Friday, June 28, 2013

Finished! Breathe! Lets Go!

All of my nap time creations are finished and will be available for sale this Sunday at the MADE fair.  

See images of a few finished pieces here.

Now to make dinner.  Label and price EVERYTHING!  Clean the house and pack 4 carry on bags.
We are leaving Missoula and heading to Great Falls immediately after MADE fair, and flying to Oklahoma early the next morning.

Where to start.


Lets go.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


This fantastically awesome photograph of me was taken by Sylvan on the very tip top of  Waterworks Hill.  It is the hill I can see out of our east windows.  The three of us have never made it to the top for the following reasons: 

1.  We walk to the trail head.  Even though the trail head is just at the edge of our neighborhood it adds just enough distance to the trek that we have to turn back way before the top.
2.  I let Sylvan walk.  He is slow. So slow.  It took us three hours once to walk from the car (lesson learned from reason 1) to just past this little draw and back to the car...  I could point the very spot out to you from my yard.  It was at once a far distance for Sylvan to walk and so, so very far away from the peak. 
3. We leave our house to close to lunch time and we go home to eat. 

So today we:

1. drove to the trailhead
2. Sylvan walked the way DOWN.
3. were on the slopes by 10:00


We made it!  

We sat on the rocks, looking around in all direction: The mountains purple with blooming lupine, the sun bright and warm with just the right amount of breeze, and on cue an airplane entered the valley and we watched it descend across the sky and slow as it met the ground on the far edge of town. 

We were up and down in just about two hours and home just in time for lunch.  And we managed to still see the Bitterroot flowers (Lewisia Rediviva) in bloom!

Can a Sunday morning be any better than this?

Happy Anniversary to my husband who was "toiling" away in the shop building a cool custom coffee table while the kids and I were off on our adventure. How different our lives were six years ago..  all the places we have been together and many more we will see. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spring Time Pizza Recipes

After heating up the oven to 450 degrees it was too hot to eat in the house.  We took our plates and moved outside to the picnic table and ate our slices of pizza in the cool shade our maple tree.
I made my favorite pizza: roasted beet, feta, caramelized onion and walnuts.
I made a second pizza: feta, pizza cheese, beet greens and morels.
Between the two pizzas I used a beet and all the beet greens off of the bunch I bought from the farmer's market Saturday morning.  Reluctantly, I let Adam pack the remaining slices for his work day lunch.  I know that I will be making pasta with radish green pesto for the kids and I...  but that pizza was so, so good.

I always enjoy pizza night.
I like to think that it involves washing less dishes...  probably not true...  after making the dough, caramelizing onions and mixing up the sauces the dishes pile up just the same.  But it feels different.
I like sliding the pizza onto the baking stone in the oven.
I like the crisp crust. (I frown on the crusts left on the edges of my husband's plate.)
I like that the pizza can mirror the season or that it can function as a reminder of the summer sun in the cold of winter.  (Reminder to myself: make twice as much pizza sauce this year.  We ran out too quickly.)

Spring Time Pizzas!

I used a twelve ounce ball of pizza dough for each pizza.  My favorite dough recipe is listed here. If you are making pizza dough from scratch use the rising time to prep the pizza toppings.


8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces feta
1 onion
1 bunch beet greens
1 beet
mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning
salt, pepper

  •  make spreadable feta, used on both pizzas

                 - 8 ounces cream cheese
                 - 4 ounces feta
                 - oil , enough to make it spreadable 
  • caramelize an onion (cut into rings) in butter, if it is a plain yellow or red onion add a little sugar or honey and add a good sprinkle of rosemary, used on both pizzas
  • and assemble:

Roasted Beet Pizza

  • Roll out the first pizza and spread with half of the feta mixture. 
  • coarsely chop half of the bunch of beet greens and sprinkle over the feta.
  • add a layer of caramelized onions
  • finely slice one (or more) beet and layer over the onions
  • sprinkle with walnuts
  • dust with freshly ground pepper

Morel Pizza with Beet Greens

  • roll out the second pizza
  • take the remainder of the spreadable feta and add a dash of Italian seasoning and the remainder of the beet greens (finely chopped), mix together and spread on the dough
  • add caramelized onions
  • sprinkle with mozzarella cheese 
  • top with morels
Bake both pizzas at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 - 20 minutes. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday Snapshots - Father's Day

Ivory opened the door and beamed at me: "It is a beautiful day!"
And it was. 
After a wonderful Father's Day breakfast at the Riverside Cafe the remainder of our day was filled with:

Random little chores around the yard. 

Commencing the construction of a custom coffee table. 

A few random chores around the clay studio.  
A beautiful day indeed!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Long Story

Three plant starts are now nestled in dirt, packed in burlap bags, lined up on top of our chicken coop.  

Sixteen five gallon buckets in, I started feeling crazy. Lugging the sixteenth bucket up the ladder I start worrying that I will not finish before the kids wake up from their naps and that this whole idea is more trouble than it is worth.  A total of twenty two buckets later, Ivory is up, Sylvan is still sleeping and three green, I-should-have-planted-them-last-week starts are sunk into the dirt. 

I hope this works. 

I visualize the plants growing, cascading down the walls of the coop, keeping the interior of the coop cool while growing big fat heavy fruits....  but this isn't a story of making the most of the space on a city lot, or about one of the many uses of burlap bags, but about the seeds I hope will flourish in this space. 

