One Week Down – Update on Use of My Bountiful Basket

As promised here is an update on how we are doing with our first “Bountiful Basket.”

  • Chard – half gone.  We had it saute with sweet onions, garlic and finished with a splash of white wine.
  • cauliflower – Cleaned,  but yet to be served
  • green onions – half gone, served as part of a veggie tray
  • carrots (full sized) – on tonight’s dinner menu oven roasted, with a butter, honey and balsamic vinegar glaze
  • iceberg lettuce – half gone, two salads, on sandwiches  and a Mexican meal.
  • Chicory – been in salads, still have plenty left
  • broccolini  – on tonight’s menu as well
  • ginger gold apples – not yet
  • white nectarines – all gone, ate for breakfast.   These were probably the most disappointing in our basket.  They got soft on the outside and stayed hard in the middle.
  • peaches – breakfast food, only 2 left.  Fantastic taste.
  • watermelon – 2/3 gone.  Took it to office pot luck.


 case of tomatoes  – 1/2 gone, made fire-roasted salsa, served in salads, and made an Italian grilled veggies one night and a gallon of crock-pot marina sauce.

pepper pack (green and red bells, onions, garlic, dried ancho, and smoked jalapeno (chipolte).   salsa, grilled veggies, veggie tray, salads, only 1/2 of one red and green left, onions, garlic gone, one chipolte left and two anchos left.

I think we are doing pretty good for just the two of us. Both of us agree that this has forced our hand to eat better.  Our meals are more complete.  The idea we are able to eat organic, that is pretty special to us.  We are doing better on the fruit than we thought we would.  I will menu plan the rest of next week and blanch and freeze up what I think  may go to waste.  Am I going to do it again?   You betcha!

New Produce Source

Organic Basket shared by Rachel S @ Bountiful Baskets

I am excited as a friend of mine introduced me to a new produce source.  Bountiful Baskets Co-op.   It is sort of funny because on my last road trip I was asking a co-worker about co-ops.  Suddenly another friend hooks me up with one for food.

This is a buying co-op.  Where members commit and prepay for a  produce basket.  A limited amount of other produce and bread products are also available.   The co-op then purchases in bulk  and has a truck the make the route to distribute the goods.   Local co-op volunteers arrive early, meet the truck and divide up the produce sent for members.  One of the things you do when you join is purchase a basket for the co-op.   This is used to help the volunteers with their task of dividing up produce.   Members show up at a designated time, and pick up their produce.

This week was my first week to participate. I ordered the organic basket.  The photo is what I got.  I am so excited, and looking forward to  fresh produce.   Already my husband and I are talking about how this will give us the impetus to try new veggies.  We also talked about how good we are with eating vegetables, maybe not enough variety, but we do eat lots of them.   We are terrible about eating fruit and with 50% of the basket being fruit it will be a challenge for us to get it all eaten in two weeks.   We have been kicking around ideas on how we might prepare our fruits.

Here is what we got in our organic basket:

  • Chard – which we already eat, and we are planning trying it a couple new ways and with the lamb we are having.
  • cauliflower
  • green onions
  • carrots (full sized)
  • iceberg lettuce (I haven’t had that in ages)
  • Chicory (new one for me)
  • broccolini ( I have had broccoli but never this, internet here I come)
  • ginger gold apples
  • white nectarines
  • peaches
  • watermelon

I also bought a case of tomatoes and a pepper pack (green and red bells, onions, garlic, dried ancho, and smoked jalapenos (chipolte).   I am thinking fresh salsa, and maybe some gazpacho.

I will try to blog about my adventures with this process as I volunteer, get additional baskets, learn to use new veggies and eat more fruit.

