Posted on

I Spoke Too Soon

I should have known that as soon as I mention the word “Flood” last week in my newsletter, we would get a little teaser of what might happen. As of writing this newsletter, the forecasted rain event will cause the rivers to elevate, but not reach flood stage. And to NOAA and the National Weather Service’s credit they have been fairly accurate on their projections.

If it does flood, we will be updating our Instagram and Facebook pages as it unfolds. For me, boring is beautiful! My kids, on the other hand, love it when it floods! Something about no school and watching the river come over the banks. Mind you, we live in a part of the valley where the water rises slowly and, thankfully for us, our home is on a higher piece of ground. 

Let’s switch topics!

This week we are featuring a few items from 3 of my close farming friends. Anne at Blue Heron Farms in Concrete is supplying mustard greens. These will be a mustard mix that will be excellent in soup or stir fry. The beautiful thing about greens is, if you love them, you can’t get enough, and if they aren’t your favorite, adding them to soup helps them disappear, literally, because greens cook down quite a bit. 

We are also buying a Carrots and Green cabbage from Ralph’s Greenhouse. I have been working with Ralph’s Greenhouse for two decades. All of their produce is incredible, and we love to share their bounty with you.

The other farmer isn’t so local, but I have been buying Benzler grapes for just as long as I have been in business. Thomas and his family have been farming for 3 generations, and the fourth is on their way. It is interesting, when you talk with multigenerational farmers, how there is a deep sense of a need to pass on the farm. This week we will be featuring their red grapes and soon it will be their Navel oranges. 

Farming is about feeding people and caring for the land. I have been blessed for the better part of 25 years to be able to grow food, but also connect you to the bounty of others who are just as committed to healthy food as I am!

I am really excited to try the cabbage recipe this week. Roasted veggies are my favorite!

-Tristan

Posted on

Mustard Greens

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Source: www.simplyrecipes.com

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Instructions:

  1. In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.
  2. Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted.
  3. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Posted on

Roasted Cabbage

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 40 Minutes | Source: www.allrecipes.com

 Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons, halved

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Brush both sides of each cabbage wedge with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper over each wedge. Arrange wedges on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes; flip cabbage and continue roasting until browned and charred in some areas, about 15 minutes more. Squeeze lemon over each wedge.
Posted on

Braised Zucchini with Sun Gold Tomatoes & Basil

Yield: 2 Servings | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Source: www.farmhousedelivery.com

 Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini, washed and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 c. sun gold cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small bunch basil, torn or cut into large pieces

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet with high sides or braising pan.  
  2. When it shimmers, add zucchini and cook quickly until browned.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.  
  3. Add a little more olive oil to pan and add garlic. Sauté briefly, 30 seconds-1 minute, then add cherry tomatoes.  
  4. When tomatoes begin to soften and release juices, add zucchini back to pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  
  5. Add basil, toss again, and serve hot or at room temperature.
Posted on

A Little Tense

In August of 2003, Joelle and I purchased our current farm in all its glory. Never mind the buildings (where the original barn was lying flat in a heap of timber), or the funky carport attached to the front of a once beautiful farmhouse, or the machine shop/equipment storage barn that was, well, still “standing” for now! 

We had been shopping for a farm for 5 years. We looked at everything from Montesano, to Goldendale, to Rockport, to Darrington, to Tonasket. The worst part was that we knew we wanted to farm; we just didn’t know what kind of farm we wanted to be. 

When you don’t know what kind of farm you want to be, just about any farm will work. Thankfully for us, we stumbled across this previously described gem and got to work restoring “her” to her former glory. What really sold us on this place was not the house, but the equipment shed and the soil.  

About the time we discovered this farm, we had finally settled on growing veggies, and we were now looking for farms with good soil. If you are going to buy a farm and raise vegetables of commercial significance you will need rich deep alluvial soils. That means you are going to be living, or at least farming, in the flood plains. That is where we ended up. About as close as you can get to the mouth of the Stillaguamish river, and a whopping 14 feet above sea level. And every one of those 14 feet matters down here.  

Allow me to close this loop. In October 2003, this valley got blindsided by a rainstorm that just came sheeting off the hills and flooded everything. We were new and hadn’t really been properly introduced to the Stillaguamish River, but during that flood we knew who the boss was going forward. From 2003 to 2011 we experienced several significant floods, and not much since then. 

I know that one day, and possibly this year, the Stillaguamish will remind us who “owns” the valley bottoms. I am thankful, though, that the Stillaguamish River shares this beautiful soil with us farmers rather freely. 

In 2003, it had also been a few years since there had been a meaningful reminder of flooding in the valley, and that October flood caught many farmers off guard. By the time they knew it was going to flood, it was too late. Millions of dollars of corn and potatoes went unharvested in our valley. Literally, months of planning and hard work was left to rot.  

Which is why, 16 years later when the weather switched in early September to a colder and wetter pattern, every farmer was pushing their equipment and working around the clock to make sure that the Stillaguamish wouldn’t lay claim to any unharvested crops. For the most part the valley is ready in case it floods. Down here it is not if, but when it will flood. At least the crops are out!  

