• CATHERINE MURRAY | For the State Journal

While snipping and drying healthier circles of basil and Italian parsley than I’ve ever managed to harvest before, thoughts raced through my mind for answers to how the herbs grew so well while thick patches of unfamiliar weeds surrounded them. Glancing over to my next door neighbors’ gardens merely confirmed for me that they must have paid far more attention to what was growing in their gardens.

  • Jenna Smith

I recently ordered some pumpkin seeds online, but when I opened the package, I realized that they were not the pumpkin seeds I had in mind. I was expecting to see cream-colored, oval-shaped seeds, like the ones you’d dig out of a jack-o-lantern, but instead I received greenish, small seeds without a cream-colored hull. They resembled a sunflower seed only a tad bigger. It dawned on me that I had actually ordered pepitas.

Did you know that Oct. 15 is National Cheese Curd day?  If you live in Wisconsin, you should know what a cheese curd is, but in case you don’t they are the curds from the cheese-making process before they are formed into a solid cheese. 

  • ARI LEVAUX For Lee Montana Newspapers

"Imam Bayildi" is a Turkish baked eggplant, named and famed for its ability to knock out a grown man. Its name translates to "the imam fainted,” presumably because of the dish's glorious flavor. But there is a competing theory that he fainted upon learning how much olive oil his wife used in preparing it. Both are grounded in fact.

  • BERNIE MASON For Lee Montana Newspapers

When fall arrives we begin to see many ripe pumpkins in the stores and fields, ready for us to enjoy. Many of these pumpkins will be used for Halloween decorations, but they can be used in so many other ways. More than 1.5 billion pumpkins are produced in the U.S. each year and 80% of the crop is available during the month of October. The versatile pumpkin can be baked, steamed, roasted, or boiled and is made into a variety of products commercially, even dog biscuits. No part of the pumpkin has to go to waste, since every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the skin and stem. If you haven’t tried roasting the pumpkin seeds, try it this fall. The seeds are high in iron, and a pumpkin contains around 500 for you to enjoy. Pumpkins are also rich in nutrients. One cup of pumpkin has just 100 calories and only one-half gram of fat. It has more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas, and provides heart-healthy magnesium and iron. If you are selecting fresh pumpkins to use in baking, look for the smaller sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins since they will have less water and will not be as stringy as those grown for use as jack-o-lanterns. Enjoy this popular fall fruit/vegetable in any of the following ways.

  • CATHERINE MURRAY | For the State Journal

Life can be celebrated in many different ways. Years ago, when arriving home from school, Mother made sure there’d be cookies or freshly made sweet bread waiting for me on the kitchen table. On Oct. 4, when I became a year older, a homemade angel food cake drizzled with pink and green frosting was placed on the dining room table to enjoy with family and friends. It was also the feast of my patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, who, like me, loved animals. So I always made sure my dog, Suzy, celebrated the day, too, with small piece of cake.

  • By Daniel Neman St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This is actually true: If you go to the Food Network website and look for low-sodium recipes, you will find one for Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage.

  • DONNIE SEXTON The Last Best Plates

There is a sweet love affair happening on East Helena’s Main Street, with no end in sight. It involves Annie and Dave Posey, owners of Main Street Eats and the residents of this small town who adore them. And it’s about to get even more affectionate, when this hard-working couple opens up Blackjack Burger Company, a few doors down from Main Street Eats. In between the two businesses, the Poseys have repurposed Lucky’s, the oldest building on Main Street. Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate the fact it’s now a candy store, ice cream and soda fountain shop. Annie and Dave have become champions of revitalizing the town of East Helena.

  • ARI LEVAUX For Lee Montana Newspapers

The most elegant cooks I know are farmers. Not elegant in the overly stylish, white tablecloth sense. But rather, in the way a scientist uses the word when discussing an experiment that is so ingeniously simple and effective that it’s a thing of beauty.

  • BERNIE MASON For Lee Montana Newspapers

We are now enjoying fall and for many ardent fans — football season. With that comes tailgating, and planning a special meal that you and your friends can enjoy before the game.

  • GREG PATENT For Lee Montana Newspapers

Jody Anderson made this pudding-cake for me many years ago on a late summer day when her Transparent apples were at their peak. When I learned that Jody passed away recently, the happy memory of our afternoon together enjoying this irresistible cream-drenched apple creation came flooding back.

  • Jenna Smith

As many people are realizing the health benefits of plant-based diets, plant-rich proteins are becoming more popular. While tofu is more widely known as a meat substitute, tempeh is not far behind.

  • CATHERINE MURRAY | For the State Journal

Hodgepodge is described in many dictionaries using words like hash, conglomeration, olio, muddle, gallimaufry, and crazy quilt, all of which could confuse many beyond imagination. The remaining descriptions of medley, mélange, and miscellany might fit today’s column.

  • Jenna Smith

Dieting is nothing new to the U.S., but various diets fly in and fade away. Atkins, South Beach, and the Zone are just a few of the fad diets that have come and gone. So what makes a diet stick around, and more importantly, how do you know if a diet is safe and effective?

  • GREG PATENT For Lee Montana Newspapers

The popularity and variety of mac and cheese dishes got me thinking. I’ve seen lobster in it, smoked Gouda, ham, chicken, game, you name it. But how would vegetables work in it? Could I make mac and cheese a celebration of our fall harvest? The variety and abundance of vegetables in our farmers markets and supermarkets right now makes me want to cook everything. I had to let my idea come to life.

  • DONNIE SEXTON The Last Best Plates

I’m pretty sure that if I lived in Miles City, Erin Thormodsgard and I would become good friends. Erin is the creative and visionary force behind the enchanting store, Girl Ran Away With The Spoon, and directly across the street, Spoon Full, her coffee shop.

  • ARI LEVAUX For Lee Montana Newspapers

When people say they like pumpkin spice-flavored foods, what they mean is they like pumpkin pie-flavored foods. The difference between spice and pie being a few hundred calories’ worth of cream and sugar, not to mention actual pumpkin (or squash, as is the case with much canned pumpkin pie filling).

  • Jenna Smith

U.S. News and World Report gathered a panel of nationally recognized experts where they compared 41 different diets and ranked them based on how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease. Do you want to guess what diet took the top prize?

  • GREG PATENT For Lee Montana Newspapers

I’m part of a monthly dinner-and-a-movie group of six great film and fine food fanatics. For my recent turn at providing a main dish, the abundance of fresh local vegetables inspired me to create a special salad loaded with summer veggies and dressed with refreshing Asian flavors, mostly Vietnamese. I also tossed in shrimp, one of my favorite seafoods. The dish was such a hit that I had to share it with you.

  • CATHERINE BUGUE catbugue@gmail.com

Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown has created a beautiful expression of Sauvignon Blanc with this wine. Enticing flavors of ripe peach, grapefruit and guava fruit are served on a vibrantly fresh palate made complex by a nerve of lovely minerality. This wine is proof that you can have it all with Sauvignon Blanc: juicy, ripeness wrapped around a core of zesty freshness.