Everyone is talking about Ramps these days! They look a bit like scallions and only appear in the early spring. They also known as are also known as Wild Leeks (Allium tricoccum). The plant’s flavor, a combination of onions and strong garlic or “fried green onions with a dash of funky feet” in the words of food writer Jane Snow, is adaptable to numerous cooking styles. The mountain folk of Appalachia have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter. There are many festivals in Appalachia in honor of this humble plant.
When I revealed my entry in the Artful Arrangers show, you may remember that it basically a bunch of gussied up vegetables. Some of them were rather exotic. The girl figure had very odd looking legs. They are Indian Bitter Melons which are also known as Balsam Pears. There is even an official site which will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about about them – National Bitter Melon Council.
If you were to cut them open, and I did, you’d find bright red seeds! I was very surprised. This vegetable is prized in Asian cooking and is quite bitter, as the name suggests.
Another exotic I used was a banana flower. Terry sent me some interesting information about this veggie. Check the Thai Supermarket Online website to learn about cooking with them.
I also cut my banana flower open to see just what the heck was inside it. It was full of miniature bananas! No surprise there, I guess. See the picture below for a good look at a maturing flower.
As the warmer weather has lingered into October, so has my garden proliferation of tomatoes. Although not as many as in the summer, enough that I now have to find another way to handle them as I am sauced out, souped out and juiced out. My freezer is full, and I am not a canner. Where to go??? To dehydrating!
Tomatoes are easy to dehydrate, whether you use a dehydrator or oven. If you do not have a dehydrator, just set your oven to 180-200 degrees F. Slice THICKLY and lay flat.
You can just dry them plain or use a seasoned salt to add wonderful flavors. I recently visited the Salt Cellar in Portsmouth, NH and picked up a selection of their infused salts. What a fun little shop with amazing flavors — but be sure to bring a water bottle because you can sample every variety (trying the Italian White Truffle Salt is a must!)! These flavors will go along way so you only need to add a little to your tomatoes. Or try your own herb seasonings.
Once you slice and season your tomatoes, if you are drying them in the oven check them every 45 minutes or so, and more frequently as they begin to dry. They should become leathery and not feel squishy in any places. If some become dry before others, remove them from the tray and put the others back in to continue drying. If they dry to long they will become too crispy and may even burn. Store them in an airtight container and they will easily keep for a year.
Dried tomatoes are great for snacking, especially in the winter when the horrible, tasteless tomatoes appear in the grocery store and you long for the flavors of summer! A good project for a rainy Sunday! ~ Patti
I had to share this recipe again because it is perfect for this time of year…I never made tomato sauce before because the thought of skinning, seeding, boiling, mashing, etc, was not appealing for so little return. But so many tomatoes and what to do with them?? Then I found this SUPER easy tomato sauce recipe from Coastal Magazine. You will love the way this tastes. You will find the recipe in our recipe box as well.