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Hinges

I came across a quote from W. Clement Stone. He is attributed to have said, “Little hinges swing big doors.” Let that sink in for a moment. “Little hinges swing big doors.” What size hinge is necessary to swing the doors in our lives that are blocking progress? One needs the appropriate size hinge, the appropriate number of hinges, and the appropriate placement of hinges to swing any door. Small hinges can swing large doors. 

I am no hinge expert, but this is what I do know. Hinges facilitate the movement of the door. A door, by definition, must be able to open, or it would be a wall. Ironically enough, a door is also a wall, but a wall is not a door.

Alright Tristan where are you going? Thanks for asking. When we moved to our farm and farmhouse there were two front doors kitty corner to each other on the same porch (still somewhat of a head scratcher to me???). One of those doors was a door with a window, much akin to a back-porch door. The other door was this really ornate, cool, solid wood door on the adjoining wall. Both had doorknobs and both looked like doors, duh! They were both doors.

The really cool old door didn’t work, and the half-glass back-porch door did work. What couldn’t be discerned from the outside is that at some point in this farmhouse’s 127-year history, someone took off the hinges of that old door, nailed it to the wall, and then paneled over it on the inside. True story 🙂

Sometimes, when it comes to making life changes, we try the wrong door. It might even be the coolest door, or even what appears to be the correct front door, but if that door has no hinges, it is not going to open. When you locate the door with hinges, you have a chance to pass through it, and it will open rather effortlessly. This can either be a good thing or not, but for the most part, if you can open a door, it is at a minimum meant to be opened. If not, it would be locked, or in the case of our old farmhouse, nailed shut and paneled over on the inside.

When it comes to eating healthy, we complicate it. Eating healthy is not complicated, we are! The door to eating healthy is relatively well-oiled and placed in the open where you would expect a door to be. The door to fresh fruits and vegetables, the one door that moves the needle on health and longevity like none other, isn’t nailed shut, hidden, or hard to find. But sadly, for some reason, most Americans rarely open it up and walk through it.

Of course, your family opens the door to health every time a Box of Good arrives, ensuring fresh organically grown fruits and veggies are available for you and your family to eat healthy. Thank you for that. 

As a side note, we swapped out that back-porch door with the really cool ornate wood door, then filled the open space with a window. 

Enjoy,  

-Tristan

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Stuffed Patty Pan Squash with Beef and Feta

Yield: 10 Servings | Prep Time: 1 Hour 25 Minutes | Source: www.southernliving.com

Ingredients:

  • 10 large pattypan squash (4 to 6 inches wide)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill, divided
  • Chives, chopped (optional)
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1¼ cups)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut off top third of each squash, and scoop out pulp, using a serrated corer or melon baller, leaving a 1-inch shell intact. Coarsely chop pulp; reserve 1 cup of chopped pulp and discard remaining pulp. Place squash bowls in an 11×13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.
  2. Place beef in skillet, and cook, stirring to crumble, until starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and reserved 1 cup chopped squash pulp to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach; cover and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer beef mixture to a medium bowl; cool 10 minutes.
  3. Stir eggs, cooked rice, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the dill into beef mixture. Gently stir in cheese. Spoon mixture into baked squash bowls.
  4. Bake squash in preheated oven until tops begin to brown and squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle squash with remaining 1 tablespoon dill and chives to garnish.
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Beet Chips with Garlic-Dill Tahini Dip

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 1 Hour | Source: www.aspicyperspective.com

Ingredients:

   Beets:

  • 4 beets
  • 3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sea salt

Garlic-Dill Tahini Dip:

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic(minced)
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup fresh dill (minced)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrub the beets well with a veggie brush and cut off the tops.
  2. Use a mandolin slicer to slice the beets paper thin (1/16-inch). When the beet slices are this thin, there is no need to peel them first. Hold the root end while dragging the beets across the mandolin and watch your fingertips closely.
  3. Place the beet slices in a large bowl and pour the oil and salt over the top. Toss well. (If using red and golden beets, place in separate bowls and divide the oil and salt evenly.) Ready for the secret step? Now let the beets sit in the oil and salt until they release their natural juices, about 15-20 minutes. This is what allows them to retain a better shape and color.
  4. Toss the beets again, then drain off the liquid. Lay the slices out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 45-60 minutes until crisp, but not brown. Test after 45 minutes and only bake longer if necessary. Remove the beet chips from the oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
  5. For the dip, mix all ingredients together in a bowl
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Summer

I’m hoping for more summer, but last week had that Fall feel to it. When I came downstairs, the heater had turned on. I thought to myself: hmm, that is strange. To the thermostat’s credit, it was chilly. Of course, a few cold mornings in early August don’t predict the future, but before we know it, it will be September. And you know what that means, SOCCER season.  

