Easter

Spring + Gardening

May 4, 2015

Potato Frittata

I started gardening about 3 weeks ago. A neighbor and master gardener told me that Good Friday is a date worth noting for planting root and frost tolerant vegetables. I was about a week behind but still feeling ahead since last year I didn’t start working the ground until mid May. Veggies that can be started outside earlier than most are the root vegetables like potatoes, radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi and rutabaga with the addition of some frost tolerant veggies like peas, the cabbage-family and collards. So my first planting of the year included peas, radishes, beets, kale and spinach. I may have been on the cusp with my collards, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. The radishes were the first to germinate, followed by the peas and then beets. The weather has been favorable so I am hoping for a growing spurt.

I started my indoor seedlings about two weeks ago. This included an assortment of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and melons. The cucumbers germinated first and the melons and tomatoes followed suit shortly after and the pepper family has been little slow. I think they may need a little more sun and warmth than what my home may be providing. I will keep you updated. I plan to transplant these starters outside around the end of May or early June. Basically once there is no chance of a frost, which in Montana, is a really hard date to predict!

I ordered all my seeds from Gurney’s and Rare Seeds and purchased some packets from Home Depot. If you haven’t flipped through a Rare Seeds catalog, I highly recommend you request a free catalog. It is a 200+ page color catalog that is sure to inspire you in the garden. Rare Seeds also pledges as a company that they do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

Goliath Spinach, Gurney’s
Black Magic Kale, Gurney’s
Chioggia and Golden Beets, Rare Seeds
Cherry Belle Radish, Home Depot
Sugar Ann Snap Pea, can’t remember where I purchased this seed packet. It was leftover from a year or two ago.

Heirloom Rainbow Blend, Gurney’s
Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Gurney’s (of favorite of mine)
Habanero Hot Pepper Blend, Home Depot
Big Thai Hot Pepper, Home Depot
Tangerine Sweet Pepper, Home Depot
Cucumber Muncher, Home Depot
Sugar Baby Watermelon, can’t remember where I purchased this seed packet. It was leftover from a year or two ago.

Note: It is important to store any leftover seeds in a cool, dry and dark place. I usually place them in my fridge but a cool basement would also work. The seeds must be dry so if you are concerned add a small packet of silica gel to the container or any other moisture absorbent like powdered milk or rice. Certain seeds have a longer shelf life than others. For example, corn and onions may only last 1 or 2 years at best while beans, carrots, lettuce, peas and radishes may keep in your fridge for multiple years. Below is a list of common vegetables and their respective shelf life.

5+ yrs…..Beets, cucumbers, tomatoes.
3 to 5 yrs…..Beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, carrots, lettuce, okra, peppers, radishes, spinach, turnips and watermelon.
1 to 2 yrs…..Sweet corn, leeks, onions, parsnips and parsley.

Above are some gardening essential from the Mercantile. Click to shop.

I used this boot tray from Target to hold my indoor starters so I wouldn’t ruin my wooden table when watering.
DIY chalkboard seed makers here or just buy these simple markers for $6 or these copper markets for $10.
These watering cans are worth showing off.
Dreaming of summer picnics with this handwoven tote.
Saving for this porcelain berry bowl.
Still looking for a great pair of gardening gloves that do not make my hands stink.

Frittata

Baked Potato Frittata

I also thought I would share another asparagus recipe. This is my go to when I have a baked potato leftover from the night before. It might be a good addition to your Mother’s Day brunch menu!

Baked Potato Frittata with Asparagus & Lemon // Serves 2 or 3 as a meal or 8 to 10 as a side

6 eggs
1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
Handful of asparagus spears (9 oz. or 25 skinny spears)
A baked potato from the night before
1/3 c. feta

Preheat broiler.

In a glass mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, cayenne pepper, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Wash and snap off ends of asparagus spears. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces and add to egg mixture. Thinly slice potato.
Spray or butter a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Layer potato slices on bottom. Pour egg mixture over the top. On medium heat, cook until egg starts to set and you can run a spatula around the edge of skillet, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the top with feta and broil until the top is set and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from the sillet and slide onto a plate or cutting board.

Note: If you do not have a leftover baked potato you can use one or two Yukon Gold potatoes. You will need to soften the potatoes by parboiling or sauteing prior to layering the slices on the bottom of the pan. If you choose to saute in olive oil, be sure to just soften the potatoes not fry. You don’t want crispy potatoes. The recipe turns out equally delicious but this step does add a little time to otherwise an incredibly quick recipe.

Asparagus

Spring + Salad

April 24, 2015

I think Spring has finally sprung at the Cooper Hereford Ranch.

We finished seeding the spring wheat last week. The pastures are showing signs of life; hopefully this means we can stop feeding hay in the next couple of weeks if Mother Nature delivers some moisture. We are busy servicing pivots and wheel lines and burning ditch in preparation for the irrigation season. And, I almost forgot, since it feels like a decade ago, that we are just about finished breeding all the heifers and cows. The process started in mid March after the Annual Bull Sale. Whew, it’s time consuming.

If you enjoy the ranch updates, I typically post more photographs on Instagram. Follow me here if you want to get your daily dose of ranch life!

Cooper Hereford Ranch Mountains

Cooper Hereford Ranch Sunrise

Since it’s officially Spring, that means there is an abundance of asparagus spears available at the markets. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and I especially like to incorporate it into salads. I made a side salad using asparagus for Easter dinner and since then I have made it a couple different ways.

