rainy days and mondays and trips to the garden store …

Jeanne again … with a garlic update …

Now that we’re staying in the Cottage for a bit longer, we’ve got a lot to do to make it livable for our little tribe.  It’s a small two-bedroom, one bath cottage.  Hardwood floors.  Original molding and light fixtures.  It’s really charming.

Many a real estate agent has called it “cozy.”

But it’s only got one bathroom.

And two bedrooms.

For four people and two dogs (who don’t use the bathroom, but take up more than a little space in the other living rooms).

The good news (because isn’t there always good news?) is that we have a double lot, so we have a lot of space to build and expand behind the house.

But additions and renovations will have to wait until the Spring, as we’re in Montana and just about to turn the corner into Winter.  And building just doesn’t begin in Montana in November … no matter how fast the builder.

So I just have to keep my head focused on what we can do right now.

Like open up the wall between the kitchen and living room to make the space more family friendly.

And plant garlic.

I was prepared to let the garlic go for this year since we were looking to move.

So I didn’t make it to any of the local seed stores to get hardneck garlic seed cloves.

And now all the greenhouses are closed for the season.

Except Cashman’s … which stays open all year.

But they don’t have any garlic left.

And they suggested I check out Montana Stinking Rose, because that’s where they get their garlic.

But MSR is out of stock.

Wild Rose Greenhouse is closed.

So is Fisher’s Garden Store.

Judy said they might paint their sign next year … but she hasn’t decided yet.

I really wanted to buy local.  But that didn’t seem like it was going to work out.  So I did what any self-respecting home gardener/blogger would do.  I turned to the almighty internet.  And was shocked to find out that most of the online suppliers are out of stock, too!

I knew I was late … but man … really?

Finally … I found some Organic German Red Garlic for sale at groworganic.com.

Whew!

And I placed my order.

One pound (which is about 20x more than I need for my little garden – I need about 3 bulbs, I think), but I’ll take what I can get, and maybe bring some to the next food swap in case someone else waited too long to get their garlic, too 🙂

About 10 minutes after I placed my order (and paid way too much in shipping and handling), I got a call.

Judy from Fisher’s Garden Store.

She said they were closed for the season (which I already knew), and that she was in the middle of seed-harvesting (which I didn’t know), but that she had about 6 extra bulbs of garlic that she’d be willing to give me if I could make it out to her place in the next 45 minutes.

Fisher’s is about 30 minutes from town, not far from the airport in Belgrade.

So I loaded up the gang (which took about 12 minutes) and 42 minutes later walked into a closed shop whose floor was covered in a huge harvest of acorn squash, onions, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash and a plethora of gorgeous goodness … in fact, every surface was covered.  Tables, boxes, crates, shelves.  So when I walked out of her shop with three beautiful bulbs of some hardneck garlic variety (no idea what kind it is, but she gave me a one-page how-to for how to grow and harvest it in this climate), I was happy happy happy.

While we were chatting, I asked her if I could help out by publicizing her shop online in the blog she said … “Please don’t.”

????

She said, “This is a 90 year old business.  And we operate like one.”

They don’t have a website.

She doesn’t have a cell phone.

All of their seeds are cleaned and packaged by hand.

Her seed bags are printed from her computer.

And she handles all the distribution herself.

When she’s in the garden, she’s in the garden.

And that’s how she likes it.

She might paint their sign next year because it’s been more than a decade, but she doesn’t want to be the next Planet Natural.  She doesn’t want to compete with Home Depot.  She wants to do things her way.

Which is why she can decide to call people back and open her store to sell a late-bloomer a few late garlic bulbs if she has ‘em.

So I totally win.

But don’t go looking for her, please.  Because I might need her again next year 🙂

pancakes for a tuesday on a friday

Jeanne here …

… with eight things I know now, that I don’t think I knew before I moved to Montana:

