Wild Leeks

Wild Leeks, photo by CherryCapitalFoods

Here’s some of a Wild Food Wednesday on Wild Leeks I wrote for eatdrinkTC.com. You often find these oniony treasures when you’re morel hunting. Leeks are in the woodse now, and more than one little bird has told me of morels popping around the state as well! 

Whether you know them as ramps, wild leeks, spring onions or by their scientific name of Allium tricoccum, ramps are a wild onion with a delicious & pungent garlicky flavor. Wild leeks are found from as far south as Alabama all the way up into Canada. To the south, they are more commonly known as ramps while in the north, wild leek is more common. Wikipedia’s page on Allium tricoccum says that “ramps” comes from the English word ramson, a common name of the European bear leek (Allium ursinum) that is related to our American species.

Regarding harvesting, Ramp-age at the Earthy Delights blog says:

Good ramps or wild leeks should have two or three whole bright green leaves with the small white bulb attached by a purplish stem. The leaves are generally about 6 inches long, although ramps tend to be harvested at a somewhat earlier stage than are wild leeks. Depending on where you get them, ramps or wild leeks may be still muddy from the field or all cleaned and trimmed. The key is that they be fresh. Yellowing or withering in the leaves is a sign that they have gone too long.

A papery wrapper leaf (and some dirt) may surround the bulb and should be pulled off as you would with scallions. Trim away any roots along with their little button attachment. The entire plant is now ready for eating.

Once ramps / wild leeks have been cleaned, store them in the refrigerator tightly wrapped to keep them from drying out (and to protect the rest of the contents of the fridge from the heady aroma). They should keep for a week or more, but use them as soon as possible after harvest.

Some wild leek facts & lore:

  • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat. The Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. (World’s Healthiest Foods)
  • The name of Chicago originates from “Checagou” (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah)means “wild onions” in the Potawatomi language. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland and wild leeks that covered it. (Earthy Delights)
  • Wild leeks are high in Vitamins C and A, and are full of healthful minerals. And they have the same cholesterol-reducing capacity found in garlic and other members of this family. (Earthy Delights)
  • The entire plant is edible and leaves, especially when young, are delicious when sauteed. (my kitchen)

View this photo background bigtacular and see more in Cherry Capital Foods’ Spring Hollow Farms slideshow.

I’m especially happy to feature today’s photo because we buy incredible lettuce, greens and duck & quail eggs from Richard & Diana of Spring Hollow Farms of Buckley. If you see them at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market, be sure to buy a bag or two of their spring mix!

More Michigan food and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Sunset over Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains

Sunset over Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains, photo by John McCormick

USA Today is polling their readers to see what they think the 10 best state parks in the nation are. The entry page for the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park says:

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, or the “Porkies” as its known to frequent visitors, encompasses 60,000 acres of lakes, rivers and virgin forest. The park offers camping on the shores of Lake Superior, 90 miles of hiking trails, kayak rentals, mountain biking and, in the winter, access to the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Mich. is currently ranked #2 of 20.

You can click here to vote if you’re so inclined.

John took this evening shot in October 2014 near the east end off the Lake of the Clouds. View it bigger on Flickr, see more staggering photos in his Autumn in Michigan slideshow, and definitely follow him on Facebook at Michigan Nut Photography.

You can click to visit the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park website and get all kinds of Porcupine Mountains rivers, falls and views on Michigan in Pictures.

morel in the wild

morel in the wild, photo by the little red hen

Reports are trickling in from around the state about morels, including some tasty photos from yesterday of morels folks are finding on the Michigan Morel Facebook. Michigan in Pictures has a ton of morel mushroom information to help you find these elusive but delicious delicacies.

Check this out on black and see more in Lynn’s In the kitchen… slideshow.

Speaking of slideshows, don’t miss the morel slideshow in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr!

Manistee River, near Sharon, Michigan

Manistee River, near Sharon, Michigan, photo by gregorydseman

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers. The stretch of the Manistee River from the DNR boat ramp below Tippy Dam to the Michigan State Highway 55 Bridge is the designated stretch (click for map and river management plan). They explain:

The Manistee Wild and Scenic River is well known for beautiful scenery, excellent fishing and a variety of recreational activities. In the spring and fall, high numbers of anglers are attracted to the superb salmon and steelhead runs. During the summer, walleye and pike fishing become the primary recreational activity. The river supports a variety of other recreational uses including wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing and hunting.

