Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Sundays are really about pancakes. In our house, that means gluten (wheat) free, casein (milk) free, soy free and artificial anything. They were delicious!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup potato starch
5/8 cup each chickpea and brown rice flour
1/4 plus a tbsp arrowroot flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup water

Mix the wet items together in one bowl and mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Then mix the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.

In a hot non-stick skillet, heat up a bit of canola oil and scoop 1/4 cup for each pancake.

Enjoy with 100% maple syrup or as Jack likes it, sprinkled with sugar. Yum!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tonight is a night of Bliss!

How blissful! Tonight is a night of Bliss from the makers of Coconut Bliss which is by far the most delicious ice cream you will ever taste.

Since Jack is on a gluten / dairy / soy-free diet, we are always looking for food options. Now, I do make him a lot of things from scratch like pizza, muffins, lasagna and popsicles but it's always nice to find something that is ready to go. We were first introduced to Coconut Bliss at the Good Earth Natural Foods in downtown Spearfish.

The gang at Coconut Bliss is smart to use social media to keep in touch with their many fans. I found out about the Night of Bliss contest on Facebook and entered. And sa-weeet! I am one of the winners and the only winner from South Dakota :-) I received a box full of all sorts of goodies including free Coconut Bliss (coupons), fun toppings, a t-shirt and a cool handmade bowl.

Click here to see all the poetry entries. Here is the poem I entered:

Coconut Bliss is a delight
Here in the Black Hills
I sometimes finish the whole thing
It's what cures all my ills

South Dakota can see its share of snow
In fall and winter time
But my Naked Coconut Bliss
Keeps me warm and fine

So tonight our court is having a progressive dinner party and we are the first house so I am serving Coconut Bliss, champagne and lemon verbena infused vodka I made from my garden. Doesn't that sound like a perfect first course?

Check it out A Night of Bliss and do have a blissful day!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Snow in the 'fish! That's Crow Peak in the background. Doesn't it look like Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turkey Time, Take 2

Yeah turkey! Now this turkey has been chilling in our freezer for almost a year so it was fine time to launch him into the oven. It was delicious and Jack particularly liked the crispy wings.

I really need a larger roasting pan set up!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Turkey Time

Fall is really in the air in the Black Hills and leaves are blowing everywhere. I love this time of year! It's time for turkey. Crisp, roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and spinach salad is on the menu for Sunday. Tom is in the refrigerator thawing out and I am considering the menu. It will be gluten / casein / soy free so everyone in the family can enjoy it. Simple is best when it comes to the turkey. The only thing special I like to do is add apples, onions and fresh herbs to the cavity (that get tossed) and herbs under the skin. I still have some fresh orange thyme from my garden so that will be the ticket.

Mashed potatoes will be done with olive oil instead of butter and hemp milk instead of cream. I'm infusing rosemary in the EVOO which adds a great flavor. A little roasted garlic too.

For the spinach salad, it's just fresh spinach and whatever I have available. Toasted pine nuts for sure.

Baked apples for dessert? Yes, I am ready for this pre-Thanksgiving feast!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Lamb Loin Chops - Black Hills Local Flavor!

Pumpkin and lamb just seem to go together in the Black Hills! I am sharing this delicous sounding recipe from a e-newsletter I receive from We purchase our lamb from The Butcher Shop in Spearfish but have considered buying a whole or half lamb instead since we love it so much. That's on my research to-do list. Local pumpkins can be found now at the Runnings stand in Spearfish for $3 each. You have to ask yourself, why would you buy a pumpkin at Wal-Mart for $4 from who knows where, when you can support your local farmer and buy a local pumpkin for less? Gage's Garden's and the Farmer's Market (next to Crow Peak Brewery) are also carrying pumpkins.

Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Lamb Loin Chops

BTW - here's the secret to pumpkin seeds. In fact, I cook ALL my squash seeds like this. You will too once you try this simple process.

Scoop out all seeds from the pumpkin (or squash) and remove as much of the goo as possible via rinsing. Pat seeds dry. Pre-heat the oven to 450 and put tinfoil on a cookie sheet. Plop the seeds on the cookie sheet and pour enough EVOO to coat so each seed is shiny but not drenched. Spread them out on the foil and pop in the oven. Now watch them! As soon as you hear one 'pop'! take a look and give them a shake. Do that again. We're talking only a few minutes and they will be done. You'll know they are done when they are golden brown. I like to sprinkle a little salt but that's it. You can get creative and add other spices too. Let them cool for a minute and dig in or crush / use in your favorite recipe. They are crisp and delicious!

