27 Feb

Scents of Balance on Yellowstone Public Radio

“I was interviewed for YPR earlier this month by Stella Fong for her bi-monthly radio show. Of course we talked about food, getting Kate’s Garden ready for spring planting, the CSA and lots of other good stuff. It was a wonderful experience for me…and I got to wear headphones and see the inside of those glass soundproof rooms! Such fun!”

08 Jun

Welcome sun!

It was a good week to spend weeding! There is never enough time once the garden really gets going to keep up with them. My shoulder is screaming at me, and my knees, too, as being down on the ground crawling around and using that constant repetitive drawing and pulling motion of the Japanese hand hoe gives these joints a real workout! There is still allot more to do, but I am getting it done!

Since it really heated up these last few days, I have started transplanting some of the seedlings that needed to go out. Hopefully we will not receive any more spring storms.

The herbs are up!  They have been loving the cooler weather.   Tarragon is already quite tall and the chives are blooming, so it is time to make my yearly batch of beautiful, pink Chive vinegar. It is quite lovely to look at, and I use it on many summer salads, like potato and pasta salads and, of course, coleslaw. It is wonderful splashed over quickly sautéed veggies. If you don’t have any chives in your garden, plant some! They are easy to grow and once you have some, you will have them forever. I will probably have some to sell later on in the season.

Chive Blossom Vinegar
Yield: 1 quart

chive-vinegar

Ingredients

3/4 quart chive blossoms
About 1 quart champagne or white wine vinegar
Directions
• 1. Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Keep an eye out so that it doesn’t boil; you want the warmth of the vinegar to seduce the coy, subtle flavor out of the blossoms, not immolate them.
• 2. Meanwhile, plunge the flowers in a bowl of cold water and gentle swish them around to flush out any dirt and bugs that have taken up residence. Dump the flowers into a colander and thwack it against the side of the sink to shake off the excess water.
• 3. Stuff the jar with the blooms.
• 4. Pour enough of the warm vinegar into the jar just to submerge the blossoms, using a metal spoon to push down any errant blooms that want to float up over the top. You might not need all of the vinegar.
• 5. Let the vinegar cool, then place a square of parchment paper or saran wrap over the opening of the jar and screw on the top. You want to make sure the vinegar doesn’t come in contact with the metal lid, as the acid will erode the finish of the cap and do nasty things to the taste of your infused vinegar. Place the container in a dark, cool spot that’s so hidden you’ll forget about it.
• 6. When you’re happy with the chive-y strength of the brew, strain it through a fine sieve and toss the spent blossoms. Pour the vinegar into your favorite (preferably glass) sterilized bottle with a rubber stopper and display prominently. Its hue–the blush of a very embarrassed Rosé–is a great conversation starter. Just don’t forget to use it.

18 May

It’s cold out there!

The greenhouse is bursting with seedlings wanting to go out!  I know we need the rain, but the garden is going to take off slow this year unless it starts to heat up real soon.

It seems I always end up talking about the weather, I know!  But it plays such a huge part in what I am trying to do here at Kate’s Garden.  I can put on a few extra layers of clothing and my mud boots  in order to stay warm and dry when I go out side, but the transplants that I just planted these last couple of weeks  do not have that option.   We do need the rain though as we have had such a dry winter.  I lost quite a few trees this year…even some that have been in the ground three or more years.   The fact that we experienced such high winds and did not have allot of snow really hurt.  I am sure you have noticed all  of the yellow,  burned evergreen trees and shrubs around town.

Today is a soup kind of day, as the weather is a bit chilly.  This recipe should warm you up.  If you took the time to freeze any of the kale or chard that you saved from the garden harvest last year, this is a great way to use it up.

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana Recipie photo

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage ( I like mild sausage)
2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.
Brown sausage in your soup pot.
Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
Add bacon.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Turn to low heat.
Add kale and cream.
Heat through and serve.

 

 

12 Apr

Kate’s Ponderings & CSA Registration

It’s spring again!  Or, is it!  By  this time last year we had experienced lots of winter snow and heavy spring rains.  Not so this year….and the wind!  Oh my!  It blew down part of the north fence a couple of weeks ago and the willow trees self pruned like crazy.  I have had to resort to using city water to keep the trees happy and transplants watered.  The winter mulch of straw was removed from the  the strawberry and garlic beds as it was so warm there for awhile and with the winds they dryed out quickly.  We have been asking for rain, and we have finally been blessed with it.  The much needed moisture these last two days has greened up the lawn and brought sweet fragrance to the air from all all of the flowering trees.  The robins are so happy with the big fat worms that are now at the surface of the ground for easy picking.

I transplanted the scallions, bulb onions and green and red cabbages into the garden this past week.  Barbara came for her first day of work on Thursday and direct seeded radishes and beets.   The greenhouse is full of seed flats.  The tomatoes and peppers are looking fine!  I started more seeds yesterday.

