Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Top Of Spaghetti

Some of my very good, and longtime friends, the Grassi’s and the Perfetti’s, come from some serious Italian heritage. When I say serious, I mean serious! I’m talking, macaroni and gravy every Friday kind of serious. Homemade, award-winning wine, out of the custom wine cellar, kind of serious.  

Why they decided to let me into their tight knit group is beyond me, but let me tell you, I’ll never complain. They feed me well, they are as loyal as can be, and always greet me with a kiss on the cheek and a glass of wine!  

Through the years, they’ve taught me a lot about love as well as a thing or two about Italian cuisine, as if you can separate the two. 

Here is a recipe for some serious, melt in your mouth, make your mama proud meatballs.  

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (try not to use curly parsley, it is not as flavorful as flat leaf)
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed and processed in the blender
½ cup milk
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork or lamb
1 egg
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh is always best
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 jars good quality jarred sauce (you don’t have to use jarred, if you prefer, you can make it from scratch)

  • Heat a couple passes of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and parsley and cook approximately 5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Set pan aside to cool.
  • Place processed fresh bread crumbs in a bowl and pour milk over them and set aside. I realize this sounds a bit different, but think about the concept of adding dried breadcrumbs to something, it can’t help but suck all the moisture out of it, rather than ADD moisture…and you just had an “aha moment.” You’re welcome.
  • Combine beef, pork (or lamb), egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese then season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread cubes to get rid of excess milk and add to the meat mixture along with the cooled onions. Combine all ingredients and shape into 15 meatballs (this is gauged by my hands, if you have smaller or larger hands, of course you will have more or less meatballs).
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce (uncooked) and simmer for approximately 40 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Serve however you would like. You can eat them alone, make a meatball sub or serve over nice thick homemade spaghetti, my personal favorite!!!  
Tasty Tidbit: Following the logic that everyone is Irish on St. Patricks Day, I think everyone who cooks Italian food while listening to old “blue eyes” cooks better. Well, it can’t hurt! Download some of these classic Frank Sinatra songs to accompany you in the kitchen for this meal:

Come Fly With Me
I Get a Kick Out of You
I’ve Got The World On a String
My Funny Valentine
From Here To Eternity
Young at Heart


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

Weeks 2 and 3 of my CSA from Fish Hawk Acres were chocked full of curious culinary delights. My boxes included items like golden, bull’s blood, and champagne ice beets, Asian greens, pea tendrils, white carrots, micro herbs, celery root, and a plethora of beautiful, tender, and flavorful lettuces. I even received dried black turtle beans, and a gorgeous focaccia from Jeff’s Breads that I used to make some tasty croutons.

I created all the recipes that Chef Hawkins included with my package, and while all of them were brilliant, I have decided to share with you the recipes that surprised me the most. Why surprising you say? Surprising because they turned out to be my favorite even though they were made from the UGLIEST produce I have ever laid my eyes upon; beets and the celery root. I’ve already shared my thoughts on beets, but have you ever seen a celery root?

Never in a million years would I have ever sought out this stumpy looking outcast but thanks to Chef Hawkins, I’m a believer! The next time you find yourself at a farmers market or grocery store and you stumble upon one of these guys, don’t hide your eyes and run away scared, grab it. It really is one of the most delightful roots with which you’ll ever cook.

Whole Roasted Beet Salad                     By Chef Dale Hawkins

2 medium red beets, peeled and halved
2 medium yellow beets, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
4 cups Asian greens, washed and spun
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons crumbed chevre’ goat cheese
Orange Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
• Toss the beets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap individually in foil
• Roast beets for 40 to 45 minutes, until caramelized and tender
Note: you can roast the beets up to two days in advance
• Heat remaining olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat
• Saute’ shallots for 5 minutes, until tender
• Chop roasted beets into bite size chunks
• Add beets to the hot oil and shallots, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until just cooked through
• Toss beets with half of the orange vinaigrette
• Place greens in a large serving bowl and top with beets
• Drizzle remaining dressing over greens
• Top with chopped walnuts and chevre cheese

Orange Vinaigrette
By Chef Dale Hawkins 

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice*
2/3 cup olive oil
½ clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, finely chopped

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until the dressing is well blended. Alternately, you can vigorously whisk the ingredients in a small bowl until they are incorporated together.
*Blood oranges are wonderful in this recipe, but difficult to find this time of year. If you are lucky enough to have access, I recommend using one.

