How Not to Launch a Boat

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The view from the boat landing at Miller Dam. Its a big, fairly shallow lake with lots of fish and emergent aquatic vegetation

I pulled my small 12 foot john boat over to Miller Dam Flowage the other day to do some fishing and to check out the wild rice beds. As I was pulling out of the driveway, I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the gas tank for the motor still sitting in the driveway. Oops. So I pulled over, ran back, grabbed the gas tank and put it in the boat. Then I noticed that the drain plug was missing. That would be a big oops. I ambled back to the garage to find the missing plug and was unsuccessful. Well, I reasoned its good to have a spare, so I stopped at Farm and Fleet and bought a new drain plug on my way to the lake.
I got to the flowage, and began the process of getting ready to launch the boat. I did remember to install the drain plug. As I was putting the 5 hp Merc on the boat, the cord that attached to the emergency stop key, got caught up in the motor mount. Something I did not realize until much later. I did a quick check of the boat: 5 hp motor securely attached, fishing poles, PFDs, bait, net, lunch, tackle box all in the boat. Its time to launch. I removed the two tie down straps and attached a painter rope for launching. I was excited because this was the first time I was able to launch this new boat for a full day of fishing. I had taken it for a test drive once but that was it. I climbed in the Forester and began backing up to the boat launch. As the tires of the trailer began to slip into the water, the boat began to slide off the trailer. I thought, Oh NO! I hit the brakes, jammed the car in park, pulled up the emergency brake all while opening the door and jumping out of the car. I got to the trailer as the boat began to slide into the water. I hopped over the trailer and ran to the dock. At the end of the dock I reached out to grab the boat amidships, but could not reach it. I instantly knew that my only course of action was to jump in the lake and grab the boat. As I was a jumping, I wondered how deep was the coffee colored water at the end of the dock. It proved to be arm pit deep. I was impressed since the dock was only about 15 feet long and I am 6’5.” I waded the boat to shore and then tied it to the dock. I took some very soggy steps to the car and parked it and the trailer. I left a nice trail of wet steps in the parking lot as I made my way back to the boat. That “squeesh, squeesh” sound that soggy walking shoes make is annoying. I climbed in the boat, and started the motor. Or at least I tried to start the motor. But the motor had other ideas. No combination of choke and pulling the starter cord helped. I checked to make sure all the knobs and buttons were in the right spot. I pulled on the starter cord another 50 times and still the motor refused to start. After describing the motor with all the four letter words I could think of in that moment, I decided that the only thing to do was to load up the boat and make a wet soggy drive home. So I squeeshed my way back to the car and loaded up the boat. As I was taking the motor off the boat I realized the kill switch key was tangled up in the motor mount and not in its proper place. I took the motor off the boat, untangled the key and cord, put the motor back on the boat, put the key back in its proper place and pulled the starter cord. The motor fired right up. I immediately shut it down. I then tied the painter rope to the trailer, and relaunched the boat without incident. The motor fired right up so I headed out to the lake.
I even managed to catch some fish while on the lake. When I pulled the boat out of the water that evening I was almost totally dried off from my earlier plunge in the lake.

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Lesson Learned: The boat ready to launch on its next big adventure. The mismatched boat and trailer were part of the problem. The trailer was designed to haul my 17 foot square stern canoe, and then I put a bed on it so I could haul camping gear and canoes. I now have a rope tied to the boat and trailer so it won’t try to escape again.

Staying Chill When the Heat is High

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Water, planning, and rest are the keys to successful outdoor activities when the heat is high. The plan for extreme heat must include taking along enough water for the activity or having infallible means of procuring more water, planned cooling off time, and plans for keeping hydrated. Water can be carried in old fashioned canteens like my well worn one on the left, water bottles, or hydration packs. The most important aspect of the plan is following it.

