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It’s a good thing there are only 24 hours in a day

Hustle, hustle, hustle! When the weather turns and the sun comes out, it is all hands on deck. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only April and that I will be planting crops until August. I used to think that vegetable farming was a marathon race, but now I am more inclined to think of it as a track meet.

Yes, the season is long, but it really feels like a series of sprinting events, and the starter gun has definitely gone off. We are getting the peas, spinach, beets, chard and lettuce planted. We are also getting the ground worked up for potatoes, corn and winter squash. So in the spring we are mostly preparing the ground for planting and then planting it.

As the season marches on we are still working the ground for summer crops, like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but we add in weeding – lots of it (ugh!). We also add harvesting of those early planted crops of lettuce, spinach, etc.

About June we move into a weeding, watering and harvesting cycle. Life also begins to mellow and the days become more manageable (ahh! deep breath). Life feels normal. We are not quite there yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We have lots to do between now and November. This week we are planting strawberries and potatoes!

 

Sprinter (Farmer) Tristan

 

 

 

cow

Order your grass-fed beef before prices increase!

Prices for our local, grass-fed beef will go up $0.10 per pound after April 30th, so place your order today!

June beef is sold out, but we still have shares available for August and October.

 

Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Trim the stem from the cauliflower and cut it into small florets.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and simmer just until tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Drain the cauliflower florets and transfer them to a food processor. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the garlic and pulse for about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the chives, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with additional chopped chives.

Adapted from Kelly Senyei’s recipe from justataste.com

Know Your Produce: Beets

If you’re not a fan of beets’ famously bright hues, then cover your work surfaces before you start peeling, slicing, and grating. To store beets, cut the greens from the roots, leaving an inch of stem attached, and place the different parts in separate plastic bags and refrigerate. Beet roots will last at least a month, but you should use the greens within three or four days.

Roasted Beet and Fresh Greens Salad

2 1/2 lbs. small beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

4 cups leafy greens, with any thick stems removed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets on foil lined with parchment. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; season with coarse salt. Wrap foil into a sealed pouch. Roast beets on a rimmed baking sheet until easily pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Carefully open pouch; when beets are cool enough to handle, rub off skins with paper towels. Halve beets (or quarter if desired).

2. Arrange beets and greens in a serving dish. In a skillet, bring remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cumin seeds to a simmer; toss with beets and greens. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

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To 2017 and Beyond!

Week of April 17, 2016

Yes, I am looking ahead. On the farm I always have the past, present, and future on my mind. I am referring back to previous years, concentrating on the weather windows to do things on the farm the current year, and preparing for future years. So this year, with an eye towards the future, we are planting more plums, pears, raspberries, and strawberries again. Here is a little update on what we are growing for the future.

Plums.  The Yellow Egg plum, is a European plum that produces an abundance of large, oval, freestone, golden yellow fruit with a golden interior that tastes like honey. The Yellow Egg has juicy flesh and is very sweet and is grown for the outstanding quality of the fruit which is excellent for dessert, cooking, and canning. This addition to the Italian plums and Green Gages will round out our plum plantings. We will have Italian and Green Gages in September, but look for the Yellow Eggs in 2018.

Pears. This year we relocated our Stark Crimson pears and added some Orcas pears and a few Asian pears for pollination. The Orcas pear was discovered by horticulturalist Joe Long. He discovered this tree growing on his property on Orcas Island, Washington and it has become a regional favorite. The fruit is large, flavorful, scab resistant, and loaded each year with yellow fruit with a carmine blush. The pears are great for canning, drying, or eating fresh. Look for them in 2018. We will have Bosc and Conference pears this fall.

Raspberries. Tulameen is the “go to” choice for fresh market farmers. These fresh market berries are large, have good sugar content, and are bred for hand picking. We pick them every two days during the season. Our new plantings will produce in 2017, but really come on in 2018. For this season we will have Tulameen from our plantings in 2014.

Strawberries. Albion is an ever-bearing type with long, conical, symmetrical, and firm fruit bursting with sweetness. This strawberry produces from June to October. We love this berry because it is sweet, but also does well in August (when there is less rain!). Look for these in August 2016, with them really producing in 2017.

I have selected these fruit varieties for three reasons: 1) they grow well in Stanwood, 2) they work with my organic approach to farming, 3) I personally like the flavor and am excited to eat them!

Lastly Tomatoes. There’s nothing like a tomato fresh from the garden. We are planting hundreds of them, but for you home gardeners we will be offering plants very soon! These plants are grown by our friends at the Rents Due Ranch. We will start selling tomatoes (slicers, pears and cherries) and pepper plants in early May. The May window to plant tomatoes will be perfect this year, given the colder and wetter spring we have had. Stay tuned for more information!

Back to the farm, I am sure I can find something to do. 🙂

Tristan Klesick

 

Recipe for this week’s box menu.

Sautéed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into slices 3 inches long by ¼ inch thick

1 pound parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored (if large), cut into same size as carrots

Coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  1. Add carrots and parsnips.
  1. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.
  1. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes.
  1. Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables.
  1. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes.
  1. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

 

Know Your Produce 

Radishes

Benefits: Radishes are a good source of vitamins C and B6, folate, riboflavin, and potassium, as well as many other trace nutrients. Due to their dietary fiber and diuretic properties, radishes promote healthy digestion and purify the kidney and urinary systems.

Storing: Remove the green leaves and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Preparation: Wash radishes and trim the roots just before using. You do not need to peel radishes. Soak red radishes in ice water for one hour to crisp before serving. You can grate or slice them for salads, or add as a garnish.

Search online to find new ways that you can add this power vegetable into your diet.

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Ahhh…Spring!

With a few magical 70 degree days under our belt, I think it’s safe to say that we are well into spring. Even more so than the presence of the sun, I felt pretty sure spring was here the moment I started adding fresh herbs into everything – tucking ruffled mint leaves and licorice-tinged tarragon into my salads and making green sauces of all the herb scraps (throwing in a bit of jalapeño for heat). I may have pushed spring a bit as I poached long strands of jewel-toned rhubarb and rolled them into roses to top an almond cake, but I just can’t help myself – I’m so glad spring is here.

Spring cooking has a lightness about it. The produce that emerges from the just warmed soil is soft, timid even. It’s not yet the full flavored stone fruits or dripping tomatoes of summer. It’s grassy herbs, tart rhubarb, softly sweet carrots, peppery radishes, tender asparagus, and peas that pop with sweetness.

I think also there’s something akin to magic that happens to us Pacific Northwesterners, as the spring sun starts to show itself. Sure, the moment it hits we always fool ourselves into thinking that it’s going to now be here until October. When the rain shows up a few days later we suddenly feel betrayed, but really we know this drill, don’t we?

And yet there’s a lightness about our steps, there’s hope and there’s triumph for passing through another gray season. Because we’ve literally been in the dark for so long we appreciate all the light, the gentle warmth, and the stunning beauty of everything in bloom. We appreciate the new and experience it as a gift.

This morning my husband, while trying to navigate some emotionally distraught children, was pointing out some of the good that we have in our everyday life. “Look!” he excitedly said to our 5-year old, “you have a lunch!” Through tears she said, “But every day I have a lunch!”

She doesn’t see lunch as something to celebrate because it’s part of her every day. It’s so much easier to celebrate what we only get to experience on occasion, like the opening of spring. I hope we all experience each of these sun-filled days with the giddiness and joy we felt on the first day of sun. May it always feel like a sweet gift.

Ashley Rodriguez

notwithoutsalt.com

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

 

Spring Chopped Salad

We have had this salad many times in the last couple of weeks. The produce changes depending on what’s in the fridge or what looks good at the market. There’s always salami, specifically finocchiona, sharp cheddar, and a bright, shallot-laced vinaigrette that brings it all together. (Serves 4-6)

Use this recipe as a guide. It’s really the sort of meal that does a great job of using up the leftover bits in the fridge. That’s actually how this salad got its start.

Salad Ingredients:

5-6 cups cut, cleaned greens, cut in 1-inch ribbons (I used romaine & treviso)

1 cup blanched fresh (or frozen) peas

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (chives, mint, parsley)

4-5 radishes, chopped

1/2 avocado, diced

1 cup garbanzo beans

1 cup chopped sharp cheddar

1 cup chopped salami such as finocchiona

1/4 cup toasted pepitas

Other Options:

Cucumber

Carrots

Bell peppers

Diced onion

Scallion

Blanched green beans

Asparagus

Pickled peppers

Olives

Shallot and Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette:

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk.

Add all the salad components to a large bowl then toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Ashley Rodriguez. Used with permission. All rights reserved. 

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A Time To Plant

I was talking to a group of second graders the other day about farming. I found that they ask some amazingly insightful questions; an insight, I think, that comes from their simplicity. A few were already well on their way to a life of healthy eating.

But as we talked back and forth, I wanted to impress upon them that eating good food starts with the soil and ends with a choice. Choosing an apple or carrot (the most popular vegetable) will help them grow up smart, healthier and strong. I explained to them that healthy plants don’t get sick, and the healthier we are, the less sick we get. It was a delightful 30 minutes with young ones eager to learn.

I too have a choice. I choose to farm without chemicals and work with nature to raise food in a watershed, in a local community, on a family run farm.

Thank you for the choice you also are making. You have chosen to support a farm that raises food without chemicals, in your watershed, in your local community, run by a family on a farm. That choice will make all the difference in the world for your health, your family’s health and your community’s health.

That is why planting the first crops of spring are so special for me, because I get to raise food for local folks – who get it!

Last week we took advantage of the nice weather and got a goodly amount of healthy lettuce and peas planted! It feels so good to get some crops in the ground.

Hang on, the local season starts with planting and ends with good food on your plate!

Tristan