Oh happy day: clear (er) air

Clear air, Auggie!!

Happy Dance!

Happy Happy Dance for a clear, cool morning after a long run of hot and smoky.

The morning walk was a huge pleasure for all of us, after Bear and I just endured being out this past week.

There is still some smoky haze, but the mountains are visible.

The sun is at that angle that creates a beautiful light and says Fall is on its way.

Home sweet home with a bit of sunshine and blue sky!

A good walk.

Oh happy day!

Still smokin’

The Road Home … smoky version.

By all accounts, including my own 23 years in this area, this is the worst wildfire smoke ever. Even short exposure dries the throat and lips, starts a headache and generally makes a person feel uneasy and unwell. Mr. Bear licks his lips, sneezes and occasionally includes a hacky cough. We go out only as absolutely necessary. Auggie is confined to quarters and not very happy about it!

The crew of Lower Valley Farm, my CSA source, is working in masks as are many who must work outdoors. The local dragon boat race and festival was cancelled. School sports cancelled and all recess activities are happening inside.

BUT.

NOAA says, with some confidence, that things will be a bit better tomorrow afternoon and Sunday. AND THEN … Thursday into Friday they forecast a significant “pattern change” and a hopefully “last gasp” of smoke. I hope they are correct. At any rate, it is wonderful to have some hope of an end to this after forecasts that continued with the same “hot and smoky” line.

Meanwhile…

The recipe: Breadtopia’s Zucchini Sourdough .

This is the BEST sandwich bread I’ve made to date. I had a good one in Quinoa Sandwich Bread , but this is better, although I have a thought to combine the two because quinoa!

The zucchini sourdough bread is soft in crumb and crust but does not come apart even with a gooey-ish filling. And unlike the typical zucchini baked goods, this recipe uses all the moisture from the zucchini. I absolutely love it.

I am headed to Farmer’s Market in the morning to stock up on zucchini which I will shred and freeze so I can make this bread through the Winter.

And this week’s CSA box:

Eggplant, green bell pepper, potatoes, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, golden beets with greens, red leaf lettuce, long red onion and basil!

A new recipe planned for this week: stuffed eggplant kind of a moussaka-light.

And so…

Still smokin’ but with an end in sight!

***Edit at 7:29 p.m. From the NOAA Forecast discussion for my area:

A significant Fall pattern change will take place Wednesday
evening through Thursday night. It`s finally happening.
Anticipate widespread precipitation during this time, with
temperatures and snow levels (yes, snow levels) decreasing during
this time. Snow levels down to 6000 feet appear plausible by
Thursday night. This system is likely to put a significant dent in
the wildfire season, which has gone on longer than most already.

Cool and showery weather will continue across the Northern Rockies
Friday through the weekend. Fall is here; Fall is here!

I just love our local NOAA writers. They write friendly and locally with good weather info and a minimum of “jargon”. I think most of the writers must be outdoors people as they seem enthusiastic about conditions for outdoor activities. I laughed out loud to see the “Fall is here; Fall is here!”

*** Bonus *** From “Great Big Story”. Leif Haugen – I met Leif briefly years ago when he delivered a cup of coffee to his wife Heidi on the way to delivering May Day baskets. Heidi worked in a book store that I frequented and also is the potter that made my sage green dishes with words (circa 1999!). I follow Heidi on Instagram ( Heidi Haugen Pottery Instagram ) and she often includes photos Leif takes from the Thoma Fire Lookout.

Labor Day weekend: gateway to Fall ???

Labor Day weekend in Northwest Montana is usually a beautiful gateway to Fall. Whenever anyone asks me about visiting Montana, I always suggest September if they don’t have school age children to consider. September weather is typically warm but not hot with cool, crisp nights and all of the July crowd is long gone.

But, this year – YIKES!

The beginning of September is darn ugly! However, when I’m tempted to complain too much I remember that unlike southeast Texas, my pain will be over in 10-14 days … hopefully.

Still, it has been a hot, dry, smoky summer through most of July and August and now into September. I usually am able to put the A/C units away on my birthday in mid-August. Maybe by mid-September this year.

There is good news about the heat.

The vegetables! Above is week 16’s box: fingerling potatoes, long red onions, baby romaine, baby kale, basil, sweet corn, red beets and greens, braising greens, cucumber, zucchini, patty pan, bell pepper and TOMATOES! I get a box of an heirloom mixed with cherry tomatoes. Both were gone the first night – sliced and eaten plain.

So … off to Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Bear and I left early, snagged a shady parking spot and I was at Lower Valley Farm’s spot for the opening bell.

I added more patty pan, cucumbers, rainbow chard, golden beets and greens, fresh flowers and a box of mini-slicer tomatoes to my week’s vegetable store. I’ve been blanching and freezing some of the beet greens, basil, chard and braising greens to have for Fall and Winter cooking but everything else I eat during the week.

The partial share (half share) with some occasional additions from the market has been working very well for me this summer. The variety of vegetables from Lower Valley Farm, courtesy of Jay and Mandy’s extensive research, is much better than my prior CSA experience which makes it easier to prepare a variety of things and not get tired of many, many greens as I did last round.

This week’s CSA newsletter says that the fall squash are doing very well so I am already planning on where I will store as much extra as I have room for.

Meanwhile…

Another smoky sunrise.

I’m ready for a Montana Fall and/or Winter!!!

End of August

Late summer vegetables…

… every week – wonderful food grown locally!

Three hours of gentle rain on the 24th.

And then some cool, refreshing days.

Mornings getting darker.

We’ve had heat and smoke more than cool.

It has been exhausting.

End of August.