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A Time to Heal

Last week was the week I decided to fix my knee. I had twisted it around Mother’s Day and had been limping along for a few months between doctor visits and what not. Finally, it became obvious that surgery or limping along for the rest of my days were my two choices. I settled for surgery and had my knee scoped and all cleaned up—hopefully for a good long time, too.

Can I state the obvious? July on the farm is not the best time to slow down and few things slow you down more than a knee surgery. Currently, the Klesick farm team is in full harvest mode, planting mode and playing mode, but I am in CONVALESCING MODE! Not for long! I am already feeling better and gaining mobility.

When to schedule a surgery? That was a surprisingly easy decision. I took the earliest date possible. Around here we say, “Why put off tomorrow, what you can do today!”

So, for the last two weeks I have been running the farm from the “seat of my pants” in a very literal way! I have an awesome team and am grateful for their help.

Frisée

This week we are featuring Frisée and all its health benefits. The Bitter Greens are so foreign to the American taste buds, but so critical to our health. Here is an excerpt from an article by mindbodygreen.com:

Imagine if you could eat something that would help your liver, act as a gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, assist in weight reduction, cleanse your skin, eliminate acne, improve your bowel function, prevent or lower high blood pressure, prevent anemia, lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half, eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods, and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. 

If I also told you that this wonder food also tasted good in salads, teas, and soups, what would you do to get your hands on this treasure? Well, thankfully you have nature on your side, providing these miracle plants in abundance during spring!

I’m talking about bitter greens. Dark and leafy, some great examples include dandelion, arugula, and kale. In addition to being vitamin-rich (like most greens), bitter greens are exceptionally beneficial for digestion. They have a bold flavor that may take some getting used to, but the health benefits are definitely worth the effort!

Cheers to your Liver’s Health!

Tristan Klesick

Your Farmer and Community Health Activist

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Weather is a Real Factor on the Farm  

In our micro climate, almost all vegetables on our farm do better when planted in May. Of course, there are always a few outliers, like peas or spinach, but for the most part the soil is warmer, the seed beds can be worked without soil compaction and the germination rates are just better for everything especially weeds!

Planting has more to do with soil type and your micro climate. For us we are a hair colder and our soil is “heavier” which means we need some warmth to get a good seedbed before planting. We certainly had a wonderful May, an okay June, and a decent start to July for planting weather. This week you are getting some wonderfully tasty beets from our May planting.

This is also the time I get my first water bills. OUCH! To review weather patterns, all I have to do is look over the previous years’ water bills! And May was hot this year. I am eagerly (not really) anticipating the July/August water bill!

Beets are a great crop to grow as a farmer and home gardener. I sow (plant) about twice as much as I need which allows me to harvest over a longer time frame. This strategy works well for beets because they can be harvested as babies or full size. As a rule, I usually plant about 25% more than needed on all crops, to accommodate for early achievers and laggards. One could say that I farm based on a bell curve!

As I shared last week, we are still planting and still weeding and still harvesting from the crops we planted in May, but June plantings are starting to make an appearance. I saw my first red tomatoes and cukes are setting fruit. We picked our first green peppers last week also!

Next week we are going to be harvesting our first crop of Frisee ever (hopefully). I am trying to time the harvest and since I have never grown it, I am paying ultra-close attention to how it responds to the heat. So far it looks great. If I am successful, I am planning on featuring it with a roasted mushroom salad. YUM!

Eating more fruits and vegetables is an important part of the solution to America’s obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease crisis. Real food, grown as locally as possible and eaten as fresh as possible is a game changer for anyone’s health!

I love what I do. Yes, it is hard work, but providing your family with organically grown foods that make a difference in your health—that motivates me.

Thank you,

Tristan

Your Farmer and Community Health Activist

 

 

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 7/15/18)

Kohlrabi

Mike (our customer caretaker) is Kohlrabi’s biggest fan so if you need some convincing to try this alien-like vegetable, give him a call;) Kohlrabi is typically eaten raw—peeled, sliced and added to a salad or used for serving with a dip. You can also steam, boil, bake, grill, or roast them. Just peel away the outside thick skin first. Add them to soups or stews. Try grating them and toss with grated carrots or apples to make a slaw!

