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Only A Few Weeks Left

We have been adding an extra ordering page for the Thanksgiving holiday. We used to routinely include a flyer with every order and then our customers would return it and we make changes, add-ons or vacation skips. It seems that digital communication streamlined most of that communication, but this year we are bringing it back for the next few weeks.  

You can use the form as an actual honest to goodness old fashioned order form. Fill it out and leave it for your driver to pick up on your next delivery. OLD SCHOOL. Or you could fill it out and call us, also OLD SCHOOL. Or you can fill it out and take a picture and EMAIL it to [email protected]’s.com, Not so OLD SCHOOL, or you could take a picture and IM or DM or…. now we are getting techy. You could even go online and just place the order 😊. We are happy to help you get the freshest food for your holiday table, and whichever way works best for you – Have at it! 

We also use this holiday to partner with you to extend a box of good to the less fortunate in our community through our food bank systems. We support 10 food banks with weekly local boxes of good that are donated by you our customers. We call it Neighbors Helping Neighbors, but at Thanksgiving we design a HOLIDAY DONATION box. It is the same box that you are able to order for your thanksgiving meal, but we sell it for $10 less. This is our way of participating in making the holidays a little better for others. 

If you would like to join us as we continue 22 years of donating Holiday Donation boxes, please fill out the form and get it back to us (using one of the methods mentioned above), and we will do the rest. Actually, we will order, assemble, and deliver the freshest organically grown produce to our local community food banks and THE FOOD BANKS WILL EXTEND YOUR KINDNESS TO THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. 

I love local solutions to local problems, and together we have made a difference and are making a difference. 

Thank you, 

-Tristan

Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule

Note your new delivery day

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Time To Plan

Isn’t it hard to believe that it’s already time to be planning for Thanksgiving? Those of us in the farming and food business have already been planning for this major food holiday, but now it is time to share with you what we are “cooking up” on our end for deliveries. 

Delivery Schedules: 

For the week of Thanksgiving, all deliveries will be happening Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Which means if your normal delivery day is Thursday, Friday or Saturday, your order Thanksgiving week will be before the Holiday. Don’t worry about it now, we will email and communicate the delivery changes well in advance. 

Holiday boxes:  

For the Last 20 years we have been helping families with their Thanksgiving meal planning. This year will be no different, except, we have two ways to order your Thanksgiving items. 

1. You can either order the Holiday Box (with my regular order) or the Holiday Box (replacing my regular order). Either way, the Holiday Box is the same box. But, inevitably, Alaina and the Klesick’s team will be thinking about Holiday box orders that also have your regular boxes still being ordered. Many of you intend to order a holiday box and your regular order and, conversely, many of you intend to only order a holiday box but forget to move your current order out a week. This change in how you order the Holiday Boxes will make it easier on our Klesick’s team to get your order perfect and make sure you get exactly what you ordered. 

2. The Holiday Boxes are available for the weeks of November 11th, 18th, 25th, and December 1st. The Holiday box is a popular box all month. 

3. You can also send a Holiday Donation Box to one of our 10 food banks that we partner with weekly and make this Holiday Season even more nutritious for a family in need. For each donation box purchased, we send out end of year tax receipts. 

4. And as usual, you can order all your Thanksgiving ingredients “a la carte“. 

5. The Holiday Box menu and prices are available below.   

Thank you,

-Tristan 

Farmer/Health Advocate 

Holiday Box Menu:

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Kitchen Talk

Joelle and I have a rhythm to our cooking. I love to make food and then she loves to make it taste great! She could never work at Panera or IHOP, where the only ingredients seem to be sodium and sugar.  Joelle has a unique ability to discern what is missing, and how much to add or not. I, on the other hand, tend towards lots of veggies and texture and then leave the final pass to Joelle. 

Speaking of the “Pass,” I have been watching the Netflix show called The Chef’s Line. In this series, there are 4 home cooks who cook against a restaurant’s team of chefs.  Each series features a different culture, and the home cooks are either from that culture, or love to cook that cultures food. I don’t have a significant amount of time to watch shows, but these 22-minute episodes are a nice break to decompress and get inspired at the same time. 

I would never qualify as a home cook on this show, because I love to cook all the cultures from Indian, to Italian, to Vegan (smile), to Mexican. It sort of belies the fact that American cuisine is truly a melting pot of cultures and flavors and, well…there really isn’t any one thing that I gravitate towards. I just love to cook them all and eat it. 

I do gravitate towards simple cooking, and I usually make 6 to 9 loaves of sourdough bread a week. I recently added flour tortillas to my rotation (I hate all that plastic that comes with purchasing flour tortillas). I love to bake sourdough bread. It is an unsophisticated art, where the results vary, and the outcome is always devoured. Last night, I set out my starter and fed it. Then, at 5am, I mix 200 grams of starter with 1000 grams of water and 1200 grams of flour, mix all of them together, let it set for 30 minutes, add 24 grams of salt and mix again. 