Can't wait to try these on the lamb!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Geranium seeds bring a big surprise!

Each fall my garden is full of long seed pods, crunchy plants and weird spikes coming from previously beautiful flowers and vegetables. That's what happens when you let nature take over and your plants go to seed. I save the seeds and use them in next year's garden.

This summer, I had bought a flat of red geranium and they did so well. I planted the bright, happy flowers in pots on the deck and interspersed in my herb and veggie garden.

As I was clearing out the garden this fall, I noticed that they had actually gone to seed! The photo is what the seeds look like. Little twisty spirals with a circular white plum around the end. Amazing. I had never seen a germanium seed and plan to plant them in the spring.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Food Not Lawns

What a great book I am reading! Food not lawns - How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community by H.C. Flores. I picked this book up at the Rapid City Library today and dove right in. Tons of great information. The author asks, "How can human beings thrive together, in peace and perpetuity, without destroying the ecology that we depend upon?" There are no easy answers to that question since it's up to each of us to 'design our own life' but, as the authors explains, it doesn't mean to don a loincloth and live on grub worms and roadkill, it's about finding your own niche and work toward a long and natural life. (This is very paraphrased but you get the idea).

How this applies to me is my own backyard garden. I was already planning to expand but I can take it a step further and share plants and seeds with others. So guess what everyone is getting for Christmas? A Black Hills Garden basket of seeds from this year's garden, dried herbs and herbal tea packets. I think I am on to something here!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Local Businesses Need our Support!

If we don't support our local businesses, they will not be there any longer. It's so important. Read about The 350 Project here and see what you can do to help!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hummus and Tabouli - It finally feels like summer in the Black Hills!

One day, two boys named Hummus and Tabouli set off for a great adventure...

This is good summer eating. From my garden came spearmint, chives and tomatoes. Here's an early shot of the chives.


2 large (or to taste – we like garlic) cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
1 TBL EVOO (ala Rachael Ray)
14oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
6 TBL lemon juice — about 2-3 lemons
1/2 cup EVOO
2 TSP ground cumin
1/2 TSP cayenne (or more to taste)

Heat 1 TBL EVOO, add garlic and sauté for about one minute. Don’t let the garlic get brown. If it does, toss and start over. Have ready in a food processor or blender all other ingredients and pour the hot EVOO and garlic in. Blend to a soft paste. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle with more cayenne and serve with fresh veggies and / or warm pita bread.
P.S. I usually make a double batch of hummus. It goes fast.


1-1/3 cups bulgur
5 TBL lemon juice (about two lemons)
2 cloves (or to taste) garlic through garlic press
1/2 TSP ground cumin
Sea salt to taste (maybe 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup EVOO
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parley (just the leaves)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped finely
6 TBL minced green onions or chives (or a mix)
4 TBL fresh mint (I like spearmint)

Place bulgur in a bowl and pour about three times its volume of water. Let soak an hour or so until soft. Place a tea towel in a colander and drain bulgur. Squeeze out the extra moisture in towel and place bulgur in bowl. This is important to get all the moisture out. The grains should be sort of fluffy and dry.

In a small bowl, mix together lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt. Stir in EVOO and blend well. Pour this over bulgur. Then toss in chopped tom’s, parsley, cucumber, green onions and mint with bulgur and mix well.

Serve as a salad by itself or on top of fresh spinach. Here’s the best way: Stand next to your kitchen counter, take pita bread and spread a lot of hummus on it and then top with tabouli. Yum!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Spearfish has a farmer's market!

There is a new Farmer's Market in Spearfish! The new orgnization, Hills Horizon, is getting together local growers and vendors to set up shop in the Spearfish City Park on Saturdays from 9am-noon. It's starting small but, with community support, could turn into THE place to go on Saturday's mornings over the summer.

For more information:

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Local Produce in Spearfish!

Today really feels like summer in the Black Hills but not necessarily when you look at the sky. The sky is dark and it's in the 60's. What looks like summer is the fact that there is produce growing in lower valley! I went to the Farmers Market (next to Crow Peak Brewery) this morning to pick up local brown eggs and was delighted to find snow peas and chard. Just picked. I was also looking for honey which they only had in the big buckets but Faith at the market said she'll be pouring more soon.

Another nice development in Spearfish is the new Farmer's Market in the City Park on Saturday's at 8am. The first one happened last week. Here's how I understand it. You pay a 'one time' fee of $15 and then it's $10 for a 10 foot table. I can't wait to check it out tomorrow! I may also consider selling some herbs and some of the herbal tea I made from last years garden. Wouldn't it be cool if I had sun tea (made with my herbal tea) right there for people to try? Wonder if there is a opportunity to sell some of my gluten free creations? Will have more news after tomorrow.

