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Black Bean Tostados

from:  www.fresh365online.com/winter

Serves 4

This dish is a favorite. You will enjoy the combination of the beans, fresh avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cumin. The endive and the lightly-salted tortillas provide a satisfying crunch. And its effortless to prepare.

4 nine-inch tortillas
3/4 t cumin
2 T white wine vinegar
3 T olive oil (or oil from sun-dried tomatoes)
1 19-oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
2 scallions, or yellow onions chopped
1 c cabbage, shredded (or rainbow slaw)
2 c lettuce

Spray both sides of tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Broil 3-4 minutes, flip and broil reverse side until lightly browned. In a small bowl, whisk cumin, vinegar, olive oil and salt. In a large bowl, combine beans, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions or onions, avocado and cabbage. Add dressing and lightly toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To assemble, place lettuce on tortillas and top with bean mixture.

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You Gotta Start Early!

Stephen, the now big brother to our little Joanna Prayse, is my farm helper.  (Now, I really think he is helping mom by helping me, but nonetheless, I enjoy spending time with him!) Stephen, like most of my children, and probably like many of your children, loves to work with his daddy. 

The other day, when I was doing the initial pruning on the Honeycrisp and Chehalis apple trees, Stephen was working alongside me. When pruning trees, the first thing I do is decide what branches are going to stay and then I start cutting. I always make up my mind before I start pruning. I want to prune the branches so that light will be able to get into the tree canopy to help the fruit ripen. I also want to consider places for my ladder to get close to the tree. Even though I won’t need a ladder for a few more years, I need to leave an opening for them now while the tree is still establishing fruit bearing branches. So, you see, a little training now will be helpful later…which is why Stephen is my helper. Training trees and children will not happen unless I am hands on.

As I was pruning, Stephen was asking, “When is it my turn?” I was able to find branches that he could prune for me on most trees. I try and let him actually prune the tree, involving him in valuable work, not busy work. We were finishing up the Honeycrisp apples when I snapped this picture of Stephen pruning the tree. We had picked out a good branch to prune. I stepped back to capture the moment as he cut the branch, and just as I was finished taking the picture, I realized that Stephen had cut a branch that I wanted to keeeeeep!!! All is not lost. The tree will grow another branch and, most importantly, it was a very good cut.

Tristan

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Apple and Rhubarb Crisp

(makes one pie plate worth)

Adapted From:  www.dailyunadventuresincooking.com/2010/02/apple-and-rhubarb-crisp-recipe.html

Too often apple pies and crisps can be sickly sweet because of the natural sugar in the apples compounded with a heavy helping of extra sugar. This recipe only uses extra sweetening in the topping. Rhubarb has such a nice tart flavor that it is perfect to make this crisp not only more interesting in texture, but also in taste. The orange is used to keep the apples from browning but also to add flavor. Make sure you wash your orange thoroughly and use organic when using citrus zest. 

1 orange, zested and juiced
4 large apples, peeled, and diced small (about 6 cups)
2 pears, peeled, and diced small
3 cups dicedsliced rhubarb
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup of flour
1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Scant grating of nutmeg.
1/2 teaspoon salt
½-3/4 cup cold butter 

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine in a bowl the apples, pears, rhubarb and orange zest and orange juice. Sprinkle flour and cinnamon on top and combine evenly. Pour into your baking dish.

In a bowl combine flour, oatmeal, sugar and salt. Dice butter into small cubes and toss with dry mixture. Using your fingers, mix butter in evenly so if you grab a handful of the dry mix it sticks together somewhat. You shouldn’t have big chunks left. Evenly distribute this over the fruit and press gently.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until nice and brown on top and bubbling at the edges. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

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Shhh… Quiet please. The symphony is about to begin!

We have been tuning our stringed instruments, the brass and woodwinds are warming up, and the percussionists are readying themselves!  Now, the lights dim and all is quiet. In moments, the orchestra will erupt into an awe-inspiring symphonic masterpiece.

Don’t you just love a good piece of music? I do. At this moment, I have the William Tell Overture running through my mind. Its signature piece is only a small part of the entire overture and several instruments need to work together to make it all one beautiful piece of music. Gioachino Rossini quietly introduces this wonderful score to us, much like winter yielding to spring.

February and March are much like the precursory to the overture. We, in tune with nature, are warming up in preparation for a beautiful and harmonious blend of music. We are starting to work our fields, read the weather and the soil, and hit a few of the notes where the weather, the soil and tractors work together to prepare those first few seed beds.

Just as the music moves from a contented score to the race-like pace, so do we as farmers! As the calendar marches towards summer and the weather warms, we begin to plant more and more crops. At some point, almost majestically, midway through the summer our work switches to both planting and harvesting. 

Then, just as Rossini begins to end his overture with an exhilarating crescendo, our farm ushers in fall with its own crescendo – an abundant harvest!  All season we have been building towards the crescendo and then our farm and its farmers enter into a winter rest to contemplate and reflect on the season past and rejuvenate for the next season. Oh, I love farming!

Writing this newsletter fills me with emotion. I have so many memories of our farm:  different harvests, working alongside my children and my horses. My mind wanders to our fall festival, where you and your children have come and harvested potatoes, experienced 100 years of history, or played in our organic soil. Just like Rossini’s William Tell Overture, the musical score, with all the instruments, the musicians, and the lighting crew – all are playing a beautiful and important part to make it what it is. 

Just like farms and cities, forever wedded together, not so much different than a beautiful piece of music. 

I am glad to be in the symphony alongside of you,

Tristan

P.S. — KFF caught on video!  One of our happy customers in Everett featured our home delivery of “A Box of Good” in a CNN iReport story entitled, “Healthy Eating in Everett, Washington: Report by a Former Fast Food Junkie.” Watch it at:  http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-420779

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Of Springtime, Boys . . . and Tractors!

I can remember one year, when we had a great February and March, but then April was horrible and May wasn’t much better.  That year I didn’t act on the early weather, and was waiting for the normal spring start in April.  What a mistake!  This year we have tentatively opened up about 3 acres of ground. We haven’t planted anything, but we have cultivated the ground, which facilitates drainage.  As soon as we get that two or three day window of dry weather we will be preparing the seed beds for peas, spinach and beets.  I can hardly wait!

I love this time of year with all of its unpredictability, unusual weather and timing issues.   I am constantly in touch with my second son Aaron (15 y/o), assessing the farm season and the next steps.  He is my tractor guy, Mr. Fix-it and all around great farm hand.  If I am at the office or at a meeting I will check in with him and consult about working a field or the condition of a recent planting.  I love driving a tractor, but both Aaron and my #3 son, Andrew (12 y/o), are better tractor drivers than I am!  If we as a farm are going to stay on schedule for plantings or harvesting I am going to need those boys to make it happen.  And make it happen they do!

Aaron, just for fun, got two free riding lawn mowers (not working of course) last fall and now has got them running. The catch is, he created one articulating tractor from the two!  Now most of you reading this e-mail are probably of the female persuasion, and so may not care a whole lot about tractors and mowers, but I encourage you to let your boys, both young and old, have a peek at what some old iron can become!  Aaron’s homemade, reconfigured, utility tractor can be found at www.4x4tractor.blogspot.com. This is still a work in progress, but I have plans for this mighty little machine on the farm!

Who knows…Aaron might be the next Wright brother, or Henry Ford, or John Deere!  All I know is that he is using his imagination to build and create something useful. As a homeschooling dad, that is worth everything to me!

Farming with the next generation,

Tristan

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Grilled Romaine Hearts with Rustic Olive Dressing

from www.seriouseats.com
Serves 4

Romaine lettuce is being restyled. The workhorse of the Caesar salad bowl is breaking out of its cliché use and being exploited by chefs for soups, side dishes, wraps and stuffing. The heat adds a whole other dimension to the lettuce, releasing their sweetness with just a hint of smokiness. Stir-fried romaine lettuce, with garlic, is honestly quite fantastic! Don’t be so surprised, grilled lettuce is really good. I love how charred they get, a little burnt on the edges, warm but still crunchy in the middle. The trick is to brush it well with oil and cook for a very short time. It’s delicious and unexpected.

Ingredients

1/2 cup pitted black olives, not too salty
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil + more for brushing
4 pieces rustic bread
4 romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
A few thin slices of red onion or shallot
A few shavings of parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

For the olives, you want a variety that is fleshy, easy to pit, and not overpoweringly salty. Alphonsos are a nice choice. Whatever you do, don’t use the tasteless canned “Ripe California” olives. If you only have the very salty kind, pit and soak them for ten minutes in hot water, then squeeze them out.

In a mini-food processor, thoroughly puree the olives and garlic. Add the lemon zest and juice and process for 20 seconds. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons at a time, processing for 15 seconds after each addition to emulsify. Let rest and then taste and adjust acid and salt before serving. You want it at room temperature for serving.

Heat a grill pan over a medium-high flame. Brush the bread with olive oil and toast on each side until nicely browned and marked by the grill. Push down a little to get nice marks.

Brush the cut side of the romaine and grill for about 30 seconds, pushing down gently.

To serve, put each piece of bread on a plate. Top with two romaine halves, some of the cucumber, tomato, red onion, and the parmigiano. Drizzle on the dressing and finish with a grind of black pepper.

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"Soil"

I overheard  my daughter Maddy (8) correcting her younger sister Maleah (5) last week.  Maleah was using the word “dirt” as they were playing with BRIO train tracks, a Lincoln log house and a few little people. Maddy, in the casual course of conversation, responded to the word “dirt” by saying that it is actually “soil.” Maleah agreed and they went on playing. 

As their farming father, I was particularly happy to hear my 8 year old refer to “dirt” as “soil.”  For me, my soil is everything. It determines what kind of farmer I am and what crops I can grow. Yes, I am a farmer that raises vegetables, nuts, fruit, cattle and hay, but for the most part those are the crops that my soil allows me to raise. Essentially, I am a soil farmer. Soil is a gift from God. It holds all the essential minerals that plants need to grow. With the addition of some water and sunshine, I have the perfect environment to farm. Yeah!!!

