Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roasted Squash Seeds

Okay, who loves roasted pumpkin seeds? I'm talking out of a fresh pumpkin - not those weird looking white 'pumpkin' seeds in bags at the gas station. Oh yeah. Love them. So if you are digging pumpkin seeds, have you tried to roast seeds from acorn squash, butternut squash, really any winter squash? Hello! If you are just tossing out the innards you are missing out on an absolutely delicious and healthful snack.

Two nights ago, I cooked a small acorn squash (from my local stash in the basement) and scooped the seeds into a bowl which set on the kitchen counter. They were a little dry this morning so I separated the seeds from the dried squash guts (just rubbing them together), put them on a cookie sheet, sprayed on a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and into in my standard seed popping 450 oven and within 2 minutes I heard the magical popping sound and viola! Sooo delicious. I think acorn squash seeds are the most wonderful of all toasted seeds because they are very small and become very crispy.

Next time you are prepping ANY kind of winter squash, save and roast the seeds. You won't be disappointed.

Roast 'em if you got 'em!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yes, you can eat that!

Okay, everyone knows that processed foods suck in more ways than one. Not only are most colorfully boxed and shrink wrapped food "stuffs" unhealthy, their existence alone makes people forget what real food really is.

Another take on the value of the veggie in The Atlantic yesterday from Carol Ann Sayle, co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas, takes a smart spin on the economic value of buying fresh vegetables and eating the whole thing. I was reminded of this concept this summer as I was in search of beat greens locally for sale. I could find beets but no greens. That was until I was directed to a huge pile behind Gage's Gardens of perfect beet greens destined for some pig (lucky pig!) food. When you consider a simple beet and the deliciously that can come from both the beet (for some) AND the greens, that's money well spent!

Think about this over the winter as you are peeling an orange and the amazing opportunity of making simple candied orange peel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boozy Fruit

The New York Times gets it right! I've been dunking local goodies in booze for years. In my cupboard now is a cherry, sugar, vodka concoction that I envision drinking as a cordial and using the cherries themselves over vanilla ice cream or Naked Coconut Bliss. Of course I still a bit of my two years ago, lemon verbena infused vodka which is a perfect, lemony after dinner drink.

Reading this article makes me want to try other recipes. What do you think about mint infused vodka? Sort of like a local Rumple Minze? I could be on to something!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Garden Bounty!

Although it only got to the high 40's today in the Black Hills, there is still much garden harvesting to do today! Lots of cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, gypsy peppers, hot cayenne peppers and many, many green beans. I absolutely love this time of year!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meadowbrook School in Rapid City receives grant to encourage kids to move more

Getting kids moving is so important to overall health. Nice to see an elementary school in Rapid City moving in the right direction. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, Meadowbrook School will receive a $168,000 state grant to expand education and infrastructure to encourage its students to walk and bike to school. Nice!

Now, if we can just look at those school lunches...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Six items or less .. it's a clothavore challenge!

Okay, another fun game. We've done the uber-locavore project, "Eat what is in your house ALREADY before trotting off to the grocery store" and the "Eat on $25 a week challenge". Here's something new!

What if you only had SIX items hanging in your closet and that was all you could choose to wear from for a month? According to the website, http://www.sixitemsorless.com/, there are some exceptions to the game: undergarments, coats, socks, shoes, work out clothes, pj's and accessories. Work-out clothes, hmmm... the issue is that you would actually have to work-out if you were wearing them.

What does this have to do with being a locavore? Well, locavores are interested in being smart with our time and resources. Who wants to waste a thing! So if I only have a few things in my closet, choosing an outfit will be a snap. It will be the month of the clothavore! Now, not only will I still be a regular at Crow Peak Brewing Co., I will look the same for a month sipping my frosty pint of IPA. Nice!

Why would you want to self-limit yourself (again, I am sure there is a therapist out there to tell me why I like to do these little challenges)? I think it's about freedom and thankfulness. When we have less choices, we actually have MORE freedom. IMHO with less, you don't spend time dealing with all the "stuff" which can equal more time to do what is really important to you. The second benefit is thankfulness. When we don't have as many choices, we become thankful for the choices we do have. I learned this first hand in my $25 a week challenge.

