These recipes make Local Food Challenge a pleasure – Lee Montana Newspapers, Aug. 9, 2017

August 10, 2017

Categories: Agriculture, Events, Food, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

By Bernie Mason

Montanans are being encouraged to take the “Local Food Challenge” for the month of August. The Northern Plains Resource Council is hosting the second annual event during which participants will try to eat something local every day.

Eating local brings myriad benefits:

  • Providing fresher, more nutritious, and better tasting foods;
  • Building communities and local economics;
  • Supporting family farms and ranches;
  • Protecting genetic diversity and regional food security.

Jeanne Lemire Dahlman, a Northern Plains spokesperson and a family farm/ranch partner in Rosebud County, says, “Montana has such a rich agricultural history, so it has never quite made sense that a major portion of our produce, grains, and meat leaves the state to be processed. The Local Food Challenge gives people an opportunity to play a role in supporting our local family farms and ranches, building community and bolstering our economy.”

Omega Beef, a ranch in the Birney area owned by Jeanie Alderson and Terry Punt, is an example of one of the Montana producers. They raise and market Wagyu beef, a breed of cattle originating in Japan that produces “Kobe” beef, famous for its flavor, tenderness, and higher percentage of omega oils than any other breed.

Another family ranch in the area producing grass-fed beef is Lohof Grass-Finished Meats. The Lohofs can be found at the Billings Farmer’s Market each Saturday selling their beef.

To take the Local Food Challenge and to locate helpful resources such as where to eat and grocery shop locally and to source local ingredients wherever you live in the state of Montana, check out

Jeanie Alderson with Omega Beef shares her mother’s recipe for Beef Stew that has been requested by those who have eaten it. Jeanie says she has tried to write it down for us since her mother has never done that. I have written in some additional clarifications. This flavorful and nutritious stew is filled with a variety of vegetables, giving you an opportunity to make use of your garden produce or the vegetables purchased from your local Farmer’s Market. This makes a large recipe and the left-overs freeze well for later meals.

Carolyn’s Beef Stew


1-2 pounds beef stew meat or round steak cut in cubes

1-3 onions cut in wedges

2-5 garlic cloves, minced

5-6 potatoes cut into chunks, left unpeeled if desired

5-7 carrots, peeled and sliced in ½ – inch slices

1 cup sweet peppers cut in ½-inch chunks

Any root veggies such as parsnips and turnips, peeled and cubed

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

Olive oil or butter or a combination

1-1½ quarts beef or chicken stock

1 cup red wine

1 cup fresh tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes

3-5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.

2-3 bay leaves

Ground black pepper


Splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice


Place the flour, along with ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon each oregano, basil, thyme, and marjoram in a paper or Zip-loc bag. Add the beef cubes, a few at a time, and shake the bag, covering the meat with flour.

Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat; add the coated beef cubes, a few at a time, and brown cubes on all sides. Remove cubes from the pan as they are browned and set aside.

Add additional oil to pan. Add garlic, and other veggies except potatoes. Sauté for a few minutes. Add wine, meat, potatoes and broth. Add Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and additional herbs, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 3-4 hours on stove top.

The stew broth can be thickened by stirring in 3 tablespoons Tapioca the last half hour of cooking.

*If desired, place all ingredients in a large crockpot after browning and cook on Low 8-10 hrs. or High 4-5 hrs. This stew is sometimes even better reheated the second day. If desired serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on each serving.

Summer calls for grilled steak and what could be a simpler summertime meal than a grilled steak paired with garden-fresh vegetables and herbs served over pasta. 

Grilled Italian Steak with Pasta

(Servings: 4)


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups grape tomatoes cut in half

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

2 cups uncooked bow tie or gemelli pasta

1 teaspoon coarse-ground or cracked black pepper

1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut ¾-inch thick (about 1 pound)

½ cup crumbled goat cheese


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender.

Add tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper; cook about 5 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil; cover and remove from heat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain and return to pan. Stir in tomato mixture and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Keep warm. Press coarse-ground pepper evenly onto beef steak. Place meat on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 13 to 16 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Carve steak into thin slices. Sprinkle cheese over pasta; serve with steak.

*For additional flavor toss pasta with sautéed arugula or spinach.

*To broil, place steak on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 2 to 3 inches from heat. Broil 9 to 12 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning once.

Source: The Healthy Beef Cookbook, National Cattleman’s Association and American Dietetic Association.

Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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Billings, Montana 59101
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