Celery Root and Potato Puree
By Alice Waters (The Art of Simple Food)

3 medium potatoes (preferably yellow fleshed) cut into large pieces
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 celery root, peeled and sliced thin

• Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, Drain, and pass through a ricer or a food mill, return to the pot, stir in two tablespoons of butter, set aside
• Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium low in a heavy bottomed pan
• Add celery root, season with salt
• Cover pan tightly and cook until soft, 12 to 15 minutes (lower heat if celery root begins to turn brown)
• Puree in a blender
• Stir into the potatoes
• If the puree is too thick, thin with milk
• Season with salt and pepper if needed

Tasty Tidbits:
  • The celery root and beets can be easily peeled with a potato peeler or paring knife
  • Add a little milk to celery root to make pureeing in the blender smoother
  • A nice piece of grilled halibut perched upon the celery root puree would make an insanely delicious combination

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Will Skip School For Food

Today, America’s school buses had a lot less passengers as children left their books at home and went out into the world to experience a different type of education. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a pseudo career day giving youth the opportunity to discover not only what their parents do for a living, but also the opportunities that exist as they start to make decisions about their own futures.

I was thrilled to find out that my children had decided to spend the day with me this year instead of my husband. Can you blame them? Their options were:

a) sit in an office and take conference calls all day; or
b) go out and explore West Virginia.

In the words of my bright young children, “Duh!”

Each of them started the day with a role; Carlee, my 12 year old, was the photographer and Kyle, my nine year old, was the journalist. As we explored,  their job was to document and tell a story, both in pictures and prose.  I only had one question for them as we left the house, “if you could tell people about some places in West Virginia that you think are super special, what would you tell them about?” Here is what they had to say:

The Poky Dot Diner in Fairmont (Note from Kyle: check out my mom's article about the Poky Dot Diner in the Spring 2009 issue of WV Living Magazine.)

A gigantic hot chocolate smothered in chocolate syrup was just the nutrition they needed to start their adventure off right.

French Toast, off of the kids menu, included a garnish of cherry shoe string licorice.

We drove around for a while to enjoy the beautiful scenery and sunshine and before you knew it, it was lunch time!  We were off to The Country Club Bakery in Fairmont (rumored to be the home of the first pepperoni roll) for a perfect mid afternoon snack.

A sign on the side of Country Club Road in Fairmont let's you know that tucked in the back, that nondescript building is, in fact, the bakery.

They both thought it was "pretty cool," that Country Club Bakery was featured in the January 2007 issue of Gourmet Magazine.

Finally, something sweet to top off their tanks; their favorite detour in all of Morgantown, Tutto-Gelato on High Street where Kyle had a few questions for owner Sarah Straface.  

Kyle: How did Tutto Gelato get started?
Sarah: When we were in Italy we fell in love with Gelato and wanted to bring it home with us.

Kyle: What is your most popular flavor?
Sarah: Stracciatella, which is like a chocolate chip.

Kyle: Do you make or sell any other products?
Sarah: Yes, we sell coffee drinks, pastries, and other specialty beverages. We even have Mutt Licks (doggie ice cream).

Kyle: What is Gelato made of?
Sarah: That’s a good question! The fruit gelato is water based, so it’s like a sorbet with fruit. The others are milk based and include sugar and flavoring. And the best part is it’s all made right here in our store.

Kyle: Who started the company?
Sarah: My cousin Jenna Straface and myself.

Kyle: When did the company start? Sarah: We opened in June of 2007.

