Monday, September 27, 2010

Idaho Sweet Corn

Growing up in Iowa, we always knew we had the best sweet corn in the nation.  (I bet there are several other states that proclaim this feat.)  But, I will admit, the people from Idaho know how to grow corn also.

Our neighbor brought over some of this beautiful corn after a trip through Idaho.  He said he just saw a farmer with a pickup truck selling corn along side the road.  Actually, that is the best place to buy corn.

It was beautiful and tasted outstanding!!  It reminded us of our dear friends from Germany.  In the late 70's we were living in lower Michigan and were quite active in a Sister City program with a town from northern Germany.  We hosted a couple and corn on the cob was on the menu. 

At first, they were quite shocked.  To much of Europe, sweet corn was not something to eat as it had never been available to them.  Only pigs ate corn in their part of the world.  Well, after that first slathering of butter, and watching us carefully as to how to eat this vegetable, they changed their minds.  When we met up with Dieter and Heidemarie in Germany this past May, the sweet corn was the first thing they wanted to talk about.  It seems some people are starting to grow it themselves, so it is becoming more available in Europe.

Corn also reminds me of when The Trout and I were living in Germany in 1968-69.  Our landlords were an elderly brother and sister.  They invited us down one evening to enjoy their television and they had a special treat to serve us.  It seems they had just become familiar with popcorn.  To our surprise, they served it in a bowl, with a spoon, and covered with cherry juice.  We did not say anything about melted butter or salt, just ate their style of popcorn and actually enjoyed it.

If sweet corn is still available in your area, enjoy it.  I am looking forward to this winter as sweet corn is available from the farmer's markets all the time in Florida.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Big River, Big Trout on small flies!!

Schnitzel did a lovely job describing our date on the Big Hole River.  I'll try to elaborate a bit on where I fish, how and for what.  Good neighbor Louie, our 88 year old fly fishing expert, showed me a few spots he liked.  This spot is the middle hole of 3 starting with the Grayling Hole.  Grayling were once very plentiful in this country but were pretty well fished out by the early 1900's except for Alaska.  Montana is trying to reintroduce this species in some rivers and they have taken on pretty well in the Big Hole.

This is a pretty nice Grayling although I did not get the miniature dorsal fin that sets these fish apart.  They are pretty easy to catch and taste pretty good with a hint of thyme when we kept some in Alaska.  Its all "catch and release" in the lower 48.

What's happening these days to get the fish feeding is the "TRICO"  hatch.  The tiny "duns" like the bottom fly (a size 22!) hatch mid-morning and then the next day, they cluster together in clouds of 1000's to mate, fall to the water as "spinners" to lay their eggs and die to provide plenty of feed for the slurping trout and whitefish.  I don't have to go that small to imitate the natural as an "Adams" or a "Purple Haze" in a size 18 does the trick with a good drag free cast in front of the gulpers.  I have never seen a purpled bodied mayfly but somehow it works just fine on this river!!

This is a dandy 18" fat rainbow that took my offering.  It ran around like crazy for 5 minutes before I landed it.  Somehow the other rainbows seem to know when one of their mates have been caught as they stop feeding for sometime.  Maddening!!  They should know I release all of these beauties to fight again!!

This is a very nice 14" Brook trout that are in the river in good numbers as well.  They are very colorful this time of year.  This fish is really a Char as witnessed by the white tipped fins.

All in all, one does not catch big numbers of trout in an outing on the Big Hole.  But with careful presentation, a few of these dandies can be caught to make a good outing in a very beautiful spot in Montana. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shrimp and Pasta

This is a very favorite dish of ours, and I really don't have a recipe.  Anything goes, and it always turns out great.  I sauteed shrimp in butter and a little bit of olive oil and some chopped garlic.  Remove the shrimp and add chopped shallots to the pan.  When they have caramelized a little, add a splash of wine wine and deglaze the pan. 