Flour is where I do become a local-vore. At our farm we sell Cairnspring Flours, and I exclusively bake with all local flours from Skagit county. I want to see local flours with regional integrity and flavors make a comeback. Cairnspring Mills is the connection to incredible flavor, and locally sourced nutrition. 

But I digress. After shaping bread and heading off to a Volleyball match in Snohomish, I called ahead on our way home and asked Joelle to heat up the oven to 450 degrees so I could bake off a loaf. And, much to my surprise and delight, our evening fire had burned down to coals, and the upper bake oven was at 475 degrees. That is a perfect temperature to bake bread, so I slid another loaf into the fireplace oven and will be taking them out at about the time I finish this newsletter, 45 minutes later. 

Tonight’s bread will truly embody the definition of hearth baked bread! And, as a side benefit, since all the kiddos are off to bed, the bread has a chance to cool down and last longer than 25 minutes before it is devoured! Okay, as much as I want the bread to last a little longer, it is satisfying when your family is eagerly waiting for several slices of fresh, out of the oven, baked bread!  

Time to go! The timer is beeping! 

-Tristan

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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

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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

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Washboards and Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Our nine-year-old is in the fun stage of seeing the world idyllically.  She knows that in our family we like to try to be wise with our resources, do our part in preserving the planet, and make healthy choices whenever possible.  So, she has suggested using a washboard to do laundry, using candles exclusively to light our home, and walking or riding our bike everywhere we go!  Wow, the enthusiasm is contagious; for about 30 seconds!

I don’t think most of our goals are that extreme, but I love that sort of back to the earth, simplistic thinking.  When it comes to food, there are some tangible things we can do to make it easier to embrace frugal, healthier choices for our bodies and our planet!

Eat food as close to its natural state as possible, in season, and with minimal added processing or packaging.  This saves money, time, resources, and is healthier!   “Healthy” junk food has become readily available, but it usually comes with a higher price tag, and almost always a higher environmental cost!

Take a minute, check your pantry and fridge, and evaluate what processed foods you use most, and think about whether there is a natural choice for a better alternative.  With fall upon us, I’ll use pumpkin as an example.  Many fall recipes call for canned pumpkin.  Have you ever tasted canned pumpkin before adding it to a recipe?  Oh my!  There is literally no temptation at all to lick the spatula when emptying a can of pumpkin.  Try making your pumpkin puree from a fresh, local, delicious, organic Pie Pumpkin!  It’s super easy! You will never go back to canned, and you’ll probably be found guilty of not only sneaking a taste but going back for seconds!  It’s healthier, yummier, supports local, and is better for the environment!

To make a simple pumpkin puree, first, wash your pumpkin, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, place the halves open side down on a baking sheet, then roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 45 minutes.  Scoop out the flesh, place in a heavy-duty blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.  Voila!  It’s simple.

Now, be forewarned; when you tell people that you made your pumpkin pie from a locally grown, organic pumpkin, they may just look at you like you just washed your clothes with a washboard! Our culture has taken convenience to the extreme in some areas.  Don’t be afraid to reevaluate the food choices that you’re making for you and your family.  You don’t need to compromise your values for convenience; instead, keep it simple.    

-Joelle Klesick

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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

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Back To Fall

Let’s face it, letting go of the leisure of summer and getting back into a fall routine can be rough!  For us, fall includes getting the kids up and going earlier, breakfast for all, packing school lunches, thinking about after-school snacks, and planning for evening dinner.  We don’t want to be caught off guard and resort to making unhealthy choices, so planning is key. 

Starting out with healthy ingredients in the fridge and pantry is a great start!  Customers tell us all the time that since they began receiving Klesick’s fruit and vegetable boxes, their family has been eating more nutritiously!  We love hearing that!    

Don’t let the busyness and hungry-belly time crunch push you into a corner!  Stay ahead of it so you’re not tempted to compromise your nutritional values!  When you get your produce box, take a few minutes to prep some of your vegetables so that the items are quick and convenient to use!  You can always chop up cauliflower and broccoli and then store in a sealed container.  You can scrub or peel carrots so they’re ready for dinner or a quick snack.  Also, evaluate the items for longevity.  Some of the pit-fruit, berries, or tender greens are best enjoyed within a few days after delivery!   

Take a few minutes and think about how you can add more fruit and vegetables to your meals.  Make a list of healthy choices and post it on your fridge so you can peak at it when you lack inspiration.  Our breakfasts often include a huge bowl of cut up mixed fruit and berries, topped with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped nuts or homemade granola, so I make sure we always have fruit choices on hand. We also enjoy veggie omelets to go with Tristan’s homemade sourdough bread! Having pre-chopped or even pre-cooked vegetables ready to go make a morning omelet practically a fast food! 

For school lunches, we try to keep our kid’s favorite raw vegetables on hand; cucumbers, carrots, and peppers!  Our kids pretty much have them every day, so ordering these items as an add-on works great because then we’re sure to have enough for the whole week.   

After school snacks usually come straight from our HUGE fruit basket!  The kids can take their pick!  We also keep cut up veggies and a choice of dips, ready and available, in the fridge. 