Tasty Tidbits: 
  • Kyle’s favorite Tutto-gelato flavors are blood orange and lemon
  • Carlee’s favorite Tutto-gelato flavors are blood orange and lemon
  • Tutto-Gelato is on Facebook
Our day ended with a trip to WV Living Magazine's home office to tell publisher and editor Nikki Bowman about our kid friendly favorites.  And of course use it as a photo opportunity/shameless plug for our upcoming wedding issue, hitting stores in May!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Although you may not currently receive a CSA from Fish Hawk Acres, you can find many of the same ingredients listed in Chef Hawkins recipes at local farmers markets.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of ours, which is just about ready to open for the season.  

Since it’s Earth Day, I thought I’d use the opportunity to provide information on the many wonderful farmers markets around our state.  It’s a great opportunity to help the environment, and by patronizing your local market you’re putting money back into the hands of the farmer, the local baker, and the small shop owner. 

If that doesn’t encourage you to check out your farmers market, let me appeal to your taste buds.  Have I mentioned how delicious fresh, local produce tastes?  Let me mention it.  Local produce is delicious, and far superior to the produce that has to be picked early so that it can be ripe by the time it makes its way to the grocery store. 

Of course it is not always possible to shop locally, especially in the winter months, but spring has sprung in West Virginia, go taste it!

Here is a great listing of West Virginia Farmers Markets.  If you know of one that is not listed on the link, feel free to leave a comment on this post or send an email to


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chart my course in Harpers Ferry

I'm heading out around the state next week to do some exploring for an upcoming article I'm working on for the magazine. If you're familiar with Harpers Ferry, send me a note about some of your favorite places; sightseeing, shopping, dining, it's all fair game! You can leave a comment on the blog or send an email to

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beets Me

I received my second CSA from Fish Hawk Acres on Friday, just before I went out of town for the weekend.  So while I haven't yet gotten to the recipes from Chef Hawkins,  I'm especially excited about this delivery and it's recipes.   In addition to the wonderful salad greens, Asian greens, baby radishes, and pea tendrils, it includes a variety of colorful beets;golden, bull's blood and champagne ice.  The reason that I am particularly excited about the beets is because until last year, I had never tasted a beet. It always seemed like an odd vegetable to me, and no matter how much beet advocates insisted on their natural, earthy sweetness,  I could never get past their ugly exterior (In their natural state, I think they resemble the tail of a rodent).  

Thankfully last year, while out to dinner with some friends in Lenox, Massachusetts, I decided to put my preconceptions aside, and try this less than beautiful root vegetable. I was absolutely amazed at how much I liked them, so much so that I made a promise to myself that I would learn how to prepare them at home. Now, with the guidance of Chef Hawkin's Whole Roasted Beet Salad recipe, I'll be able to fulfill that promise this week, stay tuned for the results.

In the meantime, here is one last recipe from week 1 of my Fish Hawk Acres CSA, which is far too delicious to keep to myself. Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon Ramp Dressing, courtesy of Chef Hawkins.


2-3 cups fresh spinach, stemmed, washed and spun
1/4 cup ramps, minced
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
4 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. bacon drippings
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper

  • Place prepared spinach in a large bowl.  Refigerate, tightly covered
  • Fry bacon until crisp, remove to paper towel and set aside
  • Saute' he minced ramps in the bacon drippings for about 5 minutes over low heat
  • Add sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper
  • Toss the chpped egg with the greens then pour the hot dressing over the greens, toss again lightly
  • Top with crumbled bacon

Note for vegetarians: Bacon can easily be omitted.  Use Olive Oil in place of bacon drippings.

Cooks note: I was out of bacon so I substituted some ham that I had leftover from Easter dinner.

P.S.  This is a recipe that I will surely repeat many times, it was so simple to make and really tasty.  It also was a perfect salad to pair the last piece of my Whole Wheat Country Sourdough bread from Jeff's Breads in Renick.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’m a novice runner and when I hit the pavement, I’m usually slow but rarely steady (more like a “run/walker” than a runner). While I haven’t yet mastered the art of running the perfect race, I have mastered how to turn out a pretty tasty piece of chicken. The key is a little preparation, low heat and slow cookin’; it’s a winner every time.  

