Last Saturday I took my daughter out to the woods. Not only would I get a chance to spend some time with my 3 year old as we stomped through the woods, but it also gave my wife a little quite time without the 2 of us. Besides, though a little early, conditions seemed pretty good for hunting down some morels. The trip was both a success and a failure. No morels were found, but the land around the creek was bursting with ramps (wild leeks) of which I grabbed a few handfuls. I’m planning on heading back sometime this weekend to dig some more.

I also got to spend some time in woods with my daughter, which was a delight. She bounced along the paths, stopping at every other flower to point it out to me and to tell me how beautiful it was. Squirrels and birds of various sizes and colors captured her attention at every bend, though it’s surprising that anything ventured within 1/2 a mile of us as she babbled constantly and squealed and laughed with delight at every step. We spent 10 minutes following a toad I had scared up while hunting for morels and another 5 inspecting a dead fish that had washed up on the banks of the creek, though not too closely. She threw rocks at the water and chased after the occasional lone duck, finding fun and delight at every step. I found myself thinking about what a huge difference just a year makes in the life of one so young. Last year at this time, the woods, though wondrous to her, definitely did not hold the same allure that they do now. She explored, but never strayed to far. This time I had to race to keep up and constantly warn her about getting too far ahead. Oh, to be 3 again and once again view the world with awe and wonder, instead of the eyes of a jaded, relatively cynical 40 year old.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Linguine and Ramps
serves 4

6oz crabmeat
2 Tbsp. onion, minced
1 Tbsp. celery,minced
1 Tbsp. red bell pepper, minced
8 Club crackers, crushed (or 12 Ritz crackers)
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
12 shrimp, large (U-10’s are best)
2 Tbsp. butter melted
12oz linguine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 Tbsp. tarragon, minced
1 cup ramps, cleaned and chopped
1 1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Combine, crabmeat, onion, celery, pepper, crackers and mayo together in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta, per the directions on the package making sure to cook it al dente. Peel and devein the shrimp, making sure you cut only deep enough to remove the vein. Flip the shrimp over and cut open the shrimp from the underside, being careful not to cut all the way through.

Divide the crabmeat mixture into 12 portions and form into a loose ball. Place crabmeat on butterflied shrimp and curl tail over to hold the crab in place.

Once pasta is done drain in a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Place the shrimp on a cookie tray, drizzle with the butter and place in the oven cooking for 7-9 minutes or until the shrimp is done. Meanwhile, in a large, nonreactive skillet place the wine and the garlic. Reduce over high heat until the wine is reduced by 2/3’s. Add the cream and reduce by 1/2. Add the tarragon and ramps, cook for 1 minute then add the pasta. Heat through, add the parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the pasta among 4 plates mounding it in the center. Place three stuffed shrimp around the pasta and serve.