Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cold day, warm tea

No matter what kind of heating you have inside, when it's 2 degrees outside, you feel cold!

In addition to being very very cold, I have been barely hanging in emotionally with all the work I've had to do since mid-September. I thought I was finished Nov. 18, but then I had one more "little" job. This little job is driving me crazy with its needless complexity and new tools to learn, with too little time to do the job properly.

Needless to say, I welcome a soothing cup of tea.

I don't need anything strong, so I reach for a pretty herbal blend of rooibos, peppermint, and chamomile, called Petticoat Peppermint. Tumblewood Teas is the brand, and a darn good one it is, with creator Riza Gilpin making sure the teas are fresh, flavorful, and, yes, fun. Riza names each tea so it, er, blends in with its Montana surroundings: Restful Rancher, Comman-Chai, and Pony Express.

Unfortunately, drinking tea doesn't make the pile of work go away, but it does make me feel better about slugging through it all.

Do you want some lovely Tumblewood Tea, too? Contact Riza at tumblewoodteas @

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another delicious bazaar

Every year I look forward to the popular Big Timber Women's Club bazaar, which takes place on the first Saturday in November.

Vendors are smiling, customers are smiling, and everyone is just, well, happy.

Of course there are lots of artisan things to buy like handmade dolls' clothes (how about a kimono for your Barbie?), wooden cutting boards, and Christmas trees formed from barbed wire. But for me, it's the food.

Downstairs at the Legion you can buy homemade pie or a light lunch, which are fund-raisers for the Women's Club and St. Joseph's Church.

Jolie and her mom and grandmother (three generations of cooks--what a lucky family!) were at the bazaar again, selling Jolie's tasty lollies and grandma Sally's sweet-faced dolls.

Lucky early shoppers got to taste Windy Bakery fresh-from-the-kitchen scones, buckeyes, caramel rolls, and cheese bread.

The Friends of the Library were selling books as well as homemade cookies.

The Sons of Norway (who I am certain should be called the Daughters of Norway since I have never seen a Son at any public event; where are they hiding the guys??) had a table covered with lefse and Norwegian cookies. This year one member is sharing the secrets of making lefse through the adult education program at Sweet Grass High School (November 16, 6-9 pm).

Two new varieties of Tumblewood Teas are available this season: one flavored lightly with orange and another redolent of pear. Tumblewood Teas are always fresh, always tasty, and always so healthy. I like the clever names, too. (In case you're wondering, the shortbread bites are provided to cleanse your palate between tea tasting; there were plenty to taste at the bazaar.)

Since the bazaar is divided between the American Legion building and the Civic Center, shoppers must walk two blocks. Luckily, today was warm and sunny. (The area is expecting snow on Monday.) Even luckier, the kettle corn man was there to warm tummies with delicious popcorn.
Some nonedible items were tempting nonetheless. I have long enjoyed the "flavors" of Nature's Bliss soap (made in Bozeman). Today I bought a jar of Vanilla Sugar and Cinnamon Body Butter. Oh, so very nice on the skin, but I hope it doesn't drive me to craving cinnamon toast every time I use it. If you missed the bazaar, you can sample these products at the Gallatin Valley farmers market next summer.

And last, but certainly not least, is a new business called It's A Wrap, where you can order candy bars, bottles of water, and even dog biscuits wrapped in a customized label. Email Lisa in Big Timber at if you want to order something for a special occasion (or make a dull occasion special).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something to chew on

I would have voted anyway, but getting a maple bar as well was pretty sweet.

As I exited the polling area, I found a local 4-H group tempting early-morning voters with maple bars.

You gotta love a country where you have the freedom to vote and also where you can get the best maple bars (possibly the only maple bars) in the world.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cranberry salsa -- huzzah!

While the weather outside has been stunning (warm, golden sunshine; rainbow leaves on cottonwoods; still-green grass), I have been stuck inside working. Since mid-September I have been overloaded with work. When you work for yourself, this is a good thing, but too much of anything can be a burden.

I expect to be on a regular schedule just in time for Thanksgiving, which brings me to my latest recipe.

Despite the pile of work, I have to eat and have managed to pretty much cook from scratch rather than depend on boxes and frozen prepared foods. I even made some cranberry sauce. The two-year-old bag of cranberries in my freezer looked like it was about to take its last breath, so I scrambled around for a recipe to use it all up at once.

A hoarded pamphlet from Ocean Spray Cranberries suggested Tex-Mex Cranberry Salsa. I adapted it to my own whims and came up with the recipe below.

But before you get busy in the kitchen, consider these facts:

- Cranberries, along with blueberries and Concord grapes, are the only modern commercial fruits native to the United States and Canada.

- Washington & Oregon produce well over 500,000 100-lb. barrels of cranberries annually, 1/15 of the nation's supply. (There are about 50,000 cranberries in barrel.)

- Cranberries top the list of fruits supplying healthy anti-oxidants.

Cranberry Salsa

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 4-ounce can chopped jalapeno peppers
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
Handful chopped cilantro

Put water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cranberries (no need to thaw if frozen) and return to a boil. Gently boil for 10 minutes without stirring.

Pour into a glass bowl. Stir in rest of ingredients.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the salsa. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. (My batch almost filled a quart jar.)

This is a bit syrupy, so you might want to experiment and use less sugar and/or water.

* * *

I love this stuff on plain toast, but at the top of this blog you see a photo of it on top of cheesy toast and sprinkled with cilantro leaves. I understand that some people do not have the ability to enjoy cilantro (it's a chemical thing you're born with or without). All I can say is, I feel sorry for those people. I take great whiffs of cilantro and feel revived.

Now back to work.