Friday, November 25, 2011

There is something so wonderful about farm-fresh eggs.  We get ours at Black Hills Milk which is located in the same lot as Crow Peak Brewing Company in Spearfish. The difference is clear.  All you need to do is compare the color of the yolks.  The yolk should be bright yellow or sometimes, even orange.  Now, open up the eggs you just bought from the stack of 100 dozen eggs at Safeway or Wal-mart and crack one open. Lemon yellow yolks will await you. 

You can find local eggs at your local farmer's market and if there isn't one open over the winter, ask around because there is probably someone that has eggs to sell.

For those of you in Spearfish, head over to Black Hills Milk and support this great local business.  They are open from Monday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm and offer grass fed / finished beef, raw milk, a great selection of cheeses, produce, homemade bakery items, jellies / jams and all sorts of good things. 

Shop local - it's a GREAT idea!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shopping locally is so important.  I'm continually reminded of the power each of us has when we choose to head downtown to buy a candle at an independently owned store instead of going to Wal-Mart or ordering something online.

With the holiday shopping season upon us, please remember your town's small businesses and really make an effort to shop there.  Yes, I understand that Wal-Mart and the like employ local people and offer cheap(er) products. I also understand that's it's really convenient to order online to get EXACTLY what you are looking for. However, every time you give your local businesses a shot at your business, you are providing a larger impact on your LOCAL economy.  We have the power to make or break a small business.  I say, let's try and make it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sturgis awarded $25,000 for recycling

Good news this morning that the city of Sturgis will receive $25,000 for larger scale recycling options.  Stated in an article in the Rapid City Journal today, Sturgis recycles old newsprint and corrugated cardboard and that these funds will allow for holding trailers and a larger baler for cardboard.  Instead of these usable materials heading to the landfill, they will be separated and taken to recyclers.  Good news!  Randy Nohava, Public Works Dept Director also notes that "a good 85% of that stuff is worth money".

Just today, we started our week of "tracking our trash".  It's really making me think about everything we thoughtlessly toss in the trash that will soon head to the Belle Fourche landfill.  Already, the orange plastic bag the RCJ came in this morning, a piece of saran wrap, an old receipt and even lint from the dryer.  And this just in the first 30 minutes of a Sunday!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Track your trash - recycle, reuse and be smart

Swirling trash in the ocean bums me out.

Do you ever think about the amount of trash your family creates every week?  It's probably more than you think.  And I'm not talking just plastic trash -- stuff that can be recycled or reused often gets thrown in the trash and then magically, the garbage man comes once a week and takes it all away leaving us a big, empty can to refill again. 

I can't remember the last time I went to a landfill or, as we called it when I was a kid, the dump.  The dump was always a fun trip with my dad.  We'd throw some branches, an old couch and a bunch of trash into the back of our light blue Ford pick-up and off we'd go to the dump.  My brother and I would love to poke around but never found anything good.  And there were always seagulls which was perplexing to me since I grew up in the middle of California, 150 miles from the ocean.

If each of us took more care to consider our trash, little by little, I think it would help the volume of swirling mess and maybe it would help us to consider that this earth is a living organism and it should be treated with respect. If we as individuals don't do something, who will?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gluten Free Pancakes back on the menu

This is a repeat recipe because I am making them this morning and pancakes just seem like a pre-fall sort of delicious breakfast.  Gluten free pancakes! After many, many attempts, the best gluten-soy-dairy free pancakes have emerged from our Spearfish kitchen.  Using coconut flour really makes a difference, as the little cakes are fluffier.  There is no hint of coconut flavor.

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 cup of the mix and ½ cup coconut flour
2. Then re-sift with 1 TSP salt, 3 TBL 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), 1-3/4 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.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

September in the Black Hills is made for outdoor fun -- hiking, gardening, outdoor lounging and of course bbqing!  I am the q'er in our household.  It's just not something my hub is interested in doing so I happily play my part as CEO of the grill.  My grill is a charcoal Weber with the propane igniter.  Charcoal is a must and you just can't beat the taste.   Our igniter stopped working this year so... it's now just a charcoal grill.

Anywho, because I don't use a charcoal chimney (but I might now), I've never known how much charcoal to use and oops!  I always based it on the amount of food I was planning to grill.  Here's a great short video from the smart people at ChowHound that show you that it's really the grill size and not the amount of food that matters when determining how much charcoal to use.

