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Opt Out

As a culture, we have anecdotally, though incorrectly, placed farming and technology at opposite ends of the spectrum. Particularly with organic farming, our first visuals stem from old black and white pictures of grandma and grandpa, with one holding a pitchfork, the other, some corn stalks. Or there was the Back-To-The-Land Movement in the 60s and 70s, where we opted out of most of the modern comforts and efficiencies to do things “how they used to be done”. They were labeled “Hippies” in that era, and they still exist today, but now they’re called Recovering Millennials.  

It wasn’t an accident that this movement began in the 60s. As the war ended and troops returned home, the country shifted its industrial prowess from producing tanks, bombs, and planes, and these talented individuals turned their sights on the next fastest-growing industry: the American family. Many of the companies we know and put up with today have their roots (and patents) incorporated around the forthcoming advancements and inventions. The deep pockets of the military budget (then, and now still) enabled the research and development of many things we hold dearly, but none more so than nearly every invention along the way to our first digital computers, and even the early Internet, known as DARPANET. 

Our modern computer would not be possible without both the war and women. You see, our computer was simply the response to very large, technical, and complex problem, and few had the resources at hand to solve it besides the US    military: how do you accurately target dropping bombs from airplanes, or firing shells from moving ships? Known as ballistic trajectories, you can imagine all the variables that go into these calculations: wind speed, type of shell, angle of the turret, speed and direction of the ship or plane, gunpowder used, air pressure, distance to target, and the ever-present Coriolis Force. These weren’t so much problems of war, but problems of math. With miniscule changes to any one of the variables, each trajectory needed to be re-computed. As the overall range of the shells greatly increased in the early 1900s, you could no longer depend on sight to determine the accuracy. And so we hired computers. No, not machines. Just like we call people who swim, swimmers, and people that build, builders, people that computed were computers. Most notably, women. Teams of women. Entire buildings of women, computing ballistic trajectories. Talk about war heroes! They would later be hired to calculate flight trajectories for early space travel, as shown in the movie Hidden Figures.

As the 50s roared on and machines took over computing, the American Machine drilled its way deep into the home, then it went straight for our food. The Back-To-The-Land Movement, and later the organic label, was simply a reaction to the unnerving trend towards quantity over quality. We’ve long worshipped at the altar of scale, where the products that rise to the top of our food system exist mainly because they are long-lasting, uniform, shelf-stable, processed, transportable, consistent, and cheap. Unfortunately, there are many hidden and deferred costs

to cheap food, and it turns out scale has downsides as well. Prioritizing foods that sell well over foods that digest well might not be very smart in 10 years. 

We now have terms for firms that operate at unprecedented scale: Big Pharma, Big Data, Big Tech, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Banks. We even say they’re too big to fail! On the contrary, my peach tree would argue that when I neglect to trim and thin and it gets too many big peaches, it fails spectacularly! Snap, Crackle, Pop! 🙁

We have gone through a vicious cycle of scaling up our homes (cookie-cutter subdivisions), our food (big-box, fast food), our work (computers, skyscrapers), our sports (TV), our shopping (malls, ecommerce, China), our travel (freeways), and now we seem to be stuck in a season of scaling our entertainment, distraction, and notifications (phones, streaming). When we get bored of one, we move to the next, and there seems to be a lot of unnecessary suffering created in the margins near the altar of scaling anything. The low-hanging fruit of endless ramping-up appears to have served us well, but there are rumblings and groanings that the consequences are coming back to balance out the scales.

The organic movement was simply a conscious choice or discipline to do things how they should be done, rather than how they could be done. Plenty of our technology exists simply because we can, with precious little thought as to whether we should. But just like our need for organic labeling came about, we’re now seeing our technology wrestle in the same arena with things like the Center for Humane Technology and Time Well Spent. Organic farming and now our technology are together, oddly, pushing back on similar encroachments. 

When a system is too big to fail, that’s a good indicator that something is broken, deeply, at the root. And a broken food system can hardly be fixed by calling your senator, attending a conference, choosing a diet based on book sales. Sometimes, all that’s left is to simply opt-out. By getting your Box of Good, you are opting out.

-Tobin

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Pasta with Roasted Peppers and Feta Cheese

Yield: 4 Servings | Source: www.nytimes.org

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced roasted Italian red peppers
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large wilted spinach leaves, cut in slivers (optional)
  • 3 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ pound pasta, any shape


Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced roasted peppers and stir together for about a minute until well infused with the oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the spinach (if using) and feta cheese. Remove from the heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook until al dente — firm to the bite — following the recommendations on the package. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water into the frying pan and stir well so that the feta cheese begins to melt. Drain the pasta and toss immediately with the pepper mixture in the pan. Serve.

How to Roast the Peppers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the oven rack on the top position, about 4 inches under the broiler.
  2. Cut the peppers in half and remove the stems, seeds and membranes.
  3. Lay the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Roast the red peppers for 15-20 minutes or until the skins are very dark and have collapsed. (There is no need to rotate or turn the peppers.) Once the skins are blackened remove the peppers from the oven.
  4. At this point most people recommend placing the roasted peppers in a paper bag to steam for about 10 minutes to help loosen the skin. Simply let the peppers cool for a few minutes until comfortable enough to handle and then peel the skins off and discard them.
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Inchelium Garlic

This week we are featuring Klesick Farms Inchelium garlic. We have settled into this variety to grow. It is a classic soft-neck garlic as opposed to a hard-neck garlic. The latter produces a seed pod, called a garlic scape, that is edible. Ironically, those seed heads will eventually turn into bulbils, which is essentially a very tiny garlic clove. When you plant those bulbils, you get one clove the next year and then if you plant that one clove from that one bulbil you will get a head of garlic.

Most farmers do not plant bulbils, but instead plant cloves directly and bypass a year of growth. When we planted hard-neck garlic in the past, we would save those bulbils. Then in the fall, just like regular garlic, we would plant them and harvest garlic greens in the spring, similar to green onions. Through trial, error, and frustration, we discovered that harvesting garlic greens in March is really difficult due to the elements, and our clay soils. 

We have learned to wait till the weather moderates and the soil warms before we attempt to harvest or plow on our farm. Because of this, we no longer grow garlic greens, mostly due to a time of year issue. However, garlic grown for bulbs does just fine, and the Inchelium is a beautiful heirloom variety that was discovered in Colville Washington.

Ironically, garlic, like most plants, takes on the personality of the soil and the farmer. This year’s garlic was a bumper crop! The combination of planting in hills, mulching with straw, and spacing it about 6” apart in each row and between the rows with two rows per hill seemed to work. Of course, that is what worked this year with this year’s weather pattern and this 9-month experiment will become the planting protocol going forward.

Garlic is one of those truly slow foods, especially compared to radishes, which take about 25 days to mature. Garlic is a superhero, and while it might take 9 months to grow and a few months to dry/cure, it can also last for months, unlike it’s quick growing compadre the Radish! 

CAUTION. We are sending you “uncured” garlic in your box this week, which means we just harvested it and it will not last for more than a few weeks on your counter. EAT IT THIS WEEK. You can use it just like regular garlic, press it, dice it, stir fry or roast it, but just make sure you use it this week. 

The rest of the garlic will be curing and available later in August and into the winter. If you haven’t noticed I am big fan of garlic and am all in on INCHELIUM! 

Enjoy,

-Tristan

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Wildlife and Farming

Peter Rabbit and his siblings have taken up residence this year! The rabbits are cute and fun to watch scurry around. And they definitely feel at home! You can practically walk right up to them. The other day I found one sunning themselves in the greenhouse under the cucumbers. The nerve!  

I haven’t seen too much vegetable damage from the rabbits. But I have been scratching my head lately, wondering why the drip irrigation is leaking in unusual places. I even replaced a section the other day that was all scratched up. Hmmm!  

I mentioned this story to John, my #1 farmhand and it was like a light bulb went off above our heads. He just replaced two complete sections of drip tape which was all scratched up! But they weren’t all scratched up, they were chewed up, apparently those lazy critters are helping themselves to a drink every now and then FROM THE DRIP TAPE! 

Part of the problem is that our farm dog has gotten along in years and while his desire to chase rabbits still exists, the motivation to chase rabbits has long since left🙂. Of course, having a good rab bit chasing dog has its advantages (like less rabbits wandering willy-nilly here and there). But, since that option isn’t present, we will have to go to Plan B. I am going to put a plywood rabbit door that us humans can step over or move and then I am going to put a water dish outside the greenhouse. 

Obviously, our “farm ecosystem” is a little out of balance, which is why we have a lot of rabbits. Eventually, the coyote/owl/falcon/hawk/eagle populations will respond to the new increased food/rabbit supply and create balance again. It will take time, which means I will need to manage the operation a little differently and possibly get another rabbit-chasing farm dog.

This week’s menu has 13 locally grown fruits and vegetables. It has been a very late start to the local season, but we’re harvesting now! We are even seeing a few tomatoes ripening, both the Early Girls and the Sungold Cherry tomatoes. And we are going to have a bumper crop of cucumbers, green beans and beets. The potatoes have really loved the cool spring and this dry stretch. Of course, everything has really loved this dry stretch of warm weather, even this farmer

  What is fun about market/truck farming is that the landscape is always changing. Every week we are planting something, then we add weeding to the planting, and then eventually you add harvesting to the planting, and weeding–which is where we are right now–and it is busy! Around September planting slows down your focus on harvesting and weeding. In October, you stop weeding altogether and keep harvesting, and then in November you take a long nap and wait till Spring to start the cycle all over again! 

