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Friday, March 23, 2012

harvesting the world's best superfood....

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Organic Veggies?? Yeah yeah they are okay but if you ask me they are health food wimps compared to the incredible ramp or wild leek. Lets check out some facts. Ramps are the ultimate organic. No pesticides ever... heck most ramps grow in ground that has never even been cultivated for anything ...ever. This is a big deal since farmers harvest crops and in removing them thus take trace minerals trapped in the plants out of the soil, while in the woodland habitats that ramps grow in, nutrients are recycled in a loop and are not depleted. Let's look in more detail at ramps nutritional value.

Wild leeks are high in antioxidants. Ramps have a high Total Polyphenol Content (TPC) which is the way foods are graded on their antioxidant capability. Ramps are higher than tomatoes and red bell peppers and carrots. These polyphenols are considered active cancer fighting agents. Ramps help support brain function and development because they contain choline which is a used as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Adequate amounts of choline in the diet have been shown to support proper cognitive function and facilitate learning in adults and children. Ramps or wild leeks help prevent high blood pressure and stroke because they contain folate which is an essential B vitamin that keeps our bodies levels of homocysteine in check. Homocysteine is a protein found in the blood that contributes to atherosclerosis when it is in high amounts.
Being closely related to garlic, ramps contain the same sulphur compounds including kaempferol. Kaempferol works to protect the lining of the blood vessels against damage while supporting the liver in elimination of cholesterol. Ramps have basically all the well known health benifits of garlic or onions without the danger of pestacides and mineral depletion.
Ramps are an excellent source of vitamin A (immune-supportive) and vitamin K (anti-inflammatory). They are very good source of manganese as well as vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Ramps are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, calcium, and copper; enzyme-generating molybdenum; and potassium. Ramps are rich in the B9 vitamin known as folate (folic acid), thus helping the body build new cells and keeping the blood healthy so that it can oxygenate the body. Everyone needs folate in their diet, but it is doubly important for woman who are pregnant. By eating folate-rich ramps, women can prevent some birth defects such as problems associated with the baby's spine (spina bifida) and brain (encephalitis).
Ramps are also a great source of potassium, a mineral that balances the body's pH and water levels and contributes to muscle growth, brain function and nervous system stability. Potassium also plays an important role in the body's metabolic rate and is critical for proper functioning of cells, tissues and organs. Besides their basic nutritional benefits, eating a mess of ramps also aids the body in certain medicinal ways. Ramps have natural antiseptic properties, which help the body fight infection, as well as laxative benefits. Ramps also help lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol blood levels. Ramps reduce the risk of prostate, colon and ovarian cancer and contain diuretic and anti-arthritic properties.

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So where do you find this wonder food? In moist woodlands and in shady hollows and creeks. Good wildflower and ginseng woods are usually good places to find ramps. Among the first plants to emerge in spring, ramps let you get back in the woods before turkey hunting season or even before the start of morel hunting season. In good woods, patches of ramps show up as islands of green in an otherwise sea of early season brown. As spring wears on and trees leaf out ramps begin to yellow and die back. As the leaves yellow and die a smooth stalk appears with a small purplish tip. After the leaves have completely died back this tip opens into a small globe of delicate flowers. This stalk then bears small seeds and then dies. In my experience you can, if you know what to look for, still find ramps in late summer and fall by looking carefully for this dried stalk which stands even when dead. But by then the ramp bulb is very very strong, too strong for my tastes. For me early spring is the time to gather ramps. Besides, the leaves themselves are as usefull as the bulbs. You can use the leaves green in salads. Or gather them and fill the dehydrator with them for later use. We usually use a big mason jar full of dried leaves every year as seasoning. Almost everything thats grilled at my house gets sprinkled with dried ramps. Chicken, venison steaks, zucinni and squash all taste better grilled when liberally sprinkled with a pinch or two of ramps. A baked potato is better when slathered in butter and sprinkled with dried ramps too.
The classic meal for ramp lovers is fried potatoes and ramps. Fry your potatoes till they are just about to start to brown and then throw in about half as many ramps as potatoes and brown both. Simply the best fried taters you will ever have. Want a dip that's actually good for you? Make ramp hummus with a cup of chick peas thrown in the food processor with a heaping spoonfull of chopped ramps and a spoonfull of chilli powder. A great campfire meal is ramps and mushrooms sauteed in butter. The bulbs can also be dried like the leaves and added to soups or added to anything that could use a strong garlicy flavor. Or as Pulitzer Prize nominated food writer Jane Snow once described it, "like fried green onions with a dash of funky feet". Ramps were called chicagou in the language of native tribes and local abundance gave the city of Chicago it's name. The name ramps is one of the many dialectical variants of the English word ramson, a common name of the European leek.

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And if you think I'm the only person crazy enough to love the pungent ramp think again. All along the appalachians (the very heart of ramp country) every spring small town after small town have their own ramp festivals extolling the wonderful ramp and the coming of spring.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More record breaking weather

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80 degrees in march? Simply amazing, i'm now deep into springtime fishing madness having went four out the last five days. With even warmer weather expected in the coming days. Hammered the smallies in the Great and Little Miami's on crankbaits on back to back days. Then twentyseven largemouths in three hours at "the pond whose name cannot be spoken" on a rebel minnow plug and roostertail. And winter isn't even over four two more days. After last years floods and awfull fishing I'm hoping I've paid enough dues to enjoy a good year.

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Finally Sunday a small bump in the road. Overnight storms have the streams running muddy so I headed to small pond tucked away in the back of Ceasars Creek State Park.
But there were four portly shirtless guys lounging around drowning worms and getting sunburned in the spring sun. I managed to get four small bass before giving up and looking for early mushrooms. I'm hoping this hot wet weather will bring some morels out early this spring. No go today but I have high hopes since low eighties are forcast for the coming week. The river though muddy is not high so hopefully Ill be right back fishing in just a day or two.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

fish photography

this weeks exceptional warm spell has the fish active and biting like it's two months later...

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