The greenhouse is full of seedlings; peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil and broccoli, and I started more seeds yesterday.  There is always so much to do this time of year!  My son, Greg, has been coming over to help when he can, and that has been such a blessing.  I may just turn him into a farmer yet!   I am always looking for more help in the gardens and a computer person would be great, too, to help with the on-line marketing/social media stuff.  Sitting in front of a computer is definitely not my thing!  If you or someone you know would be interested please give me a call, or send an email.  This would probably amount to just a few hours a week.

So you can see that things are on course for season 2015 here at Kate’s Garden.  Now, I only need more subscribers to my CSA and other outlets to sell the produce.  I thought that by lowering the subscription price and offering half shares this season that I would be encouraging more subscribers….but so far, that has not been the case.  I know that it is early yet, but the purpose of the CSA is for the producer to bring in early funds in order to pay for start up costs like seed, labor and supplies.  I am trusting that things will turn around as soon as the warmth of the sun and longer days return for good!

Did you know that once upon a time, Montana produced 80 to 90% of the food consumed in the state. The remaining percentage was shipped out of state and that was mostly grain. More, now than ever, it is important to have access to local, sustainably grown food.  Farming cannot be sustainable without the support of their local communities.   It is time to really think about how we, as individuals and as a community, can start to build sustainability and a vibrant healthy food system right here in Billings and the surrounding area. I encourage you to spend your dollar with local food producers and shop keepers so that they can continue creating jobs, paying their taxes and raising their families. That’s what community is all about. Farmers and local businesses are not asking for charity or demanding your support. That is, after all, not the idea. Most are just going about doing what we love while providing you a service that you may need. I can only speak for myself, but for me, it’s also not about getting rich, although that would certainly be great.   It’s about doing something that makes sense, while assisting us all in being able to eat well and stay healthy! We are really supporting each other!

There is a worldwide movement happening, based on this concept. All of the elements are in place and they are valid. Now, it is the cost, the extent and the organization of this movement that will decide if it succeeds or not.  Won’t you join me in strengthening this movement?

If you have been on the fence deciding on whether to join Kate’s Garden CSA, now is a good time to do so, as I will be starting an advertising campaign soon to bring in new subscribers.  I have a passion for growing healthy food, education and being in service to my community.  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions, so if you are so inclined, add a comment to this post or send an email.  I look  forward to hearing from you.

broccoli raab 2

The broccoli raab that I have growing in the greenhouse was the idea behind this quick and easy curry recipe, but the recipe calls for regular broccoli. Both will certainly work. I hope you are inspired to create this in your own kitchen.


5 Ingredient Coconut Curry

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 small heads broccoli (and/or other veggies of choice)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: minced garlic or onion

Instructions

  1. Saute broccoli (and onion/garlic if you’re using it) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools.
08 Mar

Kate’s Garden & CSA ~ Early registration is now open!

The 2015 garden season is just around the corner so I thought I would let you know what is happening here at Kate’s Garden!  Seeds are already germinating in the greenhouse, fruit trees have been pruned and all of the beds are ready to plant. I am getting pretty excited and chomping at the bit to put the first seeds and transplants in the ground!  I won’t be putting anything out until at least late April early May, depending on the weather, but I can hardly wait!

My farm is located in the Billings Heights and sits on 1 1/3 acres.  I have always been an organic gardener, but am not certified organic.  I have a passion for growing vital, healthy food.  Ever since I was a little girl I loved playing in the dirt!  Learning how to use our earth’s bounty to produce all that we need to live well has been a life long mission of mine.  I have been an eager student at learning how to grow food, make medicine and nurture my soul.

I am going to get up on my  soap box now, so please bear with me!  It has become quite evident that our “business as usual” industrialized food system no longer works for us.  We are now seeing the negative impact on our health and environment  as a result of the high use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides in industrialized farming.  Our bees are dying, the Monarch butterfly is becoming extinct and our soils deplete of nutrients; not to mention the quality of the air we breathe and contaminated water in our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans from toxic run off.  We are becoming aware of the fact that eating fresh, nutritious food is one of the best ways to maintain good health.

“Know your farmer” is not just another catch phrase.  It is a growing movement to create strong, healthy communities.  Our farm lands are being sold to big business because the land is worth allot of money and yet the farmer struggles to make a decent living.  There is something wrong with this picture!  When you support a local farmer, or any local business for that matter,  you build a personal relationship….there is a face to see and a handshake to feel. There is warm conversation and maybe even a new friendship.

I have been asked why I continue to farm, as the work is hard and the money slim.  I know I can’t fix our broken mass produced food system, but in some small way I am helping to educate my community, grow and share vital food and have a positive impact on our environment. I have a strong desire for self-sufficiency, and it is simply the joy of the whole gardening process that keeps me happy and grounded…working the soil, patiently watching the growing process, the taste of the first ripe tomato, and the harmony of the seasons.