You can also boil and mash them with potatoes or other root vegetables. Stir-fry them with other vegetables, or julienne them and fry them like potatoes. Look for Indian recipes using kohlrabi as they are often used in Indian cuisine.

Peaches

Test for ripeness by fragrance and by gently pressing around the stem – it should give to light pressure when ripe. Place in sealed container in the fridge when ripe – if you leave them exposed to the open air in the fridge, they will wrinkle from dehydration. Peaches, like other stonefruit, ripen from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is more likely overripe. Try peaches for breakfast paired with yogurt or hot/cold cereal, as a topping to a green salad, and as an ingredient in fruit salads. Peaches are also great on the grill, but be sure to use slightly less ripe fruit, it will hold up better without breaking apart/juicing. And of course, peaches bake up fabulously into crisps, pies, and sauces!

 

Featured Recipe: Kohlrabi, Carrot and Lettuce Slaw

A fresh slaw made with kohlrabi, lettuce and carrot, perfect as a side dish or a light lunch.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large kohlrabi bulbs peeled

2 large carrots peeled

2 cups finely chopped lettuce or combination of lettuce and kale

handful chopped green onion (or diced sweet onion)

1 cup almonds chopped

1 lemon juice retained

salt and black pepper to season

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

your choice of dressing

Instructions:

Grate both the kohlrabi and carrot roughly in a large mixing bowl.

Add the lettuce and toss to mix.

Add the green onion, almonds, lemon juice, seasoning and sesame seeds. Mix well.

Serve your salad with your choice of dressing.

RECIPE NOTES

Great as a light lunch, and quick to prepare as a side dish with your main dish.

Recipe adapted from aninas-recipes.com

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From Peas to Beans

I can’t remember a year when I went from picking peas to picking beans. I wish I had more of those wonderful sugar snap peas, but…they love the cool weather and July is about when they decide to call it quits. This has a been a particularly good year for leafy vegetables and peas. I am always amazed at the fortitude of plants. Their whole purpose is to reproduce and as a farmer my whole purpose is to keep harvesting so that the plant will continue to keep producing, in this case, peas.

We have picked peas 2-3x a week for the last three weeks and even though I try and stagger my plantings, they all finish up around the same time. When it comes to peas, I have learned to plant once. The challenge with that is you can lose a crop when the weather turns south or, as in this year, hit a home run!

Now we are transitioning to Beans. My hamstrings are hurting just thinking about picking them. We grow a bush type bean that concentrates the harvest over a two-week period. Beans unlike peas handle staggered plantings pretty well. I have found that the April plantings are only a week a head of the early May plantings. There are also June and July plantings of beans. Those July plantings always make me a little nervous because most of my summer help heads back to school and Soccer season starts up about the time I need to pick them. They’re planted now!

We are also in the throes of raspberries and blackberries. We pick them every day and put them in our menus. This time of year, the menu planning is a little “squirrely”! Have you ever gone to a restaurant and the menu says, “Seasonal Vegetables or Seasonal Fruit”? Around here that is how we roll. I am constantly bringing up a few more random fresh vegetables and the packing team is tweaking the menus to fit it in and get out to you.

A good example of this in action is raspberries and blackberries. The season starts with raspberries and then blackberries start a week later and then both are on at the same time and then raspberries slow down and the blackberries keep trucking which is where we are right now. So, we will plan to bring you either raspberries or blackberries depending on which is ready on a given day.

This is probably too much information, but it is a glimpse behind the curtain of a working farm. And I believe that getting you the freshest fruits and vegetables is my primary job and sometimes it works itself out like “Seasonal Vegetables or Seasonal Fruit”, but all of it is organic and good for your health!

Thank you,

 

Tristan

Farmer and Community Health Advocate

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 7/8/18)

plums

Plums

Great in fruit salads, atop green salads (think Balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, walnuts, red onions) because they’re firm enough to hold up with a little tossing. Try them atop plain Greek or coconut yogurt with a drizzle of honey for breakfast. Plums are particularly delicious in fruit galettes as baking them brings out their sweet-tart flavor. If too firm to use, place in a closed paper bag at room temperature for one to two days. Once ripe, plums can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to three days.

