Church holding ramp dinner

COLLIERS – Area ramp lovers or those who have never sampled food made with the wild onion are encouraged to visit Olde St. John’s Episcopal Church for its annual ramp dinner from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 27.

The dinner has been a recurring fundraiser in recent years for the church, which is near the intersection of Eldersville and St. John’s roads.

There will be fried potatoes with ramps and bacon, soup beans, cornbread and assorted desserts for sale and – for those who aren’t adventurous – hot dogs and chips.

However, Darcy Riggs, who coordinates the event with the help of many church members, encourages everyone to try the ramp dishes.

Riggs admitted she “avoided ramps for a long time because they had such a bad reputation among kids I grew up with. But when they’re cooked, they have a slightly sweet taste. They’re still peppery and garlicky but they’re not as harsh when cooked.”

Riggs said she has used ramps in a variety of dishes, often as a substitute for garlic, and has enjoyed them in spaghetti, potato soup and grilled flatbed pizza. She draws the line at pickled ramps and eggs, however.

Riggs said ramps are a staple in Appalachian cooking and are known as wild leeks in Pennsylvania.

She and her family pick them from the hillside on their property. In addition to their distinctive aroma, they can be recognized for their green leaf, white stalk and purple bulb.

“The most fun part of the dinner is the time we spend together,” Riggs said, noting she and her sisters get together to pick them while digging for ramps is an endeavor enjoyed by her cousin Nick Valero and his daughters.

“And we always have fun at the church in anything we do,” Riggs added.

Visitors can partake of the meal at the church or order it to go. Take-out orders may be made that day by calling (304) 527-4747.

The church also will be holding drawings for a gardening-themed basket and a book lover’s basket, with proceeds for the latter going to a summer program in which members of the church and St. Thomas and Christ Episcopal churches will be helping children improve their reading skills.