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Sugar Snap Peas

This is the best tasting crop, and it only lasts for only a few weeks! And we got them earlier than ever to boot! That incredible stretch in March is paying dividends now.  

For some reason, I remember picking peas on June 11th in 1999 when our farm was located in Machias. That is the earliest we have ever harvested this variety. We have tried to have peas for the box of good this early every year, but so much has to go “right” to get an early crop off and this year a dry March, wet April, and hot May was the right mix of weather. Go figure??!?!?!!? But this year, it happened!  

So, it will be Klesick Farm pea season for the next few weeks. You can order extra’s as well. If you love sweet, plump and juicy peas, now is the time to treat yourself! 

-Tristan

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Tacos!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

For the Meat:

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion (Diced)
  • 1 TBSP Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¾ tsp. Cumin
  • ½ tsp. Dried Oregano
  • ¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Onion Powder
  • ¼ Cup Tomato Paste
  • ¼ Cup Water

Toppings:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Radishes
  • Chives
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
  • Tortillas (Corn or Flower)
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Avocado
  • Sour Cream
  • Cooked Rice (Optional)
  • Beans (Optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the ground beef fully, drain grease, then add ¼ cup tomato paste and all taco seasonings.
  2. Add in diced onion.
  3. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add to hard or soft shell and add the toppings (plus any more you may like)!
  5. Finish with some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
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Braised Greens with Tomatoes

Yield: 6 Servings | PrepTime: 30 minutes | Source: www.foodandwine.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded and sliced
  • 2 pounds sturdy greens, such as chard, mustard greens, kale or young collards—stems and inner ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • Any other veggies that catch your eye!
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and any other vegetables you might want to use and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the greens, season with salt and pepper and toss to wilt. Stir in the tomatoes, water and vinegar, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, and the tomatoes are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with chopped walnuts, and serve.
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Soil

Soil is critical to human health! Healthy food comes from healthy soils, and a healthy citizenry comes from healthy food. That means the health of our citizens is tied directly back to the health of our soil. 

And sadly, one doesn’t have to look very far from the farm to see that there is a burgeoning population of unhealthy folks today. In addition, any healthy food that is being grown is converted into a myriad of processed products which, I would contend, have substantially lowered the quality of food. 

And, sadly, sugar, fat, and alcohol are all the rage in the food scene, organic or otherwise. It is called “value added,” but overly processed foods, organic or otherwise, are not the solution to America’s health crisis. 

I am a huge fan of veggies and fruit staying as close to their original, recognizable self as possible. Eating foods grown in soils that are minimally processed is the only viable solution to curb America’s health crisis. Will eating more fruits and veggies, solve every disease problem? NO. But clearly the Standard American Diet (SAD) isn’t curbing anything either and, if anything, it is making us worse off. 

Almost all the treatment is just that, it is focused on treating the ailment instead of changing the underlying cause – poor nutrition. The hard part is that we need to attack these illnesses from a dietary perspective and treat the condition to provide some relief. Eventually, if our food policy could switch to more fruit and veggies and less of the current food system, there would be less need for the expensive and intrusive procedures we default to today. But for now, we mostly have a “treat the condition” model.  

I know that there are educational advocates and government programs encouraging the American population to eat a more balanced diet, all things in moderation. This is America, of course they are going to say that. Our political system guarantees us a diet that can never be healthy, because of lobbyist groups.  

So, the only choice we have to remain healthy or be healthier is to make the choice ourselves. At least for the moment we don’t have to buy “their” food, we can take charge of our health. It is at the fork or spoon where healthy food enters our bodies and, if we put good food on that fork or spoon, our bodies will absolutely put it to healing, nourishing, and cell-building work. 

For 21 years, Klesick Farms has been growing, sourcing, and delivering food that your body will be able to put to good use to nourish itself.  

