Saturday, November 14, 2015

Healthy food at the Livingston health fair

The Fall Health Festival in Livingston was a good place to load up on snacks today.

You could grab an apple from one of the many baskets displayed around the hall.

Or fill up on a free breakfast. Before I asked or even wondered about it, one of the cooks proudly told me that almost everything was produced in Montana -- Wheat Montana flour for the pancakes, local eggs, sausages from Wilsall -- and everything was carefully selected for maximum health benefit; for example, organic maple syrup and fresh berries and melons.

My favorite place to eat in Livingston is the Wheatgrass Saloon, a place with a simple vegan menu that includes a new taco bar and the long-popular Dragon Bowl: a dozen or so shredded veggies on top of your choice of quinoa or kelp noodles and smothered in an amaaaaaaaaazing (I can't get enough As in there to describe its deliciousness) secret dressing that is reminiscent of Thai peanut sauce. Mostly, it's all about tantalizing beverages. Check out the menu and come taste them all.

Today at the fair they were pouring samples of Ginger 'n Juice, Greentini, and We Got the Beet. If you drank one of each, you were entered into a drawing for a fabulous basket of gifts. Everyone who tasted the juices was a winner, in my opinion.

Not every snack was exactly healthy, as seen in the right of this photo of the Wells Fargo booth (I think they were there to talk about financial health). But who can resist an occasional chocolate chip cookie?

Best of all were the generous samples at the Vegans Rock Montana booth, Bonnie's ever-present smile brightening up the morning. Bonnie's mission is to show folks that genuinely healthy -- and truly delicious -- food does not have to contain animal products.

After selecting from the Just Mayo swag -- caps, tote bags, t-shirts, and a large free sample of Just Mayo -- you could indulge in Bonnie's good cooking. Today that included Kale & White Bean Dip and Chick'n Salad made with Gardein Chick'n and, of course, Just Mayo. Bonnie always provides recipes.

After all that, the dentist booth was a good place to pick up some toothpaste samples.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

People at Gallatin Valley Farmers Market

There are so many wonderful things about a farmers market. But when you think about it, isn't it the people who really make the market special?

At today's Gallatin Valley market in Bozeman, there was quite a selection of interesting vendors.

Pictured above are the Three Little Sparrows who make delectable items, such as tasty lip balm and sweet sugar scrub, that make you look and feel more beautiful. Actually, that's mama with her two oldest children, with the youngest shyly hidden behind. Selling at the market this year is an educational experience for the kids, who decide what to make, then make it and learn how to sell it. Figuring out change, as shown below, is an important part of the process.

Around the corner was a gal who just loves tutus. She normally has a doll to show off her creations, but today she forgot to bring it. Being flexible, she decided modelling was just as fun as selling.

And nearby were the ever-popular cookies by the Cookie Boys. Their offerings have expanded considerably, all as tasty as the original peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies that were their first product. These originals are still available for purists.

Outside in the sunshine were two enthusiastic sisters selling cheesecake under the name of Dia Desserts. Need I say more? Right now they have a heavenly dip and also bites of cheesecake in portable jars. All kinds of flavors like lemon-lavender, strawberry, and the Tipsy Cow (with merlot). This might be the perfect time to expand your picnic fare. Or sneak bites at the traffic lights on your way home. I'm not admitting anything, it's just an idea I had.

There was some lovely music wafting through the air, played by a young student who also takes ballet. She and her brother are raising money for their fine arts education.

You'll also find all the usual -- and unusual -- things at this market, like greens, succulent Dixon melons (be prepared to stand in a very long line for this popular item!), breads and pies, etc. etc. Come meet everyone!

Gallatin Valley Farmers Market
Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Haynes Pavilion, at Tamarack and Black
June 20 - September 12
Saturday, 9 am - noon

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Creativity abounds at Big Timber indoor market

Artisan loaves of white bread studded with seeds, cranberries, and/or mango bits. Rye bread with dill or sauerkraut. You probably won't find these unusual combinations anywhere else.

When asked if she had a plain loaf of white bread, baker Sidonia looked puzzled for a moment and said, "It never occurred to me to make one." Then she quickly added, "But if you're here next week, I can make one just for you."

This market isn't large -- 7 vendors this evening -- and this is only its second week, but the variety and originality of goods offered will gladden the heart of any earnest farmers market customer.

It's still early in the season for eastern Montana produce, but some garden herbs and a handful of small cucumbers were available. Plus locally grown limes. The grower said she has a flourishing lime tree on her patio in town and takes the tree in during winter months.

