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recipes
Freshly picked ramps

One of the pleasures of Springtime in Appalachia is the promise of fresh, foraged ramps. Prized for their bright scallion-garlic flavor, ramps can be substituted for either of these better-known alliums, though traditionally they are lightly fried with potatoes, bacon, or eggs.

The past several years of my life have been largely spent learning to do arcane things.

There are few dishes that make you appreciate a dark roux better than a nice scratch-made batch of seafood gumbo. The “holy trinity” of Creole cuisine—onion, green bell pepper, and celery—are all in evidence, as is spicy Andouille sausage (or tasso ham), crab, shrimp, and briny oysters.

Every autumn, there are certain things I am compelled to do. Perhaps it’s the change in the weather that drives this compulsion; the urgency of the leaves turning and falling; the weakening sunlight.

Gardening is an act of faith. You plant seeds. They sprout or they don't. The ones that sprout may mature or not. There may be hail, torrential rain, drought, late/early frost, birds, insects, or all of the above. But you plant anyway, and you tend, and you weed, and if you happen to be blessed with a combination of persistence, know-how, and sheer luck, you will reap something.

In many ways, I've gone astray as a southern cook. I spent several years as a vegetarian, and now I tend to embrace a wide range of foods, from fragrant Vietnamese soup to spicy Indian dal to vermilion Spanish paella. World cuisine simply holds too many treasures for me to be content with the food of my childhood.

Spring always seems to be a time of transition. We move from hibernation and stasis into expansiveness and rapid-fire change. At least, that's always how it seems to work in my own life. I enjoy the hunkering down of winter. It gives me time to take stock, do some planning, and pull out the sewing machine for a creative burst or two.

It's hard to believe 4 months have passed since our last post! Rest assured, Megan and I are alive, well, and not on permanent vacation. In fact, we've been hard at work on--wait for it--the next edition of the book! Since it's just the two of us right now (with help from a few willing testers and sharp readers) this website has fallen into disrepair.

This week I've been on something of a media fast, as much as one can be these days. I know it must seem irresponsible of me. It must appear that I have thrown up my hands; that I have buried my head in the sand; that I have stuck my fingers in my ears and chanted "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah." But I stand by it. Staying away from the drama of politics right now is keeping me relatively zen.

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