Tag Archives: fall

A Fall Roadtrip: Montana, Idaho, Washington and Back to Montana

21 Sep
by Deanne

Steve and I jumped at the chance to help Luke drive to Missoula, Montana.  We arrived early Sunday morning after an all night drive from Minnesota.   We arrived just in time for brunch at a busy breakfast place, Catalyst Cafe, which satisfied my craving for a cute cafe.  Luke’s week long photography class, the reason for our trip out to Montana, was just down the street so he arrived (slightly) refreshed after a night on the road.

Before hitting the road again, this time to visit my cousin in Coeur d’Alene, we visited a farmers’ market a few blocks away.  The weather was lovely and the colors vibrant.

Photo of vegetables at Missoula farmers market

On Sunday evening Steve and my cousin, Susan, bonded over preparing the evening meal.  They put together a wonderful steak salad that Susan had seen in this month’s Sunset Magazine. In the end, we sat back and enjoyed a congenial conversation and a sunset meal with Susan’s husband and their friends. 

Susan told us about a place near Spokane called Green Bluff.  She explained that Green Bluff is an area with more than a dozen farms that to visit.  After touring a few farms, we checked out beautiful Manito Park, just south of downtown Spokane and enjoyed lunch on the patio of Rockwood Bakery.  I really liked the feel of the Rockwood Bakery which is tucked into a little neighborhood only a few blocks from the park.

We had so much energy about being in the northwest again, we got the bright idea to go to Moscow, Idaho.  Since we grew up in Idaho, we’d traveled there for college visits during high school. Link to Photo of DeanneOn the way to Moscow, I remembered that Mary Jane Butters, who started MaryJanesFarm and the whole farmgirl craze was from the area. A few clicks on our mobile device;) and we found the address of her original  retail store.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go inside because they are closed on Mondays.

Tuesday we traveled back to Missoula through Lolo Pass, an area of importance in the Lewis and Clark expedition…we read a plethora of historical markers to refresh our knowledge of United States history.

Photo taken at Lolo Pass

Onward we traveled to a town near Bozeman.  There we met an industrious farmer named Gary who is doing some amazing things to provide people with gluten-free oats.  (I will write more about gluten-free oats in an upcoming post.)  Truly gluten-free oats are very difficult to find in the US But we think we’ve found some that will work for one of the breads Steve is busy developing.

We ended the evening at another farmers’ market in Bozeman.  There we wPhoto of Cowboy Farmeratched as people gathered around an outdoor wood fired pizza oven and we saw a cowboy farmer selling produce.

The next two days were equally busy with new beautiful vistas and more historical sights.  We saw old mining towns, lovely streams and the sight were Lewis and Clark had to portage around the Great Falls.  Now we are relaxing in a cozy little studio apartment and getting rested for our drive home.

Have you ever been to Montana, Idaho or Washington?  Do you have any fall road trips planned?


Thanksgiving Decorations = A Tasty Snack

31 Jan
by Francine

A photo of the roasted seedsIn early fall, our kind farming friends gave us many pumpkin-y things to decorate the restaurant. When Christmas took over the restaurant, I brought the harvest to our living room.

A few weeks ago I realized, I should probably remove the harvest decorations since there was snow on the ground and our neighbor had already removed his outdoor Christmas lights.

Instead of just throwing away the squashes, I wanted to get the seeds out of them so I could have a snack.

Never one to be deterred by a thick skinned squash, I decided to crack them open by dropping them on the kitchen floor.  (I should mention that our kitchen floor is old linoleum and that no one is in love with the state of our kitchen…it’s constantly mentioned that it needs a facelift.) I do not recommend this method of opening gourds or squash if you have lovely wood floors or if someone in your house is trying to take a nap.A photo of the cracked gourds

Once the squash cracked open a bit (it took quite a few times of ‘dropping’ on the floor), I used a knife to wedge it open some more and scoop out the seeds.

Then I rinsed the seeds, salted them and toasted them in the oven. Crunchy and yum!

There were five different kinds of squash and gourds. I tossed all the seeds into one bowl.  I couldn’t really tasty a difference between them except for the seeds of the turban squash…they were very big and not too crunchy.

But I do have a warning… Photo of an unpleasant squash*For more information on this bitter orange guy see the comments.

Do you have a method for opening gourds and slightly dried out squash that is more sophisticated than “drop repeatedly on the floor”? If so, I’d love to hear!

Do you like toasted squash seeds?  Do you season them with anything other than salt?

Happy cracking!

What a week for our leafy greens!

28 Nov
by Francine

Saturday and Sunday (Nov 19 & 20) our greens were covered by a fluffy snow blanket.A photo of our snowy lettuce

By Monday the snow was melting and the sun was shining, but the temperatures were still in the 40s.

Then Thanksgiving arrived with lots of sunshine and warmth.

A photo of the lettuce bed(In this photo, you can see that some of the lettuce is wilted and brown, while the rest is full and green.)