Along with the artisan loaves, there was an abundance of baked goods, such as key lime pie, chocolate peanut butter pie, no-bake cookies, banana bread, and flour-free Monster Cookies.

For thirsty shoppers, Italian soda was on tap.

The building belongs to market manager Kimi Tollefson, who ran the popular Prospector Pizza for many years. After it closed, one after the other, an upscale lunch cafe, a generic Chinese restaurant, and an artisan pizza joint enticed customers for a while, but the building has been empty for a couple of years now, and Kimi thought it would be fun to use the space for a market.

Kimi sells ready-made pizza dough and sauce and even provides a restaurant-size recipe, although you'll have to copy it from the blackboard on the back wall.

All in all, this small market is brimming with good things.

Big Timber Indoor Farmers Market
old Prospector Pizza building, 121 McLeod Street
July 23 - September 10
Thursday, 5 pm - 7:30 pm 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Signs of the Livingston market

One of the fun things of visiting a farmers market is looking at the signs. Here are a few I saw today at the Livingston farmers market.

As you can see from the last two signs, this market encourages children to participate, which adds to the variety. Trust me, the Geography Quiz is not easy.

Livingston Farmers Market
Sacajawea Park bandshell
June 3 - September 23
Wednesday, 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Virginia City farmers market

Most folks visit Virginia City to ride the stagecoach, explore Boot Hill, and stroll down a street that was once crowded with gold miners in and out of luck.

But I recommend that you plan to be there on the second or fourth Saturday of the month so you can enjoy the tiny but vibrant farmers market.

Even this early in June you'll find bursting bags of salad greens, kale, spinach, and herbs, and, if you're lucky, a large bouquet of rhubarb fresh from the garden.

There are scones and cookies, perhaps a pie, along with handmade jams like the intriguing and tasty garlic and onion.

But best of all are the round loaves of crusty bread baked in a brick oven: a plain boule, a sweet variety, and an amazing herb loaf.

Don't miss this cornucopia of delights. I'm betting the ghosts of the town wish they could still enjoy these earthly pleasures.

Virginia City Artisans and Growers Guild Farmers Market
Log Schoolhouse at end of town, across from Opera House
May 23 - September 5
2nd & 4th Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm

Twin Bridges farmers market

Vegetables will be arriving soon at the Twin Bridges farmers market, but meanwhile enjoy handspun alpaca yarn (shown above) and lovely handmade soap.

Soapmaker Jen assured me her soaps are good for the skin, softening as they clean, and infused with good things. She picks her own huckleberries, for example, then adds the puree to the soap base. The rose soap contains bits of wild rosehips Jen gathers and is decorated with a dusting of crushed rosehips and petals, giving it an old-fashioned flair.

Twin Bridges is a center for fishing in the Jefferson Valley, and those on their way to the river would be well advised to grab a few snacks. Perhaps a delicious sweet loaf (choose from rhubarb, strawberry-banana, apricot-orange) in miniature or full loaves.

Or how about a hearty bagel. I bought only one garlic-and-onion bagel to enjoy on the road. I should have gotten the baker's dozen, which might have included cinnamon-raisin or the aptly named "zinger" (jalapeƱo). Or maybe not. I bet they are habit-forming.

Twin Bridges Farmers Market
Main St. Park
May 2 - September 26
Saturday, 9 am - noon

Whitehall farmers market

June farmers markets often include a handy selection of plants to add to your garden. These are generally lush and well adapted to the local environment. Anyone who gardens in Montana knows that is a big plus. Not every plant a gardener longs to grow here will survive -- or come to full flower -- in the short hot summer.

As I keep pointing out, the grower is right there at the farmers market, so be sure to ask questions.

Backyard Artistic Impressions had a lovely booth. Take your pick: seeds, flowers, or art for the garden.

At any market, you can also find a lot of baked goods right from the start of the season. Whitehall had plenty today, and the bakers plan to be around until October.

Here's Sonja happily waiting for a customer to make up her mind. Mini angel food cake? Apple turnovers? Carrot cake?

I spent some time chatting with young entrepreneur Rebecca, who has been at the market for 6 years. Currently she is selling products she makes and uses herself: lip balm, lotions, and mixed essential oils that soothe or invigorate.

Whitehall is a small market but with a good selection of food items and crafts. Produce will appear soon.

Whitehall Farmers and Crafter Market
Legion St. Park
June 6 - October 3
Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm