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Memorial Day

We honor the memory of those in our armed forces who have laid down their lives to preserve our freedom. To these men and women we are forever indebted.

 

This is a hard week for most in the Oso and Darrington communities.  The amazing outpouring of local, regional, and national prayers and financial resources was incredible and showed the generosity of the American people.  But the Oso and Darrington communities also gave future generations a gift as well.

Because of the tenacity of the Oso and Darrington communities, FEMA has changed in its approach to local volunteers and how they are integrated into search and recovery teams.

On day two or three of the disaster, family and friends were “lobbying” (I am being PC) hard to get in there to find their loved ones and to try and rescue as many as possible. These families, of course, had a very vested interest in finding their loved ones and friends, but FEMA policy “had” been to allow only “professionals” to do the searching. But the local knowledge of the area and local fortitude of these communities forced FEMA’s hand and a decision had to be made. Were FEMA and the local leadership going to try and keep out the “locals” or integrate them?

Honestly, there was no option but to integrate because, short of military intervention, those locals were going to help. And because of their tenacity, FEMA now has a blueprint to integrate other local community members into search and rescue teams where appropriate.

While this disaster is still very raw for many of us, it has left a “path” for closure and healing for the untold number of natural disasters to come—all because one community and one government agency saw a way to work together and get more accomplished than either could do alone.

Oso Strong,

 

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Smashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives

Serves 6 as a side

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs red potatoes, cut in half (unless they are tiny, in which case, leave whole)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of sour cream

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Coarse sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Handful of fresh chives

Directions:

1.            In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and a lid and boil until fork tender. About 30 minutes or so depending on the size of your potatoes. Just test them with a fork every 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2.            Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

3.            Brush the bottom of a large baking sheet with olive oil.

4.            Place the potatoes on the baking sheet with a few inches of space between each one.

5.            Using a potato smasher, press each potato until the skin breaks and it resembles a lumpy potato cake.

6.            Brush the top of each potato with the melted butter.

7.            Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

8.            Bake for 15 minutes.

9.            Top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chopped chives. Enjoy!.

Recipe adapted from: foodfamilyfindscom

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Bees and Butterflies

There has been a lot of news surrounding the honey bees and butterflies in the agricultural world. Large multi-national companies are spending/investing big dollars into research to figure out why these two insects, primarily honey bees, are dying in droves.

Honey bees are best known for their honey, but their pollination services are the most sought after commodity. It only makes sense that honey bees and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) are making headlines and garnering the lion’s share of research dollars.

Honestly—no, bluntly—honey bees and butterflies are really “canaries in the coal mine.” They are bell weather indicators to the health of our agricultural systems. If the health of honey bees is an indication of the health of our food supply, we are in trouble, big trouble.

I would make the stretch to say that conventional or chemical agriculture and most non-organic world farms are detrimental to the ability of honey bees to survive. American farmers have plenty of toxic options to kill pest, weeds and anything else they don’t want competing with their crops, and, unfortunately, there are no selective insecticides. Farmers just kill the good and the bad and wreak havoc on the balance of nature. And really, there are no bad or good insects, they each provide an important ecological function, just some insects are more desirable or beneficial in our minds.

I would contend that we are not going to solve the plight of the honey bee, butterfly or the thousands of unnamed insects until we embrace the problem. The honey bee die-off is the symptom, much like heart disease is a symptom. The solution mostly lies in changing how we farm, not changing the honey bee.

Large chemical companies are lining up to “help” solve, in my opinion, the very problem they have created with the production of their chemical products. It is, at best, an expensive public relations campaign or possibly some form of mitigation. I have little faith that the research will yield actual solutions because that would require these companies to go out of business, which is not an option for them.

Just maybe, if the American public wants to save the honey bee, it might inadvertently save itself because the only thing that is going to save the honey bee is a change in how we farm. One thing is for sure, improving the health of the American people has not proven itself to be a big enough driver to elicit the change, but maybe the honey bee will have enough sting to make it happen!

The other way to save the honey bee is to continue to do what you are doing now—supporting local farms that value all life and raise food that doesn’t support the chemical companies.