But right now, it is local produce time and us local farmers are getting it out of our fields and delivered to your door

Your farmer in health,

-Tristan

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Sautéed Kale and Green Beans with Garlic and Tomatoes

Yield: 2 Servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Source: www.veggieloution.org

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. white wine (or substitute chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water)
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, large stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • juice from ½ a lemon (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 3 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.  
  3. Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  4. Add the wine and cook until green beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes.  
  5. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the kale and cook until kale is wilted, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  6. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and remove from heat.  
  7. Stir in the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese (if using).  
  8. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately.
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Chicken & Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Garlic Green Beans

Ingredients:

For the Pasta:

  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes (optional)
  • 5-8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1⁄8 cup parmesan cheese

For the Green Beans:

  • 1-pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches lemon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

For the Pasta:

  1. In large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it is hot but not smoking.
  2. Add the garlic and onions; sauté until golden– about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add spices and chicken chunks; cook through–about 10 minutes.
  4. Add diced Roma tomatoes to chicken/Marinara sauce.
  5. Simmer while cooking pasta according to package directions.
  6. Toss Marinara sauce gently with cooked pasta; serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
  7. Divide (1/2 cup) between the squash, top with parmesan cheese and bake 10 minutes.

For the Green Beans:

  1. Place green beans into a large skillet and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans start to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain water. Add olive oil to green beans; cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Cook and stir garlic with green beans until garlic is tender and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with lemon pepper and salt.
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Generations

The Stillaguamish River Valley has been the home of the Klesick Family for 70 years. I haven’t really given it that much thought till the last week on the 4th of July. My grandparents moved to Oso in the early 1950’s, like many folks from that generation, they were WW2 veterans and settled in Puget Sound. And a good many of the 11 Aunts and Uncles ended up working for Boeing. My grandpa worked in the lumber yard in Darrington and Grandma worked for Boeing. 

Our family has been spending summers for the better part of 70 years visiting and playing and creating memories. As time marches forward and I am now a grandparent, the transitions seem faster. Almost, all of the great aunts and uncles have left this planet and the next guard has taken their place. Many of them sitting in the exact same spot their parents would have perched to take in all the festivities and catch up on all the happenings. 

And just as my parents have moved up a tier, so have Joelle and I. The new grandparent tier with my cousins are nearing a half century and a few us older, not by much though! And our collective children range from ages 7 to 28, and there are upwards of 23 of them from just the Oso side of the family.  

And now the older children are having children and they are continuing the family tradition of coming to Oso and connecting upwards with the “older guard”. Four generations laughing, playing, visiting and strengthening connections.

This past weekend, it really struck me. I was one of those little kiddos, splashing in the Stillaguamish River with my brother, sister and cousins 45 years ago and almost at the identical spot. I used to build dams in the side channel and splash my mom just like my grandkids were now doing to their mom. 

I remember my dad fording the river with me in tow and how I used to do the same with my children, and how the “worrying” side of the family would all caution us to be safe – some things haven’t changed.   Continued…

And this weekend I saw my son, with a tight grasp on two of the young ones fording that river at almost the identical spot I would have crossed with him and the same spot that I would have crossed with my dad. 

And although I can’t say for sure, I imagine that my grandpa probably forded that river with my dad in the early 1950’s at the same spot. As a matter of fact, if I close my eyes, I can almost hear my grandma Opal, “Richard, you be careful!” 

And in the blink of an eye and in the very near future, Joelle and I will taking up the “older guard” spots that have that unique vantage. Partaking in the 4 or 5 generations that are now below us, watching all those little ones play in the river and a few more ford it with their parents. I wonder who is going to be the one to assume the role of reminding them to be careful?!

Family and family memories are important, thanks for allowing me to muse! 

-Tristan

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Chicken Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash with Mushroom

Yield: 6 Servings | Prep Time: 40 minutes | Source: www. www.skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 small delicata squash, halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 oz Italian chicken sausage (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 4 oz chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 6 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Spray the cut sides of the squash with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place face down on a large baking sheet. Bake until tender and browned on the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan cook sausage on medium heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks until the sausage is cooked through and is browned. Add the onion and celery; cook until celery is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and thyme to the pan, more salt and pepper if needed and cook, stirring 5 minutes, then cook covered for 2 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through.
  • Divide (1/2 cup) between the squash, top with parmesan cheese and bake 10 minutes.