At this point, add heavy cream-enough to make a sauce and to allow some reduction.  I then added some frozen peas and let them cook in the cream a short time.  In the meantime, fettuccine is cooking in a separate pot.  When the pasta is almost done, drain and add to the cream sauce.  Add back in the cooked shrimp and top with freshly grated Parmesan and a chiffonade of basil leaves. 

We enjoy this so much, and any vegetable or type of pasta may be used.  We enjoyed a very nice Columbia Crest Grand Estates Pinot Grigio, 2008.  Perfect, just perfect.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A very good Italian

We had a very nice rolled leg of lamb this weekend, and there were quite a few leftovers.  We had gyros this evening which were outstanding, and we served this great wine along side.

Dogajolo is a wine from Tuscany.  Actually, Greve in Chianti, Italy.  We spent a week near this town in 2001 and enjoyed the wines a lot.  Bottled by Carpineto, this wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the hillside vineyards of Tuscany.  The label says it all..."fruity flavors with hints of berries, coffee, vanilla and spice, matched with a supple tannin structure and a long finish."  It is a very "jammy" wine and would do wonders to a tomato dish such as a great homemade pizza.  It is a very typical wine of the Tuscan region and is known as a "Super Tuscan".  Super Tuscan means that the wine is a blend of grapes.  This wine is from 2008 and cost less than $10.

Save the Damsel in Distress

I have to say, making that trip down to the Big Hole River last Sunday, took my mind to other places.  While The Trout was fly fishing in the river, I was wandering through the sagebrush and rocks, thinking of times in the long gone past. 

See those rocks above?  I thought I heard hoof beats coming from up wonder.  I strained on my tip toes to look.  Could it be?  I think I recognize that horse...could it really be Trigger?  And then...there is another horse coming up close behind.  A horse of a different color, you might say.  Yes, it was Silver.

Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, coming around the sagebrush and rushing over to say hello.  At least that is what I thought they were going to do.  No, they warned me that the Indians were coming and that I needed to make way and hide behind the nearest boulder. 

My heart started racing and beating.  Not Indians!!  It had always been my greatest fear.  I have enough bad hair days, I do not need any kind of help from them.  (Please forgive me!)

Seeing no boulders, I begged Roy to hoist me up and let me ride behind him to safety.  Being the gentleman that he is, he tipped his hat and gave me his gloved hand, and up he swung my body as if I had the weight of a feather.  (Forgive me for this exaggeration also.)

So there we were, Roy, Gene and I, riding off to the sunset.  Wait..what is that I hear?  Oh yes, The Trout telling me it is time to move on out.  But, gosh, it was such fun while it lasted.  Y'all thanks for listening!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

On the road to Wisdom

Sunday was a beautiful day, so I was invited to coming along with The Trout as he went flyfishing.  We headed east and then south, toward Wisdom, Montana, and the famous Big Hole River.  It is quite a drive from the cabin, but The Trout has been making it often this summer. 

Just in the last couple of days, the aspen have started turning gold.  It was beautiful to see against the blue sky.

The mountains were majestic as usual. You can definitely tell that fall is in the air.  What might look to you like dark leaved trees in the above photo, is unfortunately not so.  These as lodge pole pines that have been killed by the pine beetle, a black beetle the size of a grain of rice.  It has wrecked havoc on so many trees in Montana and Colorado. 

We came across a large herd of antelope.  The Trout does not recall seeing so many in this area in the past.  But, why do they do that?  You know, turn the other cheek?  They do look cute though.

The Trout was having a good time.  In this particular hole, he caught some smaller sized trout, but there were more to be had later on in the morning.

And a rest in the stream on an aptly placed rock.  Just can't get over how beautiful the weather was.

This view was fantastic.  The quiet sounds of this area were deafening.  It was a very good day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Terrific green beans

Last evening's dinner was excellent. We had a beautiful halibut steak, cooked perfectly. I made my first Hasselback potato. I had seen it often on the blogs, but this was our first. It was good, but I used a russet and think I would try a different potato the next time; something a little waxier.

