Tuesday, August 19, 2014

· Junior Miss Chokecherry

What an exciting morning! Many of Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast guests and countless of those who visit Smiling Bear Espresso Bar can attest to the luscious juicy sweet flavor of our original Wild Chokecherry Latte . . . 

But this morning we were especially thrilled to offer a complimentary iced W.C.L. to AbriOnna Wetzel, a delightful 14-year old long-haired gal with some interesting titles. She and her amiable father, Leland Wetzel, stopped into the espresso bar at the same time as our other guests, so, over coffee, some serious visiting spontaneously erupted, that is to say . . . seriously lighthearted! 

After chatting a bit, AbriOnna confided to me that to eat chokecherries straight off the bush, not so good, but when sweetened up, like in the latte, well, just saying it brought a big smile to her bright face. 

AbriOnna was Junior Miss Chokecherry 2013, Williston, North Dakota. She also won the title of Miss Oil Country's Outstanding Teen 2014, Tioga, North Dakota. 


Though AbriOnna is a talented pianist, her platform is Literacy: Opening worlds with words. Good for her, and good for all whom she influences! Several of her slogans include . . .

Literacy leads to success.

Everyone is a reader, some just haven't found their book yet.

I choose to read not because I have no life but because I choose to live many.

Literacy makes you independent.

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

· Picnic Breakfast and Cookies

Our Bed and Breakfast guests are given a special Picnic Breakfast for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, which carries with it the luxury of partaking at their leisure. The mainstays of this fun meal include hard boiled eggs, Tillamook medium cheddar cheese, homemade muffins (steaming blueberry muffins are pictured), fresh whole fruit and juice. For those who do not take pleasure in hard boiled eggs, we may (if available) substitute Fiorucci hard salami panino wrapped mozzarella cheese. And at times, we may exchange some or all muffins with our breakfast-worthy SON Chocolate Chip Cookies (third photo, and recipe).


About the cookies: Our granddaughter's intense campaign for Chocolate Chip Cookies finally wore me down; busy as I was, this is the recipe which inspired me to action, taken from a 10 oz bag of Equal Exchange organic 70% cacao chocolate chips. 
(Click the photo to enlarge)

Top of my personal list of ingredients was the determined concept that Sam and our working girl should have a real cookie to enjoy without sacrificing overall nutrition...so I tweaked the recipe to build more nutrition and strength into it, based on our acquired preferences, while preserving the venerable status of real treat. The original recipe, I see, is courtesy of King Arthur Flour, which is a very fine flour. If I couldn't find organic or 'better-than-organic' flour, I would use King Arthur Flour, as I used to...as their whole wheat worked perfectly in my recipes. 

First, I used 1/2 cup real (organic) butter as the recipe states, but substituted 1/2 cup organic virgin coconut oil as replacement for the shortening. I used all whole white wheat flour (which I believe can be found organic at some health food stores, or even some mainstream grocery stores, but if not, then a fine regular red whole wheat flour will do very nicely); added 1 cup Bob's Red Mill organic old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/4 cup organic oat bran, and 1/4 cup each organic whey protein and organic brown rice protein powders. A ripe banana (4 oz) was added to the wet ingredients while they were mixing together in my KitchenAid. The almond extract was increased to 1/2 tsp. The required baking soda was added to the wet ingredients shortly before incorporating the remaining combined dry ingredients into the batter. To the dry ingredients 1 tsp baking powder was added, to bolster up the extra ingredients I had tweaked in. 

Just as I was about to wrap things up per the original recipe's basic instructions, Sam wandered into the kitchen from his nap and asked if there were any nuts in the batter. "The recipe doesn't call for nuts," I said. Moving like a sleep-walker, he pulled the pecans out of the freezer and chopped a cup of those, then slipped quietly from the scene. Following his lead, I added another 2 oz of organic toasted and chopped mixed nuts. 

Sam wanted crunchy, so the banana idea caused me a bit of pause. But, in view of the added oatmeal and other dry ingredients (the protein powders, primarily) which were not in the original recipe, I felt persuaded the extra moisture was needed to keep the batter cohesive. Pleasant and hoped for surprise!...the natural sugars in the banana contributed to no loss of crunch. Plus, the nutrients in the fruit were part and parcel to the nutrition-mission that I had set out upon. The banana flavor melded cooperatively into the other delectable flavors anticipated in a good chocolate chip cookie...only slightly detectable. And the proteins added muscle without muscling-in any undesirable flavors. All was so harmonious. So, we unanimously named these circles of delight...
SON Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Symphony Of Nature Chocolate Chip Cookies)
viva Organic!

Variations may emerge...since the very word organic is innately seeded with creativity. For instance, some of our guests may not eat nuts; which leads my thoughts to a cookie imbedded with dried fruits, such as cranberries and mulberries, sans nuts.
You can always default to the original recipe on the chocolate chip bag,
but I must say, these cookies, to our nutrition conscious family,
are superb with the tweaking. 

