Campaign Finance, Food Friday: Foraging, Is Thinner Really Healthier?

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Veronica Rueckert and Gene Purcell ask, “Is thinner really healthier?” and learn how to forage for Food Friday. Then they learn how the removal of Wisconsin specific campaign finance limits may affect politics in the state.

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  • Chef Offers Tips On How To Forage In The Wild

    The growing season is picking up steam in Wisconsin, but some of the tastiest foods aren’t growing in neat rows in the garden. Foraging in the wild can yield unusual, even exotic plants like ramps, morel, and watercress.

    Ian Knauer, a regular contributor to WPR’s “Central Time,” is an avid forager. This farm-to-table chef said he loves to wander in the woods, looking for the things that grow wild in nature.

    Knauer, the host of the PBS show, “The Farm” and the author of a cookbook by the same name, said people can also save a ton of money. Considering that ramps, for example, easily fetch $30 a pound at farmer’s markets, it’s both fun and cost effective to forage for them in the wild.

    Foraging used to be part of an underground subculture, he said.

    “It used to be this crazy thing that only wild people did, but now it’s become really popular,” he said.

    Part of the reason, he believes is that there is a real interest in food culture in the U.S. and foraging is an extension of that.

    “We’re looking to artisan producers to make our bacon and jellies and jams,” said Knauer, “and we look to nature to provide what it supplies in the wild.”

    Advice: Know What You’re Foraging

    Knauer stresses the importance of knowing what is good to eat and what’s not. To start, he suggests consulting some of the great foraging books out there like “Foraged Flavor” by Tama Matsuoka Wong, so people can know what to look for and what it looks like.

    Foragers Should Gear Up

    Keep in mind that people will be walking in the woods and all sorts of plants popping up this time of year, including poison ivy.

    So, Knauer suggests that people make sure to wear long pants, socks and boots. Also, ticks are starting to wake up, so put on some bug spray.

    “That way you’re protected against the natural predators who may eat you before you eat them,” he quips.

    Finding The Real Thing

    Right now is a good time to find ramps, watercress and morels, he said.

    However, warns Knauer, some of these have look-alikes that aren’t quite the real thing. For example, there is a thing called a “false morel” and ramps have a poisonous look alike called Lilly of the Valley.

    Ramps smell like onions, and if a person breaks them open, the onion-like smell is unmistakable.

    Morels look like a perfect pine cone on top of a hollow stem, where the false ones look like a gnarly fist. They grow singularly — not in clumps — on the forest floor and they like to grow close to tulip poplars.

    Watercress is easy to spot, because it grows in slow-moving creeks, said Knauer.

    Advice On Picking, Storing

    According to Knauer, each one of these plants has its own quirks, and knowing how to deal with them will save much frustration and hassle.

    Watercress: clip off the top and keep roots in some water from the creek — that will keep it very crisp and fresh.

    Morels: cut them off at ground level, and put into a paper bag, like mushrooms.

    Ramps: dig down about an inch or so and cut it with a pair of kitchen shears. You can transport them home in a simple plastic bag.

    Knauer cautions to make sure people don’t take the root rhizome when picking these. That’s what brings back next year’s harvest.

    By the way, he said if someone ever sees ramp with roots on at the farmers market, buy them and cut off the edible parts. Then, plant the roots in the shade near a hardwood tree. That person will have their very own ramps next season!

    Ian Knauer’s Ramp Tagliatelle Recipe:

    Serves 4

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 4 ounces ramps
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
    • 8 ounces dried Tagliatelle pasta

    Finely chop the white and pink parts of the ramps. Cut the greens into 1-inch pieces.

    Heat the oil in a deep heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot.

    Cook the white and pink parts of the ramps with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until golden, about 5 minutes.

    Add the cream and the ramp greens and boil until the sauce is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Stir in the parmesan and remove the skillet from the heat.

    Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

    Stir the pasta together with the sauce in the skillet along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss the sauce with more pasta cooking water if you prefer a looser sauce. Serve with additional parmesan.

  • How Will Campaign Finance Decision Affect Wisconsin Politics?

    Wisconsin election officials acknowledged in federal court Thursday that they cannot enforce state campaign finance restrictions in light of the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC last month. A Wisconsin-based campaign finance expert shares how this may affect Wisconsin politics.

  • A Beginner's Guide To Foraging

    Today, a farm to table chef gives us a lesson in foraging, from what to look for, where to find it, and how to care for what you find. We’ll talk ramps, watercress and morels.

  • The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker And Heavier Means Healthier

    Society constantly warns us about the dangers of being overweight or obese. But some heavier people might actually be healthier than thinner people, a phenomenon known as the “obesity paradox.” A cardiologist explains the science behind the obesity paradox and why he says fat isn’t always bad.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Ian Knauer Guest
  • Ken Mayer Guest
  • Ian Knauer Guest
  • Dr. Carl Lavie Guest

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