We keep our dinners nutritious, but simple, and we rarely use recipes.  At our house, we make a lot of veggie stir-fries served with meat or beans, over rice.  We also love to make a huge tray of roasted vegetables and serve as a main dish, or side, or over a salad.  We also make a lot of soups, stews, and salads!  Once you get comfortable with any of these dishes, they are all super easy to quickly throw together, and you can even make enough to use as a base for the next day’s meal! Do as much prep work when you have free time so, when the pressure comes at mealtime, you are ready to take it on!   

Eating healthy is totally achievable in the midst of a busy schedule, but we’ve learned that having good ingredients on hand, and a little pre-planning, sure helps! 

-Joelle Klesick

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Jade and Marketmore

We grow two types of cucumbers here at the farm. We grow an old and trusted standby called Marketmore, and a newer up and comer called Sliver Slicer. We interchangeably mix and or match them as they come out of the field and find their way into your boxes of good.

Cucumbers are sneaky little plants. One day you think you have harvested all the ones that are ready to go, and the next day you come back and there is another 200 lbs. How did that happen?!!?!!!?!!

The farm season is especially challenging for the Klesick team. You may have noticed that the aforementioned cucumbers have been a staple for the last several weeks, as have the green beans. It is really hard for smaller farms like us to get the harvest quantities right. The quality is easy, but trying to figure out how many pounds of cucumbers are going to come off a week in advance is pretty tough!

With lettuce it is easier, just count them. Lettuce harvest does get tricky because they can ripen at different times and can also look ready when they are not.

But I think green beans are the trickiest of all. This year we switched back to another old and trusted standby in the green bean world, called Jade. I think they are a little happier planted in Mid-Summer, but the early May plantings did just fine. When you talk about Jade in the midst of farmers who have grown it for 30 or 40 years, their eyes light up and their voices get noticeably quieter. There is a reverence when it comes to Jade that is hard earned, and deservedly so. They are absolutely beautiful and tasty green beans.

Even within vegetable classes, some varieties are happier planted earlier, and some later. When it comes to Jade, it seems to work well as an all-season winner! I actually try to plan for a “gap” on cucumbers and green beans, but this year the harvest rolled from one planting to another to another and the harvest kept coming. Now I am not complaining, but we try to have variety in the box of good menus and not put an item in every week.

This year, the green beans and cucumbers have been prolific, and I must say… so, so, so fresh and delicious! We are literally picking one day and delivering the next day. For us, it is so rewarding that we can pick it, deliver it, and you can be eating cucumbers or green beans within a day.

That is best kind of fast food!

-Tristan

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Back To School

Many of you are getting your kids ready for back to school and thinking about school clothes, supplies, and LUNCHES!  I’d like to take a few minutes to share some ideas that have made our school lunches healthy, simple, and environmentally friendly!  

First of all, I like to use reusable storage containers.  We go the whole year without throwing out a single “sandwich bag.”  Ziploc makes a divided container that is spill proof and pretty durable.  Ours have lasted the whole year long.  If you’d rather steer clear of plastic, there are similar divided containers made of stainless steel.  We purchase cloth lunch bags that fit our containers perfectly, then add a freezer pack to keep things cold.  When using the divided containers, sometimes the items fit better with the addition of a large size silicone muffin cup.  This adds another “section” to the container.  

One thing I like about the containers is that it helps me think through what to send in their lunches.  One section we put in veggies, one section fruit, one section holds the protein, and the smallest section might have a healthy cracker, chip, or small homemade treat.

Most importantly, make sure you have a good supply of healthy foods that your kids will eat!  When ordering your weekly produce, remember that you can order “add-on” items to guarantee that you will have the special items that your kids like most.  For vegetables, I always have cucumbers, carrots, and peppers on hand, because I know my kids will eat these.  If available, my kids also enjoy raw sugar snap peas, green beans, and some even love shredded cabbage or raw cauliflower. 

Choosing fruit is easy! They all like cut apples and oranges!  Melons, grapes, kiwi, nectarines, pears, and berries all make a great addition to school or work lunches.  

For protein, sometimes we’ll send a half sandwich with organic cheese and veggies on homemade sourdough bread.  But there are so many other choices besides sandwiches.  We might send yogurt with chopped fruit and homemade granola, or a nut/seed/dried fruit mix, or a whole grain, honey-sweetened, zucchini or carrot muffin. One of my kids loves it when I send nut butter in one of the compartments along with chopped carrots, celery, and apples for dipping.  Some of my kids enjoy creating their own salad wraps, and I send the ingredients in the separate compartments.  Don’t forget you can send things like a quinoa salad or even dinner leftovers in a reusable soup thermos.  

We stay away from pre-packaged individual serving products.  With the divided containers there’s just no need, and the environmental impact with these items is just too high! 

We’re happy to bring you quality lunch supplies for your kids!  Take a few minutes to think through how we can best help you meet your nutrition goals for your kids this year, while simplifying the process!  

-Joelle