My sister’s are always requesting more salad recipes. I make salads often but find myself rarely writing the recipes on paper. I am typically a very detailed and precise person but when it comes to salads the recipes usually sound something like this; a lot of asparagus, a couple handfuls of spinach, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of feta. Not the easiest recipe to follow, unless of course that is exactly how you like to cook….a little of this and a little of that! So this recipe, or lack of, is my way of encouraging you to color outside the lines. So I am merely providing you flavors and textures that compliment each other and I am asking you to  add as little or as much as you like until the salad looks and tastes just right. Who really likes to follow a recipe anyways. Don’t we just want to be inspired?

Asparagus

Spring Salad

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
A lot Asparagus
One pickled red onion (see below)
A couple handfuls of spinach
One cucumber, seeded and cubed
As much hard boiled egg as you like
Enough feta
Enough crispy Prosciutto Bits (see below)
A couple cups of cooked Farro

THE BASICS
The first couple of times I made this salad I simply tossed the asparagus, pickled red onion, spinach and cucumber with equal parts of quality extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Then I garnished with quartered hard boiled eggs, feta and crispy prosciutto bits. It doesn’t get any easier!

A later version included cooked farro in lieu of the crispy prosciutto bits. If you haven’t tried farro yet this salad is a great introduction to the grain. Not only is it delicious in salads but I also like to use it in soups and baked pasta dishes. I buy the quick cooking farro that only takes about 10 minutes on the stove top. I tossed this salad with a four herb vinaigrette. Basically I whisked together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest, dijon mustard, garlic and finely chopped rosemary, tarragon, thyme and oregano. Very fresh and clean, the essence of Spring.

Pickled red onion is delicious and something I eat often on tacos, burgers and tartines. Something about the tangy bite from the vinegar that I just can’t get enough of.
To make, it’s quite simple. In a bowl, add 1 c. of vinegar and 2 Tbs granulated sugar. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Add 1 tsp. whole mustard seeds and salt and pepper. Add one thinly sliced red onion to the pickling liquid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Prosciutto bits are equally delicious and can be used to garnish just about anything. It gives a dish that salty crunch that everyone loves. To make, set the oven to broil. Spray a baking sheet and lay a couple strips of prosciutto on the greased baking sheet and broil for about 3 to 5 minutes until crispy. Transfer prosciutto to a plate lined with paper towels. Crumble.

Spring Salad

Salad with asparagus

WHAT”S HAPPENING
Looking forward to learning from Jody Engstrom with My Nutrition Living next Tuesday April 28th at Bridger Kitchens. She is teaching her dairy and non-diary ferments class. Think yogurt and beyond!
If you are local to Bozeman, join me at the Emerson Cultural Center on May 7th for this event.
Recently purchased these jeans and this swimsuit. Tip: Recycle your old jeans at Madewell stores and you’ll get $20 off a a new pair.
Don’t forget about the Derby. Check out this L.A. based hat designer here and make mint juleps with this recipe and use these pewter cups.

Rhubarb Raspberry Swirl Bread

June 24, 2014

Rhubarb Raspberry Braided Bread

I entered a baking challenge hosted by Joy the Baker and King Arthur Flour. The four part challenge is a way to bring bakers together. Fun right. So all I had to do was bake this Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread, take photos of the end product and then post them on Instagram using hashtag #bakingbootcamp. You can read more about the challenge here if you want to join in for the next three.

I didn’t have too many berries at home when I decided to make this sweet treat. But I still have, what seems, an endless supply of rhubarb. So I decided to make this a rhubarb raspberry swirl bread. I highly recommend trying this recipe. I can best describe it as a large rhubarb cinnamon roll. And since I love cinnamon rolls and by now you should know how much I love rhubarb, this is probably my favorite sweet treat to date. It basically gives you a reason to wake up in the mornings! You can find the recipe here.

Rhubarb Raspberry Twist Bread

Rhubarb and Raspberry

On a side note. Montana is looking stunning. Mother Nature has blessed us with ample moisture. The fields and hills are lush and green. The amount of feed available this year is exciting. The photos below were taken in what we call our dry land pasture. This means we do not irrigate it. Mother Nature does her work and we hope for the best. So far she is doing some of her best work for us.

It has been at least 1o years since I have spent an entire summer in Montana. And I rarely visited in June. I have no idea why not. Like I said it’s a gorgeous time of year and good energy vibes are everywhere with summer finally arriving. I recommend visiting this time of year. Just pack your rain slicker and boots.

Happy Summer Days!

cows

Pistachio Macarons with Lemon Swiss Buttercream

March 24, 2013

Easter Sunday is around the corner and I hope you find yourself remembering the joys of childhood while cultivating fresh and youthful traditions.

Baskets. Bunnies. Eggs. Fancy and frilly dresses. Jelly Beans. Peeps. Pastels. Tulips.

pistachio-macarons-with-lemon-swiss-buttercream

I thought I would share a couple photos from my first endeavor wearing the hat of French pastry chef. the confectionery. the macaron. Although there is much debate whether this sweet meringue-based cookie’s origin is French or Italian. To me, macarons and French Patisseries are synonymous with one another.

farm-fresh-eggs

I hope these photos might inspire you before Easter Sunday. Provoke you in the kitchen or perhaps through the doors of a patisserie. Whether yours or theirs this cookie is mildly moist and can’t help to melt in your mouth. It should be shared across the table with friends and family. And known to be presented in so many shades of pinks, purples, blues and greens I can’t help to think it’s the perfect Easter treat. READ MORE

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