She thought I was dead. I was on the second day of a bike ride from Menomonie to Madeline Island. The temperatures were in the upper 70s when I began riding, and quickly climbed into the mid 90s. I could not drink water fast enough. I decided to stop every 45 minutes to an hour to cool down. I stopped on a gravel road with a shady spot. I parked my bike and lay down on the road to chill for a few minutes. Then the bike tipped over in the soft gravel. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to leave the bike on the ground until I was done resting. Suddenly, a pickup truck come around a bend in the road, made a sudden stop, and the woman driver jumped out and yells, Are you alive? I immediately sat up and told her yes, I was fine and explained that I was taking a cool down break and that my bike had fallen over in the soft gravel.
Because I had been taking precautions on my ride, I was not suffering from one of the several heat related problems that can arise when the temps rise. Physical problems related to heat include dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The underlying causes of heat related illness is lack of fluids in the body and loss of electrolytes from the fluid loss. With out these two items, the body cannot function properly and over heats leading to a variety of problems that can be painful and even fatal.
Dehydration can occur in any temperature, but high heat causes excessive sweating and without a conscious effort to replace lost fluid, one can become dehydrated. One can become dehydrated and not initially be thirsty so thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration. One way to check your fluid level is by keeping track of your urine. When a person gets dehydrated they urinate less often and the urine turns a darker color. Dark yellow or even reddish colored urine can be a sign of serious dehydration. Other signs of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness and confusion, and eventually extreme thirst. Drinking water in smaller amounts very frequently is the best way to prevent dehydration.
Heat cramps often occur after one stops strenuous activity in the heat. The muscles have painful and rapid spasms. The cramps usually take place in the limbs or abdomen or can affect any part of the body. Treatment for heat cramps includes resting and cooling down in a shady place; drinking lightly salted drinking water, clear juices, or sports drinks with electrolytes. Light stretching, and massage of the cramping muscles can help, but do not over do as too much stretching or massage can worsen the problem. After the cramps end, wait several hours to a full day before resuming activities.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body heats up faster than it cools to the point of being over heated. Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, fatigue, weak rapid pulse, low blood pressure when standing, faintness, heavy sweating, nausea, thirst and headache. The skin of a person will be pale or dull colored.
To treat heat exhaustion, get the person to a cool shady place. Remove any heavy or tight clothing, and have the person lay down with feet slightly elevated. Give water to the person in small quantities since drinking large amounts of water may trigger nausea. Use damp clothes or misted water to help cool the victim. The victim should begin to show signs of recovery within an hour, but full recovery can take up to 24 hours so its best to pitch up your camp right where the person is diagnosed with heat stroke. Also, a person who has suffered heat exhaustion is more vulnerable to a relapse, so they should be watched carefully for the rest of the trip. Heat exhaustion can develop into life threatening heat stroke, so it must be dealt with immediately.
Heat stroke is a life threatening condition that can occur in two forms: classic heat stroke and exertional heat stroke. Classic heat stroke most frequently effects people indoors who are in a room that is too hot for too long. The signs of classic heat stroke are skin that is red, hot and dry.
Victims of exertional heat stroke will act irritably or irrationally. Their skin may be cold with heavy sweat. Victims of both types of heat stroke can have rapid pulse, nausea and or vomiting, and headache. Fainting can be a sign of heat stroke. Because heat stroke is life threatening a call to 911 is in order. Emergency treatment includes getting the person into the shade remove excess clothing, cooling with water, ice in the arm pits or groin, covering with damp cloths. Have the person drink water in small quantities. If in a wilderness setting and EMT personal can’t be contacted, the victim must be transported out of the woods via stretcher.
Prevention is the best way to avoid all the heat related illnesses. When heading to the woods in hot weather have a plan to stay cool and hydrated. Plan for frequent breaks in the shade and drink frequently. Wear appropriate clothing. I prefer lose fitting breathable clothing. Pay attention to the humidity level also, as very dry conditions in the desert require lots of water, and very humid conditions make evaporation difficult, so evaporation cannot help keep the body cool. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both substances make it harder for the body to regulate internal temperature. With wise planning, heat does not need to keep one out of the wilds.

