Farm to Table Field Dinner | Cooper Hereford Ranch

August 5, 2015


A week ago I hosted our annual Farm to Table inspired Field Dinners at the family ranch – the Cooper Hereford Ranch. Last year I hosted one event and had so much interest that I failed to accommodate everyone. So I decided to add one extra evening plus one new chef to this summer’s lineup. Wednesday night’s dinner was prepared by Chef Eric with Free Range Kitchen. All courses were individually plated and beautifully presented. We kept an intimate group with about 30 guests and had a wonderful evening meeting new folks and savoring bites. Sunday night’s dinner was prepared by returning Chef Melissa Harrison with Seasonal MT. Farm to Table is her bread and butter so let’s just say this wasn’t her first rodeo. The dinner was served family style with a variety plates to choose from; my favorite being the Beet Hummus with Heirloom Slicer Tomatoes. Of coarse, not stating the obvious Cooper Hereford Beef main plate (wink wink)! I have to say that both dinners were a huge success. I am thankful for all the local farms and wine shops that participate and for all the hard work Chef Eric and Melissa muster through to make these events happen. I also want to thank all the amazing people that made the drive to Willow Creek for a night under the willows and to support our local community food system. I decided to post each chef’s menus below so those of  you that did not make it know exactly what you missed and why you must join us next summer!

Farm to Table

Chef Eric’s Menu | Free Range Kitchen

Pulled Pork Tacos & Wild Coho Salmon Cakes
 1 S T   P L A T E
Farro Risotto with Slicer Tomato and Cooper Hereford Meatball
2 N D   P L A T E
Bibb Salad with Local Beets, Heirloom Carrots and a Fresh Herb Buttermilk Dressing
M A I N   P L A T E
Slow Roasted Cooper Hereford Sirloin
Chanterelle Broth
Twice Baked Potato
Flathead Cherry Buckle

Chef Melissa’s Menu | Seasonal MT

A P P E T I Z E R 
Smoked Brook Trout Dip
Crackers & Pickled Peppers
Rainier Cherries
F A M I L Y   S T Y LE   P L A T E S
Zucchini Squash Muffins
Grilled Squash Tapenade
Cucumber, Red Onion, Baby Fennel Salad over Slicer Tomato
Roasted Golden Beets & Chioggia Beet Salad
Red Beet “Hummus”, Basil Pesto
Red Beet Hummus, Basil Pesto & Heirloom Slicer Tomatoes
Snow Pea & Apple Mint Salad
M A I N   P LA T E 
Cooper Hereford Beef Tacos
Local Wild Mushrooms
Charred Tomatillo Verde
Cilantro, Kale & Red Scallion
D E S S E R T 
Blueberry Cream Cheese Bread
Blueberries & Blueberry Yogurt

Farm to Table Dinner

Wondering what to make with the bounty of red beets rising in the garden and markets? Well Chef Melissa with Seasonal MT was kind of enough to share her Beet Hummus recipe. I’m a huge fan. In fact, I just made another batch today. It’s incredibly vibrant, sure to catch the eye. Layer some heirloom tomatoes on top with a dollop or two of pesto and you have a gourmet healthy lunch in minutes.

Beet Hummus // makes approx. 2 servings

1/2 lb. beets (scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled and cubed)
2 Tbs. sesame seed paste (Tahini)
5 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Clove garlic (chopped)
1 Tbs. Ground cumin
1 Tbs. lemon zest (zest from approx. 2 lemons)
1 Pinch sea salt (or kosher salt)
Ground pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Depending on the beets, you might need to add a little local honey to taste.

Don’t forget – S U P P O R T    L O C A L ! !

Watermelon + How to choose the right one

June 14, 2015

How to choose the right watermelon


It’s amazing how far a watermelon will take you through the week when you don’t want to cook. And lately I haven’t wanted to cook. Luke has been gone during the week, the air is hot and there is always something to do or get done. It’s summertime, which means retire the oven and break open the watermelon!

So this last week, I ate bowls and bowls of watermelon; for a 10 o’clock snack, for lunch, then for dinner and well if I needed dessert, it was watermelon. I like to squeeze fresh lime juice on my watermelon. Try it, I promise you’ll love it. I also like to cut equal sized cubes of watermelon, avocado and fresh mozzarella; arrange them beautifully like this, squeeze a little lime over the top, add some chopped basil and/or mint and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yes, salt and pepper! Again, pretty much ate this for lunch every day last week and its probably on the menu this week too. Ha.

Now for the important stuff; How to choose the right watermelon. No, I don’t go around thumping and tapping every watermelon like a bongo drum! I do agree, the ‘sound test’ may give you some insight on a watermelon’s ripeness, but I don’t use it because I think it’s too subjective and well I think it looks silly! Below is my simple method.

Buy in Season….Don’t be tempted, May through September are the months.

Weight…………The ripest watermelons contain the most water and since watermelons are about 90 percent water, it should be incredibly heavvvvvvvvvy for its size.

Color……………Dark green and matte. Again, don’t be tempted, if they’re shiny, they’re not ripe.

Field Spot……..Don’t forget to look for the field spot. This is where the watermelon sat on the ground and ripened. It should be creamy yellow. If it’s white or nonexistent, put it back, it was picked too early.

Sap………………Check the ends of the watermelon (brown spots) for what looks like oozing sap. This step will weed out most your picks. There are always a couple oozers, but not many.

Shape…………..Obviously, don’t pick a watermelon with bumps, bruises, cuts, dents etc.