So when Maddy uses the term “soil” instead of “dirt” I pay attention because she is showing respect to the building blocks of life.

Dave Hedlin of Hedlin Farms has said more than once, “Dirt is what you sweep off the kitchen floor and soil is what you grow food in.” Amen!

~   ~   ~

Have you noticed that we are now on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr?! We are taking advantage of these new forms of media to keep in touch with you, let you know about special promotions and clue you in on what’s happening on the farm. We’re uploading scenery photos from the farm every month. Join us and watch the seasons change! I have posted a picture of my little ones playing with their BRIO train tracks and Lincoln logs. Go and check it out and feel free to share with us a picture of your kiddos having fun.

Facebook.com/KlesickFamilyFarm

Twitter.com/boxofgood

Flickr.com/photos/klesickfamilyfarm

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Swiss Chard & Caramelized Onion Tacos

from www.notwithoutsalt.com (Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless)

Ingredients

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed (10 oz. cleaned spinach can be used instead)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil, lard or bacon drippings
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (water works too)
Salt
12 warm corn tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese
Smoky Chipotle Salsa for serving (recipe below)

Directions

Slice the chard into 1/2-inch ribbons. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms then cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. To the onions add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for about 20 seconds until you are hit with the aroma of the garlic then immediately add the broth or water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the greens. Adjust the heat to medium-low then cover the skillet. Cook until the greens are almost tender. For Swiss chard this will be about 5 minutes. Spinach only takes about 2 minutes. Uncover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high then cook until the juices have reduced significantly and merely glaze the greens. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it. Serve with the corn tortillas, crumbled fresh cheese and Chipotle salsa.

Serves 4

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"Soil"

I overheard  my daughter Maddy (8) correcting her younger sister Maleah (5) last week.  Maleah was using the word “dirt” as they were playing with BRIO train tracks, a Lincoln log house and a few little people. Maddy, in the casual course of conversation, responded to the word “dirt” by saying that it is actually “soil.” Maleah agreed and they went on playing. 

As their farming father, I was particularly happy to hear my 8 year old refer to “dirt” as “soil.”  For me, my soil is everything. It determines what kind of farmer I am and what crops I can grow. Yes, I am a farmer that raises vegetables, nuts, fruit, cattle and hay, but for the most part those are the crops that my soil allows me to raise. Essentially, I am a soil farmer. Soil is a gift from God. It holds all the essential minerals that plants need to grow. With the addition of some water and sunshine, I have the perfect environment to farm. Yeah!!!

So when Maddy uses the term “soil” instead of “dirt” I pay attention because she is showing respect to the building blocks of life.

Dave Hedlin of Hedlin Farms has said more than once, “Dirt is what you sweep off the kitchen floor and soil is what you grow food in.” Amen!

~   ~   ~

Have you noticed that we are now on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr?! We are taking advantage of these new forms of media to keep in touch with you, let you know about special promotions and clue you in on what’s happening on the farm. We’re uploading scenery photos from the farm every month. Join us and watch the seasons change! I have posted a picture of my little ones playing with their BRIO train tracks and Lincoln logs. Go and check it out and feel free to share with us a picture of your kiddos having fun.

Facebook.com/KlesickFamilyFarm

Twitter.com/boxofgood

Flickr.com/photos/klesickfamilyfarm

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Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables

by Ashley Rodriquez

For pot roast
1/2 cup canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 pounds boneless short ribs, denuded (all surface fat removed; have your butcher do this)
1 cup dry sherry (you may also use red or white wine or even stock)
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
8 stalks celery, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
About 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

For roasted vegetables and caramelized onions
3 medium carrots (about 2 pounds) peeled, halved lengthwise, then halved horizontally
4-5 medium parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, then halved horizontally
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved
1 yellow onion, medium diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare pot roast
Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. In large Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add beef and sear until dark brown and crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate. Pour off oil in pan and discard. Add sherry, wine or stock and simmer uncovered, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced sherry into heatproof liquid measuring cup.

In same pan, combine carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaf. Lay beef on top of vegetable mixture and pour reduced sherry over. Add enough chicken stock to cover 3/4 of meat. Cover and transfer to lower rack in oven. Roast until fork-tender, about 3 hours.

While beef is roasting, prepare roasted vegetables
During final hour of roasting, in large bowl, toss carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onion with olive oil until well coated. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread on baking sheet and transfer to upper rack in oven. Roast until slightly tender and browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and keep warm.

Finish dish
When beef is tender, transfer to serving platter; tent with foil. Skim fat from liquid in pot. Strain liquid through fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids with back of spoon to extract all juices, then discarding solids. Return liquid to pot, set over high heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Season juices to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour half of juices into bowl with roasted vegetables; toss to combine. Pour other half of juices into gravy dish. Arrange vegetables around beef on serving platter and serve immediately, with extra juices on side.