-Tristan

Posted on

Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Delicata Squash

Yield: 4 Servings | Source: www.kristineskitchenblog.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium delicata squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • additional cilantro or cheddar cheese for serving, if desired

Instructions:

Roast the Squash:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the tough stem end of the delicata squash, then slice each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side-up in a baking dish and lightly brush with olive oil on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 30-35 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Maintain oven temperature.

Cook the Quinoa:

  • Bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Prepare the Filling:

  • In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, tomato sauce, and water, and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cooked quinoa, black beans, cilantro, and cheddar cheese.

Fill and Bake the Stuffed Squash:

  • Scoop the filling into the squash halves. Bake in the 375-degree oven for 10 minutes, until filling is heated through and squash is tender. Serve, topped with additional cheese and cilantro if desired.
Posted on

Kale and Roasted-Potato Salad

Yield: 6 Servings | Source: www.marthastewart.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Amarosa potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1-pound kale, trimmed, cut into large pieces

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine potatoes, onion slices, 1 tablespoon oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with pepper, and toss. Spread mixture in a single layer (use a second sheet if necessary). Roast, stirring potatoes and scraping bottom of sheet about every 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until potatoes are brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Combine mustard and lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add kale, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 6 minutes. Add mustard-lemon mixture; toss to coat. Cook until heated through. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and season with pepper. Toss with potatoes.
Posted on

What Happened!

Things were growing right along. The summer was a tad colder than desired, but all in all there was enough sunshine and good weather, with a few timely showers, to keep most veggies and fruit crops content. Everything was pretty happy, except for the tomatoes.  

I mean, they were happy enough, but not really happy. Ok, let’s be real, this just wasn’t a tomato year. Yes, we produced some amazing tomatoes, and a decent quantity, but this wasn’t the year to grow all your tomatoes outside, which is exactly what chose to do. 

Hindsight is always 20/20. For the previous 2 growing seasons, the summers were hot and dry, and when you add a little irrigation to hot and dry, you get TOMATOES. When it comes to climate change, we believe that the climate is changing, and the NW is going to be one of the winners, especially when it comes to growing tomatoes on the western side of this state. 

Our decision to grow all of our tomatoes outside was the right one, in light of the warming trend, but this last season was more normal in its presentation, and maybe we should have planted the greenhouses too. If you are thinking, “why not just plant the greenhouses every year?” The short answer is, growing tomatoes outside is more enjoyable for me. But next year, I will probably grow inside and outside. 

We have this new patch of cucumbers that is coming into production right now and, if this was last year, those cukes would be producing like crazy. However, this early start to fall has them a little confused. It is also a tad cold for them, and with the shortening day length, those beautiful plants are probably going to be calling it quits here pretty soon. John and I are talking about covering them with a blanket called Reemay. It will protect the plants from a light frost and extend their season.  

Tree Fruit 

We have been featuring our Conference pears in the boxes lately. I love pears. I could eat a pear every day, especially a firm pear. I like them firm and juicy, and these Conference pears are perfect right now. Our Conference pears are a harvested over a two-week window, and then they’re gone. Thankfully, the Bosc and Comice pears are close on their heels. We should have Klesick pears for the next few weeks, then a gap, and then Bosc and a few Comice pears in early October.  

Lest I forget, look for the first winter squash in a few weeks. I am thinking I will lead with the Delicata, then Carnival, pie pumpkins, and Acorn for Thanksgiving. Look for Delicata to arrive in two weeks.  

The farm recap respectively submitted! 

-Tristan

Posted on

Cauliflower Potato and Celery Soup

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Source: www.berrysweetlife.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 4 celery sticks, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Chives for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, fry the onion for about a minute before adding the garlic and fry until glassy and fragrant. Add the cauliflower and celery and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes
  2. Now add the potatoes, broth and water – the veggies should be very nearly covered with the liquid. Simmer on a medium high heat for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender, stir half-way through cooking time.
  3. Blend until silky smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with chopped chives, and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
Posted on

Roasted Corn and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Source: www.pinchofyum.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet corn
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • a handful of fresh basil ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese

Instructions:

  1. Husk corn cob. Wash and dry the corn. Slice corn off the cob. Place corn in a sturdy non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat with no oil or butter. Let sit for 3-4 minutes and stir. Repeat until corn gets nice and brown on the outside. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cut the tops of the tomatoes off and carefully scoop out the flesh, reserving the flesh in a separate bowl. Set whole tomatoes aside. Crush the tomato flesh with the back of a spoon or in a food processor until there are no large chunks. Don’t totally puree it – just chop/mash it up.
  3. Combine the mashed tomato mixture, brown rice, basil, corn and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add a small handful of the shredded cheese, reserving some for topping. Stir it all together until well-mixed.
  4. Preheat broiler. Stuff the whole tomatoes with the tomato, rice, and corn mixture until rounded on the top. Top with shredded cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese reaches desired meltiness and tomatoes are heated through.