Saving Summer Flavors for the Long Winter

Guess what time of year it is?! …NOT pumpkin season. Not yet! It’s still August, and I’m going to squeeze out as much of summer as I can. I don’t know what the huge rush is! Pumpkins aren’t even ready yet, the pumpkin latte, pumpkin beer, pumpkin milk, pumpkin muffin, pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin craze can wait a few more weeks as far as I’m concerned. Let’s not rush it. I’m holding onto summer as long as I can. Today I’m going to share a way to dry late summer herbs and a way to store them all year long. That way you can add tasty herbs to any meal even in the dead of winter. So here is Herbs are Taking over the Garden: Part 2.Drying Garden HerbsThis year I tried to dry many different types of herbs to see how they turned out. I didn’t dry any last year and was pretty bummed about it during the freezing winter months. …Actually I take that back, I did try to dry some herbs, but it didn’t work out. They lost all of their flavor and just smelled like hay. I also tried drying stevia by hanging it upside down and it just turned brown and I had to throw it away. So this year I finally figured out how to dry the herbs while still keeping their delicious flavor and aromas. This year I have already dried basil, parsley, and stevia so far. I want to try drying rosemary as well because it is my absolute favorite herb! Here is the best way I have found to dry herbs.

In this sample I am drying stevia, but these steps could be recreated with any herb.

1. Pick the herbs from the garden. The best time to pick is late morning right after the dew has dried off, but before the sun has been shining and stressing out the plants. Washing herbs

2. Wash the herbs well. I find that using a salad spinner works the best. Then I lay them outside on a table to completely dry. It is critical that the herbs are completely dry before you place them in the dehydrator, otherwise they might take too long to dry or get moldy.Drying stevia on a table

3. Line the dehydrator trays, or a cookie tray if drying them in the oven. The herbs must be in a single layer with none, or very few overlaps. It doesn’t have to be perfect though because they shrink in size quite a bit. I filled up all of the trays and stacked them on top of each other. herbs on dehydrator trays

4. Dry the herbs! I dried them at a higher temperature than was written on my dehydrator. It was about 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-4 hours depending on the type of herb.

5. Last step! After the herbs are completely dried up (they sort of crisp and crumble in your hands) throw them into a food processor to grind them up into small flakes. Then they can be put into a shaker or mason jar and stored in the cupboard like any other herb!

Dried Herbs in Jar

 

I found these awesome air tight jars that have a plastic ring around the inside so that they stay sealed.

I also love making these herb cubes, they are great to use with cooking and make a meal so much more flavor-able so quickly!

You can also preserve summer flavors by storing them in the freezer or canning! We’re going to be canning peaches, pickles, and beets this year.

Check out these awesome ideas.

Homemade Stevia Extract

How do you preserve summer flavors to enjoy them all year-long?!

Summery Cocktail Recipe

This is a first on my blog, but since I have been interning at Headframe Distillery in Montana I have had the chance to taste amazing spirits and try out great drink recipes. I wanted to share one of those awesome drinks with you guys! This is a recipe that I created using their Anselmo Gin, but you can use any type of gin that you prefer. Although, their gin really is amazing, and makes drinks taste wayy better than any other kind I have had…not that I’ve had many…I really am not much of a gin drinker. Anyway, this recipe is a great summer treat! It is citrusy and refreshing, perfect for these last, long, hot weeks of summer.

It is called The Chemist because of all of the chemical analysis I am doing during the fermentation and distillation processes. I love sitting in the lab and measuring the percent alcohol, brix (sugar content), and CO2 levels of samples I pull off of the mashtun or still. It’s so interesting!Cucumber Apple Gin Drink

This recipe is just for one drink, but it can easily be increased to serve all of your friends, just throw it in a larger shaker and serve it up on ice!

The Chemist:

Ingredients:

1-3 slices cucumbers
1.5 ounces apple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces Gin
dash lemon juice

Muddle cucumbers. Add all other ingredients to a shaker. Add ice and shake it up. Serve in a chilled glass. Garnish with a dried apple. The Chemist- Gin Cucumber Drink

I know it seems weird to mix cucumbers and apple, but they are really delicious together. Combining them with the gin and the juniper from the gin make this a refreshing and satisfying drink! I hope you enjoy it. What is your favorite summer cocktail these days?