Sugar Snap Peas

The sweetness of these crunchy veggie lies in their shell. Unlike shelling peas, sugar snap peas are best enjoyed fresh, shell and all. Simply “snap” off the stem bit, and you’re good to go. Great just on their own, they also go well on top of salad, in with pasta, sautéed (lightly) with any Asian-inspired dish or casseroles. Use within 5 days for best flavor and freshness.

 

Featured Recipe: Summer Veggie Quinoa Bowls

This Healthy Veggie Quinoa Bowl has freshly-sautéed corn, peas and broccoli mixed with cooked quinoa over a bed of lettuce and a side of avocado! It is vegan and gluten free and perfect for a light healthy lunch. Two choices of dressings. Can be made ahead and eaten cold.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked quinoa

2 ears fresh sweet corn (kernels removed—stand cleaned ears on end on a cutting board and slice from the top down, beginning at the base of the ears towards cutting board with paring knife. Continue to cut off the all corn kernels)

0.5 lb. fresh sugar snap peas (rinsed)

2 cups of broccoli (rinsed, roughly chopped)

1-2 green onions, entire part, diced

DRESSING(s):

Version one:

3 tbsp olive oil

½ a squeezed lemon

½ a squeezed lime

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp onion powder

Version Two, Asian-inspired:

2 tsp olive oil

Low sodium tamari sauce to taste (or soy sauce)

½ a squeezed lemon over the top

Instructions:

Cook quinoa according to directions on your package. Once done cooking, use a strainer and rinse the rice.

Chop your broccoli, remove corn kernels from cob (or use frozen), halve peas, and dice onion then place in a sauté pan on medium heat (wait until the quinoa only has 15 minutes left before starting this step as you don’t want to overcook your veggies).

Once quinoa is done add it to the sauté pan with the veggies, stir together and add your sauce/seasoning of choice. Remove from heat.

Serve with a side of lettuce and avocado or radish slices for extra fiber and to make your meal more filling, healthfully. Serves 4-6 depending on if you serve as a side or main meal.

Recipe adapted from tworaspberries.com

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Oh My

peas, opened pod

I feel like we are in the middle of an energetic piece of music. Every instrument is playing and playing hard and I while I can play almost every instrument, I have been relegated to the position of Maestro because of my knee injury!

I don’t relish that spot. I much prefer to be a part of the orchestra and conduct on the side. But as with most things, when your attention is divided, so is the work and so is the result. I am still working around the farm—mostly checking on what to do next, picking a few berries, monitoring the health of the crops, what needs water, what needs weeding, what is going in the ground next and when and what we will harvest in the near future.

As with most good pieces of music, the Farm season starts out slow. First, the planning, studying and selecting the vegetables: How will I modify the system this year? What works best for our farm, climate, crew? So many pieces before a single piece of dirt is plowed. As with most things, a little planning goes a long way and a lot of planning can really help.

I will say that with farming, though planning is critical, you hold onto them loosely because farming is a living system and is impacted by the weather in a very real way. As an example, last year it stopped raining June 15th and started raining September 15th. This year it didn’t rain in May and mostly rained in June. On the farm that means it has been a great year for lettuce, beets, peas, but cucumbers and tomatoes are not as happy. Of course, this year I planned for a lot of tomatoes. I still believe we will get a hot summer and my tomato crop will come.

The planning is done for the year. Now we are modifying the plan. Currently, I am weighing whether to plant a Fall crop of leaf lettuce or let the season play out. I will probably do both—some more plantings, but not as much. That’s primarily due to more warm weather, but also school starts up and fall soccer kicks in which can make it hard to find enough help to weed and harvest.

But for now, it’s all hands on deck. It is the busiest time of the season. The local crops are being harvested daily and delivered to you as fresh as possible. My poor packing crew. They almost run the other way when I roll in from the farm or neighboring farms, because they know that I will bringing something that needs to be fit into the menus, something that’s fresh, nutritious and just needed to be picked!