H A P P Y     H U N T I N G

Oh, and that reminds me. I went to my nieces dance performance last night and the younger kids (ages 3 to 6) were spotlighted with a name introduction and a question. So each kid would walk on stage, state his/her name and age in the microphone and answer the question; what do you want to be when you grow up. We are going to have a lot of doctors, vets and teachers but this one little boy, so adorable, said he wanted to be a hunter and a loving husband. Only in Montana, Ha!


Vogue Gardening & Beet Chips

September 10, 2014


I am excited to unwrap the next four posts of Vogue Gardening for which I collaborated with the very talented and sweet Lydia Zarling. A self-taught portrait photographer, Lydia’s photos capture a kaleidoscope of color that highlight the essence of nature’s bounty.

She resides in Missoula, Montana but she often travels. Her work mostly consists of portraits but she also enjoys taking pictures of animals, wildlife and sporting events. Her recent interest in fashion photography has highlighted her artistic hand. Doubling as a make-up artist she can create art in real life and capture it behind the camera.

“The more I shoot, the more I learn about the creativity, simplicity & edge to my photography.” ~Lydia Zarling

You can view more of her work on Instagram here. and Facebook here.

Beets are the featured vegetable for Vogue Gardening this week and carrots, sweet corn and whole wheat will be featured throughout the remaining weeks of September along with tasty recipes that will leave you longing for the inevitable change in seasons. I will transition into Autumn with juicy apples and creamy squash to conclude the summer series.

Vogue Gardening

Earthy and eager to stain, this vegetable can be a tough sell. So, I wanted to share a recipe that maybe even the least of beet eaters would enjoy.  To prove these beet chips are for haters and lovers alike I called my Dad to join me for a late afternoon snack. I paired the beets with potatoes (pure distraction) and served with a cold brew. I can attest, both are sure to please!

Originally, it was the beet greens that were consumed. It wasn’t until the Ancient Roman era that the sweet beet root was cultivated. I appreciate the earthiness and texture of beet greens so I often make a rough pesto with each beet harvest. It’s a favorite of mine served over steak.

Red Beet Chips

Beet Chips // serves about 6

1 small bunch of red beets, about 4-6
Canola oil
Seal salt to taste

Wash beets and thinly slice. I used a mandolin on the second setting, but you could also use a knife. Just be sure to slice them very thin so they fry quickly.

Add canola oil to a fry pan and heat until thermometer registers 350 F. If you do not have a thermometer, test oil temperature by adding one beet chip. If it sizzles and fries, the oil is hot enough. Add beets chips in batches and fry until crispy and outer edges start to turn golden brown. About 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure to not overcrowd pan with beets, as oil temperature will decrease and they won’t fry well.

Remove beet chips with a slotted spoon. Place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat until all beets have been fried.

Allow oil to cool, then filter, and store it in a cool dry place for reuse. I will only reuse it once. If you are unsure if you should use it again, check the color and smell against fresh oil.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts w/Apricot

January 25, 2014

With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner I thought I would share with you an easy hors d’ oeuvre that will impress your football fans. The tried and true bacon wrapped water chestnut with a little sweet and fiery addition. Apricot and Jalapeno.



The sweet and savory combination here is sure to please. And for a little extra kick I served the bites with a homemade jalapeno jelly turned dipping sauce. My Aunt Nancy canned this jelly over the summer with her bountiful harvest of jalapenos. Thanks for sharing Aunt Nancy, it’s delicious! If you weren’t gifted jalapeno jelly over the holidays then a pit stop at your local specialty grocer might be necessary this week. But if you don’t have the time, I am not sure it’s worth an extra stop. These bites can stand alone.

Go Team! Who are your rooting for?

bacon-wrapped-water-chestnuts READ MORE

P&P Food Friendzy – Oktoberfest

October 6, 2013

Thanks to everyone that participated in the P&P Food Friendzy kickoff. We had great banter and delicious dishes that complimented the OctoberFest celebration. Listed below were the participating dishes.

Kale, Potato, and Pear Salad with a Pickled Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Empanadas
Peach Ricotta Flatbread drizzled with Balsamic
Apple Nachos
Caramel Apples
Fresh Apple Butter and Cheese Board
Peach Cobbler with Shortbread Crust

Natalie Cooper left the party with some cash in her pockets with the tasty Peach Ricotta Flatbread appetizer. Well done Nat. The caramel apples were the runner up.

Looking forward to the next Friendzy during the holidays.

Cantaloupe and Prosciutto

August 15, 2013

Simple, sweet and salty. That is it today.


I know. This is not a recipe. Rather, more of a reminder. Don’t miss out on all the sweet and juicy melons this summer. This salty/sweet combination will hit the spot, noon or night. It may even transport you to street-side cafe in Italy. And who doesn’t want to be transported to Italy, if only for a few minutes.

This simple duo is easy on the eyes and taste buds. Don’t miss it!


Did you know that a cantaloupe does NOT further ripen after it is picked. It will become softer and juicer if not cut, but not necessarily sweeter. So when you pick out your perfect melon. Use your sniffer. It should have a sweet smell. And don’t store it at room temperature for more than 4 days.

….How did it get its name? Cantalupo, Italy. Where it was cultivated in the 1700s
…..Cantaloupe is often available year round, but harvest peaks June through August.
….California and Arizona take the lead in the U.S. for cantaloupe production. China brings home the gold globally.
….Cantaloupe is the most popular melon in the U.S.
….A squirt of lemon or lime juice will enhance or perk up the flavor of a slice of cantaloupe.

the Cherry Trio

July 27, 2013

Summer time…. Hard to believe it is nearing an end. Before long the kids will be back in school, the days will be shorter, and all the juicy stone fruits gone from the markets.


So, before that happens I thought I would share three easy and delicious cherry recipes. READ MORE

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