Nettles Watercress Soup

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This soup is a great late spring/early summer food for folks that like to gather their eats in the wilds.

Combining two relatively abundant wild foods in one dish is a great way to jazz up a meal. This recipe comes from Germany. Being a fan of both wild food and German Food I absolutely had to try this soup. Gathering the nettles is the most challenging aspect of putting this soup together. I was able to pick the nettles sting free by using the scissors on my Swiss army knife, a pack basket and gravity. When making the soup, I did not have any spinach in the garden so I substituted Swiss Chard as the two have a similar taste. Plus, the Swiss and the Germans get along, so I figured the ingredients would compliment each other in the soup. My wife highly recommends the soup.

Ingredients

1 ½ cup baby spinach or Swiss Chard
½ cup stinging nettles leaves
¾ cup watercress
1 medium onion
3 small potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 strip unwaxed lemon zest
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon cold butter
salt
black pepper
nutmeg

Directions

Wash and drain the spinach or Swiss chard. Blanch the spinach or chard and the nettles separately for about 1 minute. Then plunge into ice water. Drain well, squeezing leaves and then finely chop.

Wash drain and finely chop the watercress. Since water cress comes from creeks, I spray the watercress with vinegar before washing to hopefully remove any gut flushing bacteria.

Peel the onion and potato. Finely chop and add to vegetable broth. Simmer for 20 or minutes or until the onion and potatoes are soft and tender. Add cream and blend with immersion blender. Add lemon zest. Let zest infuse for a few minutes and then remove it.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Shortly before serving, add the spinach or chard, nettles, watercress, garlic, and butter. Again, blend with immersion blender. Let stand for 3 minutes. Then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

I don’t have an immersion blender so I strained the onion and potatoes out of the broth after it was done and then ran the potatoes, onion, garlic, nettles, chard and watercress with a bit of broth through my blender. After blending, it all went back in the kettle for three minutes before serving. Also, to save time, I started the broth, potatoes and onions cooking and then blanched the chard and nettles.

Sour Kraut Salad

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Ingredients
1 quart of sour kraut, well drained
1 4-0unce jar of Pimentos, drained
2 carrots shredded
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Let sit in refrigerator over night. Serve cold.

Babes in the Woods

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When driving on a back road, I met this fawn standing in the road. It attempted to run away, but could not climb the steep bank next to the road so it lay down in the shadows to hide. I took a quick photo and drove past. When I was a ways away, mom came of of the brush and lead the fawn to safety.