Preparation Part 1=Brining
If you don’t brine, you really must start. It is the difference between a dry, tasteless piece of chicken and a moist, succulent one with flavor that travels right down to the bone.
There are all sorts of brine recipes that you can play around with that utilize fruits, herbs, and even maple syrup.  Here is a basic brine recipe that is great for chicken breasts.

Brine Recipe:

• 1-quart cold water
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt
• ½ cup of sugar
• Mix water, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to dissolve
• Put one pound of chicken in the brine (I use Ziploc bags, you can also use a large pan with a lid) and refrigerate for one hour
• Remove from the water and rinse REALLY well (at least 1 minute under cold water)
• Pat dry

Preparation Part 2=Dry Rub
You can go crazy with dry rubs, make your own, buy them in the store, it’s completely up to you. I personally like to play around with dry rubs that I find in the spice isle of the grocery store. Chef Heath Finnell of Café Bacchus is going to be sharing a few dry rub recipes with WV Living Food within the next couple of weeks that you may want to try out, stay tuned.

I like to mix a little bit of oil into the dry rub to ensure it sticks to the chicken. I’m told this technically makes it a wet rub, so if you’re a purist, leave the oil out.   As for me, I think it’s helpful AND it helps the chicken skin crisp up at the end of the cooking process.  Dry rub/wet rub, run/walk...such technicalities.

The slow and the steady 
• Preheat oven to 275 degrees
• Transfer the brined and rubbed chicken to a baking sheet
• Bake 2 hours (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees)
• Remove chicken from oven

The strong finish
My running partner tells me, "no matter how slow your race, always finish strong!"

• Adjust oven rack so it is close to the broiler
• Set oven to broil
• Broil chicken 5-10 minutes, until skin is crispy brown

We want to know, what is your favorite side dish for chicken?  Better yet, we want the recipe!  Feel free to post a comment to this post or send an email to 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Food, Fun and Friends-West Virginia Style

If a tree falls down in the woods and no one is around to hear it- does it make a sound? If you have the most breathtaking scenery and mouthwatering food but not your best friends to share it with, is there any joy in having it?

My childhood girlfriends came from New York to visit me in West Virginia this weekend. After spending a few days in our wonderful state, wild and wonderful became so much more to them than adjectives painted on a welcome sign.  

Fortunately, when they arrived on Friday, I had just received my CSA from Fish Hawk Acres and was able to incorporate some of Chef Hawkins dishes into my welcome dinner. His Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps was a hit. The recipe was really simple to prepare and allowed all the ingredients to compliment one another while maintaining their distinct flavors. It was also a nice way to introduce my friends to the famous West Virginia ramp.

The second item I prepared from my CSA was a gorgeous Simple Spring Salad suggested by Chef Hawkins. The flavor of the freshly harvested lettuces was the perfect precursor to my main course, “slow and steady” barbequed chicken.
A good meal was what we needed to gain sustenance and courage for our Saturday morning adventure, a rafting trip down the spectacular Cheat Canyon. Our trip began at Cheat River Outfitters in Albright, WV and ended thirteen miles (and several class 5 rapids) later at the Jenkinsburg Bridge. It was one of the most exhilarating adventures I have ever experienced in my life. Besides being an absolute blast, the beauty throughout the canyon was breathtaking, truly a majesty that could never be experienced from a car window. Our guides, Mike and Travis, were wonderful! They were superior rafters with a keen sense of the river, not to mention a whole lot of fun to spend the day with. Our entire group concurred that even though the river was a wild ride, we felt safe under the direction and guidance of the folks at Cheat River Outfitters.

The weather for our rafting trip was cold and rainy, and staying warm was a bit of a challenge.  (Don't let this deter you, this is when the rapids are at their best and from my perspective, as long as you dress properly, it is manageable.) I did learn a food related tip from our raft boat guide, Travis Cobb, that I thought was a great tip to share with readers. In the cold, your body burns up more food in order to keep warm. When we stopped for lunch, he suggested that we eat some of the peanut butter that was provided, since it’s high in fat it would help keep us warm. I looked it up after our trip to confirm that it was in fact true and found several articles confirming his advice. So the next time you’re preparing to go out in the cold, eat peanut butter (as long as you aren't allergic)!