Swim Workout & Being Scared of a Triathlon

TriathlonI am in the middle of training for a sprint triathlon in the beginning of September. I will be running it with my soon-to-be sisters! (in-law) I am so excited, we have all been working hard, and I can’t wait to swim/bike/run it together. Just from talking to people they usually say the swimming part is the worst. I am most worried about the combination of the three. I am decent at swimming, running, and biking separately, but putting them together?…yea…then we might have a problem. This sprint tri includes…

Swim – .45 mi.

Bike – 13 mi.

Run – 3.1 mi.

It doesn’t seem too bad when you look at each of the legs of the race separately…Yea half mile swim no problem! Bike 13 miles…I think I’ve done that before. Run 3 miles-piece of cake. But doing them all back-to-back, ohhh dear, that might be a bit more difficult for me. So on to the swim workout! This is about a half mile swim workout, it took us about a half hour.

This is the swimming workout we did last night.

100 Warm Up

4×50′s on One minute Freestyle

1×100 Freestyle

1×200 Freestyle

1×100 Freestyle

100 Cool down

Warm up and cool down are your choice. I like to incorporate a kicking set with the kickboard during the warm up and cool down, just to get my legs moving. Many pools have huge round clocks you can ask to use, or ask the lifeguard to turn on so that you have a reference point. If you are training somewhere without a clock a waterproof watch, or stopwatch is also great for timing intervals. We rested about 1 minute in-between the 100s and 200.

We have three and half weeks left of training until the big day! I will write the workout training I have been using for this event.

Here are some other triathlon training tips!

How to Gear Up
10 Tips for First Time Triathletes
22 Triathlon Tips
 (Many of these have not even crossed my mind- like..ah sunscreen. These are awesome tips that could only come from someone who has done this before!)
And maybe most importantly, How Not to Drown during a Triathlon

Now I’m worried about what to wear so that I’m not sopping wet and uncomfortable during the bike ride and run, but I also don’t want to be awkwardly changing for a million minutes in front of a bunch of people either. Any suggestions? Do you have any tips and tricks for triathlon training or running/biking/swimming…or the dreaded combination of them all?! :)

From Montana with Love- Cowboy Caviar

I have a Montana secret recipe to share with you, and it’s amazing! This is seriously so so good, it’s addicting. We have already made two huge batches of it in the two weeks I have been here. It’s delicious, and healthy! It’s called cowboy caviar, how cute! And I’m sure it is wayy better than regular caviar, not that I have ever tried that…or ever will. Eekk. Cowboy Caviar RecipeI don’t know what it is but this mixture of ingredients tastes SO good, I can’t even explain it! Hahah. Cowboy Caviar IngredientsI like to make this a couple of hours before serving and let it sit in the fridge, then the flavors really soak in. We also ate it over quinoa which was delicious and added a bit more protein.Cowboy Caviar Bean DipPrintable version! Woop!

Cowboy Caviar

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cowboy Caviar

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can black-eyed peas (drained)
  • 1 can sweet corn (not drained)
  • 3/4 cup cilantro (optional)
  • 3/4 cup green onion
  • 1-2 jalapeños
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 avocados

How it's Done:

  1. Finely chop garlic. Cube onion and tomatoes. Remove seeds from jalapeños, and dice. Combine with all other ingredients in a large bowl, adding diced avocado last. Chill and serve with tortilla chips.
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The whole reason for this cowboy recipe is because of my trip out west! I’ve had the wonderful chance to come stay in Montana with my best friend while interning at a distillery. I am learning all about the mashing and fermentation processes, as well as the steps of distilling.  I will write a post on what we have been working on so far later this week! It has been awesome and I am learning so much! Montana is amazing. It’s such a peaceful, wide open place. We went hiking up to Agnus from Browns Lake today, the scenery is beautiful. So much fresh air and sunshine!

Agnus

So this recipe is in honor of my stay here in Big Sky country!

Have you ever been to Montana? What’s your favorite thing to do here!?

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