  1. It’s possible to fall in love once.
  2. It’s possible to fall in love again.Image
  3. And again.
  4. 4WD isn’t always a fashion statement.  Sometimes, it’s the only way to get out of the driveway.
  5. Compost doesn’t smell bad if you’re doing it right.
  6. If you want good Indian food, you might have to make it in your own kitchen … unless you live in Los Angeles … which I don’t anymore (thank goodness for The Spice Merchant’s Daughter).
  7. There is no such thing as bad weather … only bad gear (shout out for REI, Schnee’s and the Northern Lights Trading Company).
  8. With enough tenacity and desire, you can make a pancake almost as good as the crepe-style buttermilk delights at Kate Mantilinis in Beverly Hills.  I call them Pan-Kates.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ¼ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ c. buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk and don’t feel like going to the store, you can use all real milk.  If you don’t do dairy, you can substitute this with almond mlk, or oat milk, or coconut milk … totally up to you, but it will alter the taste)
  • ¾ c. milk
  • 1 Tbls. coconut oil (melted)
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbls. honey (use local honey if you can find it … better for you and better for the environment … and generally not much more expensive)
  • bananas, strawberries, maple syrup and powdered sugar (all optional ingredients available at Kate’s … We don’t powder our kates.  We take ‘em straight and simple … with a little warm grade B maple syrup and locally churned butter)

TOOLS:

  • Vita-Mix (any blender will do … or you can use an old fashioned hand-mixer.  I just find the Vita-Mix easy to use and easy to clean.)
  • Skillet or 12-inch frying pan

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat the skillet and grease with just a bit of coconut oil.
  • Put all of the ingredients into the Vita-Mix and puree until well blended (NOTE: this batter is NOT like a Bisquick batter … it’s way more liquidy and will pour easily from your Vita-Mix.  If that’s not the case, add a hint more milk until it does).
  • Pour about a ¼ cup of batter onto your skillet for each pancake.
  • The batter will “dry” a bit on the skillet and little air pockets will form.  Flip when that happens.  Makes about 10-12 pancakes (or 3-4 servings).

So easy … so fast … you could even make these on a Tuesday!

oh the horror! (aka … what do you mean I can’t have an egg taco?)

We are out of eggs.

Seriously.

This is a very big deal.

And I’m not sure if I’m going to recover anytime soon.

You see, we get our eggs from a gal named Terry who lives just outside of town.

And they are wonderful.

Free-range.

Organic.

Veggie-fed.

Antibiotic-free.

Farm-fresh.

Large.

Brown.

With orange-gold yokes.  Like … little bits of the sun gold.  Like … turn your pancakes yellow-kind-of orange.

I didn’t know eggs could be so good.

And we’ve been getting them from Terry for a little more than a year.

Two dozen a week.

For $2 a dozen.

(What a bargain, right?  We basically just pay for chicken feed.)

And we found out yesterday that something’s been attacking the hens. Like a fox or a bobcat or a dog. She’s lost four in the past three weeks.

And the ladies have stopped laying.

They seem to be on strike.

Which is just awful.

I mean … it’s awful for Terry.  And certainly it’s worse for the ladies.

But on a totally selfish note, we eat a lot of eggs here at the Cottage.

A lot.

Seriously.

Did I mention I’m serious?

We eat scrambled eggs.

We eat them poached.

Fried.

In frittatas.

Or as a quiche.

We bake with them.

Make eggy-crepe-like-pancakes with them.

But our staple … what I’m craving this morning (as I do most mornings) is the “incredible edible egg” taco.

Simple.

Tasty.

A super-nutritious protein-packed powerhouse of a satisfying breakfast that takes all of four minutes to make.

And I haven’t met a person who doesn’t love ‘em.

For breakfast.  For lunch.  Even for dinner.

egg taco

INGREDIENTS:

  • One egg
  • One pat of butter or one tsp. coconut oil
  • One slice of cheese (Whatever you have in the fridge will work.  We generally use sharp cheddar)
  • Sea Salt
  • And, while this is optional because just the egg and cheese are awesome, you can add whatever leftovers you have on hand (a little spinach … maybe some leftover garlic chipped broccoli … hamburger … short ribs … refried beans … go crazy.  It’s your egg taco!)
  • One small (6-inch) tortilla … flour or corn … it’s up to you.  But I’ll share how to make homemade flour tortillas in the coming days, and you’ll probably never buy them from the store again.

TOOLS:

  • Small frying pan
  • Rubber spatula

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the butter or coconut oil over medium heat in the frying pan.  When the pan “sizzles” a few drops of water, add the egg (crack the yoke).  And fry until the whites are no longer transluscent.  Flip it.  Add the slice of cheese and the tortilla.  Heat for just about 30 seconds to a minute.  Then TURN IT OVER so the tortilla is on the bottom of the pan warming up with the cheese melting between it and the egg.  Add your “extra ingredients.”  Then a sprinkle of Sea Salt.  Just another 30 seconds (maybe less … depends on the freshness and starting temperature of your tortilla).

Remove the tortilla from the heat.  Fold and enjoy!

Now you understand why I’m distraught over the eggs?