The fine people at http://www.sixitemsorless.com/ have already done this once and will be set for the second experiment mid September. Of course, you can do it yourself but it's really more fun with others.

Are you in?

You can sign up here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beet Greens!

Fresh Spearfish beet greens from Gage's Gardens

Popped these beet greens on top of pasta.  Delicious!

Don't toss your beet greens!  This recipe from www.simplyrecipes.com and is so delicious (I changed it just a bit).  My beet greens came from a huge pile of greens at Gage's Gardens and most of the stems were small and totally usable in this recipe.  Make sure to ask for them.  Any woody stems and those leaves that needed to go, went into my compost pile out behind the shed in the backyard.

Beet Greens

1 lb beet greens (I used one very packed plastic grocery bag full) - you can use the stems if small
1 tbl bacon fat and one piece of crispy bacon
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 large minced garlic clove
3/4 cup water
1 tbl sugar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/6 cup cider vinegar

1.  Wash greens in sink filled with cold water, drain and do it again.  Cut into bit sized pieces.
2.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until lightly brown with the bacon fat.  I know, this sounds weird but makes it extra good.  Add onion, cook over medium heat about 5-7 minutes, stirring a bit until onions start to brown.  Stir in garlic and add water to hot pan to loosen any brown particles from the bottom of the pan (really scrape).  Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to boil.
3.  Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated.  Reduce to low, cover and simmer about 10 minutes until the greens are tender.  Stir in vinegar.

Add this mixture to pasta and wow, a full meal!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza

We just had gluten free pizza at the new BeauJo's in Rapid City and I was amazed at how CRISPY the crust was! It was served on a circle of parchment paper sort of wrapped around the crust. I am going to try it!

I've been making gluten-free pizza for several years. We used to buy pre-made crusts at our local Good Earth but it just got so expensive so we only purchase the pre-made versions in a pinch. I've played with many combinations but always start with this mix to sort of mimic regular wheat flour.

Here's the rest of the recipe for two pizza crusts. I use pizza stones.

1. Preheat to 425. First, grease each pizza stone. I use hard coconut oil using a coffee filter which I like because there are no pieces of paper towel left on my stone.
2. Sift together - the flour mix above, 1/2 cup chickpea or fava bean flour, 1/2 cup quinoa or teff flour, 2 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder. You can add other dried spices too -- I've used red pepper, basil and oregano with success. Just make sure they are gluten free.
3. Then measure out 1/2 cup of olive oil and mix into dry ingredients, first with a fork and then with your fingers to get everything mixed together - do it quickly, because the olive oil will start to glob together in big globs if you linger (from the heat of your hands). Your goal is 'little pebbles' of olive oil in the flour.
4. Measure out about 1 cup of water and mix into flour and stir. It will be slightly sticky. If it's too dry, just add a bit more water. Form two balls.
5. Put each ball on a pizza stone and use a rolling pin or your fingers to work the dough to the edges. It will be sticky so use some flour mix on your rolling pin or fingers.
6. Prick with fork and bake for 10 minutes. Then add toppings and bake another 25 or so minutes. Keep an eye on it.

Cut in pieces, this freezes very well.

My next experiment will be trying out parchment paper in search of a crispy crust!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Native in my Spearfish garden is yellow yarrow and I love it. It's bright yellow and such a happy plant. I know it's more like a weed but I plan to move it around in a few places. I infused some of the yarrow blossoms in distilled water and am using it like a face tonic. It's more drying so better for oily skin and I like it! It's really refreshing. Yarrow has a distinct fragrance and you either love it or hate it. Love it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Crow Peak Brewing Company news!

We love our local brewpub, Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish and we are what you'd call 'regulars'. Not only is the beer excellent but the atmosphere and people are the best. Here's some great news about Crow Peak about to start canning and distributing their beer. Congrats!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Red poppies run amok

My garden is doing so well this year. I think it's because of all the moisture but man, I am enjoying the bounty. When you let your garden to go seed, you get quite a display the next year. Sometimes good, usually packed! These red poppies are prolific and so pretty. I am saving seeds to share and letting just a few have their way. Right behind the red poppies is the sunflower forest, perfectly planted by the birds. Love the wild range of color!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blue Zones

Albert Lea, MN is a Blue Zone community. My aunt lives there and it's been interesting to hear about the positive changes that are happening. So, I finally went to the www.bluezones.com website to see what it was all about.