Oh, I also used Rapunzel brand organic whole unrefined cane sugar (it's brown but granular) and Madhava organic coconut palm sugar, to replace the two sugars noted in the original recipe. Coconut sugar, produced from the nectar of tropical coconut palm blossoms, is one of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners available, with an index of 35 (whereas cane sugar's index is 68). 

Organic ingredients are much superior nutritionally to conventionally grown, as detailed in an article by the Organic Consumers Association...

For Your Health: Organic versus Non-Organic

Update - The cookies pictured below were made with dried fruit (organic cranberries and organic mulberries) replacing the nuts, for guests who preferred fruit in the cookies for their picnic breakfast. Since the fruit is moist, 1/4 cup Bob Red Mill's organic 7 Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix was added to the batter. Of course, the entire 10 ounce bag of chocolate chips jumped right in there, too...makes the children happy!
Footnote - An ice cream scoop with a release tongue was employed for measuring and shaping the dough and was handy for plopping the cookie pods onto the cookie sheet...also making for a nice large evenly shaped cookie. In this way, the recipe makes 33 to 34 cookies. Between dips, I sprayed the inside of the ice cream scoop with coconut oil spray. At our altitude of 5,500 feet I adjusted the oven temperature to 370° and baked the cookies for 14 minutes. 


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

· Breakfast Opportunities

One of our recent vacationers, of a party of five who rented all three guest nests at Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, took this photo of the kitchenette in Prairie Homestead using her iPad, and was gracious in allowing me to share it.
We are taking reservations for 2014.
The kitchenettes of Prairie Homestead and Chessie Lee's Peas
make it convenient for guests who prefer to be out earlier
(than our 8:30 a.m. breakfast allows)
to fix a quick bite to eat and be on their way,
exploring the beautiful Black Hills.
Making it even more feasible,
if guests do decide they would like to skip a breakfast or two,
we offer an appropriate reduction
of the amount of the balance when they arrive.
In this way, our breakfast is available for the pleasure of it . . . 
when it would be a pleasure, and not an obligation.
(click on the pic)

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

· Community Pride Award

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast was honored October 16 at the annual Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, held in the Laughing Water Restaurant at Crazy Horse Memorial. Please click on the Community Pride Award facebook link below to share our happiness...

Community Pride Award (6 photos)

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

· Smiling Bear's 'Nourishing Indulgence' Smoothie

Protect your family, and  for their sakes yourself, with this nourishing indulgence. No sugar or sweetener added! ... 
and not typically needed, as a result of the natural sweetness of the banana and juices. However (though we have found this smoothie quite enjoyable without...), a small amount of agave nectar or local raw honey will satisfy your loved one who has a certain undeniable sweet tooth.

The foremost flavor is the the fruit, really. One could start out on this healthy adventure with a smaller amount of the kale and carrot, and build up a taste for more. The recipe is located below the photo...


Layer in blender jar: 

1/2 banana, peeled

1 small orange or 1 or 2 tangerines, peeled

1/2 kiwi, peeled (or not peeled)

1/2 c fresh (or frozen) blueberries / strawberries / blackberries
(pick one)

2 medium carrots or 1 large, chunked

1 to 2 curly leaves of fresh kale, stem removed
spinach or mixed lettuce greens may be substituted or added,
but majority cruciferous preferred

4 to 6 chunks fresh pineapple

4 to 6 chunks fresh papaya

6 to 10 oz peach-mango coconut water*
or purified water, but coconut water is nutritionally an asset

1/2 c Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice or
bilberry juice* (which is like blueberry juice)

1/2 c purple carrot juice*
if available, or substitute orange-mango juice
or other unsweetened juice 

2 tsp unflavored gelatin
optional, but they say good for joints, nails, skin, hair 

Blend until smooth, at least one minute.
Serves 2 to 4.
Additional Notes:

Use only juices that are unsweetened.

* Coconut water, from the interior of the coconut, should not be confused with coconut milk which is squeezed from the coconut meat. We like to use Vita-Coco's Coconut Water with Peach and Mango.

* Coconut water, bilberry juice and purple carrot juice may be found in some supermarkets and most health food stores. We like to use Bionaturae's organic Bilberry Nectar. We like to use Lakewood's organic Purple Carrot Juice

Hint: In advance, we freeze berries, and pineapple and papaya chunks, ready to add to the blender, providing a nice smooth cold texture. We do not freeze huge quantities, though, as the natural enzymes will dissipate over time. If you can't find either the papaya or the pineapple, just use one or the other...though both are ideal.

Hint hint: As often as reasonably possible, we use organic produce. 

Although we are persuaded of the benefits of yogurt, it is not recommended that dairy be combined with this smoothie, as calcium has been reported to block nutrients from absorption.