As I was driving home last week, two Canadian geese with a bunch of goslings attempted to cross the road twixt my car and an on-coming pick up truck. Both drivers saw the geese scramble out of the ditch and head across the road, so we stopped and gave the geese plenty of room. That didn’t stop the adults from excitedly honking and flapping their wings while herding the goslings across the road. One gosling slipped on the edge of the black top and flipped head over webbed feet. The fuzzy yellow bird which was nearly the size of a crow ended up on its back. Both the goslings’ webbed feet and undersized wings were flailing madly in the air as it righted itself and then proceeded in a hurried waddle across the road.
This comical incident is a reminder that many species have recently given birth. Creatures from deer to rabbits to possums to birds to bears have young ones that need to be protected, raised and taught the ways of survival. Each species has a repertoire of tricks to ensure the survival of enough newborns to ensure the survival of the species.
Camouflage is one method adult animals protect their young. I tend to despise yard work and lawn mowing in particular so I delay mowing as long a possible in the spring. Hence the grass gets a bit long sometimes. One spring day, I noticed our dog Izzy running back and forth from her dog house to a single spot in the long grass. I investigated and discovered that Izzy had found a nest of baby bunnies and that she was carrying them in her mouth, unharmed, to her dog house. The nest was within five feet of where we park the car and was invisible until one had knelt down and parted the grass. We distracted Izzy long enough to put her back on her chain and then place the bunnies back in their nest. By the next morning, the mother had moved the bunnies to a safer location.
Many newly born animals are scent free, which makes it easier for them to hide from predators. Fawns are one of the critters that are scent free for at least a few days. Fawns rely on being scent free and on hiding to survive. The spots on a fawn serve as camouflage and the fawn instinctively knows from birth to remain motionless for long periods of time. The fawns remain in one location for several weeks while the doe wanders off to eat and ruminate. The doe only approaches the fawn when it is feeding time for the fawn. If the doe has multiple fawns, she will hide each fawn in a different location. This strategy increases the odds that a least one of the fawns will survive – even if the others become dinner for a hungry bobcat or coyote. As deer have become more prevalent in urban and suburban areas, hiding fawns are found more frequently by well intentioned but biologically misinformed people. They see the “cute little Bambi” all by itself and assume the deer has been abandoned by its parent. Then they scoop up the deer and head to the DNR office or to a wildlife rehabilitator. Since the fawn and parent are pursuing a time proven survival strategy, the best course of action is to take a picture or two, from a long distance, and leave the fawn in its spot.
Producing prodigious numbers of offspring is another survival strategy. Rabbits, squirrels and many birds have adopted this strategy. The idea is simple: produce more offspring than will die before they reproduce. Robins are the masters of producing multiple broods of young in a year. Robins pull off at least two broods every summer and maybe another one in the winter. I can observe the prolific nature of robins every spring because a robin always builds a nest on the front porch light. So many nests have been built there over the years the siding on the house is permanently stained. Yet, it is highly doubtful that the same robin builds the nest from year after year since robins have an 80 percent mortality rate. That the robin population remains so large while 8 out of 10 robins die annually makes it apparent just how many robins must be born each year. Distraction is how birds like killdeer and waterfowl protect their young. When I lived in Southeastern Ohio, I walked home everyday across a park. A killdeer had a nest in the corner of the park and like clockwork, the killdeer presented me with the “broken wing” pose at the same spot every day. The killdeer would trill loudly and flap its ‘broken wing” all the while leading me away from the nest. After leading me for about 50 yards the bird would fly away. Most hen ducks will also exhibit this behavior on the water. Many times I have surprised a hen and her ducklings while canoeing; the ducklings will beat a hasty retreat to the nearest cover, while the mother begins to quack loudly and beat her wings against the water while swimming away. The duck will lead the canoe around two or three bends in the river before taking flight back to her offspring.
Aggressive behavior towards threats is another means of ensuring the survival of young. The old adage of never getting between a mother bear and her cubs has been proven statically true. Most bear attacks on humans do involve a mother with cubs. Other animals with young can also become aggressive. One spring, I was hiking and camping in the Jones Spring wilderness area in the Nicolet National Forest. Suddenly an animal burst out of the weeds along side the trail and headlined towards me. I had a brief thought of a bear attacking as I stumbled back. Then I realized the whir of motion and sound of furry was actually a mother grouse. I also saw her poults scampering off in the opposite direction. My brother and I once attempted to fish a small remote lake in Northern Minnesota, but found it impossible because a pair of loons were using the lake to raise their little loonie (not sure what you call a baby loon). The two adult loons repeatedly dive bombed the canoe. Sometimes they swooped as low as our heads when they passed over the canoe. We decided there were other lakes in the area that had better fishing and left.
Critters with young become less mobile during the rearing season. Thus animals like bears, foxes and coyotes, which normally roam a large territory, hunker down near the den or limit travel to a small area until the offspring can travel large distances. The dilemma the animals face is eating while remaining in one place. Hence any good food source will be utilized repeatedly. This causes issues in populated areas as bears and other large critters raid feeders, garbage cans, fledgling gardens, and any other food source. The best method of dealing with feeding animals in the spring is to remove easy food sources like feeders. If an animal like a fox is suddenly present repeatedly in a yard or area, be aware that there is most likely a den nearby. Give the den as much space as possible and use the opportunity for some wildlife photography.
Wild critters, both feathered and furred, have many means of ensuring the survival of their young and the species. We humans can best help the animals pursue raising their offspring by doing no more than observing the process.