Thanks for allowing our family to serve yours, 

-Tristan

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Tomato Cucumber and Spinach Salad with Avocado Parsley Dressing

Yield: 2 Servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Source: www.cookinglsl.com

Ingredients:

  •  For the dressing:
  •  1 large avocado peeled and cored
  •  1/4 cup parsley
  •  1-2 tbsp chopped dill
  •  1 garlic clove
  •  juice from 1/2 lemon
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  •  black pepper to taste
  •  pinch of cayenne pepper
  •  For the salad:
  •  2 cups baby spinach washed
  •  2 cups chopped tomatoes 
  •  8 mini cucumbers sliced
  •  chopped parsley for garnishing


Instructions:

  1. Place spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl.
  2. Add avocado, lemon juice, parsley, dill, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to a blender. Pulse a few times. Slowly add water and pulse to thin the dressing. Pour over the salad. Store dressing in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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My Part, God’s Part

This is the hardest time of the year for me as a farmer. We are primarily vegetable farmers but also grow some fruit and hay. Vegetables are incredibly slow growing in the spring, and then all of the sudden – BAM! A little heat and little water with increasing day length equals growth. This time of year, everything is just getting started. 

As an organic farmer, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get my soil as alive and healthy as possible. It is pretty simple for me. Take care of your soil, and it will take care of the plants. It is similar to: “you are what you eat.” If we as people choose to eat good food, our bodies will do the rest. Of course, just like the soil, our bodies have an incredible ability to absorb lots of toxicity and still function, but not thrive.

As a farmer, I know when a plant is starting to show signs of stress. It comes from knowing your crops. It is almost as if you are listening to what the plant is telling you. It is not mysterious. Good parents, doctors, counselors, farmers, you name it, are all good listeners. Paying attention to what the crop is telling you is what a farmer has to discern. Does it look piqued, why is it not growing, does it seem dry? And even if I have properly prepared the field, fertilized, planted and watered in the right time of year, some plants just aren’t feeling their best. But when I have done the right things at the right time, almost always, most of the crops do great. 

I consider myself a good listener, maybe I have always been or maybe raising 9 children (5 married so far) has further tuned my sense of hearing. Really, farming and parenting have taught me that you do your best. You try to prepare your fields and children for the next season, and then a lot of other factors, most out of your control, come into play. And yes, often the next seasons will keep you on your knees because so much is out of your hands.

Ironically, it is that part where we have influence, where we can lay the foundation is, also, critical. It is where diligence pays dividends. Equally important is recognizing that the process is bigger than any one person. Understanding what you control, and what is out of your control, is also freeing. 

I do believe that in farming, parenting, or eating, little decisions in the right direction and over long periods of time, lead to healthier crops, healthier children, and a healthier us. Our crops, our children, and our bodies will use the foundations we have laid to finish their race. And amazingly, as if it is a miracle, crops do get harvested, and people are healthier when they eat better food, and children can even navigate Seattle traffic when they are 16! 

Thanks for eating good food!

-Tristan

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Eating Local

We are getting so close to the local season exploding! The next few months are going to roll in like morning fog, and then heat up like hot summer day. The rain last week has hydrated the crops and added moisture to the fields. The moisture is especially helpful this time of year for 2 reasons.

The first is what you might expect, it waters the crops, and after that hot stretch, the peas and lettuce are happy for the cool weather and a drink! Plants are so amazing. When you look at a plant and study it’s leaf structure, you will notice how they have a center rib that funnels water towards the roots and/or the outer circumference of the plant. This is sometimes referred to as the drip zone. The leaves are accumulators of moisture and funnel it to where the plant needs it most.

Another interesting tidbit about leaves is that the leaves “open up” in the morning to capture the dew and then “close off” to conserve the moisture and nutrition. There is also really good evidence that the birds chirping away are one of the mechanisms that causes the plants to open up and take in the nutrition. Joelle and I have intentionally planted trees, all types, on the borders of our property to encourage a diverse ecosystem. 

Starting in the spring, and running throughout the summer, it can get really loud at sunrise with all the avian activity on our farm. I would venture that a rooster didn’t get the farmer up at the crack of dawn, it was all the wildlife singing to the plants!