Chocolate lovers alert—1 to 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder...now that wouldn't hurt, would it! However, we think it is best not to use chocolate containing cocoa butter. Wait half an hour...then have your organic chocolate, with some nice 'creamy' nonfat plain Greek yogurt!
Or, how about a Mocha Polka at Smiling Bear Espresso Bar?  

When we have wild chokecherry juice available, we sometimes ration portions into our Nourishing Indulgence Smoothie. 
Tis the season...anytime, thanks to the freezer!

Experiment, but don't leave out the KALE! :)

Brought to you by
Smiling Bear Espresso Bar at Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
Smiling Bear, LLC


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Monday, August 13, 2012

· Wildlife Extravaganza!

Grandma got run over by an elk herd...

...not reindeer...

The excuse for taking a trip to the woods two days ago was that we had a huge bowl full of 'spent' chokecherries to return to the forest for the critters to enjoy. (Remember to look for chokecherries in the last paragraph.)

Following a narrow little-used dirt road where we have in years past collected wild raspberries, Grandma (that's me) was outside and in front of the car, jogging, when I caught sight of an elk herd (shucks no camera) and motioned the car to stop. Grandpa and our 10 year old granddaughter scrambled quietly over to see what I was so excited about, while our 16 year old granddaughter waited in the car. At least 20 elk were lounging, some grazing, up on the hillside at the left side of the road. After most of the startled herd had wandered over the crest of the hill, Grandpa and gd-10 strolled back to the car, full of happiness. I continued around the bend to the left and up the hill, waving them past so they wouldn't have to chug along behind me, and thinking the elk were long gone by then. 

Was I ever surprised!...Shorty gd-10 was driving (get that!)
all by herself, with Grandpa in the seat beside her, and she couldn't even see barely over the steering wheel. They advanced, quite safely, in first gear while I followed behind, fascinated at her staying centered on the dirt road.

Suddenly I heard a loud, intense and continuous clattering in the woods on the downside of the wooded hillside, at the left. 

The commotion wrenched my head in that direction. In the late twilight I strained to see what I already sensed was going on—STAMPEDE. The elk had spooked, either by us...or by perhaps a lion. There were many more than 20, racing wildly through an opening in the trees, parallel to the road. While internally browsing my predicament, I glanced at the car in front of me still pulling distance between us, and began shouting for them to stop. But they apparently couldn't hear me...and gd-10 wasn't looking in the rear view mirror either, as I began running in an attempt to catch them, and safety. 

When suddenly some of the herd bolted across the road in front of the car, I froze...but the car kept moving forward, though creeping. I kept my eyes on nearby large trees for shelter, if necessary. After what seemed an eternity, they did finally stop (both the elk and the car). Quickly I caught up and got in, the elk up on the hillside by then. 

Then the bleating (or whatever elk sounds are called) and more clattering began in ernest, as some of the mothers of the herd, we assumed, were calling to their young from whom they were separated by the road...and by us. From this disturbance on the upside of the hill at the right side of the road, several elk burst out and plunged downhill toward us in seeming desperation, but then abruptly halted...more bleating. By this time Grandpa had taken gd-10's place behind the wheel, not yet fully aware of all I had seen and heard. He was intrigued by the scene...while Grandma was anxiously trying to persuade him that we should move on. Sam said he counted 70 elk as they crossed the road...but there were more, those still hidden in the trees on the left side. 

So, that's how Grandma almost got run over by an elk herd. 

Ok...and then earlier in the week, August 6, on a joy ride through Custer State Park (the day we learned we could pick chokecherries in the Park, asking after having seen a plethora of them), we had the rare privilege of watching a huge MOUNTAIN LION bound across the highway about 200 feet in front of the car, two graceful extended leaps, a mesmerizing sight...until the beautiful animal dissolved into the dusky woods, leaving us with a wistful feeling for more, and something to talk about on the way home. Just another boring week in the life of Sam, Linda, gd-10 and gd-16. ...although gd-16 would be picked up at the airport the next day, August 7, and then the trip back to the Park for chokecherries. You guessed it, gd-16 missed joining the Mountain Lion Sighting Club, this time.


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

· Fetching Wild Rose Petals

If you have never experienced the sheer pleasure of picking Wild Rose petals while at the same time mentally composing what on earth you will do with them, please follow the link below the photo and enjoy an adventure with us!

Sweet Wild Rose Petal Syrup

Picking and Processing Wild Rose Petals, June 2012
(The photos have captions)

During Wild Rose petal picking days, and until the Sweet Wild Rose Petal Jelly and Syrup supply dwindles, Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast may serve with breakfast a 'wheel' of biscuits and a delicate butter spread made with the jelly or syrup. Please follow the link below to see guests dressed in the color we associate with picking petals. They stayed in the Chessie Lee's Peas Suite.

First Time Bed and Breakfast Stay
(The photos have captions)


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques