a touch of balsamic...