Memories

I recently was in the area where I spent my honeymoon over 30 years ago. While enjoying the exceptional fall foliage decorating the forests, I decided to explore up an old dirt forest road, which once took me to my summer home on a Forest Service Fire Tower, named Red Plume Lookout.

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Hungry Horse Reservoir with Red Plume Mountain one of those peaks in the background

Although the day was chilly, a bright blue sky reflected in the waters of the reservoir as the sun shone golden on the native grasses and gold-needled Western Larch trees.

As I drove I reflected on that summer so long ago, when as a young woman and newly wed bride, I felt I had life solidly in my hands. Returning home this week, I dug into my photo album from that time, and pulled my ‘childhood’ steamer trunk out to retrieve some of the journals I kept from my time on Red Plume Lookout.

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Photos from the 1970’s photo album.

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3rd Generation Buttermilk Biscuits

When SF Editor Stephanie gave me this months COOK THIS column assignment, and told me the issue was devoted to grandparents and family traditions, I knew exactly which food to feature. My grandmothers’ buttermilk biscuits!

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As I prepared to make the recipe and shoot the photos, I gathered grandma’s 1894 The Housekeeper cookbook, vintage baking props, and all the ingredients. I started taking notes for this article as I progressed through her biscuit recipe. It was only as I was cleaning up while the fragrant aroma of fresh baked bread wafted from the oven that I had the realization of the fact that most of our SF readers are much younger than I, and that their association with grandparents would be of my own mom’s age or even younger. I mean, after all, I’m a grandmother myself!

So I pulled my mom’s 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook off the shelf and also grabbed my 1975 Doubleday cookbook, to compare buttermilk biscuit recipes over the generations.

The most notable difference wasn’t in the ingredients, but in the baking. Since electric ranges weren’t common in most rural areas like my Grandmothers Minnesota farm, until the early 1940’s, the recipes did not use “preheat, bake at 450 degrees” nor even suggest how long the biscuits should bake as cooking with wood was such a variable heat source.Read More »

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!