4.23.14 Further Afield (& April Hot Links)

Field garlic1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
Driving home last night on dark, rain-slicked country roads, we saw the ultimate confirmation that spring is here. Every year, on a wet, foggy night in April, there is a frog exodus. I'm not quite sure where they are going—from one part of the woods to another? from the pond to the marsh?—but they inevitably cross our road en masse (and, sadly, not all of them make it). Now we will hear them getting down to business in the damp nether regions of the forest, and soon we will see the jellied masses of their eggs in the vernal pools, brooks and streams. In the garden there are other signs of spring: the first tentative pink sprouts of my peonies; delicate green leaves and buds on the lilac bushes; my beloved lovage unfurling; a few tender leaves of sorrel. And further afield there are some wild edibles to be found if you're ready, willing and able.
Bulbs 790 xxx
rooting around

The first edible plants to come up in the wild tend to be the alliums, like ramps and field garlic. If you're new to foraging, this is a great place to start because the smell makes identification a cinch. Where ramps are lately considered over-harvested, field garlic—sometimes called wild garlic or crow garlic—is actually a European interloper that has become an invasive plant here, so forage away. I saw it growing all along the Palisades Parkway this week and its wavy green stalks are easy to spot in most parks and fields. The leaves are slender, waxy, hollow tubes that can grow more than a foot tall. The smaller, more tender ones can be used like chives, chopped into salads and added to soups. The bulbs are generally less than an inch in diameter, and are covered with a fibrous outer layer that needs to be peeled away, as with scalltions. Field garlic is milder than you night think considering its pungency and it has a bit of funkiness, not unlike ramps—what Euell Gibbons calls “that wild taste.”

Butter 790 xxx
spread 'em
Field garlic can be substituted for onions, leeks, scallions or garlic in any number of recipes. I blend both bulbs and greens with soft butter to create a chartreuse compound butter that’s delicious stirred into mashed potatoes, drizzled over poached eggs and asparagus, or spread on toast. Another favorite use is to dehydrate the greens, then blitz them in the spice grinder with sea salt for a pungent seasoning salt. I also like to pickle the bulbs in a hot brine and eat them with cheese or as a bloody mary garnish. (And here is my recipe for field garlic pesto.)

We recently had the great pleasure of being invited to the lovely home of Marie and Vincent, where we dined on wild delicacies including deviled eggs with field garlic; nettle, dock and garlic mustard bruschetta; and Japanese knotweed vichyssoise. The whole meal was alive with the vivid tastes from the newly awakened earth. So special!
Tube 790 xxx
totally tubular
Because I am still on this vegan cleanse until Friday (with only one exception made for Marie's dinner!), I shaped my field garlic butter into a log, twisted it into a piece of saran, then again into a piece of parchment, and stuck it in the freezer. It will be there waiting for me, its taste of spring intact, whenever I'm ready.

No field garlic? Look for green garlic at your farmers market, and use that instead. And now, my friends, some links I have been hoarding for you. 

After reading this inspiring article, I subscribed to this magazine

A wonderful new blog (and forthcoming book) about the kitchen as ecosystem

The season for ordering this artisanal miso is closing fast (try the dandelion and the soy-free chick pea)

Delectable spring pickles!

I'm getting ready for my summer dyeing projects

Love this beautiful and original nature-inspired artwork

Shall we try to make a salad like this?

Your thoughts are so powerful

What I'm reading now; and what I'm watching, also this (and I loved this)

The Dalai Lama really nails it here

These New York cooking workshops look amazing

On the subject of aging, few images are more eloquent than these

I just really couldn't believe this at all

Thank you, as always, for visiting me here. xo


Field Garlic Butter

makes 1/2 cup
  • — 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter (preferably cultured), softened
  • — 1 handful field garlic, bulbs & greens, cleaned and trimmed (may substitute green garlic)
  • sea salt, to taste

Chop field garlic into small pieces. Place in food processor along with butter and a couple of pinches of salt. Process until as smooth as possible. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Transfer to a tightly sealed contained and store in the fridge. Or form into a tube, wrap in saran, then parchment, and freeze.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


SO jealous! There won't be anything edible from the ground up here for another month at least. I can't take another day of this Arctic wind. I'm coming down for one of those Bloody Marys, right now. D. xo
David on April 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm —
It's going to freeze again here tonight, if it makes you feel any better...
laura on April 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm —
And thanks for the link to Eugenia Bone's blog. I love her.
David on April 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm —
Yes--I love field garlic. So easy to find! I think more people should eat it, but the lure of the elusive ramp is seductive. I'm guilty. And, I always love your links pages--they make my head spin! My mom has been doing shibori for years. It's nice to see it around lately! And those tattoos are really gross. Are they for reals?
Julia on April 23, 2014 at 6:19 pm —
Right? Yuck. Hey, we got so tired of never finding ramps in the wild that we planted 2 patches in our yard—and they took!
laura on April 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm —
I actually, for the first time, found them on a hike! It was so exciting. So I took two with bulbs and roots, and planted them in my yard. Fingers crossed.
Julia on April 24, 2014 at 7:25 am —
Laura, I've been a silent reader for some time but I finally had to comment. I find your blog and, in particular, your links in this post so inspirational. I'm going to work on my thoughts, my kitchen (ecosystem), and as an artist with a terminally ill parent, Isa Leshkos' work reduced me to tears. In a good way. Thank you.
caroline on April 24, 2014 at 8:20 pm —
Welcome, silent reader! I love knowing that we have connected. xo
laura on April 24, 2014 at 9:52 pm —