Here you can take an assessment of your own life very similar to www.realage.com where, based on your answers, gives you biological "real age" compared with your actual age. I like the Blue Zone community because it seems to be more doable; more real world. Here are the top tips. The website states that you can add up to 14 good years to your life and stay younger along the way. The idea of adding "good" years strikes a note. Nice!
  1. De-convenience your home – lose the remote, buy a light garage door and lift it yourself, use a shovel instead of a snowblower
  2. Eat Nuts – Have a can of nuts around your office or home, eat a handful daily
  3. Drink Sardinian wineSardinian canonau wine has the world's highest levels of antioxidants. Drink a glass or two a day
  4. Play with your children – this is excellent low intensity exercise and will strenthen a family. Both associated with longer life expectancy
  5. Grow a Garden – This proven stress reducer will put your body through the range of motion and yield fresh vegtables
  6. Hour of Power – Downshift daily with a nap, meditation, prayer or a quiet walk--destressing is a proven way to slow aging
  7. Eat Tofu – Arguably the world's most perfect food, eaten by the world's longest lived women. Contains a plant estrogen that makes skin look younger
  8. Get a Tan – Doctors are rethinking the notion of slathering yourself with sunscreen. Up to half of Americans are Vitamin D deficient--a condition that can double your chance of dying in any given year. A tan not only looks healthy, it is.
  9. Donate your large dinner plates – eat off 9 inch plates as the Okinawans do and reduce calorie consumption at dinner by 20-30%
  10. Write Down your Personal Mission – Know and putting into practice your sense of purpose can give you up to a decade of good life.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder - Research in SD

There is more buzz about the bees in South Dakota. South Dakota is one of 13 states where the federal government is doing research on the declining bee population.

In Spearfish, I have seen many bees in my garden, particularly on the chive flowers. I wonder, for those bees visiting my chive flowers, does their honey taste like an onion? Actually that sounds delicious! We've had a good number of honey bees and those giant fuzzy bees -- so big, you could pet them. When you are thinking about planting flowers, consider those flowers that bees love in order to attract them to your garden.

South Dakota was second in overall honey production in the US (2008) so this is an important issue. Also, in South Dakota, there is absolutely no reason to buy anything other than LOCAL honey! Search out your local farmer's market or ask your grocery store.

Here's more information on CCD (Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder).

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Chives grow so well in the Black Hills and they are an absolute visual delight in the garden. About three years ago, I started with two small chive plants which has now blossomed into A LOT of chives. I am one of those gardeners who loves to let things go to seed hence my plethora of chives. The lavender flowers are not only cute and delicious (a slightly more subtle chive flavor) - they look wonderful in salads.

They also come back happily every year. No garden in the Black Hills should be without chives.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Okay, the BEST Gluten Free Pancakes!

Gluten free pancakes! After many, many attempts, the best gluten-soy-dairy free pancakes have emerged from our Spearfish kitchen.

Here's the skinny:

Start with the Gluten free flour mix here, pour a steaming, hot cup of rich coffee and do this:

1. Sift gluten free flour mix before measuring 1-1/2 cups of the mix
2. Then re-sift with 1 TSP salt, 3 TBL fine sugar and 1-1/4 TSP baking powder
3. In a separate bowl, slightly beat 2 room temp eggs with 3 TBL melted coconut oil (make sure it's cool), 1-1/4 cup rice milk (not too cold - better room temp)
4. Then mix the liquid into the dry ingredients with a whisk.
5. Use coconut oil to grease a frying pan or griddle between batches and make sure it's hot (a few drops of water dance on the surface = ready). Use an 1/8 cup measuring cup to make small, 3-inch cakes. Watch the heat - I usually flux between medium high (to start) to medium on my electric stove.
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for oh so yummy pancakes.

I typically make two batches so I can freeze some for breakfasts during the week. They freeze great -- just lay them on parchment paper individually in the freezer.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Community Garden in the works in Spearfish

Every community needs a community garden and Spearfish is in the process of getting theirs. It's a grass roots effort being coordinated by Hills Horizon, a non-profit organization who "helps encourage the development of sustainable lifestyles through education, community interaction, and efficient design". There have been work parties getting the plot ready for summer and I was able to help on Saturday morning. This wasn't just some girlie weeding and planting! No, this was using this huge drill to dig post holes and carrying 6x6 and 4x4's up a hill prepping for a fence. I have the bruises to prove it! I love projects like this and the people who make them happen.