I coach my son’s team, and I already have those boys practicing. I am a coach that believes in practicing with the ball all the time, and we practice at game speed for most of the practice. But I digress. Fall will be here soon enough, but for now there is still lots of work to be done on the farm. 

If I had to sum up the farm season, it was mostly wins. Things were a little slower growing and quality has been really good. Our early apples have that sweet, tart flavor that is reminiscent of another era. The Pristine is a little later this year, even with the drier weather, but it is fun to have an early apple. The trees we grafted from Honeycrisp to Liberty apples have been growing really well, and in 2021 we will have a healthy crop of Liberties. I absolutely love this apple, but our next apple will be the Gravenstein, followed by the Chehalis.  

Soon there will be Conference and Stark Crimson pears, followed by the Bosc pears. Pears are my favorite crop. I could eat a pear every day. You might be wondering how I chose my varieties. I grow what I like to eat, and I grow what grows well on our farm. Some of this is trial and error. You do your research and plant the crop, and then you try to farm them. Sometimes an experiment will take 3-5 years before you can accurately judge whether or not the crop or tree is a good fit for your microclimate or farming style. We have grafted all of our Comice pear trees to Conference Pears, and that was a good decision. The Conference pear tree is much happier on our farm and tastes really good. Pears are still a month away though.  

Switching back to veggies. Cucumbers are coming on, tomatoes are coming on, green beans have been strong with our third planting a few weeks away. This week we are harvesting beets. Beets are one of my favorites. Our French relatives serve, boiled, peeled, and cubed beets with grated carrots and green beans as the first course. I love that dish; I could eat it a few times a week with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try it this week, you can put all of it on a bed of lettuce or spinach, too. YUM! 

Thank you for eating your fruit and veggies, it is the easiest way to obtain optimal health. 

Cheers,

-Tristan

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Roasted Vegetable Medley

Yield: 5 Servings | Prep Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:

   Potatoes:

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved
  • 1 Tbs. minced onion
  • 2 Tbs. minced parsley
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Broccolini:

  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 1½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Carrots:

  • 2 lb. carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions:

     Potatoes:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Toss potatoes and onion in olive oil to coat.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle parsley over potatoes and season with salt and pepper; toss.

Broccolini:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and trim the broccolini and cut in portions for the larger pieces. Lay on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix the garlic with the olive oil. Toss the broccolini with the olive mixture. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes. or until tender and crispy.

Carrots:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. On a large baking sheet, toss carrots with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 30 minutes.
  3. Garnish with parsley, if desired, before serving.
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Why Local?

Commerce has always been the heartbeat of every economy. Let’s face it, if a community has no way, or severely limited ways, to create products or get them to a market, that community is going to be smaller, and possibly not even exist. 

The idea of local means something different to different people. For some it might mean buying Chinese products from a local shopkeeper, or a large one like Walmart???? For others it might be buying only locally made items from nonlocal materials. Others might think that local means buying only items from local producers who use local items, but even the producer might use a plastic or hemp or some other material from somewhere else to package the item. Are we counting the energy from dams or natural gas or big oil in the production of our local items? 

The idea of local is a difficult thing to pin down. Where do we draw the line? American only? Washington only? America and Mexico only? What about customer service, quality, and local jobs? Are those as equally important or more than where the item is produced? Is the size of the company important? Is there anything inherently better about Costco because it is a local company or Trader Joes because it is not? 

One of the most local things is food, but even that is complicated. Local food is almost always raised by local farmers using Diesel to power their tractors and get their products to market. What about the seed and fertilizers? They mostly come from other places too.  

Klesick farms is a local company and a local farm, but we also work with other local farmers and producers from Skagit or Washington, other states, and even countries. We pride ourselves on being as local as locally possible, and also having a high standard for quality and customer service. Quality, not only in the actual produce we deliver, but the internal quality of the organically grown produce we deliver. That internal quality is the real prize, the fact that it’s beautiful is a plus. 

What we are after is the quality that feeds your body, that fuels your body, mind, and soul to be as healthy as you can possibly be for as long as possible. What we eat is important, and I like to think that where it comes from has a little to do with it as well. For the last 21 years, Klesick’s has never deviated from that mission, message, or passion. Your health is important, and growing or sourcing foods that are healthy, vibrant, and nourishing is embedded deep in our DNA.  

Your health matters to this local farm and company! 

-Tristan

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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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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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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