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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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The Roving Sportsman… Enjoying Our Springtime Bounty

For many of Pennsylvania’s spring gobbler hunters sweet success has already occurred and some are pursuing their second bird. Others are still seeking their first bird of the season as the wary old birds continue to evade them. The good news is that there is still plenty of time, especially with all day hunting in

For many of Pennsylvania’s spring gobbler hunters sweet success has already occurred and some are pursuing their second bird. Others are still seeking their first bird of the season as the wary old birds continue to evade them. The good news is that there is still plenty of time, especially with all day hunting in effect through the remainder of the season which concludes on May 31.

Yet other sportsmen will be avidly bending a rod as they fish mountain streams for trout or other waters for many of our other very edible species of fish. With this in mind, why not combine some freshly caught fish or a recently tagged spring turkey with other bounties that are available now? I am referring to ramps (also called wild leeks) and edible wild mushrooms.

Wild leeks have been up and available for several weeks and if you intend to harvest some of these tasty spring onion-like plants, you should do so soon. As they mature over the next few weeks they become rather strong tasting as they lose their mild flavor. These broad leaf plants grow in clumps, sometimes blanketing an area of from several square yards to entire creek bottoms or side hills near small streams in a woodsy setting. They are identifiable by their several broad dark green leaves rising up from the stem that, once pulled from the ground, appears very much like a domestic spring onion. In their early stages of appearance in the spring, they are a delicacy, but their flavor becomes very strong as they continue to grow. When first picked, they are great in salads or added to casseroles or soup.

A favorite recipe of some old fishing pals of mine was a leek and potato soup. They would gather along a mountain stream for an afternoon cookout. Freshly caught trout would be on the menu – cooked over a wood fire, of course. Two of the men would be in charge of the trout cooking. Two others would undertake the task of mixing Manhattans or opening the usual bottle of wine. Two more were tasked with preparing the soup.

The soup ingredients included 1 cup of diced potatoes per person, 1 cup of chopped wild leeks, 1 pint of heavy whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste. Fresh cool stream water (enough to cover the diced potatoes) in a large pot was brought to a boil over a wood fire. Once the potatoes were soft, smash the potatoes and then add the chopped leeks and heavy whipping cream. Return to a boil, add water to the desired consistency and add salt and pepper to taste.

This soup was always a favorite, especially on a cool spring afternoon being enjoyed along a mountain stream. I do remember on one occasion, however, where the soup did not turn out well and all in attendance reverted to the Manhattans and wine to satisfy their taste buds!

Morel mushrooms and wild oyster mushrooms are two of the many wild mushrooms that I trust myself to properly identify and harvest. Both are extremely flavorful and are keenly sought by those
who know about them. Reports are coming in that the morels are beginning to show and the oyster mushrooms are soon to follow. Make sure you do the research to be certain about their identification before you pick them.

Either specie is delicious when pan fried in butter. Once again, the entire experience is enhanced when they are cooked over a wood fire in a streamside setting and prepared for a meal that includes either sliced wild turkey breast or freshly caught trout – either one pan fried in butter!

Gather up some of these spring bounties, call up a few friends and head out to a nearby mountain stream. A streamside cookout on a late spring day might just become a tradition that you will revisit often!

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