Another use for moisture is to help breakdown the remaining residue from our winter crops that we plant to protect and nourish our soil. Moisture and heat are critical for the fungi and bacteria world to turn the fibrous plant material into nutrients. Which, in turn, build soil health and feed the plants. Making sure the crop is incorporated into the soil, and there is adequate moisture, speeds up the process and frees the nutrients to feed the plants. 

Feeding the soil bacteria and the other host of unseen workers is job one for an organic farmer. Without healthy soil you can’t have healthy food, and without healthy food you can’t have healthy people. If the national health trend is any indication, our nation’s soil is not producing very healthy crops. And to compound the issue, the agricultural crops are turned into a myriad of overly processed foods that are even more unhealthy.

Organically grown fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes consumed as close to their original state is the silver bullet to America’s health crisis. A simple solution, but one that eludes most.

Growing food for you.

-Tristan

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Grilled Garlic Herb Corn With Tomatoes And Walnuts

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Source: www.pumpkinnspice.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Heat grill or grill pan over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Brush butter mixture onto each ear of corn and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Grill corn for about 5-8 minutes, rotating so that all sides are cooked.
  5. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Remove corn from cob and place into a medium bowl.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.
  7. Pour into a serving dish and top with walnuts.
  • Serve immediately.
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Small Things Matter

When I think about small things, I am thinking about the little decisions that can elevate a conversation to optimism or an argument. Or on the farm, getting ahead of the weather by a day or two can also have lasting impacts on the crops.

Last week, we saw temperatures climb from the low 60s to the high 70s/low 80s. This is the season where a small decision can really influence a June/July harvest. Ideal weather doesn’t exist. The weather is just what it is. Which means, as a farmer, I do my best and then move on. Farmers have an edge about them, it comes with the territory. Some crops do great, some not so great and others just don’t make it. 

Years of farming inform many decisions. A collective wisdom that has been passed down season by season and crop by crop, which means that the weather plays a big factor. But it is out of my control, and when a crop flourishes it probably has more to do with the weather than I give it credit. But the little things like depth of tillage, timely weeding, and timely watering can go long ways towards working with nature to help that crop flourish, too.

80s in May can have a lasting impact on cool weather crops, and the variability of weather can really mess with a plant’s internal clock. Cilantro is always looking for a reason to bolt or “go to seed,” as is spinach. We have chosen to focus on crops that are less temperamental like lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, winter squashes, and garlic. We have tree fruits and raspberries, too.

We no longer grow blackberries. We had two varieties of thorn less blackberries. One came on early; I mean a month before any wild blackberries were ready to harvest, but every bird within a few miles descended upon them and feasted away. The other challenge was that a warm March and cold April with a late frost, killed about a half of them. Their shoots for next year will be fine, but the combination of bird predation and frost susceptibility have made them less desirable to grow.

The other blackberry came on in late August and the birds had plenty of wild blackberries to feast on, but I didn’t like their flavor. They were prolific, big and juicy. I would always walk by them and look for the plumpest berries and eat one and think “meh”. Every time I always thought “meh” when I tasted them. So last fall, I took them out and took out their trellising. 

The beautiful thing about farming is that there are lots of choices when it comes to what crops to grow and every farmer gets to match the crop to their microclimate, their personality, and their temperament!

And with the weather changing, we have new opportunities to grow different crops. But the warmer weather has also come with new pests. I noticed new birds flying over the farm that are now in the valley. Changing weather patterns come with lots of new variabilities and that definitely keeps a farmer on their toes!

Growing good food for you that loves to grow in the Stillaguamish River Valley.

-Tristan

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Kale, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

Yield: 2-4 Servings | Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Source: www.urbancookery.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro (minced)
  • 1/3 Cup Onion (minced)
  • 3 oz Kale (de-stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 Avocado (cut into 1″ cubes)
  • 1 Cucumber (cut into half-moon shapes)


Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together your mayo, water, salt, lime juice, lime zest, Cilantro and onion. Add a little crushed black pepper.
  2. Place your de-stemmed kale in a large bowl and toss with the dressing made in step one. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to help break down the kale’s toughness.
  3. After the kale has sat for at least an hour, toss in your avocado and cucumber and serve.