For your consideration, a list of ingredients with very, very short seasons: figs, persimmons, perfectly ripe strawberries, and ramps. There are others, of course, but these come to mind as I draft this post—a post that, unfortunately, is paired with a poem whose brief window of glory was back in April, or thereabouts.
So we will adapt, as we do. Adaptation (the evolution, not the film starring Meryl Streep and Nicholas Cage) has been on my mind this year occasionally when I've had time to stop and actually think. As someone who used to make plans and stick to them (everything from vacation itineraries to weekly meals), there's been somewhat of a learning curve to slowly transition from hyper organized to easygoing.
You might say I'm a recovering Type A personality. I'm still organized and I still like to look at the big picture, but I don't stress about small things as much anymore, especially, especially when they fall outside my control (which is often).
Like most things in life worth doing, progress was slow for a while, but years later, I can see a real softening of spirit and a much more peaceful mindset than I used to have, which has come in handy this year especially.
Because we had a baby. Because we moved. Because our oven stopped working on Thanksgiving Day, and our kitchen sink backed up on Christmas Eve. Because it took four months for our new slipcover to arrive. Because our building decided to change the garage codes the same day I was picking up my sister-in-law at the airport. Because that's usually the way it goes.
So, we adapt. We make a new plan. We just see how it goes. I still plan our meals because that's how my life stays on track these days, but I like to leave room for inspiration to strike, especially at the farmer's market.
And although ramps might not be in season now that it's October, the poem below transports us back to the clear days of spring.
by Kyle Potvin
After Poached Eggs on Toast with Ramps
– Bon Appétit, April 2014
Hail young allium!
Your season is brief
yet you are complicated,
three parts in one:
pungent bulb that hides beneath the surface,
broad tender leaf that disappears by summer.
Your ancestors have lined rivers
and fed tribes.
A city – Chicagou –
is named in your honor!
Some try to preserve you,
for the months ahead
but I say:
Sizzle in the heat of the pan.
Soften to unexpected sweetness.
Join with the delicate egg, poached,
on a thick slice of toast,
thinly spread with cheese:
fresh goat, ricotta, burrata.
This Sunday morning,
rock the Maldon.
Run with the abandon
of broken yolk.
Printed with permission from the author.
This poem has summed up my feelings nicely. The directive is firm but friendly: "Sizzle in the heat of the pan. / Soften to unexpected sweetness." In several stanzas, we are given instructions in both cooking and living. Rather than hoarding ramps for the future and giving up precious time in the moment to preserve them, there's an alternative I very much like, which involves three cheese options, a thick slice of toast, poached egg, and flaky salt.
Stay present. Stay hungry.
I am both of these things. In wrong season, perhaps, but I have adapted. I have replaced the bread with pizza dough, and ramps with scallions. And we have what is still a very good meal indeed.
GRILLED SCALLION AND RICOTTA PIZZA
When ramps are not in season, green onions make a worthy substitute for this spring/summer pizza. If you have an outdoor grill, it adds a nice char to the green onions, but blister them in a hot pan on the stove if not.
1 batch pizza dough (recipe here)
1 large bunch scallions
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked pepper
4 ounces mozzarella
4 ounces whole-milk ricotta
Crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat a pizza stone in your oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour, on the highest setting you have, ideally around 500 degrees.
While the oven heats up, rinse and dry the scallions. Add them to a large sheet pan, drizzle with oil, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of freshly cracked pepper. If you're using a grill, keep them in tact and place them on the grates, heated to medium-high. They only need a minute or two per side before becoming brown and charred. Remove from the grill before they've gone too far, then chop into small pieces.
(If you're cooking indoors, chop the scallions into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Follow the same process coating them in oil, salt, and pepper. Saute over medium heat until wilted and slightly charred.)
Once the stone is preheated, get your dough in order. Shape one dough and leave the other covered. Pull out the stone and dust is with cornmeal. Place the dough down, then top with half the mozzarella, ricotta, and green onions. Finish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown in places, and the crust is golden. Slide the pizza onto a fresh cutting board and place the stone back in the oven. Slice and serve.