It brought me much joy to share West Virginia with friends that I love this weekend. Our trip down the Cheat River was such a memorable day; we’re considering a trip to Fayetteville in September to experience another of West Virginia’s rafting rivers, the Gauley. Look for Jessica Schueler's upcoming article on white water rafting and the town of Fayetteville in WV Living’s Summer 2009 issue.  

Chef Hawkins Recipes:

Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps


1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup ramps, chopped
2 cups chopped raw spinach
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cooked cranberry beans
1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and ramps; sauté until soft. Add spinach and sauté, stirring, until wilted. Add broth, cooked beans, the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with freshly grated Romano Cheese if desired.

Simple Spring Salad

Salad greens, washed and spun (or dried)
1 ½ oranges, (1/2 juiced, 1 segmented)
½ lemon, juice only
½ small red onion, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper
½ cup walnut halves, toasted
1/3 cup black olives (the wrinkly, oily ones), pitted

In a medium bowl whisk together the juice of 1/2 orange, lemon juice, most of the red onion, olive oil, and salt. Whisk together until emulsified, taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed. Peel the remaining orange and cut into segments, removing any seeds you might encounter. Set aside.

When you're ready to serve, place the salad greens in a large bowl. Toss very gently with a generous splash of the dressing. Add the orange segments and walnuts. Give another toss. Taste and decide if you need to add more dressing, if needed, add a bit more at a time, giving a good toss between additions. Make sure the nuts and citrus haven't all gone to the bottom; help them back up to the top if needed. Serve salad topped with the remaining red onion and olives.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Special Delivery

Food has always been a vessel that allows my mind to travel to moments of comfort, happiness and love. The smell of gingerbread transports me to my grandmother’s living room where every afternoon around 1:00 she could be found sitting in her chair, dipping a gingersnap cookie into her tea. When I walk past an olive bar and see cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and dry provolone, I remember the first date I had with my husband. And when I eat fresh green beans, I remember the summer camp that I went to when I was nine years old. The camp organizers took us on a field trip to a farm where we were allowed to pick green beans off the vine and taste them. I remember my reaction vividly; I had had green beans before, but never as sweet, as flavorful, or as fresh! It is the summer I began to eat my vegetables.  

Today I received a very special delivery in the mail. This year is my very first as a shareholder in a CSA. CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, by becoming a shareholder of a CSA, you help support the costs associated in operating a farm as well as getting to enjoy the fruits of the farmers labor. This is my favorite part, notice I said the “farmers labor!”

The CSA that I joined is called Fish Hawk Acres and is located in Rock Cave, WV. I chose Fish Hawk Acres for three important reasons: 1) It is in West Virginia and I feel it is important to support local farms. 2) They deliver directly to my front door via UPS again, little effort on my part (yes, there is a pattern here). 3) The CSA comes with recipes prepared by Chef Dale Hawkins of Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, WV. For information on Fish Hawk Acres and other CSA’s in WV or local farmers markets visit

I will be preparing the recipes provided by Chef Hawkins with the produce that I get each week and posting the results and my commentary on WV Living Food. As you can see by the picture, my very first CSA box contained some beautiful produce with some exciting recipes. Stay tuned for my follow up posting to see how my Bean Soup with Spinach and Ramps and Simple Spring Salad turn out. I’ll be enjoying it with a loaf of whole-wheat country sourdough bread that was included in the box from Jeff’s Bread’s in Renick, WV.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4th Street-Downtown Clarksburg

Today I headed to  Clarksburg to get my car serviced.  I decided to stick around and wait for it and by the time the technicians were done it was noon and I was hungry.    I had a coupon for 10% off of the service and when the gentleman at the dealership showed me my savings I immediately thought that I should reward my  frugality with lunch! Yes, sad but true, this is how my mind is programmed.  

I headed downtown to see what looked good and ran across a place aptly named "4th Street" on the corner of 4th Street and Traders Avenue.  I scoped out an empty parking spot and grabbed it.

