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Hello Autumn!

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I really love fall, the changing colors of nature, the pretty color of pumpkins, the subtle flavor of squash, the smell of bonfires and coffee, yes…coffee!

It is time to slow down, cozy up and enjoy the comforts of home. However, I like to keep busy, so I recently decided that if I can make something at home, without much effort, I will. This new mantra has applied to many areas of my life. If it looks feasible, I’ll try homemade anything. I’ve found myself saying, “Why didn’t I try this before?” Other times, I have been humbled by the work that goes into something that I once took for granted.

So far, I have successfully accomplished homemade bread, pasta, nut butters and milks, baby blankets and flavored coffees. I have learned that macaroon cookies are worth every penny at the store ($3 a cookie), my mom’s caramels require patience and undivided attention and empanada dough can be overworked.

Another surprise has been my new affection for coffee. I was never a huge fan of this beverage, but I have to admit that I used to spend my “bucks” at a national coffee franchise because it was convenient, cool and trendy. However, I never really enjoyed the beverage itself—to me it always tasted like bitter hot water. But, after adding lots of sugar, cream and artificial flavoring, the result became acceptable.

Recently, I was curious if I could make a pumpkin spice latte at home. I did some research and came across a nice natural recipe for home. So, for the past few weeks, I get up early in the morning, brew some organic coffee, get spices and fall flavors out of the kitchen cabinets, and like a mad scientist, I determine what the invention of the day will be: Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon, Dulce de Leche? (I share the pumpkin spice latte recipe on back.)

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
peruvianchick.com
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Fiber

I have been chewing on fiber for the entire summer; literally grazing my way through the season on tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, apples, plums, carrots, etc. But fiber is hard to come by in the American diet. The primary reason that it is so hard to come by is because Americans process it out of most of our food. And since fiber is only found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, most Americans are not getting even close to the recommended 20-30 grams a day, simply because most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

So, as I have been farming this summer, I have been thinking about fiber and how that if Americans just tried to eat the recommended dietary fiber from unprocessed whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds (not bran muffins), it would radically change our nation’s health profile. If getting enough fiber became our goal, we would accomplish so much more because whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains provide all the other nutrients that are good for our bodies and ultimately our health.

There’s no shortage of research showing how fiber may boost your health. Following are a few of the top potential benefits associated with eating fiber, from an article titled The Health Benefits of Fiber (excerpted from www.mercola.com):

  • Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control.
  • Heart health: An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.
  • Stroke: Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent.
  • Weight loss and management: Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people, likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness.
  • Skin health: Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
  • Diverticulitis: Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
  • Hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Fiber may provide some relief from IBS.
  • Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.

As your fiber faming farmer, I am convinced that if we ate the daily RDAs for fiber, we would be healthier and happier. Eating enough fiber is no small task, and taking a fiber supplement pill doesn’t accomplish the same as eating an apple because where you get that fiber is also important. I am more and more convinced that eating more organically grown whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will go a long way towards living a vibrant life.

 

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Wish You had been Here

It was a normal work day here in the office at KFF, as we were getting ready for the next day’s deliveries, when a visitor knocked at our door. When she introduced herself as Marlene Smith, we knew immediately who she was. Marlene is from Pateros, WA, one of the communities in eastern Washington so affected by the devastating forest fires, and is married to Phil Smith, who pastors the Pateros Community Church. That’s the church KFF is partnering with to bring needed funds to the people of Pateros as they rebuild after this recent disaster. Marlene was visiting with her mother who lives here in Warm Beach less than a mile from our office! What a small world. Marlene came by to express her deep appreciation to all of you who are contributing to our Methow Valley Fire Relief Fund.

What stories Marlene had to tell. The Smiths had lost their own home in the fire, but the church, which was right next door, was saved. A young volunteer fighter arrived on the scene and thanks to her efforts and those of three other volunteer fire fighters, they were able to save the church, which sustained some minor damage but still stands. One of those fire fighters happened to be our “own” Bruce Henne, from Earth Conscious Organics (ECO) in Brewster, WA—the  people who grow your apples, pluots and cherries. Gratefully, ECO’s orchards were spared in the fire, even though the fire came to the very edge of their apple orchards. We also heard how one of the people in Pateros purchased the old grocery store in town and turned it over to the people coordinating fire relief efforts, so there would be a place for people to come and get help.

As we talked, I told Marlene about a phone call we had from a person who receives deliveries from us. When she heard that we were organizing fire relief efforts, she just had to call. She grew up in Pateros and went to Pateros High School. She was so thankful that funds were being sent to help the people of this community recover from the fire. She too adds her thanks to all of you who are helping.

Connections. That’s what amazes me. The very people we are trying to help way over in Pateros have family just down the road from our office! Bruce Henne, whom we have known for years and talk to every week, was directly involved in fighting the fires there. One of the people we deliver to every week grew up in Pateros. We’re not just sending money to who knows whom and to who knows where. We can put faces to the people we are helping. We’re connected. They’re real people with real needs.

I wish you could have been here to talk with Marlene yourselves. You would have seen the gratitude and appreciation she has for your generosity. You also would have felt the connection. The Smiths have lived in Pateros for nine years now and have come to love and care for the people there. They know the community and its needs first hand. We can be assured that the money being sent there is being put to good use.

Thanks to all of you who are contributing. Any of you can still do so by either going online (select “Giving” on our products page) or by contacting our office to either make a one-time contribution or make a recurring one. Together we can make a difference.

Mike Lama

KFF Customer Care

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Chehalis Apple and Green Bean Sauté

Green beans get a sweet treatment from a bite of apple and a taste of honey. Even kids who don’t want to eat their vegetables will want to give in. You can take this up another notch by topping with crumbled gorgonzola cheese before serving.