Pardon me.  I think I have to run to the store for some eggs.  I’m all of a sudden very hungry.

Oh … this is Jeanne … by the way 🙂

and then we exhale …

Jeanne here…

So … in case we haven’t spoken in a while, you might not know we’ve had a crazy few months.

We sold our house (a 1940-something in-town cottage).

Started negotiating on a new home (111 acre homestead about 30 miles from town).

Got married (yes … we did it a little backwards, having the family first … but the Cowboy and I have done little in our lives that most would consider “conventional” … so it’s just one more thing).

The Cowboy’s mom broke her back (which is intense at any age … but at 80-something?  Nuts).

The deal we were negotiating for our new homestead fell apart.

And we weren’t having much luck in the real estate market finding our forever home.

And I’m just going to go ahead and say it … things were getting tense.

Until yesterday.

At around noon.

When we got the call (actually, my new sister-in-law stopped by with the news on her way home from dropping her son off at school) that the prospective buyers of the cottage had decided to pull out of the deal.

So we took a collective breath.

Then we took a collective exhale.

And I got to take out one of my favorite fuzzy red hats.

My faith in the Universe is restored.

And I am thankful.

appreciating fairy-goodness

Image

Here’s a re-cap of a conversation I had with a girlfriend (not Abby) a few days ago that made me remember not to judge … just to accept … because accepting leads to appreciating and appreciating makes us happy (I’m paraphrasing):

Why is your daughter’s hair so short?

Um.  It just is.

But she’s such a pretty girl.

Thank you!

But … did you cut it?

I, uh … I cut her bangs a few weeks ago.

What about the back.

Nope.

Really?

For real.

Have you ever cut it?

Nope … just the bangs.

How old is she?

Three.

And that’s it?

That’s it.

But she’s so cute!  Like a Fairy.

Thanks!

Hmmmm.

Here’s what I hope is the takeaway from the conversation … my little one doesn’t have a ton of hair … not because I cut it … but because that’s just how much hair she has .. and regardless of how much hair she has … she’s still beautiful.  She just doesn’t have long hair.  She might even be a fairy.  At the very least, that’s her plan for Halloween.

way-too-easy heirloom tomato sauce by jeanne by way of john besh

If you’re anything like me … every once in a while, you happen upon a recipe in a cookbook that becomes part of your repertoire.  You change the amounts of each ingredient.  You make minor shifts to the focus of the dish to match your own tastes.  But the basics stay the same.  And everyone who tries it asks for the recipe.  And you want to take credit for it … for real … but then … your conscience gets the best of you and you tell everyone that your inspiration is from John Besh’s My Family Table cookbook (which you’ve given to many of your friends and family because of your love for it).  And you appreciate it all over again.

So here’s my take on his 5-minute Cherry Tomato Sauce (page 26):

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 5-6 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
  • 1 ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper (we use ½ tsp when we’re making pizza sauce … or if it’s for the kiddos)
  • 4 cups Heirloom Tomatoes (chopped into about 1-2 inch chunks or halved if you’re using cherry tomatoes … the point is … use whatever tasty tomato you have on hand)
  • Leaves from 4-5 big sprigs of Basil
  • Sea Salt to taste

TOOLS:

  • Large (10-12”) saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Vita-Mix (or blender or food processor)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the Olive Oil in saucepan.

Sautee the Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper until the garlic becomes translucent.

Add Tomatoes (seeds, skin and all) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the membranes in the tomatoes get soft (about 8-10 minutes).

Add the Basil and let the leaves wilt.

CAREFULLY (because it’s REALLY HOT) pour (or ladle) the contents of your saucepan into the Vita-Mix (or blender or food processor) and puree until it’s all combined.

Lastly, add Sea Salt … I start with ½ a teaspoon and add more until it’s tasty goodness.

And one more thing … We use this sauce for pasta.  We use it on polenta with a poached egg.  We use it on pizza.  We use it on breakfast tacos.  We just use it.  And I bet you will, too 🙂

 

We’re linked up on The Nourishing Gourmet.

toasted garlic chips and sautéed veggies

It’s Jeanne again … still obsessing over garlic.

So I’m going to share with you a secret recipe for toasted garlic chips and broccoli that my 3 year old eats like it’s going out of style.  Seriously.  Green veggies … no melted butter … no cheese sauce dousing them to hide their goodness … no mashing and hiding what they really are … and she devours them.  And so do I.  And so does my husband (who I affectionately call The Cowboy, because in his 20s and early 30s he wrestled steer for a living! … and he’s one of the most talented wrangler-guys I know … but that’s another story that I’m sure I’ll share another time)

And it takes all of 5 minutes (the garlic chips … not the story).