But the real treat of the meal was the green beans. This was the second time I have made them this summer. I found the recipe in "Cook's Illustrated," FALL ENTERTAINING edition. I liked the way the garlic and olive oil was heated in the microwave to cut down the length of time it would take to roast the garlic in the oven. I have been looking for a quick go-to green bean recipe for quite a while, and I think this one is a real winner. I did cut down the amount of garlic by half and I eliminated the sugar the second time. I did not feel it was necessary.

Roasted Garlic Green Beans by Diane Unger - Cook's Illustrated

12 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise (I used half the garlic )
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar (I did not use this the second time)
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons wine vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper

Microwave garlic, oil and sugar, uncovered in a small microwave safe bowl until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large nonstick skillet. Reserve the remaining garlic mixture.

Heat skillet over medium high heat until oil is shimmering. Add green beans and water and cook, covered, until bright green, about 3 minutes. Add reserved garlic oil mixture to skillet. Do not stir. Continue to cook, covered, until beans are almost tender, about 3 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring occasionally until beans are browned in spots and garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ah - Hoo - Ah...aka Jalapenos

It is hard to believe, but in the last 2 months, I have made this appetizer at least 6 times. What is most remarkable, is that I have not blogged about it. They just disappear before a photo opportunity.

While visiting our daughter, Angie, in July, she showed me that she had purchased THE PIONEER WOMAN'S COOKBOOK. I read Ree Drumond's blog frequently, but had not seen the cookbook which can be purchased here.

I did not take the time to copy the recipe, so this is kind of my own rendition, giving total credit to The Pioneer Woman.

Stuffed Jalapenos

12 jalapenos

1 8 oz block cream cheese

shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese

thin bacon


I cut the jalapenos is half and scraped out the seeds and membranes. It is best to wear a plastic glove for this task. Then mix the softened cream cheese with the shredded cheddar/monty jack cheese. Stuff the pepper halves with the cheese mixture. At this point, you can top the cheese with drained crushed pineapple. It is a nice touch. Cut 6 thin slices of bacon in half and tightly wrap around the stuffed pepper and fasten with toothpicks. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. I lay the peppers on a cooling sheet that is positioned on top of a baking sheet. This gives the heat a chance to get underneath the peppers and cook them through.

Amazingly, one pepper can be very mild and the next one will blow your brains through the roof! I don't think there is any way to judge these peppers. I do know that MEN absolutely love this appetizer. They go over quickly at a potluck where you are asked to bring something.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things are a changing

The mountain range has been changing. More and more snow has been staying way up high. It is just so breathtaking.

This would be a beautiful scene to wake up to every day. Our days are kind of warm, but the frost in the mornings tells us that the seasons are changing, which brings me to my next subject.
The first time I heard it, I was inside. Did not know what had fallen. It startled me. So many homes in Montana have metal roofs. They cost more than shingles, but they last longer. Another great bonus is that the snow does not build up and slides right off in the winter.
So, I went outside to find out what all the noise was about. Our local pine squirrels are busy gathering nuts and dropping pine cones out of the tops of trees. When they hit the metal roofs, the noise is very loud. They are also pretty bold by dropping the pinecones on your head when you are outside.

They are so cute, and they bother Kippy when she is outside. They tease and then run up the trees. Kippy gets very frustrated.

This squirrel was busy eating pine nuts and leaving the shells in a big pile inside the Trout's wader shoes.

Our new friends out here in Montana. Judging by how busy they are, I'd say the winter just might be cold and long.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spicy Chicken Soup--Round 2

Every time I make this wonderful soup, I am reminded that I should make it more. Blogger friends Dustye and Chris shared this recipe with us last year. It is a simple recipe, a very good recipe, and it should be made more often.
We woke up to a dusting of snow this morning in the mountains. I believe it was 31 degrees during the night. It all disappeared by 9 a.m., but it did stay below 50 all day. So, this soup with just what the doctor ordered.
I will link you back to my previous post of this soup and recommend you try it. It is excellent, especially when the weather gets a little colder.
The link to my previous post is here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Memorable Mushroom Risotto

When I saw the Cook's Illustrated "Fall Entertaining" issue on the newsstands, I had to have it. "Memorable Mushroom Risotto" was on the menu tonight along with a simple salad and a grilled steak with herb butter.

