Meet the Makers: Julene Ewert

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“You’re pretty much all whimsical,” Ian (9) says to his mom, Julene, when she’s asked to describe her work in a few words. Her brightly colored paintings line the mantle in her studio and it’s clear to see that Ian is correct. A circus themed mixed-media creation is one of Julene’s favorites. She uses vintage ephemera collected  from thrift shops and books from the recycling center as a background for a lot of her work, taking nostalgic pieces and reviving them in collages. This particular piece of work uses maps and pages from an old accounting ledger.

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With roots in Troy, ID, Julene thinks the Palouse is a great place to run her business. “There is great energy here and it’s a really supportive place for artists.” Julene has been in the design field for over 20 years. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at University of Idaho with a dream to work for Hallmark.  She began her design and advertising career in Colorado where she created ads, billboards and book covers. And when she eventually made her way back to the Palouse in 1998, she began working with local clients who she still designs for today. Locally she works with the Palouse Choral Society and the Hemingway Review, among others and lends her talents to teaching classes at Rendezvous for Kids, the Troy Public Library and Moscow Day school for kids and adults, alike.

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When it comes to her process for creating, Julene is dedicated to sketching (almost) every morning. It’s during this time that she can create characters, flesh out ideas and clear her head. She said she sometimes has a plan for what she’s going to create, but other times lets the colors and vintage paper items lead the way. Julene says that she’s inspired by “the things that make you happy as a kid” and that her son, Ian is the biggest inspiration.

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She’s been making greeting cards since 1993 with materials like ribbons, paint, paper and metal and translated that into bigger paintings and drawings. She now has a representative who takes her cards across the globe, which has given her access to sell in places like Nieman Marcus and Harrod’s department store in London. Her brightly colored designs have remained true to her heart over the years she has most recently been picked up commercially by Pier One, Home Goods and World Market and will hopefully have items available for purchase this holiday season. Julene has been guided by the quote, “She believed she could, so she did,” and clearly the belief in herself has lead to all her success.

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Julene is also an inspiration herself. Her son, Ian is following in his mom’s footsteps and has begun an art business of his own called Tiny Treehouse Art. He makes collages and abstract paintings, as well and shares a booth with Julene at the Moscow Farmers Market. You can find Julene’s cards here at the Co-op, as well as other shops and departments stores around the country, and she let us know that one of her next big projects is creating a children’s book with an author from Troy. To learn more about Julene and he work click here.

How To: Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

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Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin scones… is your head spinning yet? Now that it’s October, it’s officially pumpkin season! If you have a list of seasonal recipes you’re just dying to dive into, why not try your hand at making your own pumpkin puree. The canned stuff is fine, but the flavor from freshly roasted and pureed pumpkin is out of this world. And it’s so easy to make. BONUS: We have a ton of local squash and pumpkins from Mendenhall Farm right here in Moscow.

Now, let’s be clear- not all pumpkins are created equal. While you can roast and puree any old pumpkin, you want to make sure that for cooking and baking you use sugar pumpkins. They’re smaller and have a sweeter and more flavorful flesh. To make your own pumpkin puree you will need:
2 pie pumpkins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds. Save them for later if you like roasted pumpkin seeds! Place pumpkins skin side down on a baking sheet and place in oven for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Scoop flesh out of skin and blend in a food processor until smooth. You can preserve pumpkin puree by processing a water bath or refrigerate for up 3 days or freeze for up to six months.

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Cheese Boards 101: Regional Edition

We’re about to get into that time of year when entertaining guests becomes more regular and the weather demands heartier fare. Here are some tips for building a cheese board that is sure to wow! This version uses local and regional cheeses and be sure to check back for our Imported Edition.

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When building a cheese board, there are several things to consider: of course the types of cheese you’ll serve, but also quantities and accompaniments become important. If you’re serving cheese as a precursor to a fabulous meal, plan on 1-2 ounces of cheese per person. If cheese is the main event, plan on 5-6 ounces per person.

One thing you’ll definitely want to consider when building a cheese board is having a variety of flavors and textures. Our regional board features a creamy herbed labneh or yogurt cheese, a pungent and more crumbly blue cheese, a sturdy Swiss, a tangy and spreadable goat cheese and a hearty cheddar. Think about how you can incorporate cheeses that use cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk so that you can taste the difference in flavor.

While chowing down on big servings of cheese is always fun and delicious, it’s also important to serve accompaniments that provide balance to the flavors of your cheeses. We like to serve some sort of candied nuts (pistachios in this case) for sweetness and crunch. It’s also a good idea to serve some sort of bread item, like crackers, bread sticks or sliced baguettes. For this board we used multigrain crackers. Some sort of sweet fruit or chutney also adds for a nice balance. We have lots of fresh figs in right now, but dried figs or dates would also be delicious. And because it’s both pretty and delicious we like to serve a piece of local honeycomb from Woodland Apiaries.

