Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Montana Brews and Homemade Ketchup

The morning before we left Montana, I ran to the grocery store and bought sixty bottles of assorted Montana beers that you can't get in Illinois (lucky for me, it was 8:03 when I checked out, as you can't buy alcohol before 8 am...). There was ample room in the minivan to transport our goods, so the bottles traveled with us from Montana to Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico (where we left a few), then back northeast through Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. This previous weekend we invited a few neighbors over for a Montana-themed happy hour to share our bounty:


Because we like a theme, Sean and I also made a few appetizers with Montana-y flavors. I found smoked trout at our local grocery store, which we served with crackers. I baked up this incredible brie in puff pastry using huckleberry jam and huckleberry syrup we brought home with us. And Sean grilled up mini buffalo burgers that we served on slider buns with homemade ketchup on the side. The homemade ketchup was a last-minute addition to the menu; we often watch videos on the chow.com channel on our Roku streaming device, and it was something they featured. It's delicious - not quite as smooth as bottled ketchup, but spicy and rich and oh so good. The recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but this would be a great one to file away for late summer when you've got lots of juicy ripe tomatoes in the garden (be sure to peel them first in that case).

Hope you enjoy it!

Party favors
From left: baked brie, buffalo sliders, smoked trout
Homemade ketchup

Homemade Ketchup
Adapted from chow.com


*** NOTE: This makes a lot of ketchup. I halved it and still had plenty left over. The original recipe says that it lasts 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

  • 2 28oz cans of pureed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, minced or grated (I pureed in the blender)
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed (I used 1/2 tsp of celery salt)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Add all the ingredients to a large pot and mix well. Heat over medium until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least two hours or until desired consistency is obtained.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Funnel into ketchup bottles or other tall container for easy serving.
  3. Note: You could use whole tomatoes and roughly chopped onions and puree the mixture with a hand blender in the pot.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Summer Vacation: A Story in Numbers and Photographs


Number of days we were gone: 31

Number of miles traveled round trip: approximately 4100


Number of states visited:   Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri = 10

Number of places we've slept in the last 31 days: 9

Number of car repair shops visited: 4

Number of days spent at Grama and Grampa's house:  22

Number of days Finn and Emmett spent loving on Grama and Grampa (and vice versa): 22

Number of bears spotted in the woods: 1



Number of wildfires watched from not very far away: 2



Number of days on my fishing license: 2

Number of fish I caught: 0

Number of locations in which I attempted to catch fish: 3




Number of rodeo spectators that volunteered for the "Ring of Fire": 6

Number of rodeo spectators that lasted more than fifteen seconds when angry bull was released: 0



Number of years that have passed since Sean and I got engaged in this exact spot: 10


Number of relatives it takes to get the unheated pool up to 82 degrees: 10



Number of kids that fit in Grampa's old Porsche: 6


Number of miles Sean ran in Missoula on the 8th of July: 26.2


Number of baby goats at the ranch: 5



Number of years there has been a powwow in Arlee, Montana around the 4th of July: 121




Number of chinchillas the kids got to feed in Fort Collins: 2



Number of dear childhood friends who got married this past weekend in Salida, Colorado: 1



Number of college friends visited in New Mexico: 2 + 2 daughters


Number of times we ate carne adovada during our two days in New Mexico: 2



Number of red chiles we brought back to Champaign so that we could make carne adovada: 21

Number of minutes we spent in Oklahoma: 78

Number of memories: countless

It's good to be home but, wow, it was a great run. Thanks to the many friends and family along the way that welcomed us so warmly and made our summer so spectacular!