Blueberry cake donuts with lemon icing– baked, not fried

I’ll post the recipe later this week, but holy cow, these are absolutely terrible!  Don’t even bother trying to make them and certainly don’t blame me if you make them and eat 4 of them just so your significant other doesn’t find them and discover how terrible they are, too…

Recipe is here.

Winter squash & black beluga lentils make some fine Halloween veggie burgers

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I’m not going to wax poetic about these veggie burgers.  I’ll let them speak for themselves.  But I WILL say that you ought to give them a try.  I really dressed mine up with the chipotle & dried cranberry coleslaw I made to go with them, as well as some dill pickle, Swiss chard or beet greens, fresh tomato slices and some candied jalapenos (they are so good!) that my friend made this summer.  I’ll post the recipe soon!  Til then, here’s a crazy Halloween video, with plenty of outakes at the end, on how to make the burgers and slaw.

This is no grocery store potato salad

This potato salad is covered in a tangy Dijon vinaigrette!  In short: make this.  You won’t regret it.  Bonus: it’s really quick to throw together–great for potlucks and parties. Recipe is here.  Enjoy!

Chili verde (It’s so hot)!

Oh my goodness, I’m feeling like a roasted chili these days.  It is hot in Montana this summer!  It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside my house, this chili is hot…not spicy hot (unless you want it that way–the go for it!), just hot off the stove hot.  I probably should have made a salad for this week’s video or something like that, but you know tomatillos don’t last forever in Montana, so as the old saying goes: You gotta make hay while the sun is shining.

So I made some stinkin’ chili verde!  And you know what?  It is GOOOOOOOOD!  It’s even better for lunch the next day.  So get on the tomatillo and chili bandwagon with me and make yourself some.  Don’t want to eat it all?  It will freeze!  Then you can enjoy when you really DO want something hot to eat.  Here’s the recipe, and the video is below.  It may be hot in the kitchen, but you’ll enjoy this one!

You’ve gotta try these jalapeno poppers!

If you like jalapeno poppers, then I’ve got a treat for you!  We got jalapenos in this week’s share, and I combined them with the hot pepper cheese curds from the Fun Share, some roasted garlic cheese, cream cheese, and feta cheese (that’s the secret weapon!) for an out-of-this-world spicy treat.  Best of all, they are baked, not fried.  I cooked mine on the grill this week just because I didn’t want to turn on the oven and they turned out beautifully.  The recipe is here.  Give ’em a try and I hope you love them as much as I do.

Roasted garlic & arugula spread

I know I’m a little late posting this video this week, but I think the wait was worth it!  This is a 2-part recipe: a roasted garlic & arugula 1) butter and 2) cream cheese.  I put the garlic arugula butter on some toasted bread and it was terrific!  Then I made a sandwich with the cream cheese and loaded it up with some cucumber and turnip slices–that was one of the most delicious, most refreshing lunches I’ve eaten in a while!  Intrigued?  Check it out and make it!  It’s so easy and so yummy.

 

Homemade ranch dressing & dip mix

I love ranch dressing–and I love the powdered mix you can buy in those little packets in the grocery store, but they are expensive, and they always have hard-to-pronounce ingredients in them, including monosodium glutamate, or MSG.  MSG has its issues (I have a friend who claims it gives her migraines) and so I try to avoid it whenever possible.  Thus this copy cat recipe for making my own ranch dressing/dip mix.  It’s perfect for mixing with some sour cream to dip snow peas in (if they even make it out of the garden, which most don’t).  But I also toss this mix with potatoes and a little oil prior to roasting, and I also sprinkle it on popcorn.  And what about ranch Chex mix?  Yes, please.  I’ll post the recipe…one of these days when I get a little more time to write it up.  Until then, you’ll just have to pause the video to make sure you have all the ingredients!

Cabin cookin’

Last weekend I went chasing after Sandhill cranes–my girlfriend and I have done this for a second year in a row now and we have deemed it an annual event now.  We mounted our cameras on tripods and set off through the willows, looking for these beautiful birds.  We found some, but they are skittish creatures, so we were never able to get very close for good photos.  We scurried from shrub to shrub like ninjas, with our tripods and packs, and I’m sure it was quite a site to see.  This pair was hard to spot–we actually heard them give away their location.

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And even if we didn’t capture any award-winning crane photos, we had a great time anyway.  The scenery was spectacular!

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We stayed in a Forest Service cabin and I cooked dinner.  We had a grilled pork shoulder steak marinated in Osaka Sauce, rice noodles with Asian garlic scape pesto, and peach-huckleberry cobbler with cranberry whiskey and vanilla Greek yogurt.  This dinner did not disappoint!  I made a video of our cabin cooking adventure, and though it is very unstructured, it does capture the essence of our dinner party in the mountains pretty well, I think.  The recipe for the Asian garlic scape pesto is here.  We’ll make this pesto (in a more structured kitchen setting) when the garlic scapes arrive in the CSA shares next month!  So stay tuned!

 

Asparagus with carrot crepes

This recipe is delicious.  I’m just going to throw that out there right now.  It’s time consuming to make, but not difficult.  Crepes can be tricky, but you just need to make sure you cook them well on one side before you try to flip them.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a “beautiful mess” like the one featured near the end of the video.  If you have some asparagus just waiting to be used, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try!