I also picked up the new South Dakota Local Foods Directory produced by Dakota Rural Action which I plan to read cover to cover this weekend.

Yes, summer in the Black Hills is finally here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Glorious greens from seed

There is something to be said for annuals that come back the next year, especially in South Dakota! I am thrilled that I have green leaf lettuce coming up. Last year, I let the green leaf go to seed and now I must have at least 25 heads of lettuce in a 8' x 8' foot square. Fantastic!

In addition, arugula, spinach, carrots, chard and basil are peaking out from our black, Black Hills soil. The daily South Dakota green salad is a ritual!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The first salad of the summer

The fruits of the garden! It's so nice to be able to enjoy the bounty. Here we have green leaf lettuce (that I had let go to seed and came back), chives and chive blossoms, tarragon, mint and the first few strawberries. This is summer...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lemon Verbena Infused Vodka

In one of my favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has a great line. When all seems lost, he whips out an umbrella and sends a flock of birds into the enemies plane which causes it to crash.

"I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne: Let my armies be the rocks and the trees - and the birds in the sky."

With summer upon us in the Black Hills, I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne but it had nothing to do with rocks, trees, birds or sky.

Last fall, I infused some good vodka with the herb, lemon verbena from my garden. I carefully removed all the leaves, made sure they were clean and covered them with vodka. My concoction sat in mason jars for months. Around Christmas, I strained it and it was a dark brown and not appetizing at all. In fact, the nose was super strong -- like taking a whiff of straight vodka. And it was yucky brown color. So over the holidays I tried to get my friends to try it and did not have much luck.

Fast forward to spring! I found one of my three jars under the cabinet and it turned a pretty golden color so I decided to give it another try. The nose was subtle with a slight lemon scent. This could be the start of a wonderful friendship!

Michelle's Lemon Verbena Summer Tonic

1 shot of lemon verbena infused vodka
tonic water
splash of fresh lemon juice
splash of 7-UP

Fill a highball with ice. Add one shot of lemon verbena infused vodka. Fill almost to the top with tonic water and add a splash of fresh lemon juice and 7-UP. Stir. And enjoy.

Yes, summer is here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The rolling greenhouse

This rolling greenhouse has come in very handy! There is a vinyl zip around cover that has kept the seedlings quite toasty. It's more like a test run this year. There are several herbs starting from seed as well as flowers from last years garden. I purchased some tomato seedlings as well as thyme and lemon verbena so just working on hardening them off and they'll go in this week.

The old timers say to plant your garden when there is no snow on Crow Peak. There are a few very small patches up there so with the nice weather this week, I should be ready.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Permaculture Gardening in the Black Hills

A great story in the Rapid City Journal today.

Imagine digging a hole three feet deep and filling it with newspaper and uncoated cardboard. Then adding manure and maybe some fireplace ash. After that you cover everything with dirt and plant your veggies and herbs. That's what a family in the Black Hills is doing and they call it permaculture gardening.

I am ready to give the concept a try!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Freezing and Defrosting in the Locavore Kitchen

The typical locavore is skilled and interested in all things having to do with growing and preserving food.  I fall into this category.  

Suddenly it is a necessity!  Our freezer in the garage blew a fuse and half of my hard work lay in defrosted disarray. So tonight, I move to action.  First, turning on SDPB Uncle Jim-o Jazz and pouring myself a glass of wine. Now, I can accomplish anything!!

I am a mad woman in the kitchen cooking everything that is in defrost mode. Fortunately everything was still cold but I had to toss out gallons of stock, broth and homemade soup.  (That was very sad). In my oven now are chicken breasts, a couple of Hutterite pot pies, some peppers I am roasting and something I am not EXACTLY sure what it is. It's some game bird that friends brought over which I did not (bad!) label.  I think it's a pheasant or maybe a grouse? Remember, this is South Dakota.  The 'wings' look like lobsters in a twisted way.  Anyway the critter is being roasted.

Ever being the optimist, it's a great time to clean out the freezer.  It's spring!  The nice thing is that I have herbs growing in the garden so while I on this mad cooking binge, I am thinking of all the quick meals I can now put together this next week.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Community Supported Forage

What a fantastic idea! A nod to for sharing the latest concept in CSA's. Community Supported Forage (instead of Agriculture).