I am reaching out to you now, as I need your support In order to continue farming and growing my business.  This year I have taken a giant leap of faith in lowering my CSA subscription price and offering 1/2 shares.  It is my hope that this will encourage you to join this year.  It’s really is a benefit to us both.  I am able to continue doing what I love in sharing my gifts through farming and education, and you have the opportunity to experience the farm and eat healthty food (recipes included).

To see all of the information on the cost of this year’s CSA, how it works and to register, please visit my website.   You can also send an email (katescents@bresnan.net)  or give me a call (245-9128).  I would love to hear from you.

27 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving & Reflections

As I sat in meditation this morning, I was a filled with so many questions, thoughts and emotions. Why does it have to be that on this one day we are to be thankful?

Why shouldn’t we be thankful every day? We are all here to be a part of the transformation and evolution of ourselves and our planet… to experience each and every moment with gratitude, wonder, and purpose. We are presented with opportunity every day.

Read More

02 Oct

Week 16 – Final share

As I sit here writing this my heart is happy and sad at the same time.  Is that even possible?   I have been thinking about my accomplishments in the gardens this season and how good it makes me feel knowing that you have been eating and hopefully enjoying the veggies, herbs and fruit that that have been in your weekly box.  I also know that I am going to miss seeing and chatting with you every week.  Barb, Bodie and I feel like you are all good friends now!  As with the change of the seasons, there will be a change in the structure of our lives, as winter approaches and we go inside, both physically and emotionally.

We are expecting a freeze tonight, so we will be out harvesting everything that is still growing in the gardens.  There will be allot of tomatoes for you, so take advantage and put some away for the winter.  The Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup recipe that I gave you last week is scrumptious  and so easy to make!

Once we have everything out of the gardens, we will be preparing the beds for next year, by layering sheep manure, grass and leaves, and anything else we can get our hands on that will feed the soil, and then do a light till.  So there is still allot of work to do gathering all of the materials needed.  Hopefully the weather will hold long enough for us to accomplish this.

As we are always in garden mode, even when it is not garden season, it is always good to know who is interested in being a subscriber in next year’s CSA.  This helps us to know how much marketing we need to do to fill up our share program.  As always, I would appreciate your comments on how we can get better at what we do.  What worked for you and what didn’t?  Was there enough food?  Too much?  Were there items you did not like, or that we did not grow?  You input is vital to the success of the CSA, so don’t be shy!  I promise I won’t take it personal.

Todays share will include Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, beets, carrots, scallions, assorted peppers, cherry & heirloom slicing tomatoes, garlic, eggplant and two kinds of winter squash ( Delicata & Buttercup) which I purchased from Boja Farms in Bridger because of our low crop yield.  I will have plenty  of eggs for you today, too, so stock up, as this is the last week that you will be able to get them here.  The girls are loving this cooler weather.

It is my intention to keep the blog going….probably not every week, but on a fairly regular basis to keep the news of what is happening here circulating throughout the community.  I am not a techy person, but I am sure I will have more time this winter to learn the tricks of the internet marketing trade.

See you this afternoon!   4-6 PM.

Blessings…Kate

25 Sep

Week 15 – Garden Share

What a beautiful week we have been experiencing.  It feels like summer, which is a bit odd considering we entered fall on Monday and have already experienced a hard freeze two weeks ago!  Only in Montana!

I have been feeling a little like a squirrel, in that I have been putting food up for the winter.  This time of year I love to make pasta sauces, salsa, pickles, herbal butters and vinegar,  and fruit  preserves.  Barbara brought me some grapes from a nearby farm, but there was not enought to do anything with it, so I harvested some of my Oregon grapes (they are a native holly like ground cover) and added some Italian plums and we made jam.  It was an experiment that turned out wonderful!  I encourage you to take advantage of this falls produce offerings to put away some for your winter enjoyment.  Food prices are continuing to rise and there is a bounty of local produce available this time of year to ad to your share.  The Farmers Market will certainly provide you with the extras that you might need.  I made up a batch of the roasted tomato soup that I listed on last weeks blog, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Use some of this weeks tomatoes to make it and then freeze…that’s what I did!

This weeks share will provide you with some wonderful Autumn goodness, greens and fruit.  Of course there is beets, but also lettuce, beans, bell peppers, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, sugar pie pumpkin and some apples.

I have 11 dozen eggs this week, too!  I think the hens are loving fall, as their production has definitely gone up.

Recipies included:

Pumpkin Gingerbread
Rich pumpkin and ginger flavors combine to make a tasty autumn indulgence.

Serves: 8

Ingredients
• 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
• 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
• 2 lg eggs
• 1 lg egg white
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 1/2 cup molasses
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 cup canned pure pumpkin

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat 9″ x 9″ baking pan with organic cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Stir in crystallized ginger.
3. Whisk eggs, egg white, oil, molasses, and sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin. Fold into dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until gingerbread starts to pull away from pan sides and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on rack (may also be served warm). Garnish with sliced crystallized ginger if desired.