The decor inside, although housed in an old brick building, was decidedly modern, utilizing contemporary light fixtures and art. Interestingly, there was still a warmth and sense of history maintained by the terra cotta walls, old tin ceiling, and crown moulding.

All the tables were full and the jazz music was muffled by the buzz of the lunch crowd which was a mixture of  ladies at lunch and business people.  I was actually pleased that the only table left was by the window, allowing me to watch the people walking by outside.

The lunch menu included appetizers, salads and sandwiches, all ranging in price from $8 to $13.

I opted for their "signature sandwich" called 4th Street (I thought I'd stick with the theme).  Their menu describes it as "thinly sliced Italian meats and provolone cheese baked on a crusty peasant roll, and topped with lettuce, tomato and onion tossed in our house vinaigrette,".  It was served in a basket and came with a side of potato salad, homemade potato chips and a pickle, all for $9.    The portion of the sandwich was large enough for me to pack up half of it to enjoy later.  For more information about 4th Street, check out their website at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wet Your Whistle

This weekend I had the opportunity to try BranchWater, a bottled water tapped at  Minnehaha Springs in Pocahontas County, and I was really quite impressed.

At first, I have to admit,  I didn't quite get the hip flask design but when I saw my husband slip it into his back pocket while walking across the field to our son's soccer game, I had a big "aha" moment. It makes so much sense, and honestly, I was surprised one of the giant bottled water producers hadn't already thought of it. The bottle design alone is uncanny. It's sleek and compact and fits in a back or side pocket with ease. It seems great for a whole host of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, walking and even soccer games. Apparently I am not the only person who feels this way, the BranchWater folks just won a gold medal at the Berkley Springs International Water Competition for package design.

Package design is one thing, but how does it taste? Well, I don't hold a Ph.D. in water tasting (not even an undergrad) but I must say, as an everyday water drinking kind of gal, I thought it had a very crisp, refreshing and satisfying quality. Actually, I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering getting a water cooler for my kitchen so I can utilize their 5-gallon delivery service. I'm not suggesting you do the same, but if you are a bottled water drinker, you really must give BranchWater a try, you can order it online or find it at Hilton Garden Inn in Clarksburg, Adventures Edge in Morgantown, Tuscan Sun Spa in Snowshoe, and at the BranchWater location in Fairmont.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Got Ramps?

Today was an extremely exciting day for me. My husband and I had just gotten off of Exit 132 on I-79, otherwise known as the South Fairmont exit. We were traveling 250 North when suddenly, just before Muriale’s restaurant, a sign with the handwritten word RAMPS appeared. “Stop the car,” I shouted, like a woman possessed. He looked at me, confused. “Ramps,” I said. “They are selling ramps!!!”

Rewind a few months to a meeting with WV Living magazine editor and publisher, Nikki Bowman. We were discussing the editorial calendar for our Spring issue when she assigned me a story on ramps. “On what?” I had absolutely no idea what a ramp was, somewhere in my mind I was wondering how skateboarding had anything to do with West Virginia culture.

Check out my travel story on ramps in the heritage section of WV Living’s spring issue,  you’ll see that this appalachia newcomer became very well acquainted with the highly celebrated delicacy. Of course, since the story was written in the winter months, I had yet to have the opportunity to taste what these little stinkers were all about. So today, I brought home my treasure and got to work cleaning them.   Which by the way is no easy task. Once they were all nice and clean it was time to put my kitchen prowess to the test! I have to admit that I wasn't brave enough to eat the ramp as a main ingredient, so I decided to prepare them the way that had been most commonly suggested from the native West Virginian's I interviewed while writing the story; fried with a little bit of bacon and potatoes. Let me tell you, after my first bite, West Virginia owns a bigger piece of my heart.

Ramp Fried Potatoes

  • 3/4 cup ramps, coursley chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large boiled potatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks

  • over medium heat, cook bacon until the fat begins to render
  • add ramps and cook over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes
  • add potatoes and cook until golden brown
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Tell us your favorite ramp recipe by posting a comment to WV Food or by emailing me at