Fall in Montana

This time of the year is both a beautiful and sad time for me. I would love to garden every day of the year, but in Montana you are lucky for 3 months. The trees are turning beautiful fall colors now. The garden is going to sleep more each day as the cold mornings take over. Snow on the mountain tops say winter is just around the corner.

One of the things I do enjoy this time of the year is getting everything picked and taken care of in the garden. Time to make veggie soup soon and can it. Also time to use up the too big cucumbers that I always seem to have. Several large zucchini await to be made into bread and cookies for winter. Tomato plants are producing large amounts thanks to the greenhouse. Pumpkins are now bright orange and the winter squash are getting huge.

Cutting down the hops, mowing the yard, cutting the sunflower heads to dry have all been done now. Soon the yard ornaments will be gone along with the everything summer.

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Today I made a wonderful Chicken salad and put it in a cucumber boat for lunch. Simple to do and you can use what ever you like in it. Mine had the following items in it.

Cucumber Chicken Salad Boat

1 large cucumber, peeled, cut in half length wise, and seeded

1/2 cup canned Zaycon chicken breast (you can use store canned chicken)

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon finely chopped

1 chive stem from the garden finely chopped

1 small handful of mixed lettuce chopped

1 tablespoon mayo

1/2 apple diced with skin on (I used a gala)

small amount of dried cranberries

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together well and stuff the cucumber boat with it. Be sure and salt and pepper the cucumber boat before stuffing.

I hope you are finding time to enjoy the seasonal changes in your neighborhood. We are truly blessed to live in Montana and thankful to be able to garden here.

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Bountiful

This time of the year is amazing for many reasons. One of the most for me is being able to garden. I love knowing I am putting the best food I can on the table. My garden is wonderful this year with lots of colorful veggies but I also participate in Bountiful Baskets.

I found Bountiful Baskets 2 years ago and fell in love with the idea. A group getting together as a co-op, helping the community while having fun and meeting new people. Not to mention all the wonderful and sometimes new fruits and vegetables we get. Twice a month we get together to unload, sort, distribute and laugh. We are a small group but it has been a wonderful thing for many of us. Meeting so many new friends and catching up with old friends all while touching, smelling and enjoying all that produce love.

Saturday was our day and it was a smaller group than usual. Only 4 showed to unload the truck (the truck was oh so early) but more trickled in as we worked. Never has there been so much laughter and kindness at our drop.

This basket was full of fun and wonderful items. Chinese eggplant, English cucumbers, huge carrots, onions, tomatoes, red potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries, mango, and Asian pears. Some sites also got shishito peppers and all for $15.00 plus a fuel charge.

One of the things I look forward to with each basket is making some fantastic food and this basket let me do just that. With a little help from my garden and the store I made some wonderful eggplant-zucchini lasagna rolls. I made 3 for the freezer and one for tomorrow night. I thought I would share what I did with you.

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Eggplant-zucchini lasagna Rolls

2 large Chinese eggplants sliced lengthwise

2 large zucchini sliced lengthwise

Soak the above items in cold water why making the sauce.

Sauce:

1 small onion

1/4 cup diced green peppers

1/4 cup diced red peppers

1 cup button mushrooms

1 cup portabella mushrooms

2 Italian sausage links, skin removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Cook above until fully cooked and then add:

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Let cook for 1 minute then add:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 cups diced tomatoes (if you don’t have fresh use 3 cans of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes with juice)

1 8 ounce tomato sauce

Let cook for 30 minutes and then add:

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced eggplant

Let this cook until thickened. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

While this is cooking make the cheese mixture.

1 large container cottage cheese

1 egg

3 tablespoons fresh parsley

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Italian cheese blend

salt and pepper to taste

To make the rolls pat dry 1 piece of zucchini and one piece of eggplant. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons cheese mixture to the eggplant and lay the zucchini on top of it. Roll up. I did one roll with the zucchini showing on the outside and the other with the eggplant showing.

To assemble spray a pan with cooking oil, add 1/2 cup sauce, then add the rolls seam side down. Top with more sauce and some of the Italian cheese mix. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Serve with a nice salad and lots of love.

May your life be bountiful in every way possible!

Montana Gardens

Gardening in Montana can be a real challenge at times. Nothing like snow in July or a frost to make you become creative. Or the wonderful animals who enjoy the produce as much as we do. This year we are trying out hydroponics and so far I am excited about how it is going. I was amazed at the growth in just a few weeks with this system.

 

Day 1 of hydroponics system 1-4-2015 003 This was day one and you could hardly see the seedlings. In just two weeks things really changed. week 2b And then in week four I was sure this system could be the answer for us. week 4 Growth is very fast in the system and with our short growing season that is fantastic. No digging and improving the soil is a real bonus as it seems my body is getting a little old to play in the dirt. No more bunny or mole problems. Very little pest problems at all, but you still find a few leaves have been eaten by grasshoppers. My momma always said to share so I don’t mind a few holes. NO WEEDING, need I say more. I would love to move this into a greenhouse and see if I could grow all winter long. We used an old swing, a 33 gallon bucket, pond pump and lots of 4 inch pvc pipe to make this. We also added a shade tarp in the second week to give a little bit more protection. We planted many different items to see what would work the best. 4 types of tomatoes, baby bok choy, rainbow swiss chard, green chard, Tuscan kale, Chinese cabbage, marigolds, garlic chives, dill, beans, red cabbage, 3 types of peas, celery, 7 types of lettuce, pansies, 2 other types of flowers, collards, peppers, mustard greens, parsley and strawberries. The beans seem to be the slowest so far with the lettuce growing like mad.

week8

And this is week 8. Plants have given us many wonderful meals this summer. I have added new plants weekly and it is still growing fantastic. I have lots to learn yet but that is ok with me. I have always tried to learn one new thing each day and I am sure this will keep me going for years.

Hello world!

023This blog is a little bit of thoughts, tips and recipes that I would like to share with everyone. I am no expert on anything but love gardening, cooking, crochet and many other things. Making life a little nicer or easier for others is my way of putting a little kindness back into the world.