 

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Black Bean Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

TOTAL TIME 25 mins

These meatless tacos feature spiced black beans and homemade mango-avocado salsa wrapped in fresh lettuce. Quick to prepare and bursting with flavor!

Yields: 6 tacos

INGREDIENTS

For the tacos:

1 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 onion, finely diced (yellow or red)

15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 1 ½ cups cooked)

6 leaves lettuce

For the taco seasoning (or use 1/2 packet of your favorite non-MSG taco seasoning):

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 cup water

For the mango avocado salsa:

1 mango, peeled and diced

1 avocado, peeled and diced

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 jalapeño chilies, seeds removed and minced

1/4 sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

First prepare the salsa. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all taco seasoning ingredients. The tacos come together quickly, so I like to do this before anything goes on the stove.

Add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, add garlic and onion and sauté until soft, 4-5 minutes.

Pour in black beans and taco seasoning and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until beans are heated through and some of the water is evaporated, 2-3 minutes.

Serve with lettuce leaves to be used as taco shells and mango avocado salsa.

Enjoy!

Recipe source: http://www.coffeeandquinoa.com/2013/03/black-bean-lettuce-wrap-tacos-with-mango-avocado-salsa/

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A Salad of Nectarines and Asparagus

4 servings

Ingredients:

1 small bunch asparagus, sliced on the bias

1 teaspoon oil

Zest of one lemon, reserve 1/2 lemon for juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

3 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 cups mixed greens, such as lettuces, spinach leaves, young kale, arugula

2 nectarines, thinly sliced lengthwise

2-3 ounces Feta or Chèvre, crumbled

1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish, optional

 

Directions:

1.            In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the asparagus in one teaspoon oil, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes, until bright green. Add garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute more. Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of juice from half the lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2.            Make the dressing by whisking together the Balsamic vinegar with the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3.            In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with the dressing. Top with the asparagus, Feta, chopped almonds and finish with slices of nectarine. Garnish with parsley if desired. Best when  served immediately.

Recipe adapted from theyearinfood.com

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Plenty of moisture around here!

Every crop needs a few necessities to get off to a good start. Soil: it holds the nutrients like Phosphorus, Manganese, Magnesium, Nitrogen, Boron, Calcium, etc. Soil critters: microbes, fungi, earth worms, beetles, spiders, bees and other creeping, sliming and crawling critter that digest decaying matter or breakdown minerals so the plant can utilize the nutrients to grow. Sunshine: everything loves a few heat units. Water: check that off the list, until August!

In our micro climate, we can really assist the crops we grow by amending our soils with nutrients in the form of compost or mined minerals, like calcium, through soil sampling and application rates. We can also inoculate our fields with good bacteria and fungi that help the plants thrive. We can do as little harm as possible to earthworms, beetles and spiders by not spraying our fields with herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and bactericides. We can also help the critters help the plants by not overtilling or overcultivating our fields.

When it comes to soil and soil critters, we can treat them alright and have a measure of control. But when it comes to sunshine and water, we barely have an “oar in the water” to guide that boat! The greenhouses can help, but sunshine is still needed to generate some heat. We don’t use propane or lights in our greenhouses. Propane and lights can mimic natural sunshine, but they come with their own environmental impacts and expenses. Have you ever tried to heat a 1000 sq. ft. space to 70 degrees with 1/16th of an inch of plastic between winter and the crops? That is a sure fire way to “burn” some dollars up. For us, we use them as season extensions to try and capture a little more warmth as spring comes on or fall leaves us.

But water, that is completely outside my control. Yes, we can irrigate a little in the summer, but for the most part we work with what falls from heaven and is conserved in our soil. Our soils have great moisture holding capacity (a.k.a., clay!). They are slow to dry out, which is a great attribute in August, but fairly detrimental NOW! Ideally, I would have some sandy soil for the spring crops and some of “heavier” (clay) soils for the summer/late summer crops when a lack of water is an issue. But alas, I have heavier soils, which makes springs like this one very challenging.

But the good news is that we have perennial crops, like tree fruit, berries and a few greenhouse crops, to offset a wet spring, but we will need a warm summer to catch up. It is going to be a good year for our vegetables.

Farming for the future,

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