Ingredients

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1 large apple, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

  • In a large skillet, sauté beans and apple in oil for 3 minutes.
  • Add the nuts; cook and stir until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Stir in honey and sesame seeds; heat through.

Yield: 5 servings

 

Know Your Produce: Chehalis Apples

Chehalis Apples are an offspring of Golden Delicious apples. They are like their parent apple, only better…because they are larger and crisper – delightfully crisp actually – with a cream colored flesh. Sweet and slightly honeyed, the Chehalis is both a juicy eating and baking apple.

Season: September

Best for: Pies and cobblers (this apple can withstand heat without losing its shape or zing)

Also good for: Salads and sandwiches; snacking

Store: refrigerated, Chehalis apples keep for a couple of weeks (3). Store away from any other fruit you don’t want ripening. At room temperature they ripen too quickly and become mealy after about 2 days. Wash apples only when you’re ready to use them.

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The Kick

This time of year is the best! I love fall. Fall is when farmers, well at least fresh market farmers, are in that part of the race where you start your “kick” to finish the race well. By now most of us have been harvesting all summer and are tired. The summer harvesting is what pays the bills (e.g., weeding, fertilizer, seed, and labor), but now we are heading toward fall.

Every farmer I know has a bead on what the fall will look like in July. We can tell if the crops need water, weeding or some feeding, and based on these observations, reasonable expectations can be drawn. Nevertheless, getting the crops out of the field and into your boxes has a lot of variables in play. For the most part, however, farmers know how the fall is shaping up in July!

After getting through my son’s August wedding, I am turning my attention to the winter squash and potato crops. All summer I have been eyeing those delicatas, carnival, acorn, turbin, two kinds of sugar pie pumpkins and few cindarellas. I love growing squash. We plant it by the handful and harvest it by the truckload. All squash have an amazing yield and a diversity of flavors and cooking methods: baked, pureed, roasted, steamed, soups and pies. Hmm! Hmm! A few more weeks and we will be picking the first squash of the season.

Potatoes are a close second. This year we have four varieties: one yellow, two reds and a purple. Every year I am always surprised by the amount of potatoes under the “hills.” I know I planted them, but it just seems like a miracle every year. The kiddos and I head out and pull up a couple plants and there they are—big beautiful potatoes! The ritual just brings a smile to my face every time we do it. And now that I have a grandson, the tradition gets to continue!

Lastly, we are “harvesting” a new packing and processing facility in the City of Stanwood. It has been in the works for over a year, but it looks like we will be moving to the new facility in October.

Between the wedding and the building, plus all the farming, the final leg of this year’s race (aka, farm season) will surely require a little R&R. I just might need the whole winter to recover. Oops…got caught day dreaming! Back to work—there is still a lot to do before then!

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Late Summer Soup

For weeks now people around me have been hinting at fall. “It’s coming!” they’ll say. Or, “Did you feel the chill in the air? It’s almost here.” And I would just simply look at them and shake my head, not yet. I wasn’t ready and fretted a bit not knowing if this would be the one year that I regret the coming of the next season. But I should know this by now; it happens in an instant and I think today is that instant.

We’ve just returned from three days of camping in the woods. A sort of last hurrah complete with a camp fire that never quit, a breezy hike to the beach, bacon cooked until crisp over the fire, stories told with sticky marshmallow covered fingers, and dirt, well, everywhere. As we were packing up our tents, the gray clouds started to sprinkle and the ice cream cone that I craved just the day before turned into a spiced cider craving. Suddenly, thoughts of apples hanging low in the trees made me giddy and raspberries seemed so last season. I’m craving butter baked into pies tucked around tart, crisp apples and sturdier vegetables roasted until sweet then whirred into a light, yet creamy soup that gently warms during the soft coolness of the evenings.

I have that sort of soup today (recipe below). It’s hearty and yet somehow light, which in my mind is the perfect setup for a transitional soup. You know, the sort that can still be enjoyed on a sunny day but satisfies when the days are getting shorter and you need more heft than the salads of summer can offer. This soup uses an assortment of vegetables with cauliflower making up the bulk, but really it could easily be adapted to what you have lying around. The idea is a tray filled with roasted vegetable blends with onions, stock and cooked potatoes, so that it’s creamy but not heavy cream creamy – that wouldn’t be right for a transitional soup.

There’s also the leek, which is a member of the allium family, but the flavor is lighter and somehow more refined. We could boast of all the vitamins found in leeks here too but we don’t want them getting a big head.

Their paper-thin layers tend to collect dirt so I like to cut the leeks in half then run them through cool water. From there I thinly slice them and use them as you would onions. But even raw in a salad they do just fine, as their flavor is less abrasive than their cousin’s. They are just the right match for this sort of late-summer soup.

I should have remembered that my moment would come eventually. The one where I’m suddenly ready for cool weather and cozy evenings at home, or maybe I’m just too tired and don’t want to think of unloading the car from our camping trip. Either way, tonight seems like the perfect one for this soup.

by Ashley Rodriguez                                                                           

Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.

You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

1 medium head cauliflower,

1 large leek, white part cut in 1/2-inch slices

4 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 potato, diced

1 tsp thyme leaves

Pinch chili flake

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (or whole milk)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Pepper

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400° F.
  • Toss cauliflower, leeks, and celery with 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for an hour or until vegetables are tender and there is a good deep color on many bits of the vegetables.
  • In a large pot add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, potatoes, thyme, chile flakes, stock, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Carefully puree the soup in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Recipe adapted from the book Small Plates and Sweet Treats