Rabbit Gravy over Wild Rice

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By using a pressure cooker, rabbit and gravy can be made in about one hour.

This recipe is for all the gardeners who are wondering what to do to keep rabbits from destroying their gardens. I used a pressure cooker for the rabbit which is a fairly fast way to make really tender and juicy rabbit. While the rabbit is pressure cooking, make the wild rice and you have a delicious meal in short order.

Rabbit

Ingredients
1 rabbit dressed and quartered
I teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 onion quartered
1 cup of water
and ½ cup white wine.

Gravy
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ to ½ cup flour
cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions
Sprinkle poultry seasoning and paprika on rabbit pieces. Place rabbit in pressure cooker along with water and wine and onion. Bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes. (My cooker is calibrated for 15 psi of pressure). When the rabbit is done, depressurize the cooker and remove rabbit. Stir cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper into liquid left in the cooker. Mix flour into cold water and add to mushroom soup mix. Stir until gravy thickens. The amount of flour used will depend on how much liquid is in the pressure cooker and how thick of gravy you prefer.
Use two forks to debone rabbit meat and return deboned meat to the gravy. Let simmer on low for a bit.

Wild Rice

Ingredients
1 carrot thinly sliced
2 stalks celery chopped
½ cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped ramps (can substitute 1 medium onion and one clove diced garlic)
1 cup wild rice*
2 cups water

In a cast iron skillet heat 1/3 cup oil and sauté carrot, celery, mushrooms and ramps. Add wild rice and stir in for a couple of minutes. Then add water and cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steam for 5 minutes. * If using commercially harvested and processed wild rice the cooking time will be about 30 to 45 minutes and you will need 2 ½ cups of water so the rice will need to be started before the rabbit and cooked separately from the vegetables

To serve, put wild rice on plate and add gravy over the top.

