Independence Day

Montana Picnic | BLT with Blue Cheese & Pimiento Spread

September 22, 2015

Montana Picnic

BLT

This is the time of year when I start to panic. I obsess over weather reports; constantly checking updates to verify clear sunny skies. I believe I still have a good month before the snow flies so September is usually the month I try to cram a summer’s list of to-dos into four weeks. When I realize I have only one month of decent semi predictable weather. So I spend every possible minute of my day absorbing the remnants of summer. So what better way to honor the ‘savor summer’ mantra than a perfectly packed picnic. Pick a place whether it be mountain scapes, alfalfa fields, the park down the road, your backyard or on the tailgate aside a country road. Just get outside with some small bites and sweet treats and enjoy the 80 degree weather.

Garden Veggies

I wanted to take the effort out of packing so below is what you would find at my picnic. I would love to hear some of your favorite items too!

Essentials.

Basket or Backpack – If you’re road tripping pack the super cute basket, if you are hitting the mountain trails go backpack. This handwoven basket is a classic and I have been eyeing this handmade salmon colored backpack for quite some time now.

Napkins – I am a bit obsessed with cloth napkins. My mother showed me how to sew my own and now I turn every piece of fabric I own into a napkin. Mostly because I collect fabric and it’s the only thing I can sew. Well that and the occasional baby blanket. But seriously, bring cloths napkins as I also use it as a face cloth to wick away sweat and dirt.

Plates, Glasses & Utensils – If you are taking a drive or close walk with the picnic basket, I pack the whole works. I have a set of silverware that I use solely for camping and picnicking and have wicker plate holders for paper plates. I found them at a thrift store and absolutely love them. They make eating off a paper plate so much easier and fancier. I also like to pack glasses and wrap them in the cloth napkins.

Blanket – Don’t forget an over-sized blanket. It’s not a picnic if you aren’t lounging on a blanket. I like these linen blankets.

Hat – whether it be a ball cap or handmade straw hat. I don’t care I just want to keep the sun off my face. I pack a good sunscreen too. Mostly because my husband is Irish! And why not throw in some bug repellent and sunglasses. Still swooning over hats by Janessa Leone.

Frisbee – Yes, it’s easy to pack and something to do when I run out of words.

Small Bites and Treats.

Peruvian Peppers – If you haven’t tried them they can usually be found in the olive bar. They’re delicious.

Assortment of Olives – My favorite being the Castelvetrano olive. They’re bright green.

One or two Spreads – Always a pesto and usually a hummus.

Meat – For me it’s usually the old and reliable; hard salami, ham and prosciutto.

Cheese – Usually one or two cheeses. A soft spreadable cheese and usually a hard salty cheese.

Fruit – The list is endless. Something seasonal.

Baguette – Easy to pack and eat. If I have time beforehand I will toast slices.

Roasted garlic – Again, only if I have the time beforehand to roast.

Drinks – Sparkling water, ice tea, lemonade, kombucha, beer, wine; you get the picture.

Something sweet – It can be as simple and healthy as cocoa nibs to homemade hand pies to a candy bar. Just something to satisfy the after lunch craving.

If I want something more substantial and have the time beforehand it’s basically the same list above but using some of the ingredients to make a sandwich (try my BLT with a blue cheese and pimento spread below). I would most likely toss a salad together too. Not a green salad, something that keeps well like this four bean salad. And since you can’t eat a sandwich without chips, I usually throw in my favorite, salt and vinegar.

When it comes to packing the food, it really just depends on where I am picnicking. If I am hiking or driving or taking a short walk and well of coarse if its spontaneous or planned. So make it as little or as much effort as you would like. Hope this helps!

Picnic

BLT (Bacon, red romaine and heirloom tomato) with a Blue Cheese and Pimiento Spread / makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices of bread, toasted
Blue cheese and pimiento spread, see recipe below
10 to 12 slices of bacon, cooked
Fresh greens, I used red romaine from my garden
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced

Blue Cheese and Pimiento Spread

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 oz. blue cheese crumbles, room temperature
2 oz. jar sliced pimientos, drained and diced
½ jalapeno, diced
1 Tbs. dried chives
Pinch of celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste

Incorporate all ingredients and mix until smooth. Spread on bread and you know the rest!

Cheers to 80 degree weather in September! Get outside and picnic.Cheers

Picnicking photographs taken by local photographer Trisha Jones.

Watermelon + How to choose the right one

June 14, 2015

How to choose the right watermelon

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!

Watermelon

Food & Farming

July 8, 2014

Since I’m talking about food & farming. The Farm to Table Field Dinner is coming up. Have you bought your tickets yet? We have been prepping the site. The area has been mowed, weed-eated and bladed. Next week we will spread wood chips, hang lights and build fire pits. So excited, don’t miss it. Only one event this year.

food & farming

I know what you are thinking. This jalapeno and dill pickle burger with whipped feta is not a cleanse friendly recipe. You’re right. That’s my husband’s dinner. Substitute the gluten and dairy for garden greens and that’s my dinner. A dinner I actually eat more nights than not. It’s true.

I made this whipped feta for the first time a couple months ago. It’s delicious. You will want to smear it on everything. And trust me, I did. Just one more reason why I started a 30 day cleanse! Since dairy is not my friend for 15 more days, I can’t say I have actually tried the whipped feta with the burger. But I decided it was post worthy from my husband’s feedback. Give it a try and report back!

Jalapeno and Dill Pickle Burger

Jalapeno and Dill Pickle Burger with Whipped Feta and Tomato

1 pound hamburger
1/3 cup pickled jalapenos, diced
1/3 cup dill pickles, diced
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 multri grain with flax buns
4 ounces feta cheese crumbles
3 ounces whipped cream cheese
2 Roma Tomatoes
salt and pepper

With the metal whisk attachment on mixer, whip feta crumbles until they just start to clump together. Add whipped cream cheese and continue whipping until creamy and smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. I used whipped cream cheese but you could use regular. Just make sure it is at room temp so it whips well. Set aside for later

Dice jalapenos and pickles. In a medium sized bowl, add hamburger, pickles, jalapenos, mustard, and salt and pepper. Mix together all ingredients with clean hands. Form four (1/4 lb) patties. Leave a dent in the middle, for a flat cooked patty.

Heat grill. You want it hot! Add patties and grill each side until cooked through. I like mine grilled with a nice crust on the outside and pink on the inside. Toast buns on the grill right before removing burgers. Remove burgers and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.

Place the burgers on the bottom half of the buns and add whipped feta and tomato slices to top half of the buns.

Enjoy! READ MORE

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