Creative Sustenance

Culinary and other adventures in foraging, gardening, urban farming and more, in Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Pickled Suckers and a few Ramps

It seems that this year's "spring" has been stalled in winter-mode forever. April 23rd today and it's a crisp 42°. Someone said close to a foot of snow fell last night in northern Wisconsin. I'm not one to complain about weather; I enjoy all of our region's elemental inconsistencies. But even I am tired of waiting for spring warmth and sun. Mostly I'm tired of waiting for the flush of wild spring edibles that I covet each year.

Today my impatience got the better of me and so I went out and dug up just a few fledgling ramps, their leaves with no more than an couple inches of nascent growth. I don't normally like to do that, as the leaves of mature ramps are as flavorful as the bulbs. But I needed something now! Ramp and duck egg pizza is tonight's dinner entree.

Early spring ramps, with only an inch or two of new leaf growth.

Early spring ramps trimmed and cleaned.

Last week saw my daughter Jesse and I doing a bit of sucker fishing with our dip net. The suckers are running now, though not impressively, and as the larder is bereft of last year's pickled sucker I had a hankering to make some more. We scored a couple of modestly-sized males from the Little Manitowoc River, enough for two jars of pickled meat. See my recipe from last year's (2012) May 5th blog post (the only difference in the recipe is that this time I used apple wine instead of regular white wine).

Dip net. A lot of smelt and suckers, and even crayfish and a few snapping turtles, have made acquaintance with this small net.

Jesse with two small male suckers, our only fish on a cold, rainy day.

We hope to get a few more suckers this week, as I want to pickled at least a dozen jars-worth. 

Pickled sucker. See the May 5, 2012 blog post for recipe.

The rainbow trout are running now as well. The day after Jesse and I went out, which was a weekend, I went out with rod and lure to try my luck alone. One beautiful, silvery 19" male rainbow was my reward, just enough to satisfy my wife and I for lunch that same afternoon. 

Rainbow trout, caught in Little Manitowoc River on a small cleo. Pan-fried with a coating of toasted sesame seeds, he was just what the doctor ordered.

Yes, it's been cool to downright frosty this phony spring month of April, but a few fish and a handful of small ramps are enough to keep the fire in my belly alight.

Several days of rain made for a high and swiftly moving river.

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