Private businesses and government agencies have developed a variety of facilities and services to meet the expanding recreation demands of the public. Commercial guided fishing is one of the most popular activities on the Manistee River. The amount of recreational use fluctuates from year to year, mostly based on the fishing runs and local economic factors. There are eight developed river access sites within the wild and scenic river corridor. The Forest Service maintains sites at High Bridge, Bear Creek, Rainbow Bend and Blacksmith Bayou. The state of Michigan operates a river access site at Tippy Dam. Private recreation sites include Big Manistee Riverview Campground and Coho Bend Campground. The U.S. Forest Service developed recreation sites along the Manistee River require a vehicle parking pass under the Recreation Enhancement Act.

Greg says he took this photo back in 1998 when the river had more water – check it out bigger and see more in his slideshow.

More Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures!

A Healthy Green Glow

A Healthy Green Glow, photo by nasunto

I know it’s wintertime when I start seeing a lot of people asking about the Eben Ice Caves. Like many of the subjects on Michigan in Pictures, I don’t know much more than what I write on the blog. Recently, however, a good-hearted soul created the Eben Ice Caves Facebook page to serve as a hub for information about this wintertime wonder of Michigan.

Nina Asunto writes one of my favorite blogs, Black Coffee at Sunrise, a delightful wander through some of Michigan’s most fascinating places. Nina’s feature on the Eben Ice Caves explains that they are located in the Rock River Wilderness in the western section of Hiawatha National Forest.

Rock River Canyon is 150 feet deep and lined with sandstone outcrops, which have been eroded to form concave overhangs. During winter, ground water seeps over the edge and down through the sandstone where it freezes, creating huge curtains of ice and closing off the front of the outcrops to form caves.

In winter it is possible to access the ice caves from the south side of the wilderness area. A few miles north of Eben Junction, visitors can park their cars by the side of the road and cross an open field to the forest. The field is private property, but the owner allows for its use in winter to access the ice caves…

We had both seen a few photos of the ice caves, but none of them really captured the size of this phenomenon…

What we weren’t able to capture, however, was the amazing sound inside the cave. The drips of water falling from above created wonderful echoes and added to the cave atmosphere. There is much variation of color and texture to the ice in different parts of the cave. Some formations were smooth and clear, others were bumpy and hollow-sounding, and there were some columns that looked like dripping candle wax.

Read on for many more photos. You can also view this photo background bigtacular and see more in her fantastic Eben Ice Caves slideshow on Flickr!

More Eben Ice Caves on Michigan in Pictures.

Changing Skies over the Au Sable HDR

Changing Skies over the Au Sable HDR, photo by hz536n/George Thomas

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

Michigan’s has 16 Wild & Scenic Rivers. One of these is the Au Sable River. The 23 mile stretch of the river from Mio downstream to the 401 Bridge is the portion that has the National Scenic River designation, considered to offer some of the best canoeing in Michigan. It’s also a blue ribbon trout stream with excellent brown trout fly fishing and holding walleye, pike and bass as well.

With all that going for it, I was surprised by the lack of quality information available online about this river. Sometimes, having to dive a little deeper pays off as it has this morning with Michigan’s Au Sable River: Today and Tomorrow by G. E. Hendrickson. The paper was prepared way back in 1966 for the Michigan Department of Conservation under Gov. George Romney’s administration in conjunction with the Geological Survey and the United States Department of the Interior.

Located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, the Au Sable is known for its high water quality, scenery, recreational opportunities, coldwater fishery, and historic and cultural significance. It may just be the. If that were not enough reason to visit the river, the Au Sable is also one of the best canoeing rivers in the Midwest.

Two south-flowing rivers rise in the country north of Grayling. One, the Manistee, turns west to Lake Michigan; the other, the Au Sable, turns east to Lake Huron. Both are famous trout streams, but the Au Sable is perhaps enjoyed and cherished by more people than any other Michigan river. Cool clean flowing water, natural cover, and gravel spawning beds make it an outstanding trout stream. Its natural beauty attracts canoeists, campers, and cabin dwellers.

The upper Au Sable is a young river, as rivers go, having settled down to its present course after the glaciers retreated about 12,000 years ago. It was named by early French explorers, the name meaning “River of Sands.” Following close on the heels of the retreating ice, the earliest Indians moved into Michigan, and possibly into the Au Sable area. The Indians hunted for deer, bear, mastodons, giant beaver, caribou, and other wildlife. They also fished for many species. To the Indians the Au Sable was a source of food and drink and a highway for canoe travel. Early white traders and explorers used the river for the same purposes, while the lumbermen valued it chiefly for transporting logs.

You can read on for a lot more including the story of the extinction of the Au Sable river Grayling and Au Sable River drift boats.

Check this out background bigtacular and see a ton more in George’s Fall & Autumn slideshow.

More of Michigan’s Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures.

Ox Bow on the Manistee River

Ox Bow on the Manistee River, photo by jimflix!.

Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers. The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of October 2, 1968 provided for federally designated rivers that “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.” A 26 mile section of the Manistee River was added in 1992 from the Michigan DNR boat ramp below Tippy Dam to the Michigan State Highway 55 Bridge. On the Manistee’s page at the Wild & Scenic River website they say:

The Manistee Wild and Scenic River is well known for beautiful scenery, excellent fishing and a variety of recreational activities. In the spring and fall, high numbers of anglers are attracted to the superb salmon and steelhead runs. During the summer, walleye and pike fishing become the primary recreational activity. The river supports a variety of other recreational uses including wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing and hunting.
Private businesses and government agencies have developed a variety of facilities and services to meet the expanding recreation demands of the public. Commercial guided fishing is one of the most popular activities on the Manistee River. The amount of recreational use fluctuates from year to year, mostly based on the fishing runs and local economic factors. There are eight developed river access sites within the wild and scenic river corridor. The Forest Service maintains sites at High Bridge, Bear Creek, Rainbow Bend and Blacksmith Bayou. The state of Michigan operates a river access site at Tippy Dam. Private recreation sites include Big Manistee Riverview Campground and Coho Bend Campground. The Forest Service developed recreation sites along the Manistee River require a vehicle parking pass under the Recreation Enhancement Act.

View this photo background big and in Jim’s Manistee River slideshow.

More Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures!

American Marten 1

American Marten 1, photo by 13Miles.

The UM Animal Diversity web page on the American marten (Martes americana) says that American marten, also known as pine marten, are found in the northern reaches of North America and sporadically in Michigan, primarily in mature, northern forests:

These animals are closely associated with lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, spruce, and mixed harwood forests. They tend to be found in structurally complex, mature forests, and can occur at all elevations where such habitat exists. They den in hollow trees, crevices, or vacant ground burrows.

…American martens are somewhat arboreal (tree dwelling) and move with great ease in trees. They mark scent trails from tree to tree with their strong scent glands. In spite of this, they are reported to do most of their hunting on the ground. Most hunting occurs at dusk and dawn, when prey species are most active. In addition, these animals are accomplished swimmers and can even swim under water.
…Home range sizes vary considerably with habitat and prey densities. American martens do not hibernate and is active all winter.

You can read more and see pictures from Animal Diversity Web and on the American marten page at Wikipedia. The Michigan DNR’s page on the American marten says that:

According to records, the American marten was eliminated from Michigan around the 1930s. Removal of the mature evergreen forests and unregulated harvest of martens reduced the species to small populations in the Upper Peninsula. These eventually disappeared from the state. The 1927-28 Biennial Report stated, “They (marten and fisher) are so nearly exterminated in Michigan that there appears no chance they will ever come back.” Recovery efforts were initiated as early as 1958 with releases of captured martens into the Upper Peninsula Porcupine Mountains. Additional releases in the UP were conducted in the 1970s.

…Biologists have followed their progress over the years tracking pine martens to learn about their habitat use and home range needs. These studies along with sighting reports from hunters and other recreationists and incidental catches indicated the martens were readapting to their native Michigan.
During the review of the current Endangered Species List, biologists felt the population has recovered enough to upgrade its status. Martens are frequently becoming a part of the outdoor experience in Michigan with more and more encounters reported by hikers, campers, trappers, and hunters.

Once gone, the martens have returned home due to the efforts of many private organizations and agencies, but especially due to the support given by the donations of Michigan’s taxpayers to the nongame income tax checkoff.

Dixie took this photo last February around Grand Marais. Check it out bigger and see a few more shots of this beautiful animal in her marten slideshow.

More Michigan animals from Michigan in Pictures.

Wild UP Cranberries

November 17, 2011

Wild UP cranberries

Wild UP cranberries, photo by Blondieyooper.

We’re gearing up for Thanksgiving on Absolute Michigan today with two features. One will help you make it a Michigan Thanksgiving and the other has a bowlful of information about Michigan cranberries.

A few years ago Waterland Living wrote about wild cranberries. It’s packed with great advice about finding and harvesting cranberries so check it out!

See April’s photo background bigtastic and in her tasty cups of things slideshow.

Along the Sturgeon River

Along the Sturgeon River, photo by Coder.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers (management plan pdf) . Two of them are called the Sturgeon River: this one in the Ottawa National Forest in the eastern UP and the Sturgeon River in the Hiawatha National Forest in the western UP. This Sturgeon River is even the photo on the main page at rivers.gov, so it’s clear that they really liked it!!

Also note that Field & Stream tapped Michigan #1 for flyfishing in the USA in 2011. One of the reasons is the portion of the Sturgeon River within the Ottawa National Forest is classified as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream!

Coder shot this in 2010 along the Sturgeon River on the way to Canyon Falls. Click to his map to see where the photo was taken. Check it out background big and in his ‘Scapes slideshow.

More Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures.

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