Missoula’s Clark Fork River Market

By KRISTEN LEE-CHARLSON

This weekend I hit the motherlode at the Clark Fork River Market. My bags were overflowing – the coolers too. Even with all of this rain and little sunshine, our farmers and ranchers have got their game on!

There was mint (for mojitos), sage, thyme, spicy salad greens, HUGE fennel and amazing sweet small green tomatoes (think Sungolds) from Mike of Bitterroot Organics in Victor; kale and rainbow chard from Steve of Fields of Wrath in Stevensville; asparagus (final week) from Ben at Foothill Farms in St. Ignatius; tri-colored beets, radishes and green garlic from Dave at Sophie’s Farm in Arlee; and LOTS of cucumbers from one of the Russian girls – and that’s just the produce.

There were cheese curds, bratwurst, ground pork and pork breakfast sausages from Ernie at Lifeline Farms in Victor; and eggs, skirt steak, ground beef and tenderloin from Scott at Mannix Family Beef in Helmville. And lest I forget the splurge of the day – fresh morels and dried black trumpet mushrooms from Charlie – to be savored and stretched in manymeals.

I went home feeling like the richest person in the world with such an amazing local bounty. My family and our out-of-town guests will be eating like royalty this week. But even with all of this food, I didn’t break the bank. The cost of the food is much less expensive, fresher and has better flavor than anything I’ve seen or purchased at the grocery store lately.

So if you haven’t been to the market this season…what are you waiting for? Spend local – eat local – and loveit!

Next week my market interview with the Lavender Queendom – and recipes for cooking with lavender.

RECIPE:  Cucumber Mojito Serves 1

10 to 15 mint leaves, plus sprig for garnish
1 Tbsp cubed cucumber, seeds removed
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 ounces premium rum or Cachaça (distilled from fermented sugar cane juice)
Splash of plain soda water

In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. (Muddle lightly to just release the oils in the mint, do not pulverize the leaves.) Add the cucumber and muddle gently. Add the rum. Top with crushed ice and the soda water. Stir well from the bottom up. Garnish with the mint sprig and serve.

Simple Syrup – Makes enough for about 10 Mojitos

2 cups organic sugar
2 cups filtered water

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely, then bottle and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Like this blog post by the Heirloom Foodie?  Chances are you’ll also like her post about Local Grass-Finished Beef and Growing Good Eats in the Garden City.

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Kristen has been the publisher of edibleMISSOULA magazine for the past 4 years, a publication celebrating the bounty of local seasonal foods and farming. She is an accomplished chef, caterer and home-cook. As a mother, she is dedicated to educating and empowering others about traditional food preparation and the joy and economy of eating local. She sits on the board of the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition of Missoula County (CFAC) and serves on the Montana Food Systems Council; as well as being a strong advocate for more localized and sustainable food system. She is working on a new venture – the Heirloom Projectexploring traditional foods, farming & modernhomemaking.