 

 

 

More wonders in the garden

Today I noticed a second, astonishing wonder in my garden this year.  The first wonder I noticed several weeks ago–I had a globe artichoke overwinter.  If you are not familiar with the ways of the globe artichoke, allow me to elaborate briefly.  Where I live in Montana, we are a Zone 4.  That means, on average, our lowest winter temperature drops no lower than -30 degrees F.  This year we bottomed out our thermometer at -21.8 degrees F, so I have no idea how cold it really got this year (I think I saw -26 reported for the airport, which is a few hundred feel lower than where I sit).  However, despite the bitter cold (and we had a lot of it this year), we also had a really good snow year.  For about 3 continuous months we had snow on the ground, and a lot of it.  Snow is an excellent insulator, so things that would normally die in the cold can be protected enough with a snow blanket to coax them through a long, bitterly cold winter.  Enter the globe artichoke.  Last fall I dug up several plants, potted them, and tucked them in a corner in the basement.  By overwintering my little babies, I wouldn’t have to start seed in January in order to plant them out in early spring to ‘trick’ them into thinking they had lived through a winter and thus flower (i.e., produce those luscious artichokes) during their first year of life.  For the record, artichokes are perennial plants in warm climates (no colder than Zone 7, which is about 0 degrees F as the average coldest winter temperatures) and they usually do not flower until their second year.  Well, I missed digging up a plant last fall and earlier this spring while removing mulch from the garden beds, I noticed a queer-looking little leaf sticking out of the soil.  “That’s weird,” I thought, “it looks like an artichoke.  Maybe it’s a thistle?”  But it sure didn’t look like a thistle, it looked like an artichoke.  And it was in the bed I had planted artichokes in last year.  Hmmmm……

I watched the strange leaf for a week or so and when new leaves began to appear, it became obvious to me that this was, in fact, an artichoke that survived a bitter cold Montana winter.  HOW COOL IS THAT?!  I yelled to everyone who would listen.  Other garden nerds thought that, indeed, it was pretty cool.  I thought this was the coolest thing in my garden…until today.

Today I was weeding a bed with a bunch of spinach and garlic and I saw this:

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What the…could those really be…?

Now I’m no mushroom expert, but my first thought was, “Those look like morels.”  And then, “That’s crazy talk.”  Fortunately my neighbors, who I know are wild mushroom hunters, were outside in their garden.  I walked across the street.

Me: Hey guys, do you know your mushrooms pretty well?

Neighbor: Well, we know a few edible ones that we hunt for, and a few that you shouldn’t eat.

Me: I have some mushrooms popping up in my garden box and [I was almost too embarrassed to say this] they sort of look like morels.

Neighbor: Well…probably not, but we’ll come take a look.

At this point I am 1) curious as hell to know what these mushrooms are and 2) a little embarrassed to think that I might actually have morels in my garden box.  I mean, c’mon!  I think of them growing in the forest–particularly forests that have recently burned.  Not in a cultivated garden box that housed tomato plants last summer.  Did I confuse them with another mushroom?  Was I a complete and total idiot?  We arrive at the garden box.

Me: See all these coming up around my spinach?

Neighbor: Well I’ll be darned, those are morels!

He plucks a mushroom and turns it over.

Neighbor: There’s another mushroom that looks similar, but that one is detached here at the base (he points to the stem).  These are definitely morels.  Wow!  Where did you get your mulch?

Me: Someone at the gym had some pine needles he was going to set out by the curb and I just happened to overhear him talking about them with another person at the gym.  I asked him if I could have them to use for mulch in the garden.

Neighbor: Wow!  That’s pretty unusual.  Amazing!

Me: Schew!  I thought I was crazy for thinking that they were morels.  Please take as many as you want!

Neighbor: Wow!  Thanks! What an unexpected surprise!  You probably shouldn’t tell any mushroom hunters about these…

Me: Yeah, no kidding!  Some people search high and low for these gems!

My neighbor came back over a few minutes later with a paper bag and cut some mushrooms.  She showed me which ones were the prime ones for eating and which ones were probably too dried out and past their prime.  I am sooooo grateful for them!  I learned something new today about mushrooms!  These neighbors have shared their hard-sought Chanterelles with me in the past, they share garden plants, and garden mulch/compost/soil.  I provide them with eggs, garlic, and now, morels!  We have a pretty nice arrangement, but I always feel like I get the better end of the deal.  I know I shouldn’t feel that way–it’s just farmgal kindness between garden nerds–and gardeners love to share (especially that zucchini)!

I’m not 100% sure the pine needles were the source of the morels.  I have other boxes with the pine mulch and they do not appear to have any mushrooms in them.  I don’t think it was the soil, which is a sheep manure-compost mix I get from a local garden shop.  I don’t think it was the soil the tomatoes were grown in last year–though I should ask the gifter where they got their potting soil, just to be sure.  The pine needles seem the most likely source.  Many of the mushrooms were past their prime, but that means they have already set spores–so I am hoping for more morels to show up next spring!

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Pile of morels

I can’t help but think over and over how special my garden is.  Nature is a wonderful, mysterious force, that’s for sure.  What a neat gift to have these much sought-after mushrooms appear in my garden!!  Secret: I have never eaten morels.  Which makes this all the more special.  I am beyond giddy for tonight’s dinner:  morels and fresh asparagus.  I’ve got plenty of spinach in the garden and eggs, so I’m sure I’ll be able to find a scrumptious way to prepare these ingredients.  I’m going to eat like a queen!