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Beef and scallion meatballs pair beautifully with a microgreen cucumber salad for a tasty meal everyone will enjoy. 

Many families enjoy sourcing local ingredients for the delicious meals they create together. Knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced can give you a greater sense of connection to the community. This is part of the reason farmers markets are so popular. Supporting local farmers and ranchers also provides them with needed markets for their products and encourages them to continue in the business they love. By joining together in a Food Hub, they can market as a group and share resources.

After months of development, the wait for a Yellowstone Valley Food Hub is over. Beginning this month the full online store for the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub will be up and running. To find out what products will be available and who the producers are, visit their website: yvfoodhub.com. To call attention to the Food Hub and to draw the communities’ attention to the many products that are available from producers in the Yellowstone Valley area, a free pop-up petting zoo and farmers market will be held Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Swanky Roots, 8333 Story Rd., in Billings. Along with the baby animal petting zoo and farmers market, there will be other activities including seed starting, face painting and tours of the aquaponics operation of Swanky Roots. Lunch will also be available for a charge.

Beef and scallion meatballs

The following recipes feature ingredients that are available from the local producers whose products will be available through the Food Hub. Try these recipes for beef and scallion meatballs and microgreen and cucumber salad that are favorites of Brittany Moreland, the chair for the Food Hub, and her family. Brittany and her husband Ben, have Elevated Harvest, a business in Luther that grows herbs hydroponically.


½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup crushed Ritz crackers (about 12 crackers)

1 pound ground beef (ground or chuck)


Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and use your hands to gently mix. Shape the meat into golf-ball-size rounds (about 2-inches in diameter), and arrange on a greased rimmed baking sheet. This will make about 12 meatballs. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve warm. The meatballs can be served with pasta sauce and with the following microgreen salad or other fresh greens or rice.

Microgreen and cucumber salad with sesame vinaigrette

Microgreens are packed with as much as 40 times the nutrient density of the adult crop. Swift Microgreens in Billings, started by Reed Youngbar and Jessica Hart, produces freshly grown microgreens. Microgreens can be used in a variety of ways such as piling some on top of a bowl of soup, adding to a sandwich, using as a garnish, or placing a bed of them under a serving of stir fry. The following dressing can be varied by adding a little extra lime juice, some chili paste, or fresh jalapeno.


1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon mirin

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Dash of mustard powder

Squeeze of lime

1 cup microgreens

½ cucumber, chopped


Combine sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, mustard powder and lime juice. Combine microgreens and cucumber in bowl; toss with dressing. You can also add some shaved carrots and purple cabbage for more color. I also added some chopped fresh fruit to this salad which worked well. Source: Swift Microgreens.

Taco salad

Brittany also shares a favorite recipe of hers that can be found on the Swanky Roots website. Swanky Roots uses hydroponics to grow fresh greens in water tanks. The hearty taco salad has the addition of black beans, kidney beans, and corn.


Lettuce of choice

1 pound ground beef or protein of your choice

½ yellow onion, chopped

Taco seasoning (follow recommended amount on container directions)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

Optional: 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 (14.5 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14.5 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14.5 oz.) can corn, drained

1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chilies

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes

Tortilla salad bowls or tortillas to make bowls, if desired

Optional for toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro


If making tortilla bowls, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soften tortillas in microwave. Drape tortillas over bowls that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; place on cookie sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes or until browned. Place hamburger in large frying pan and cook until browned; add onion and cook until translucent. Add taco seasoning, cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper (if using) and stir. Let simmer for a few minutes; add black beans, kidney beans, corn, green chilies and tomatoes to mixture and stir. Cook until all ingredients are heated through. Chop lettuce. Add lettuce to tortilla bowl, then top with meat and bean mixture. Top with cheese, additional chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and sour cream.

Sorghum molasses oatmeal cookies

Nash Farms in Bridger, owned by Tom Tschida and Carol Nash, raises cattle and sheep and also grow sorghum. Sorghum syrup can be used in baking in place of molasses or Karo syrup. Try some in these oatmeal cookies which are full of flavor and not at all like the typical oatmeal cookie.

Yield: 24 cookies


½ cup shortening

1¼ cups sugar

2 eggs

⅓ cup sorghum

1¾ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups oatmeal

½ cup raisins

½ cup chocolate chips


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat shortening, sugar, eggs and sorghum. Stir in flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix well; stir in oatmeal. Add in raisins and chips, as desired. Drop dough by large tablespoons, about 3” apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Source: Genius Kitchen, recipe by BakinBaby.

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Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.