My Love Affair With Montana, Continues

DSC_6564“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“I’m in love with Montana.” C.D.D. 

My Subaru is loaded with the essentials … tripod, cameras, lens, notebook, map, and GPS. Oh, and a backpack with a few clothes and other essentials. So off I go, heading east over the Continental Divide to my road trip hub for a few days and nights–the Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks.

The Sac was built in 1910 to service tourists traveling through on the railroad. Now on the Register of Historic Hotels, this white clapboard beauty is pure bliss. So when I got a call to come stay and review it, naturally I said “yes!”.

The lovely covered front porch is lined with white rocking chairs, scattered wool throws for guest use, and season appropriate floral arrangements. Greeted with a smile and a glass of chilled champagne, I am escorted to my room on the third floor. Up the original wooden stairway, past hall windows and the rustic wood doors of other guest rooms.

 

 

 

Barely taking the time to drop my things off, I hustle out to capture the late afternoon golden hour for some photos.

 

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My First Food Photography Contest!

DSC_6023A good friend sent me the link to a food photography contest with encouragement for me to enter it, combined with lots of compliments on my food photography. I went to the website, read the rules, and jotted a note in on my calendar to fit this challenge in before the end of the month deadline.

Let me tell you a little about this unusual and oft times stressful September I’ve had.  First of all, my sweet, little community has been bombarded with forest fire, smoke, soot, and ash since mid-July. Twice, I’ve been ordered to evacuate my home–mandatory–within 10 minutes. The first time it was for 12 days. The second time it was just for an afternoon. But I’ve lived with the evacuation warning threat for over a month.

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From my front porch, September 3

I don’t know if you’ve ever been charged with deciding what possessions are the most important to you but its a very hard thing to do. Especially if you’re at all like me–not a hoarder–but a collector of fine things. Until recently I had a wonderful vintage store where I sold the unusual and treasured home and garden collectibles. Naturally, I’ve kept the things that I just couldn’t part with. I’m also a watercolor artist so my walls are filled with a lifelong collection of moody sepia-toned cowboys, horses, and cattle drives.

And as a mom, I’ve got three kids worth of treasures, and a grandchild’s treasures–gifts to me that their little hands have fashioned and created. Of course, the usual can’t leave behind items, like photograph albums, grandma’s cookbook, grandpa’s pocket watch and hundreds of other family heirlooms.

Did I mention my antique classics book collection? Leather bound, many first editions?

And I’m trying to make time to enter this great food photography contest!

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Cottage Tomato Soup with Toast

DSC_2715-2It’s the end of harvest time for garden produce! And with the extra-warm summer we’ve enjoyed here in Montana, this years tomato crop is abundant and affordable.

I’m a huge advocate for using seasonal produce to maximize freshness so this month’s recipe for my creamy tomato soup is no exception. Select fully sun-ripened tomatoes that are slightly soft to the touch. A mix-and-match of varieties adds flavors, though I much prefer the locally grown heirloom tomatoes I find at Farmers Market.

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While you’re shopping, be sure to buy some Montana grown yellow onion and basil (if you’re not lucky enough to have them growing in your own garden). And of course, a loaf or two of fresh baked bread!Read More »

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Good Eats!

DSC_3234Earlier this year,  I had opportunity and joy in joining a Dallas girlfriend for a springtime road trip through some wildflower strewn Texas hill country. We meandered down back roads, stopping at every food truck we could find. Easter dinner was a flavorful Crawfish Boil along the highway! IMG_8808

We enjoyed some amazing foods but the best of the best, was the watermelon slushy I bought from a food truck at Chip and Joanna Gaines’ MAGNOLIA MARKET in Waco.

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Me with my Waco Watermelon Slushy

 

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Round ’em up for Cowboy Caviar

Montana has a rich western past, with endless trails and tales of cattle, cowboys, and camping. This yummy choice gives tribute to our past with a recipe that does double time as a salad or appetizer. Some call it “Cowboy Caviar”, while I like to call it a ‘must serve’ at every summer get together. It’s just that good!

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Cowboy Caviar

Mix the dressing together in a pint canning jar:

1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 TBL fresh minced garlic

Put a lid on it, shake well, and set aside for a few days to let the flavors work their magic.

This is not a make-ahead dish, as the avocado’s will brown and the cilantro will wilt. So, 15 minutes or so before eating, prepare the salad part of this caviar.

In a glass, medium sized bowl, add 1 can (drained) of sweet corn and 1 can (drained) of your favorite bean. I’ve used white beans for this meal. DSC_4089Chop and add to the corn and beans, 2 large ripe tomatoes, 2 large ripe avocados, 1 bunch of fresh cilantro with stems removed, and 3 green onions.DSC_4090DSC_4093DSC_4081

Lightly mix the ingredients while slowly adding the dressing. Serve immediately over a few crisp lettuce leaves for a salad course, or with chips, as an appetizer salsa. The rich flavors and delightful crunch of corn make cowboys (and girls) coming back for more!

Serves 4 as a salad and 8 as an appetizer. It tastes amazing whether you’re sitting in the saddle, a deck chair, next to a campfire, or floating around the pool!

Joshua Tree National Park

Only slightly more than 1000 miles away from my home here in Montana, lies a small National Park in the heart of the Mohave desert of southeastern California. Franklin Roosevelt designated this area (without needing Congressional approval) a National Monument back in 1936. Congress changed its status in 1994 to that of a National Park.

The Joshua Tree is a unique and unusual plant and although this park is named after it, do not expect to see an abundance of Joshua Trees here, especially in the eastern half of the park. I carefully researched, then charted out my brief 16 hour stay on this, my maiden voyage to Joshua Tree, and was rewarded for my efforts.

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I entered the park from the Joshua Tree Visitors Center, NW entrance. This is a very small, understaffed facility with limited parking lot and long lines of eager tourists like me, wanting to question a ranger, or to buy a souvenir. Not worth the time so just proceed into the park, stopping at the West Entrance Station to pay, retrieve your map, and ask a question or two.

Immediately you’ll find wonderful rock piles of huge boulders of every size and shape. Picturesque vistas abound! I was there in February so the park had not yet greened up but the day was a perfect blue-bird sky with just under 80 degrees temperatures, wonderful for hiking.

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