To get to the site, go east on Elgin Street past State Street. The garden is just east of the horseshoe courts. This is also the same (unnamed) park where the soon to be Spearfish Dog Park will be.

Hills Horizon also organizes the new Farmers Market in the Spearfish City Park which kicks off on Saturday morning, June 5. As well, they will be drawing for garden plots at the Hills Horizon Community Garden at 9:30 am. RSVP by phone, email, facebook, or face-to-face to get your name in the hat for a plot. Questions? call Josh at 645-1705.

Great things are happening in the local foods market in Spearfish!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gluten Free Baking Flour Mix

I've been cooking gluten free for almost eight years and although, I would not call myself an expert, I've learned a TON about the ins and out of gluten free baking. In fact, I also do not use soy or dairy or anything artificial which adds a level of complexity.

There are many flour mix recipes that can (somewhat) substitute for wheat flour. I've tried many, many different combinations and the following is the best version and can typically be used in place of a regular recipe calling for flour. Of course, in a pinch, you can buy pre-made mixes but they are very expensive.

I like to make a big batch of this mix and keep it in the refrigerator so it's always handy. I use it all the time so not sure exactly how long it will last.

Mix together:

4 cups chick pea flour (or amaranth or millet or I've used a chick pea/fava mix)
4 cups white or brown rice flour
2 cups arrowroot starch
6 cups potato starch

One thing to add, I always like to sift the flour before using in recipes which really seems to help the texture.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Earth Day 2010: Rapid City

This is great news! From Dakota Rural Action

This year Dakota Rural Action West is working with Western Dakota Tech and The Mayor’s Green Cities Task Force to celebrate Rapid City’s first real city-wide Earth Day event. There have been numerous recognitions and celebrations of Earth Day in Rapid City, sponsored by a variety of civic and social groups but the Earth Day celebration planned for April 22nd, 2010 at the Western Dakota Tech Campus will be the composite of all interested groups, city offices, schools, sustainable enterprises, and the public.

The event will feature exhibits from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, showcasing local companies and organizations with information on green jobs, new technology, cutting edge building and construction practices, earth- friendly products, environmental businesses, ecologically safe products, and opportunities for individual stewardship. There will be solar and human powered car demonstrations hosted by SD School of Mines and Technology and a children’s poster contest and green topics video competition.

A Sustainability Summit will follow, sponsored by Rapid City’s Green Cities Task Force and featuring speakers on a variety of sustainability topics, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Dakota Rural Action and members of our West River Small Farms Committee will be giving away copies of the just released 2010 SD Local Foods Directory and other information and goodies at the DRA exhibit. For more information on the event go to www.wdt.edu or call Stephanie at DRA West (605) 718-4957.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Reflecting on the Word Locavore

The word Locavore was the Oxford word of the year in 2007, and according to Ben Zimmer, editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press, the word ‘locavore’ shows how food-lovers can enjoy what they eat while still appreciating the impact they have on the environment. Ben adds, "It’s significant in that it brings together eating and ecology in a new way.” Most people use the term when considering food purchases within a 100 mile radius from where they live. It's a smart idea which benefits local growers and ranchers as well as consumers, who end up with food that is fresher and usually tastes better.

Being a locavore in western South Dakota during the winter months can be a challenge when it comes to produce, unless you've 'put up' a good amount of fresh fruits and vegetables from the summer. Yes, this is ideal and it's true that I do have mint from my garden drying in our shed, and one butternut squash from Mitchell, but that's not going to get us too far.

But today, with the sun shining and sparkly snow melting, I am once again inspired to consider local eating and really, local living. Local living can mean a lot of things. I see it as eating, gardening, shopping, even vacationing (you know, staycation) in my own backyard. The Black Hills are amazingly rich with treasures and it's true, we have enjoyed many of them.

So I am moving to a local living focus yet still with the Black Hills Locavore as a strong base because I still believe, eating locally is a great start to true local living.