There are lots of dry tree leaves that blew into the raised beds throughout our windy fall. As I was cutting lettuce, I discovered that as I pulled away the dry tree leaves, the lettuce was green and perfect. Perhaps the dry leaves acted like an insulation.  A photo of me cutting lettuce

Another theory as to why our leafy greens have held up so well after the snow is that they needed a drink, and they didn’t mind if it was a slushy snow drink. We had a very dry summer and fall…the snow, melting snow and warmer temperatures were probably just what the plants needed to give us pickers some gorgeous late November greens.

A photo of the leafy greens

A closeup of the lettuce

I picked another big bowlful! (And I was sure thankful to spend a lovely afternoon in the garden.)

A photo of the lettuce I picked

Since Thanksgiving a frigid wind has blown through, some freezing stuff has fallen from the sky, grey clouds have hung thick in the sky and this morning the sun rose without a cloud in the sky(…ah yes, life on the open prairie of MN).

A photo of the morning frost

A photo of the frosty greens

Every time I take scissors and a big bowl into the garden I think, this will definitely be the last time I pick lettuce, and yet time and time again I fill a bowl full.  I’m very glad that Dad didn’t dig up the garden at the first sign of chilly weather…we would have missed out an a wonderful autumn of leafy green salads.  It’s been such a treat to see what these leafy greens have done.

There’s still a bit of sunshine left in the day. I think I’ll head back to the garden and see what I find today.  Maybe today will be the last day for picking leafy greens…or maybe not. :)

What to do with all this squash? Part V

17 Nov

A Winter Squash Series: Butternut Squash (3 Ways)

by Francine

Squash is plentiful, long lasting, festive and somewhat of a puzzle. It can be difficult to get through it’s sometimes-thick skin and figure out what to do with it. I decided to figure out this puzzle by picking up four wee squashes at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago. I’ve been researching each one and looking for recipes that are more than cut in half, scrape seeds, bake and top with butter. Stay tuned to find out what I did with each squash, as well as some fun facts.

Winter Squash family photo

I’ve had lots of fun with Butternut squash since I bought the little one, pictured above, back in late September. I turned the little one into a surprisingly savory dish with walnuts and vanilla using a recipe I found on Simply Recipes.A photo of Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla

Feeling inspired, I got a huge Butternut squash from a local squash grower and turned it into a wonderful soup that used peanut butter (!). This soup was featured on a River Cottage Everyday episode, and it was so good that (brother) Luke decided to teach the recipe at his cooking class.

The third recipe (for yet another huge Butternut) used tahini and lemon juice; it turned out to be to be surprisingly rich and filling. Also we discovered that this dish (from Smitten Kitchen) tastes best right after it’s made…the coldness of the fridge takes away some of the lovely flavors.

A photo of Nutty Butternut Squash SoupAll three recipes are uniquely tasty. I happily recommend each one.

Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla from Simply Recipes

Nutty Butternut Squash Soup from River Cottage Everyday

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad from Smitten Kitchen

Happy making and eating!


3 Nov

Here’s another video recipe for you to enjoy…

What’s your favorite way to prepare apples?

What to do with all this squash? part I

17 Oct

A Winter Squash Series: Delicata Squash

by Francine

Squash is plentiful, long lasting, festive and somewhat of a puzzle. It can be difficult to get through it’s sometimes-thick skin and figure out what to do with it. I decided to figure out this puzzle by picking up four wee squashes at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago. I’ve been researching each one and looking for recipes that are more than cut in half, scrape seeds, bake and top with butter. Stay tuned to find out what I did with each squash, as well as some fun facts.

Winter Squash Family Portrait

First up, Delicata squash. It’s an heirloom variety that has recently regained popularity. It has a thinner skin than other winter squash, which means it doesn’t keep as long as its thicker skinned relatives.  The farmer I bought it from told me she thinks it has a taste similar to sweet potatoes.

I clicked through a number of lavish recipes for this little guy. There are many decadent ways to prepare Delicata squash, as well as the possibility to turn it into a soup (which is always a good idea). But I wanted something that would allow me to really get a sense of its taste, so I decided to toss it in olive oil and bake until crispy.

  • I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, then sliced it as thin as possible. (Before slicing the other half, I had an idea. I’d read that the skin is perfectly fine to eat, but I thought I’d try an experiment…I peeled the skin off one half while leaving the skin on the other half.)
  • After tossing in olive oil and spreading evenly on a tinfoil covered baking sheet, I sprinkled half with regular ol’ salt and the other half with sea salt and a blend of rosemary, bay and thyme (another experiment).
  • I put the tray of squash into our little convection oven at 325 degrees. After 15 minutes, the slices were beginning to brown and I gave them a flip.  After another 15 minutes, I gave the sheet a shake, then kept an eye on them until they seemed crispy brown.

Everyone wanted a taste as soon as they were out of the oven. The verdict: yum!

So how about my experiments? The slices with the skin…much nicer than the skinless ones. The slices sprinkled with an herbed salt blend…more flavourful than those with just salt. While they held up nicely once cooled, they were the best right out of the oven.

This is definitely a remake recipe. ItA photo of Crunchy Delicata Squash‘s easy, flavorful and sings fall. Find yourself some Delicata squash and give it a try!

Do you have any Delicata Squash recipes to share?  Do you like to try little experiments when you’re cooking?  We’d love to hear.