Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Paddy's dinner -- pies!

Since at least the 1950s, St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Big Timber has been serving a community dinner on St. Patrick's Day. The menu has pretty much remained the same, almost everything made by church members -- and all you can eat for (this year anyway) $9:

baked potatoes
green bean casserole
green salad

Lots of pie!

This year I made two sour cream apple pies.

There were so many pies that I brought a whole one back home with me. This was fine with me. The recipe I used has lots and lots of apples and only enough sour cream to hold them together.

I liked being at the dinner because all the church members were enthusiastically serving and dressed in festive green.

Jackie, the smiling hostess, was elegant in a floor-length suit.

A tip to anyone new to Montana, or passing through: check the local paper, or ask local people, to find out if any of the churches are serving dinner that night. Most churches hold a fund-raiser during the year, often more than one. Look for bake sales and stores giving away cookies for a special event, too. In small-town Montana, those cookies are usually home baked.

If you're lucky, wherever you go, homemade food will be waiting for you just around the corner.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cherry wine

I'm by no means a wine connoisseur. I take what someone gives me or recommends and tend to enjoy it. Thus it will be no surprise that I found this Flathead cherry wine when I walked past the Montana wine display at the Columbus IGA.

Montana does produce wines, and I hope to visit a winery to give you a closer look at its production. Meanwhile, bear with me while I try to entice you to savor a made-in-Montana wine.

Although I will drink anything, I do prefer white wine, which seems to me more mellow than red. But who could resist a cherry wine, particularly when the cherries are from the Flathead region of Montana?

Flathead cherries tend to be Lamberts and Lapins, which thrive in the mild climate around Flathead Lake in northwest area of the state. The first orchards were planted in 1866, so many trees are well settled in and producing cherries worth going out of your way for.

The Ten Spoon Flathead Cherry dry wine I am writing about today was made from organic cherries grown in the Fat Robin Orchard on Finley Point. (The latest news on their Facebook page is that they are making cherry molasses. We'll be keeping an eye on that!)

Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery is located near Missoula. Their website explains a lot more than I can here, but the main points are they are organic and they have a tasting room.

Today I paired my wine with Triscuits and some Danish Havarti cheese because I like crackers and cheese and that's all they had at IGA this week. As far as I'm concerned, the wine holds up well to this prosaic snack.

I mean no irreverence to this fine wine, with its deep cherry red color and fruity (cherry) taste. It's nicely dry, which means it is not sweet. (I looked up that term and learned something new!) I'd buy another bottle, and coming from me, that's a big compliment. I like wine OK, but I prefer iced tea or a glass of water. Although we can all be grateful that wine does make a meal or occasion very special.

So now you know that Montana produces wine, and I have no doubt it is very good wine that would please even the true connoisseur. If you can, buy some and taste it for yourself.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Donations for Japan

In far away London, England, a blogger has set up a donation page for Save the Children in Japan and will match donations. The destructive earthquake and tsunami have affected hundreds of thousands of Japanese people, and Japan as a nation has always been very generous with their help when other nations have been in similar need.

Coco & Me is one of my favorite blogs to read. Although blog posts are infrequent, when they do appear, you get a magical look at a market stall in London and the people who visit. Even better, this generous blogger shares recipes for her lovely baked goods as well as baking tips.

If you know of any places in Montana that are collecting donations for Japan, please let us know by writing a comment.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Best snack: hummus and bread

Although it hasn't seemed like it at times, the winter is speeding by and spring is about to, well, spring forth. This morning I heard the first sound of a woodpecker in the woods behind my cabin, and all day I have listened to the happy chirping of sparrows as they sit in the sun. They spent the winter with me here and are no doubt looking forward to something to eat other than bird seed from the grocery store.

So I have neglected this blog because of many winter things to do, such as keeping warm (tote them logs, build that fire).

But at last I aim to maintain this blog with at least weekly updates, hopefully more.

I begin my belated new year's resolution by presenting what I consider one of the finest snacks on earth: creamy hummus spread thickly on crusty pain au levain bread.

In this case, I recommend two Montana products, both made in Bozeman: Z's Hummus and On the Rise artisan bread.

Today I had a loaf of garlic pain au levain, with big chunks of roasted garlic, which was a perfect complement to the Roasted Red Pepper variety of hummus I had bought at the Livingston Town and Country Foods.

I love Z's Hummus because it is fluffy. I don't know how else to describe it. Most store-bought hummus is compacted into containers like paste. I won't say they don't taste nice, but it was a pleasant surprise to find Z's looking somewhat like -- dare I say it --- whipped cream. It spreads nicely and is so light. I'm trying to figure why I detect a bit of sharp tang with the first bite, something not expected, by me at least. Lemon juice? Citric acid? But oh, after that first tangy bite, it's heavenly.

When you're in Bozeman, be sure to visit the On the Rise bakery. You can buy their artisan bread in stores in and around Bozeman, but at the bakery itself you get a wider variety of baked goods, like cookies and brownies, and can enjoy a slice of pizza right out of the oven. I was told the brick oven is not only unique but was built especially for the store. They don't plan to move to a new location any time soon!

On the Rise Bakery
1007 West Main
Bozeman, MT 59715

Z's Hummus
available at many local shops
order information: 406-570-1361