Getting a box of foraged foods from the Black Hills would be fantastic. Last summer I collected rose hips up in Spearfish Canyon to add to my herbal tea blend which included spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, lemon verbena, lavendar and lemon balm from my garden. What I learned was that the best time to harvest rose hips is when they are bright red! I didn't know that at the time and ended up with some mint tea that tasted like dirt. This summer, I am in the know.

There are many berries in the Black Hills that I would like to learn about. I have to imagine there to be mushrooms, lettuce varieties and other greenery worth sampling. I've got this on my list of to-do's this summer: find a Black Hills forager guide.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The White House Garden

The Obama's will have over 55 types of vegetables growing on the grounds of the White House! Again, I applaud First Lady Michelle in making this happen. I can't wait to see the full list. They are even going to have an on-site bee keeper!

The story is in the New York Times. People will be watching this. Will this encourage people to plant gardens of their own? Or buy local produce? Or eat at home? Or just eat better? This is one experiment I am excited to watch.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is the First Lady a Locavore?

The topic of food continues to braise the halls of the White House and it's a good thing. A story today in New York Magazine talks about Michelle Obama wanting to serve natural food, or um, good food with less calories, I mean, local food or just 'clean' food. Whatever. It's all a bit confusing but she is on the right track and I applaud it. Now if they will just dig up the west lawn and put in a big kitchen garden...

From a locavore standpoint, she could help promote the benefits to health, local growers, environment etc about what is going on the plates for state dinners.

When she talks, people are really listening. I admit that I am very curious about her as a person and what she thinks. Side note: for the first time, we have a First Lady that I can totally relate to.

Another thought. I'd love to see a website that included menus from all big dinners hosted by the White House. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Squash and seeds

Last fall, I stocked up on several kinds of winter squash from Gage's Garden's and the Farmer's Market in Spearfish. I've been storing them in our basement where it's quite cool.

Last night I cooked this acorn squash and it was really delish. Simple: Slice in half, scoop out seeds and put on racks in 350 over for about 45 minutes. One of the best part of the winter squash experience is the seeds. I cook any and all seeds that come out of a winter squash. And not just pumpkin!

In fact, acorn squash seeds are large and rather goo-free. These are some of my favorites. 425 oven, spread seeds out on cookie sheet with a little olive oil (mix together so seeds are covered) and cook until you hear popping! Yes, the seeds pop just like popcorn, which, hey, it's a seed! Once or twice I open up the oven and mix them around a bit as it helps them cook evenly. When they are done, I put them on a kitchen towel (sometimes they stick to a paper towel) and add some salt. Yum! My favorite on the way home from work snack is a mix of seeds, pecans, cashews, raisins, candied orange peel (so easy) and little broken up pieces of dark chocolate.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama and Food Safety

President Obama takes food safety seriously as the President and as a dad in a recent New York Times article.  I think it speaks well to the Locavore, especially those who yearn to grow some of their own food. Today, there is still snow over much of the Black Hills but the sun, the glorious sun, tells us of future cherry tomatoes and fresh thyme coming this summer.  

I went out to my garden today and dug around my now sleeping herbs and was delighted to see green leaves of oregano and tarragon as well as little, unfolding strawberry leaves hidden under the snow.  I put out a seed bell and replenished the suet.  Ahhh Spring.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gluten Free Baking

When you don't have a TV, you find other things to do. Tonight I find myself listening to my latest audio book from the Rapid City Library, Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. Julie walks through life exploring her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is hilarious and really inspiring for those of us who think time spent in the kitchen is exciting and fun.

What Julie says is what I think and believe. In fact, as I hear the book, I see my friends and my life sort of unfold.

So I teeter on what I can do in the kitchen and often it's all about gluten free baking. Tonight I made pizza what I just now call "Jack's pizza" and I'm getting quite good at it. The crust is a combination of potato starch, arrowroot starch, chick pea flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, xanthum powder, salt mixed with EVOO and water. I make a big batch which totally fills my round and rectangular pizza stones I purchased at a Pampered Chef party I begrudgingly attended over 10 years ago. I am not dissing PM but those parties are usually not my thing. On top of the crust goes a healthy layer of Prego mushroom sauce which is rather healthy aside from the fact sugar is about #5 on the ingredient list. Other than that, it's all natural. I cut it all up in little squares and freeze it. It freezes very well. The whole event takes about an hour. Jack can go through this in 2-3 days.

I also made gluten free pumpkin bread which is pretty tasty. At least Jack thinks so.

Fortunately for our gluten free, casein free, soy free baking, dowtown Spearfish has a great health food store, the Good Earth. I'd share their website but they don't have one. We are frequent visitors. I've also discovered fresh dates which are obviously not a local SD food. Wow, weird but very delicious.