Montana Produce

There are lots of place in Montana you can grow produce, but there are few places in our great state it is a constant challenge.   I live in one of them.  I was standing in line Saturday talking with a friend and another woman in line and we were comparing temperatures for the previous night.   I was winning the prize for the warmest overnight temp, 34 degrees.   The other two women had 30 and 29.  It isn’t yet going to be that cold every night, but it drove home to this Midwest girl that this is the reason I look for plants that mature in under 60 days.

We talked about the tomato plants we plants we grew.   Looking for key words like glacier, early and speedy.  Even then we might never get  a single tomato.  That is the case for me this year.

We laughed about covering our gardens in August as nothing unusual, like they had done the prior night.  It is what is expected here, though the rest of the world would perceive this as sign of global cooling.

All of this is a big deal, because I love fresh veggies.   We try to eat meatless one night a week and none of this make it easy.   Our personal gardens require us to be smart in our plant choices and believe the weatherman anytime they call for a frost warning in, even in July or August. Our local supermarkets, don’t stock local produce because it is not prevalent.   Our farmer’s market is small and there is much stuff from resellers and crafts.  Occasionally growers from other parts of the state will drive here to sell their wonderful produce, but with the price of gas we are seeing that less and less.

My Uncle was right when he said I need a greenhouse.


Finding Greatness

I did not watch the Olympics, not one minute so I missed this commercial.   It has sparked all kinds of controversy, and either you think it is OK or you don’t.  You think it exploitative, or you think it inspirational.   I am not going to change your mind, and I am not going to try to.

The first time I saw this commercial the first thing that caught me was the voice. It was the kind of voice you could not help but notice and listen.    I listened to the first couple sentences. I was hooked.   Eventually  I saw was a person come in to view  with an imperfect body and external flaws I could not  help but notice.  He was running, reinforcing the message that the voice was delivering.  Greatness is not something given to us but in us.

I like it works for me.  I am seeking my personal greatness.


I just spent a couple of days on a business trip traveling with some folks.   During this trip we spent lots of time in a truck traveling across the state of Montana.   It gave us lots of time for talking and solving the worlds problems.   It also reminded me of how important it is to respect other’s opinions.  Opinions are just that your personal view on a topic, shaped by your upbringing on and life experiences.   They are neither right nor wrong.   They are yours, and no one can tell you that they are wrong or you should hold other opinions.

We have no right to tell folks that they are wrong, idiots, stupid, a conservative, a liberal, or any other name we may choose to throw at them for their opinion.   It is their right to an opinion informed or uninformed.  We have a right to asked them to tell us if they would share with us why they feel that way, but only if we feel we can not interrupt them and listen.   If they choose to share, we have the right to tell them what we feel and how we got to that place with the same respect.    Sometimes we may change their views or they shed light on a issue for us.  But if we can’t talk about this in a respectful manner then neither of us are going to change our mind and it is probably going to make things worse.  Raised voices, intimidation,  and  demeaning tactics to force beliefs on someone has never worked.

Being respectful can be hard at times.   It can be especially hard during these times of elections.   Our politicians have stopped being respectful a long time ago.  It is easy to be the same when we have allowed ourselves to become so polarized.  You have to be red or blue.

Well I am purple!  I will likely agree with you on lots of things, and disagree just as passionately on a few.   Even the things I agree with you on, I may likely hold different beliefs on the best way to achieve those goals.    All I can pray is that I continue to listen to how you formed your opinion and give it thought. I hope you feel I always treat you with respect.

“It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.” ~ Fred Rogers

August in the High Country

August in the high country is nothing like August of the Midwest.   Growing up, August in northern Illinois was really just an extension of summer.   It is full of hot days and nights nearly as hot.  It seemed that even if the the first day of summer was in July, it got only hotter in August.    Even as children we sought relief in shade, playing in sprinklers and eating frozen Popsicles. I remember you did not think summer was on its way out until you heard the cicadidae making the sounds that came only after the hottest days of summer and the days were getting shorter.