INGREDIENTS:

  • olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your sauté pan … about a ¼ cup)
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic (peeled and sliced SUPER thin)
  • broccoli (3 stalks … washed)
  • sea salt (to taste)

EQUIPMENT:

  • very sharp knife
  • sauté  pan
  • spatula
  • paper towel

DIRECTIONS:

Peel and slice the garlic cloves VERY THIN.

It’s key here that your knife is sharp.  A dull knife won’t let you slice super thin garlic and you’ll wind up with a mash instead of a chip.  And while there’s nothing wrong with garlic mash, that’s for a different recipe … so … sharp knife … garlic chip.  Dull knife … mash.

Pour olive oil into a still-cold-sauté pan.  Add the garlic slices.

It’s like when you’re making popcorn and you add the kernels to cold oil so the oil and the kernels heat at the same time, ensuring you’re not going to burn the kernels and have a mess of burnt popcorn all over the bottom of the pot, right?  So.  Olive oil and garlic go into the pan at the same time.

Turn the burner on medium.  Let them heat up together.  And move the chips around a bit with your spatula.  When the chips start to sizzle and barely turn brown on the edges (it only takes a few minutes), take them out of the pan and put on your paper towel to cool … leaving the olive oil (which is now infused with garlic) in your pan.

Add your washed broccoli to the pan of hot garlic-infused-olive oil and sauté until bright bright green.   Broccoli goes onto a serving plate, topped with the garlic chips, and enjoy the clean plate when dinner’s done.

By the way … I’m using broccoli because it’s what we have on hand … this works with most green veggies.  Broccolini.  Spinach.  Haricot Vert.  Baby Asparagus. Brussell Sprouts. Etc., etc., … I also like it with Cauliflower (which is only green sometimes).  Basically … you can use this method with nearly any veggie you might just sauté and serve quickly.

an ode to garlic

ODE TO GARLIC by Jeanne

Garlic Garlic Bo Barlic

Banana Fanna Fo Farlic

Me My Mo Marlic

GaAAAAr Lic

Okay … so … not a great homage to one of the most beloved root vegetables (sometimes called an herb) in the known world.

But it’s from the heart.

Which makes sense, since garlic has been used medicinally for nearly all recorded history to promote healthy heart and immune systems.  It’s good for circulation.  It’s got antioxidant properties.  And has been used as an antibiotic.  It’s used in Western medicine.  Eastern medicine.  Homeopathy.  Naturopathology.

Historically, it’s been used as an antidote for poisons, a potion for endurance, and an aphrodesiac.  In India, it’s known as one of the most honored “trinity roots,” important for good health for your body, mind and soul!

And (as we move into the Halloween season) it’s said to be a powerful ward against demons, vampires and werewolves!  I read this morning that it’s been said to keep trolls away from goats … which is good to know as we consider adding a goat to our family menagerie of animals …

So the health benefits are wonderful.  For sure.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that even if it wasn’t good for you, I’d still be eating it up.

Because despite all its health benefits, this little clove offers such an incredible taste explosion, we use it almost every day.

Raw.

Roasted.

Toasted.

Sauteed.

In soup.

In sauce.

In a rub.

In cheese.

Even ice cream!

I’ve been struggling to think of a way that garlic isn’t awesome.

If you do any gardening at all, it’s not going to surprise you that the reason we’re garlic obsessed today is because it’s time to plant the garlic!

And we’re getting dirty this week!

We’ll have pictures and some how-tos later this week.

In the meantime, what if you’re moving, and planting garlic in your garden will only benefit the new owners?

I say … go ahead and plant anyway … the new folks might love you for it.  And who couldn’t use a little more love in her life?

Or maybe you’re apartment-living and don’t have a garden-garden.

Good news:  garlic grows in containers, too!   Check THIS out:

Sure, garlic requires a little time and attention during planting and harvesting … but the truth is, it’s fairly hardy and if you’re a fan of garlic, it might be a fun adventure to grow your own.  It’s certainly one way to guarantee it’s organic 🙂

So go ahead … pick up a few bulbs from your local greenhouse (conventional-grocery-store bought bulbs are often sprayed so they don’t sprout), and spend a little time getting dirty this week!

And now I feel better that there’s a plan to ensure everyone will have garlic in the spring …