Results are Tabulated for the 2020 Spring Conservation Congress Hearings

The results for the first ever fully on-line Spring Conservation Congress hearings are out. Many of the questions involved major changes to the deer season. But Wisconsin deer hunting traditions run deep and many of the proposed changes to deer season were rejected. The statewide results are divided into two categories “All Participants” and “Wisconsin Residents,” and the county results are divided into “Dunn County Residents” and “Respondents indicated they recreate in Dunn County.” For consistency and simplicity, the results listed will use the “Wisconsin Residents” and “Dunn County Residents” data.
The first deer season question was Question 10 which sought to add 10 days to the current 9-day season. It failed statewide 14,380 yes to 41,531 no and in Dunn County 190 to 592. Eliminating the holiday hunt was the subject of Question 11 and statewide it passed 32,461 yes to 20,057 no. The question also passed in the county 483 to 273. Question 12 had three potential results, a 2 day or a 5 day no hunting period prior to the start of deer season or no change to the current no hunting period before the deer season. Maintaining status quo was the overwhelming choice both statewide and in the county. Invalidating crossbow and archery buck tags during the gun deer season was the purpose of Question 13. It failed 17,897 yeas to 34,608 nays and 256 to 492 in Dunn County. Question 14 called for limiting the crossbow season to October only for most hunters in the state. The question was defeated by a relatively close margin of 25,159 to 27,407. The county results were 343 for and 409 against. Question 15 called for the elimination of the deer management zones and just using the county deer management units. It passed 34,368 to 14,073 overall and the tally locally was 500 to 206. Question 17 called for closing the crossbow season in November and then reopening it when the 9-day season opens. In Dunn county, the tally was 268 ayes and 468 nays. Statewide, the totals were 20,387 to 31,113. Question 19 sought to reinstate the authority of the DNR to authorize the Earn-a-Buck management tools. The statewide total was 20,185 for and 32,399 against and in the county the total was 278 for and 466 against. Question 20 proposed giving CDACs the ability to use Earn-a-Buck tools in their respective counties. The tally was 19,646 for and 29,716 against. And locally it was 267 to 427. Giving the CDACs new tools for managing the anterless deer population was the goal of Question 23. It passed statewide by a tally of 23,082 to 20,675. The vote in Dunn County was 322 to 300. Going to a 16 day gun deer season which would open a week earlier than the current season was the suggestion in Question 24. By a vote of 15,231 to 37,502 it failed. It it also failed by a wide margin in Dunn County.
Questions 1-7 surveyed the willingness of hunters to use non-toxic shot and projectiles. The use of non-toxic shot on all DNR lands was approved by a vote of 28,952 to 26,136. Dunn County respondents approved the Question 377 to 359. Question 2 on the use of non-toxic bullets and slugs on all state owned and managed lands failed on a vote of 22,856 to 32,604 and also failed in the county 284 to 465. Questions 3 and 4 called for the use of non-toxic shot while hunting doves and pheasants. Both questions passed in the statewide vote but both failed in Dunn County. Using non-toxic shot while turkey hunting (Question 5) failed both statewide and in Dunn County by margins of 25,009 to 31,075 and 329 to 426. Question 6 looked at using non-toxic shot for grouse. The state wide vote was 25,853 to 29,203 and locally 341 to 409. The final non-toxic ammo question was Question 7 and it recommended using non-toxic shot and bullets for hunting small game on state owned and managed lands. It failed statewide 22,373 to 33,302 and in the county 274 to 475.
Multiple questions dealt with the subject of baiting and feeding. Restrictions on using artificial water sources for attracting deer and elk was the topic of Question 8. In Dunn County the measure failed by a 242 to 551 vote and statewide the total was 23,245 to 32,574. A prohibition of baiting and feeding was the topic of Question 16. It failed 25,307 to to 28, 521 across Wisconsin and failed 253 to 509 in Dunn county. Question 21 calls for giving the DNR more authority to create baiting and feeding regulations-especially bans to help control the spread of CWD. In Dunn County, which just had CWD identified in the county, the measure failed 288 to 439. The tally statewide was 24,725 to 26,457. Question 22 sought to give CDACs authority to make recommendations on baiting and feeding their respective counties. It failed on a narrow vote statewide 24,536 to 24,766. The vote locally was 310 to 380.
All the questions concerning bear hunting passed. Question 18 called for establishment of a spring bear season. It passed by a wide margin both locally and statewide. Questions 25 and 26 made modifications to what is considered a legal container for bear bait. The two Questions also passed by wide margins.
Other Questions that had a statewide impact included, opposing the Back 40 Mine on the Michigan side of the Menominee River by a very wide margin of 35,406 to 6,946. Question 49 calls for having appropriate harvest and protection levels for native Buffalo Fish. It passed by a wide margin both statewide and in the county. Moving the opening day of muskie season to the first Saturday in May (traditional opening day of fishing season) in the northern part of the state, with the May season being catch and release only passed by a vote of 24,048 to 8976. The vote was 347 to 98 locally.
One important feature of the Spring hearing is the ability of citizens to introduce their own resolutions into the process and if they pass to have the resolution taken up by the Conservation Congress. Three citizen resolutions were introduced in Dunn County. The first resolution calls for CDACs to have more options to recommend for deer hunting structure in their counties to help stop the spread of CWD. Some possible options are additional permits for buck harvest and hunters choice permits in counties affected by CWD. This resolution passed by a vote of 273 to 233. Another resolution in the county called upon the WI DNR to deny permits for the Dairyland Energy Cooperative Nemadji Trail energy Center. The resolution states that the construction of the plant threatens to dry up the water table, pollute underground water, destroy wetlands, and exacerbate climate change. The resolution passed by a vote of 293 to 128. The final citizens resolution calls upon the WI DNR to accept the national Every Kid Outdoors pass at Wisconsin state parks. Currently, the program is not accepted by the DNR. The program is a federal program for 4th grade students and encourages the children and their families to get outside. The tally on the resolution was 437 to 79.