At our place August is the month that really is the transition between summer and autumn.   Already the days belong to summer and the nights are become very fall like.    During the day you may want to wear sleeveless tops and shorts enjoying those hot summer temps, but at night keep the blankets close by.   Last week it was in the 40’s one night, though I had no hint of that during the day.  I was snuggling up to my husband who just a few weeks ago was telling me don’t touch me it is too hot.

August in Montana is also prime fire season.   What little rain we get  has long since stopped.   The grasses in lawns have gone dormant, and the rangeland plants are cured to tinder dry.  We start to get dry thunderstorms and with that we see more fires starts.    Our fire season with the drought has come early and it is hard to believe with all that has burnt already we are just enter the start of the traditional season.     Some of the fires that start now may only really be gone once the snow starts to fly.

August may be the only month that is completely in the season of summer, but for me it is a bit of an oxymoron month.  August can’t really decided if it is summer or autumn and so it splits its time between both seasons.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Each fall when we returned to school from summer vacation, it seemed all my  teachers were programmed to require students to write or tell what they did on summer vacation.  I was lucky, in  that when I was a youngster one set of my grandparents traveled lots and I always had a story to tell.   As I have gotten older it seems we have taken fewer and fewer vacations.   I am always tucking a little money away for that proverbial rainy day or disaster.  I listen to the forecasts and squirrel away more money for that futuristic retirement.   When the bills are paid and the saving is done, it seems there is little left for a travel vacation.     I am happy to report we just got home from a few days away.

We traveled to Spokane, a city I had only driven through in the past.   We went to visit a friend who lived there. She had offered to let us use her home as a home base.   We arrived to find our friend living in one of the older  neighborhoods, with the large old homes from the turn of the last century, full of character, mature trees and small lawns.  It was an overdose of green considering that my home in Montana never can brag about an abundance of rain in August and this year has been particularly dry.

Though the heat was terrible and humidity not  much better, I did find myself sneaking in walks and taking in the architecture of the homes, the flowering plants and even the trees. The boulevards were lined with sycamore trees, creating an archway of shade over cobblestone streets. Almost every house had some kind of porch, and it was decked out with furniture, but seldom was someone out watching the world go by. I on the other hand found myself out there almost every chance I could, enjoying the fresh air, watching the runners, walkers and the visiting cats. It reminded me of summer nights where generations of my family spent the evenings after dinner outside chatting with neighbors, watering the garden, and swatting at mosquitoes.

Our hostess took us out to see parks with exquisite plantings.   There were areas dedicated to roses and an English garden.   There were beds of perennials and herbs.   We visited a conservatory with plants  too delicate for the full set of seasons that Spokane offers.   It was fun to see her share here city with us.

My husband and I are ethnic food junkies and always look for good ethnic food no matter where we visit.  On this trip we took a walking tour of Spokane that was part history and part food called Spokane Bites  It was a great time that reminded us of how much we enjoy a visit to the city.   Our tour guide was full of facts about the history of her city, recent to far distant past.   The restaurants they chose were local joints, no chain stuff here.   We sampled the best smoked steelhead I have ever had, along with a local brew.  We had two kinds of soup at a spot may downtown workers favor that turned into a local night time hot spot each night. We sampled wares from an Italian restaurant that the owner had actually come from our neck of Montana.  We had chocolates and deserts that were just grand.      When we finished both my husband and I wished we were staying downtown for a couple of days because there was so much yet to explore there.  We found ourselves thinking that for a day or two we could once again enjoy the mad rush of energy that comes with living downtown in a city.

Only a day later we would find ourselves back on the road heading back to our piece of paradise.  That dry land in a sparsely populated state with little ethnic cuisine.   As my husband and I chatted on our long drive home we agreed it was a good visit,  but we were glad to be going home.   It confirmed our life choices had been right for us.  We had lived in the heart of the city once and enjoyed it, but we did not long to return to that life.   We knew what it offered and what we were missing, but the scales of life were much more weight in our favor living the rural life in Montana.