Makes me think of grilling ribs tonight. As you can see, we have a huge BBQ fan in our family!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Marigolds are simple to grow from seed and they always seem to be smiling.  I guess they are considered a 'basic' flower but they are one of my favorites.  Bright colors, low maintenance and so easy to grow and gather seeds from -- a no brainer in the garden.  I like a mix of marigolds - bright oranges, variegated (like these), big, small and loving the lemon colored marigolds our neighbor has this year.  Of course, I've already scored some seeds :-)  viva la marigold!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steven Spurrier: "Wine is sunlight, held together by water." The poetic wisdom of the Italian physicist, philosopher, and stargazer, Galileo Galilei. It all begins with the soil, the vine, the grape. The smell of the vineyard - like inhaling birth. It awakens some ancestral, some primordial... anyway, some deeply imprinted, and probably subconscious place in my soul.

This quote is from the movie, Bottle Shock, an all time favorite.  I love the history, that it's about wine, the characters and the soundtrack.  Well, and really that little riff between scenes.  If you've seen it, you'll know what I am talking about.

This quote reminds me of a perfect summer day, similar to those we've been having.  Early September in the Black Hills is AMAZING.  Here's a shot from my garden.  Going gangbusters.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Being frugal can be fun!

Sometimes we just need some inspiration.

Today I read an article in the Rapid City Journal about a gal in Piedmont, SD that is kicking butt by being frugal.  Read: Not cheap.  Frugal = Smart.  Making decisions based on quality instead of quantity and not being a stuff hound.  I totally get this.  We've done the 'let's eat everything in the house for the month and not buy anything else' with minimal success or 'let's write down everything we spend on food' which lasts about four days.  The thought is there but the execution; not so much.

A few years back I took the challenge of the 'Eat on $25 for the week' from the food bank in Rapid City (it was around Thanksgiving and about what people on food stamps receive) and IMHO, it was a success.  I mean a success that I was resourceful, wise, healthy, learned a ton about myself and hello, lost a couple of pounds.  In the end, I felt thankful that I didn't have to do that all the time but I still reflect on that week and think about how creative I was (orange zest on salads is delicious!) and that it was fun.  I am not saying that being on food stamps would be fun.  What I am saying is that being frugal can be fun and we can all learn something about ourselves in the process.

So, today, I was inspired with my read about Little House on the Prairie Living and became a Facebook fan.  You can too here.  Sometimes we just need a little inspiration, don't we? Thanks Merissa!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nothing like a big volunteer sunflower to plant itself in a pot - thanks to visiting birds.  I love it!  So everyday I look out my kitchen window, I see this growing sunflower.  How perfect is that?  Also in the wine barrel is morning glory, marigolds and licorice plant.  I got a flat of this licorice plant at Safeway and I simply love it!  I've always been drawn to that artemisia gray green color.  It does not need a lot of water and looks great in containers. I am hoping it will make it through the winter.

One note, I have had two birds fly into my kitchen window as I think they were swooping in for seeds.  Fortunately, they were just stunned and flew away.  The perils of glass!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Herbs a muck

When we moved to South Dakota, I assumed whatever I planted would simply die because it SNOWED here.  Well, not so much.  Mint NEVER dies.  I started with one each small 4" spearmint, peppermint and chocolate mint plants and hello, I have now have an 8 x 15 foot mint garden (and it's moving into the neighbors garden which, fortunately, she is cool with).  That's a lot of mint friends.  So I've been drying it along with the lemon balm and lemon verbena and making tea.  Cute little tea bags filled with herbs.  More to come this winter :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cosmos grows beautifully in the Black Hills and is so easy by seed.  I am big seed saver so am always collecting seeds from all of my flowers.  One note, the seeds of Cosmos as very pointy so I suggest using gloves when you harvest.  Pointy to the point of, dang, that's painful!

What I do, is have a bunch of empty old jars in the garage, one for each kind of plant seed and then, periodically, head to the garden and gather seeds.  Every year, I plant marigolds, cosmos, green lettuce, morning glories, peas and beans this way.  It's very simple and I'd like to try more seed saving. It's just a smart thing to do!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Every year, I like to try something new in the garden.  This year, its cabbage.  I LOVE cole slaw so what better way to get the very freshest cabbage but to grow it!  I planted four of these from seedlings and they are such a pretty addition to the garden.  The new visitor I don't like are those white moths that lay about a zillion eggs on cabbage.  Yuck!  Not doing pesticide, I just hosed off all the gross green and brown eggs which has worked pretty good so far.  I almost have to wash them off daily.  Being an organic gardener, it takes more time to ward off the bugs and disease.  However, I have no issues eating my tomatoes right off the plant without washing them either. 