Red Dragon Pie

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Red Dragon Pie is a Hearty and filling vegetarian meal.

Fortunately, one does not need to don shiny armor and a sword and head out to mystic mountains to slay a red dragon to make this vegetarian dish. The red comes from the use of the red adzuki bean and red pepper. Adzuki beans are hard to find so you can substitute any red bean. I used a mix of beans from the garden. Kidney or chili beans will work well. There is also red pepper flakes in this dish so it could be as hot as dragon flames if desired. Another possibly hard to find ingredient is soft goat cheese for the mashed taters. Cream cheese can be substituted for the soft goat cheese. If canned beans rather are used instead of dry beans many hours of cooking time will be saved.

Ingredients

1 cup of dried adzuki beans or substitute another dry bean or canned beans. If using dry beans, soak them over night. 2-8 oz cans of beans will work.

1 teaspoon thyme or 1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
2 stalks of celery diced
dried chili flakes to taste
1 large red pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
3-4 large potatoes chopped
2 tablespoon butter
1 cup of soft goat’s cheese or cream cheese

Directions

1. Simmer the soaked beans in a large pot for about an hour or until beans are tender with the bay leaf and thyme. If using caned beans-open the cans. When done simmering drain beans, but save liquid.

2. Heat oil in cast iron skillet and then saute the onion, carrot, celery and chili pepper. When this mix begins to get soft, add red peppers, and cook for about 8 more minutes.

3. Measure out 1 ¼ cups of bean liquid and add it to vegetable mix, also stir in tomato puree and soy sauce. If using canned beans, now is the time to add the bay leaf and thyme. (remove the bay leaf when done simmering) Simmer gently for half an hour. Add parsley at end of cooking time.

4. While bean veggie mix is simmering, boil the potatoes until tender. Drain. Place in bowl with goat cheese butter. Wait a few minutes for butter and cheese to begin to soften and then mash.

5. Spread potato mix on top of bean/veggie mix. If using cast iron leave bean/veggie mix in skillet. If not, transfer mix to casserole before putting on mashed potatoes. Bake at 325° in the oven for about 30 minutes. Pie should be bubbly on bottom and lightly brown on top.

California Style Ramps & Eggs

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Ramps are one of the first wild foods to emerge in the spring. To me, their flavor is a cross between onion and garlic. Ramps can be eaten raw or incorporated into many dishes.

Last December, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in California. We visited my daughter who lives in Los Angeles and ate some amazingly good food. We quickly noticed that just about every dish in LA is served with avocados. We also had some really great vegetarian meals. So I used these ideas for my starting point when I created this ramps recipe. The ramps are up, but their growth so far is stunted. They are about half the size that they normally reach. Not sure if the slow growth is being caused by the snow, cold, or lack of moisture.

CA Style Ramps & Eggs

Ingredients

1 bunch of ramps cleaned
1 green pepper
1/2 container of fresh mushrooms
2 cups diced potatoes
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
handful of cherry tomatoes

Thin slice the white bulb and purple portion of the ramps. Slice the green leaf part into 1 inch wide strips and set aside. Chop green pepper and slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet then begin to saute sliced ramps, green pepper and mushrooms. After about 5 minutes add diced potatoes. Stir frequently. While potatoes are cooking, beat eggs well and then mix in milk. When potatoes are cooked, stir in cherry tomatoes and ramp leaves. Next, stir in egg and milk mixture. Reduce heat, and cover and let cook until the egg mixture is solid.