I love this season, but when Fall rolls around, I am more than ready for the Farm to quietly resolve and end peacefully. Although this year as your fulltime Farming Maestro I am not sure what that season will look like, I imagine that in September I will already be thinking about January’s planning of next year’s Farming season. Hopefully, with a fully functioning knee!

 

Tristan

Your Farmer and Community Health Activist

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 7/1/18)

Red Cabbage

Cabbage is a handy thing to have around. Don’t let it be that vegetable that sits in the bottom of your refrigerator drawer for months on end. There are endless opportunities to use it up. I’m constantly pulling mine out and adding it to my “just about anything”. I like to make cabbage “shavings” by first cutting the cabbage in half, then simply shaving off pieces from along the edges. Also, if you’re like me and rarely use a whole cabbage in one sitting, keep the cut edges from drying out by rinsing and storing in a sealed plastic bag.

Good source of Thiamin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese.

—nutritiondata.self.com

Berries

NW berries need to be treated a little gentler than their California counterparts. Always wait to wash until ready to eat, gently pat dry to avoid soggy berries, and try to eat within 3 days of delivery.

Sweet Onions

Sweet onions lack the sulfuric pungency of yellow onions. The best part? They won’t make you cry when you cut them up! This is also why they taste “sweet” – not because they have more sugar than regular onions, but because they lack the Sulphur. Sweet onions are best eaten fresh – cooking them wastes their delicate flavor and you won’t get the “onion-y” flavor that you want with a cooking onion. The mild flavor of these onions makes them perfect for your raw in salads and relishes or chopped as a garnish. If you do cook them, either roast them to caramelize their flavor or make homemade onion rings.

Sweet onions will keep for a week or two at room temperature. For longer storage keep them in an open paper bag in a cool, dark place. You can put them in the veggie drawer of a fridge in a paper bag or on layers of newspaper, but don’t keep them wrapped in plastic, since their juicy constitution makes them susceptible to rot and mold.

 

Featured Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Protein Rice Bowl

Fiber-rich and full of protein. Serves 4

Ingredients

1 small head of red cabbage

1 large sweet potato

1 sweet onion

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas

4 handfuls of red leaf lettuce, rinsed and chopped

1 1/2 cups of rice

8 ounces 2% yogurt

1 handful of cilantro

1 lime

Olive oil

Spices for Veggies: Onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and some red chili flakes

Kosher salt

Optional: Feta Cheese

Instructions

Pre-heat your oven to 400F

Note: You can either chop and toss the sweet onions in with the veggies to roast, or, if you are fine with the crunch, serve them raw as a topping. For the veggies, cut the cabbage in 8 wedges. Cut large chunks of sweet potato so they cook around the same time. Cook for about 20 minutes or until al dente-tender. Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas and toss in some olive oil to coat and a couple shakes of the spices and a couple pinches of kosher salt. Throw on a lined baking pan and place in the oven (can bake at the same time as the veggies, but try for 10-15 minutes at 400F.

Meanwhile, cook the rice on stove top or in a rice cooker.

While veggies, chickpeas, and rice are cooking, make the cilantro yogurt sauce. Mix together the yogurt, cilantro, juice of the lime, shake of onion powder (or add in some fresh minced sweet onion!), garlic powder and some salt in a food processor or blender, blend, taste, adjust seasonings.

As soon as the veggies, chickpeas, and rice are done cooking, place everything in a bowl including the red leaf lettuce (optionally, you can mix everything else and dump on top the greens) and mix well, then cover for a few minutes, season with some salt and mix some more.

 

Recipe adapted from susanstable.com

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Wedding Bells

Wedding season or farm season? It’s BOTH around here! It is a very special week at Klesick’s. Joelle and I are excited to welcome Abigail into our family. We have known her parents and family for years and have had the pleasure of watching Abby grow up before our eyes. She is a beautiful young lady and Andrew, our son, has definitely found the love of his life. We think she is pretty special, too.

What makes this wedding unique, is that Abby is Mike’s youngest daughter. Yes, the very same Mike, who responds to your emails and returns your phone calls is the proud father of the bride and future father-in-law to our son, Andrew.

Our families are excited for our children and their future.

 

Tristan Klesick