Mushrooms

When it comes to feeding a crowd, two things generally happen: expensive premade dishes pack the table, and those with special diets are left with precut fruit, naked greens, and a bare baked potato. This year’s Montana Cup meals proved it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dinner’s salads got the Twice as Tasty treatment, but North Flathead Yacht Club also had vegans and vegetarians fully covered with marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms. NFYC also brought in gorgeous Yukon River Coho salmon fillets from Flathead Fish & Seafood Co. and top sirloin steaks provided by regional grocery chain Super 1 Foods. I decided to whip up some sauces that could accompany any option or the sides of salad and baked potato, relying on our local Kalispell Kreamery and my own canning shelves. Learn to make Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Yogurt-Dill Sauce and Romesco Sauce

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Cucumbers

As a kid, I helped my mom processed dill pickles in vinegar brine and what my family called “sweet pickles,” which tasted nothing like the ones on a restaurant burger. It was years before I learned that what I considered sweet pickles were typically sold as “bread-and-butter” pickles. They fall somewhere between the tangy dills and the sugary sweets. And I could eat them by the jar.

When I started canning on my own, pickles were in my first jars. They’re easy to pack and process, the vinegar ensures food safety, and the options for spices in the standard brine are endless. My mom followed the version in the old Ball Blue Book, but Ball has since updated its recipe and other authors have inspired me to make a few tweaks to the flavorings—and to use the brine once the jar is empty. Learn to make Better Bread-and-Butter Pickles and Braised Breakfast Potatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

In the shortest days of winter, I crave the freshest produce. Forget sweets or chips—I yearn for cherry tomatoes, raspberries, and other garden goodies. I suppose the desire for sun-kissed fruit and veg as the snow falls is the main reason this blog exists: Every summer, I play with new and better ways to preserve homegrown produce that we can eat year-round. This blog is all about sharing those ideas with you.

I use “cherry” to describe many tiny tomatoes: Sweet 100s, Sun Golds, Black Cherry, my favorite Yellow Pear. We go big, growing a mix of cultivars to eat like candy off the vine and turn into a pasta sauce easily recreated from frozen toms in the coldest months. These bite-sized bursts of flavor are so simple to save for winter, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done so. Learn to freeze cherry tomatoes and make Pasta That Pops

Herbs

Herbs are a great place to start when it comes to dehydrating—and gardening. Perennial herbs need little care once established and come back reliably in their beds year after year. Some annual and biennial herbs are self-seeding, making them seem perennial when they sprout unaided each spring. Those that need to be resown annually are often happy in pots or even on a sunny windowsill in even the smallest space tended by the newest gardener.

Most herbs get a production boost from regular cutting. Such plants quickly send out new shoots, becoming bushier and healthier the more that they are used. Hang some of those cuttings or throw them on a dehydrator tray, and you’ll never buy another jar of dried leaves. You can store them separately or combine them into a grab-and-go mix. Learn to dry herbs and make Italian Seasoning Blend