Here are few other helpful tips when building a cheese board:
-Don’t overcrowd your board. You want to make sure that there is enough room to serve a knife for each type of cheese.
-Remove cheese from the refrigerator about an hour before your guests arrive. Cold cheese won’t have as strong a flavor.
-Be sure to label your cheeses so that you don’t have to repeat yourself all evening.

Now come on and let Dalynne, our resident Cheese-monger, help you build that perfect cheese board!

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5-Spot: Things That Make the Co-op Unique

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Written by Sarah Quallen, Co-op Volunteer Writer

 Moscow’s a pretty special place: it has a low crime rate, there are a ton of activities to do in the area, Moscow-ites are bound to run into a familiar face – or four – wherever they go, and, of course, there is the Moscow Food Co-op. The Co-op has its own appeal, and much of it has to do with what it does differently than other grocery stores and co-ops.

 1. Compost. Yup, the Moscow Food Co-op composts. While a lot of businesses recycle, composting has yet to take off in the business world.

 2. The size of our co-op is impressive, especially relative to the size of the town. Because of its considerable available space, the Moscow Food Co-op is a full-service grocer, deli, and bakery. It has a selection that’s difficult to beat, which is particularly useful if one has special dietary needs.

 3. Yes, the Farmer’s Market is fab, but our local farmers can use every opportunity to make their produce available to consumers, which is why the Tuesday’s Grower’s Market is such a wonderful component to the Moscow Food Co-ops offerings. This is not competition, it is what a co-op is all about: working together to bring local business to local businesses.

4. Co-op Kids. Mama’s and Papa’s. Wine Tasting. Cooking Classes. The Moscow Food Co-op’s “clubs” or activities contribute to its uniqueness. It is not merely a place to shop, but a place to meet people, a place to socialize, and a place to learn. Which brings me to the best “unique” part of the Moscow Food Co-op:

 5. Its Community. We are what makes the co-op unique. We contribute our voices, our personalities, our desires, and our education to a community of people that help others, that respect differences, and that just plain ol’ enjoy life in a small town – and we tend to do it all at the Moscow Food Co-op.

Meet the Makers: Mountain Blue Eye Jewelry

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About ten years ago, Stacy Boe-Miller began channeling the creative energy that’s always been inside her. She had been making jewelry as an outlet, but when people other than her family members started commenting about how much they liked her work, she thought she might be on to something. While on a hike with her husband, Brant and their oldest son, Noah, now 13, she was inspired by the mountain blue-eye grass in the wild, and with a bright set of blue eyes of her own, the name of her business was born.

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With three children, Noah, Juan and Ruby, making jewelry has allowed for both the creativity she craves and the flexibility she needs. And after moving to Moscow in 2011, Stacy has realized this is a great place for local artists. “Moscow is an amazing place to be an artist– it’s such a supportive community.” With the support of her family, especially her sister Daleen who is a woodworker, and her friends in the community, Stacy has been able to watch her line of jewelry grow and learn new skills along the way.

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In a day and a half Stacy and her sister learned soldering skills from Frank Finley at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT. She had purchased books and watched videos before, but it was the hands-on learning that really made a difference. Stacy says, “Learning to solder and take a plain sheet of metal and turn it into jewelry that someone will wear is so satisfying. It gives me the confidence to call myself a jewelry artist.” While it can be difficult to purchase supplies locally, Stacy gets beads from Lapwai when possible and also supports other small businesses on Etsy- an online marketplace for handmade goods. Since she has an Etsy shop of her own, she knows that you’re more likely to get better customer service and find what you’re really looking for with smaller shops.

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Besides the Co-op, you can find Mountain Blue  Eye Jewelry at Blackbird at the Depot in Potlatch, BookPeople and the Prichard Art Gallery in Moscow and a couple shops in South Dakota and Wyoming. And you can look for Stacy next summer at the Moscow Farmers Market where she hopes to share a booth with her sister. Stacy says that seeing strangers wear her jewelry is so satisfying and that if you love what you do and you happen to make money while doing it, then you’re really lucky. Her husband always asks, “Is this your bliss?”, and for Stacy, she says it truly is.

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Keep your eyes peeled for new pieces from Mountain Blue Eye in the Co-op and if you’re interested in custom jewelry, Stacy can be reached at mountainblueeye@gmail.com.

Preserve the Season: Ginger Pear Preserves

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We have boxes of beautiful local pears in store right now, and if the thought of eating 14 pounds of pears seems a little daunting, here’s an idea to preserve the harvest. These Ginger Pear preserves are sweet and spicy and would make a beautiful gift for someone. The pears develop a delicious caramelized flavor that pear pair nicely with a sharp and salty blue cheese- lovely for fall.

To make the preserves you will need:

3 pounds pears, peeled, cored and sliced
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 candied ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

In a large pot place the pears, sugar, lemon juice and fresh ginger. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the candied ginger to the pot and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thick coats the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath. Without being processed in a hot water bath the preserves will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.

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