Here's the best IMHO (and easiest) way to make great slaw:

1. Core the cabbage and cut in very thing slices. Put in a big bowl and add a lot of cracked black pepper and about 1/4 tsp of salt.  Mix all together.
2. Mix together (for a full head of cabbage ... which makes A LOT of slaw BTW): 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (We use Toby's which is all natural and soooo good), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper about about a 1/4 cup black mustard seeds.
3. Pour the mixture on the cabbage and really mix it together.
4. Cover and put in the fridge for about 3-4 hours.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunflowers are sooo South Dakota.  These are in my garden and I love them. They make me smile.  The bees and birds love them too which makes me happy.  I simply let them go to seed each year and then see where they pop up.  I am continually amazed that they are always perfectly placed.  Viva la sunflower!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Backyard friends

This is Jazz.  She lives next door and is welcome visitor to our backyard.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The garden bench

Come on over and sit a spell on my bench surrounded by mint and cosmos.  I love sitting here and pondering life.  It smells heavenly and watching the bees bumble around - those big fuzzy bees, little bees, regular sized bees, even watching a yellow jacket is fun... And when I find a lady bug or an elusive (and weird) baby ladybug, I am delighted.  They are all so fun to watch.  I wish we had praying mantis' here in the Black Hills.  We used to have a lot of these handsome bugs in Sacramento.  At one time, I had three in various parts of the garden that I'd go out everyday and watch.  Until one of them ate the other.  That wasn't very cute.  Alas...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spearfish Community Garden

Welcome to the Spearfish Community Garden!  I am so excited to be participating this year.  When we lived in Fair Oaks, CA, I had a plot in the community garden and loved going there.  There was always other gardeners there, milling about.  It was so fun talking with them, sharing the bounty and just digging in the dirt.  There are about 10 plots taken now and, even though I go at least ever other day, I've only seen one other gardener.  It's a new thing so I look forward to it growing and becoming a vibrant part of our community.  You can find out more here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I've always hung baskets of flowers from trees.  Not sure where this idea came from, maybe early Martha?  It really brightens up your yard.  I usually do petunias and these hot pink guys did great this year.  Usually in each basket is a 6-pack.  Consider the cost of reusing your baskets and just planting a sixer instead of purchasing new flower baskets every year.  Beautiful color at a fraction of the price!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spearfish Farmer's Market on Saturdays in Summer

Recent goodies from the Spearfish Farmer's Market!  Oak leaf lettuce, broccilli, rhubarb / pineapple jam and some cool earrings.  The market runs from 9am - noon every Saturday morning at the City Park in Spearfish.  Great selection of fresh produce, bread and hand made item and it's getting better every week.  The market is associated with the Hill Horizons Community Garden.  The garden is at 590 East Elgin around the corner from the new dog park and next to the horseshoe pits.  The view is amazing!  There are plots still available and can be purchased here.  See you at the Farmer's Market!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The garden is planted!  And really it's the expanded garden.  Each year, I convince Mike that we need a BIGGER garden.  He's not always so convinced but he's a good sport.  This year, we added another 10 x 20 section to the sun garden.  Look towards the back and you will see mint, tarragon, oregano, sage and a bench.  When we first moved to the Black Hills, I thought that since it snowed, anything I planted in the ground would of course die because of the snow.  Obviously, I have never lived in a place where it snows!  Anywho, the mint didn't die and has thus multiplied.  It's sooo pretty though and smells heavenly.  Last year I dried a ton of it and made tea bags.  Just mint leaves are do good as a tea.  Again, this year I planted more lemon verbena which is amazing herb that every garden should have.  It smells like a lemon drop!  It doesn't make it through our winter but it's so worth it to plant every year.  I buy mine at Gage's on Evan's Lane in Spearfish.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The colors of fall heading to the bowl

A butternut squash from Gage's Gardens in Spearfish was unearthed today from our basement. I see a delicious and beautiful golden yellow soup in my future!