Years ago - pre-children, pre-marriage and even pre-engagement - Adam, my future in-laws and I attended a horticulture conference in Tulsa Oklahoma.  We split up, each of us listening to those lectures we deemed to most interesting and then we would converge sharing the highlights and set out again.  (I still have the notes from that day tucked into my desk drawer somewhere.)  The last lecture I attended was by a professor from the University of Oklahoma (I think) who was speaking about the ongoing effort to collect seeds and learn about horticultural practices of the plains Indians.  
I should mention that after attending a single lecture I am no expert on the subject and that these are the highlights that have stuck with me (as I remember them anyway):

There is little literature regarding the horticultural practices of the plains Indians. The most notable document is Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden as recounted by Maxi'diwiac (Buffalo Bird Woman)(ca.1839-1932) of the Hidatsa Indian Tribe.   Most of the information he shared with us was derived from the northern plains regions (think the Dakotas) and it seems that even less is of the agricultural heritage of the southern plains Indians has survived.  He mentioned a seed that he had managed to locate and had brought to Oklahoma where it was being grown at a demonstration garden.  He called it the Wichita Pumpkin and in my memory is the same squash told of in Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden.  A fleshy squash that was sliced and dried and stored for the winter months. 

After the lecture I walked to the front of the room and asked him how I could get a hold of a few of those seeds.  He handed me his card... and I promptly lost it.  I was sucked into the whirl wind of finishing up my undergraduate program and didn't commit to tracking him or the seeds down.  But they nagged at me.  I wanted those seeds. I mentioned them to fellow students, friends, gardening enthusiasts.   I typed what I thought where useful phrases into the googler and came up with - NOTHING!  

After our engagement, our wedding and busting-at-the-seams pregnant with my first child I opened the door to a good friend who was employed as the ethnobotanist for the Chickasaw Nation.  He gave me a handful of seeds: Wichita Pumpkin.  That summer vines spread through our yard: big leaves with a silver dusting; giant gourd-like, green, and white striped fruit; the thick flesh a pale yellow.  I saved the seeds that fall and they have been in a jar ever since.  

We have moved not once, or twice, but four times since then.  We moved from the middle of america to Missoula, Montana: a location I realized recently realized is much closer to where these seeds were found and collected.  The seeds moved with us. This spring the kids pushed the seeds into the soil and they sat in our dining room.  Of the six seeds we planted, three germinated, and grew into sturdy starts.  

The story of these seeds spans centuries, cultures, state lines and the monumental moments of my life.  This fall I hope to scrape new seeds out of the pumpkins cavity and save the seeds for another season to tell another line of an old and mysterious tale. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nap Time Creations

The kids and I walked through our garden this morning an snipped flowers for our first summer bouquet:  some roses, a sprig of lemon balm, parsley blossoms, bolting radishes and flowers off of what I am fairly certain are pretty, but invasive, weeds.  

It sits in front of me as I trail shapes onto the cups that I threw during yesterday's nap time. 

While the children sleep an apple tree moves through the seasons; carrots, beets and cabbages grow  in rows; and hens peck at scratch. Today's nap time creations. 

Dinner Dance

I bend down, look into the fridge.
I close it and step out the back door.
I scan the garden beds - back to the fridge.

It is June and I am in love with this time of the year.
The meal planning gets looser...  instead of having solid shopping lists and a specific plans for each and every item purchased, I step into the garden and ask: "What are we having for dinner?"

The truth is, that even though it is June, there are not many things to harvest.
There are radishes (and their greens. delicious!), spinach, sprigs of dill, almost ripe strawberries and a mounding rhubarb plant.  All other plants are still tiny - promising more later in the summer.

I snip Spinach leaves.
They mound up in my basket.
I snip a few sprigs of dill.

We are having Pacific Rockfish for dinner and these garden additions will be perfect.

I look down at my pan and realize that this is the first of  this year's dinners that has a substantial garden contribution.  Sure, I have been using sage and parsley, adding radishes to salads, making rhubarb sauce and rhubarb tarts..  but those moments lacked the celebratory feel of this moment.

These are the seeds Sylvan  planted.
These are the plants we have been watering, weeding around, admiring.
This is dinner.

Pacific Rockfish 

5 cups spinach, roughly chopped 
2 fillets Pacific Rockfish
6 or 7 sun dried tomatoes, re-hydrated and cut into strips
5 cloves garlic
2 slices onions
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth 
2 springs dill, chopped finely 
salt and pepper to taste
brown rice (optional)
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • place the spinach in the bottom of a pan, add the fish fillets
  • top the fillets with onions, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, salt, pepper and dill
  • pour the vegetable broth and lemon juice over everything
  • bake for 20 to 25 minutes
  • serve with brown rice (optional)

Sunday, June 9, 2013


The days are sunny and long.
There is no time sit down or sleep.

There are morels to pick.

So many morels to pick that we actually let our kiddos go over to a friends house for an entire day while we scrambled across the steep slope of the burned forest floor.  Our first day together with out children...  in - oh - 5 years or so.  

There are summer birthdays to celebrate.

There are amazing thrift store scores to discover.  
Yes these are my new, super sexy footed pajamas.

As I am climbing into bed.

Adam: Are you glowing?
I look down. 
Me:  Yes. I. Am.  All the pterodactyls glow in the dark.  

HOT.  right?

There are bread baking skills to practice and share.

There are more cups to etch. 

There are back yard summer nights and bright summer mornings to enjoy with friends. 

Somewhere in the doing and going and fun there is time to sleep and maybe the occasional moment to post a few pictures (and get caught by my husband...  who says:  "aren't  you just stalling.  I don't see the wheel out yet.")

As the sun finally fades from the sky there are blocks of clay to be wedged, spun, pushed and pulled into form.