Cooks Illustrated takes all the guess work out of cooking. They have tried every possible way to cook a dish, and then they print the best way for all. I have made quite a few risotto's in the past, so I knew this was the kind of dish that needed "help" in the kitchen. That is way I asked the Trout to help and be grill meister for the steak.

I have loved mushrooms since I was a child and was finally old enough to join the family in the spring foraging for morel mushrooms in the forest along the Iowa River near my childhood home. Absolutely love any kind of mushroom prepared in any kind of way, and this risotto is so excellent, earthy, woody tasting. We loved it and and are so happy that there are leftovers!!

Mushroom Risotto by Matthew Card (Cook's Illustrated)

2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs parsley, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in fine mesh strained under running water
3 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems discarded, cut into fourths
2 medium onions, chopped fine
table salt
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pound or 2 1/8 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Ground black pepper

The directions for this beautiful risotto are lengthy. After pausing before going further, I decided to do a check on copyrights of recipes. Many years ago, I worked in a college library and learned a lot from the librarian who took me under her wing. It seems that the laws are obscure concerning recipes. Interestingly, I know the laws about copying knitting patterns are very strict.

From what I read this morning, the ingredients can be shared, but sometimes (and that is the operative word), the technique is copyrighted by the author. So, before I go further, I just wish to say that this recipe was exceptional, and if you have a great urge to make it, I suggest picking up the latest "Cook's Illustrated."

Now, if anyone can enlighten me to the rules of copyright regarding recipes, that information would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Honey Roasted Cipollini Onions..Tyler Florence

Thank you, Tyler Florence, for this lovely recipe. I have seen cipollini onions before, but avoided them because I was not sure what to do with them. Then, this week, Tyler Florence prepared this wonderful recipe. I knew we had to try it.

The Bichon and I both went into Missoula today for "grooming". I think the results are about equal, as was the cost. We stopped in a "Good Food" grocer. I have not done enough homework yet to figure out why this place is called "Good Food," as it totally resembles "Whole Foods." Anyway, they had these beautiful cipollini onions and I knew the rest of the ingredients, so as soon as we got home, I started on the onions. Cipollini's are small, round and flat. Very distinctive compared to regular onions.

The honey roasted onions are beautiful. We had a light dinner with a fresh baguette and the honey roasted cipollini's, an olive brushetta that the Trout prepared and a beautiful fresh goat cheese. A bottle of red along with this light meal was delightful.

Honey Roasted Cipollini Onions - recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

15 cipollini onions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
about 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 bunch thyme, leaves removed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add the onions to a large bowl, cover with hot water and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. This is to help make peeling the onions much easier. Strain onions and peel.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt and pepper until combined. Put the onions in a large bowl, pour the dressing over them and toss well to coat.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add about 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat. Once hot, add the onions. Next place the saute pan into the preheated oven and roast for 18 to 20 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly caramelized.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Indian Summer....not

It is September 1, and usually in Montana, we have a few days or even weeks of Indian Summer. The nights have been cold, but not cold enough, it seems, to turn the aspen trees to gold.

This is a photo of Mt. Haggin in Anaconda, Montana. As you can see, it has put on a gorgeous dress this morning. Anaconda sits at one mile high in altitude, so this mountain is quite a bit higher.

We have had rain off and on for the last few days. The car windshield collected some "thick" rain a few mornings ago, but out at the lake, we are at 6700 ft.

This is a view of the Pintler range at Georgetown Lake, Montana.

Last year, September in Montana was beautiful; quite remarkable, actually. As of today, it does not look like history will repeat itself. Of course, one has to think back to September 1, 2008, when we had 4 to 5 inches of snow.

Montana weather changes quickly. We have another 6 weeks out here before we head back to Florida, so many changes are still ahead.