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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Meet the Makers: New Co-op Sign

Our Meet the Makers series typically features stories and photos about our local artisans and producers who create and grow products in our community. This time, we’re excited to show you the process for making our brand new Moscow Food Co-op sign, which can now be seen hanging above the front of our store. The reason this sign is so special to us is because it was made by hand by three of our talented Co-op employees. Mark, our Facilities Assistant, Chris, our Kitchen Buyer and Bill, our Facilities Manager worked hard to bring a true piece of art to our community.
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Made from Idaho Forest Group cedar planks, Mark helped guide the process to make sure the planks looked seamless and mapped out a plan to ensure the sign is the most durable it can be. Having our staff make the sign meant that we could keep our costs down, keep our dollars in the local economy and showcase our local talent. They projected the sign’s image onto the planks, traced the image and then Chris went to town free-routing the design, cutting out the image so that it is raised from the background.

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He left the words nice and smooth and added a beautiful texture to the background so that image popped out and was more visually appealing. The sign was then stained and sealed so that it will stand up to our climate and was installed at night after the store was closed.

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The metal mounting brackets were made by Mundy’s in Moscow, so really this sign is truly Idaho made! Stop on by and see it in person and let Mark, Chris and Bill know how much you love it.

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Panzanella (Tomato Bread Salad)

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It’s bread… it’s salad… it’s bread… it’s salad! Two words that don’t typically go together, but we think should. And really, who’s favorite part of their salad isn’t the croutons? This recipe for panzanella, or Tuscan tomato bread salad is a great way to use up old bread and use all those tomatoes and peppers from the garden or farmers market. It’s incredibly simple to make– the hardest part is letting the salad rest for an hour while it absorbs the dressing.

To make the panzanella you will need:
1 baguette or loaf of 1-2 day old bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear or chop bread into bite-size pieces and coat with two tablespoons of olive oil. Spread bread in a single layer on a baking pan and toast for 10-15 minutes. Let cool. In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper until well combined. Place bread, tomatoes, peppers and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top and toss gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour, or until the bread has absorbed the dressing.  Garnish with more basil.

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Cucumber Salsa

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Our kitchen’s made-from-scratch products are ever changing and growing as we develop more relationships with local growers and this cucumber salsa is a perfect example. We’re able to use local cucumbers, herbs, onions, tomatoes and peppers to highlight the flavors of the season. And now we’re sharing the recipe with you!

To make this salsa you will need:

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced
1/2 pound cucumber, peeled, seeded, & diced
1/4 pounds red onion, finely diced
1/4 pounds fresh tomato, seeded & minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely diced
1  fresh jalapeno, seeded & minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Then finely dice them. Prep the rest of the vegetables as directed and place them all in a large bowl. Whisk together the safflower oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Toss with the vegetables, adjusting salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or as a refreshing topping for tacos.

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