Monthly Archives: March 2013

Community

We like to start each morning of our workshops with a word or intention for the day. Community is the focus of one discussion and the power of how we participate in our communities at home and work as a way to foster health and humanity.

One of our students, Kayoko China, shared with us the Japanese symbol for human, “Hito” featuring two merging lines that support each other.

Becky Selengut

Chef Becky Selengut, author of the sustainable seafood cookbook Good Fish, founder of Seasonalcornucopia.com and columnist for Edible Seattle Magazine, attended a Quillisascut Farm Culinary 101 workshop in 2004 when she worked at The Herbfarm Restaurant.

The Herbfarm is widely known for cooking with fresh from the garden produce so what was your motivation for attending a Q workshop?

While it’s one thing to be able to pick fresh produce from a farm garden to use in that night’s service, it’s something entirely beyond to play real farmer for a week. In the course of a week at Quillisascut, I killed a chicken, butchered a lamb, milked goats, made cheese, planted a row of garlic, harvested Italian plums and ‘put them up’ by dehydrating them and was immersed in a mind-altering introduction to where real food comes from.

At what stage of your career were you when you attended Q?

I was a line cook at the Herbfarm and it was nearing the end of my restaurant career. I worked in restaurants to get experience, knowing that I never wanted to run or own one. It was my week at Quillisascut that helped me realize where I wanted my career to go. Immediately after leaving the farm I started work on the seasonal foods website Seasonalcornucopia.com. The website was designed to help cooks learn about the seasons for all the many wonderful ingredients we have in the Pacific Northwest and when, approximately, they come in and out of season.

What are some of the interesting experiences or jobs you have had since your visit to Quilli?

Since 2004, I’ve cheffed on a boat heading up the Inside Passage and taught classes on sustainable seafood on the boat and in small towns in Alaska. I’ve had 2 sustainability cookbooks published and many freelance articles on local ingredients and I’m working on a new book right now on mushrooms. Each spring I lead foraging tours on Vashon Island.

What is happening in your life today that gets you excited, or motivates you?

Completely unrelated to sustainability issues, but perhaps contributing to my own sustainability, I’m pursuing a new avenue in my career and started a comedy podcast with Matthew Amster-Burton called Closed for Logging. It’s definitely NSFW. I’m also writing a humor column for Edible Seattle Magazine called “Back of the House”.

Share with us the changes in your life related to a more sustainable future.

Great question — recently we sold one of our cars and I’ve joined Car2go, a SmartCar car-sharing program. I’ve started walking more and using public transportation and this is a big change in my life and I love it, actually.

Becky Selengut
chef, instructor, author of Good Fish
becky@cornucopiacuisine.com
www.cornucopiacuisine.com
206-948-1595

Cooking words. Writing food. Drinking tequila.
www.chefreinvented.com
@ChefReinvented on twitter
www.goodfishbook.com

Grab Hold

“This is how we change the world. We grab hold of it. We change ourselves.”- Ann Patchett

How does this desire for change play out in your life? What are you grabbing hold of? I hear from many of our students that making the planet healthier is a top concern, for others it is the health and well-being of their family. What types of change is necessary to address these concerns?

Everyday I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the work that is being done, much of it by people we know, our students or the schools and organizations that we work with who are implementing change to transform our communities. Thank you!

Please share with us the steps you are taking to create change. It is a lonely one-step program, but together we can change the world!
Change the World

Seasons Together Friends Forever

Quillisascut Farm and farmers are lucky to have courageous people to share our dream, to celebrate each step of the journey, and enjoy the seasons of our lives. Our friend Jen Vennes has been on this path with us for years, keeping us calm in times of anxiousness and hydrated when we are in need of a drink. Jen is a fabulous writer and has graciously offered to share her reflection on life with friends at Quillisascut.

Quillisascut Farm, the seasons of time together and the birth of pool boy….

(By Jen Vennes, was the President of the board at Quiilisascut Education Fund, misses her role a lot, but continues to think about the importances of the work and love of the farm. Currently, Jen is a writer at keepthecalm.wordpress.com, typically detailing the experiences of having some really rare and difficult cancer while parenting, living, healing, and maintaining a united front as a peaceful warrior.)

Being away from my family during this unique situation of which my life has stumbled upon, has me processing many levels of emotions, many friendships, words of love and warmth, amongst the difficulties presented. Along with this process, I have the blessings of some time to contemplate not just cancer and its effects, (bright side) now I have time to read! write! and catch up on life around me, which in the beginning didn’t feel exactly like living, but I have realized it is living. We can soak life into our soul without having to leave the room sometimes. My son taught me this over the past weekend. So, I have accepted that it is living to sometimes have to simply sit still and watch it unfold. And how much do we all say we wish we had time to experience our friends more, take a breath, read, love our kids and not race to the next endeavor or rushed dinner out. Anyway, I’m taking this setback of immobility, and catching up. Diverting the healing into the soul, not the next restaurant to try and gets dressed up for…eating soup in bed surrounded by love and stories is a welcome comfort. Each day, I learn. I probably already had that version of sautéed kale out at Quillisascut farm anyway, so who needs to get a reservation. So, my physicality in living is in short supply these days, but my observation of it is just as enticing to feel, realizing this has struck me in a way that has me wanting to add words about one of my favorite places and dearest friends. especially, when reading LoraLea’s amazing blog posts and experiences of her life at Quillisascut Farm. (If she will have me as a guest.)

It occurred to me that I had taken advantage of the fact that I know the farm, have spent so much time experiencing all kinds of days with Rick, LoraLea, my family, and friends and the pampered pets of pleasant valley. For years, we have been coming and going, winter, spring, summer, and fall. So admittedly, I gazed past some posts, simply knowing, I did that, I know what she is talking about…and then realized that there is no one way of expressing the kind of love which blooms each spring on the farm. So I began really reading, living the times again, the poses of Libby, and the farm. The Farm (dreamy music now).

Fall of course, always brings harvest time, pig butchering, abundance, and we never miss the visit, and of course we also have the anniversary of our marriage. This can/maybe and I’m sure will be a whole other post….but a short look: Karl and I were wed around the hearth outside of the schoolhouse on a sunny, freezing cold, late October afternoon at the farm. Rick welcomed all, LoraLea married us, we all cooked, we all laughed, toasted, danced in the kitchen, made a bounty of love and community while celebrating our one love. We had so much laughter and beauty together that week, so much so, that nobody had noticed the pies from the wedding day were past the point of eating, even for Libby, and kept on eating them. So, I guess now we are all preserved well, for years to come, by the apples that grow not far from where they were picked, gathered, baked and made into wedding pies. We had wedding cheese, cocktails, songs, chilled shoulders and warm hearts. We had love and each other. Autumn.

Then, comes our Thanksgiving, a tradition I adore and am not letting go of no matter what, no matter how difficult the cancer was this past year, i am not going to lie, it was difficult with a cracked hip, a hard wooden chair, not enough pain meds with me to quell the tears, and yet when I needed an uplift, the moon popped out, my girlfriends held me, Rick and Karl, lead the way in song and cocktail, and into the night we slowly walk arm in arm towards Daisy’s, my beacon at the end of the driveway. I was held so I can breathe the fresh air, held by my friends to breathe beyond the pain into the moonlight. I left the schoolhouse in fear, bundled up and returned with a cleansed tear and a voice knowing that next Thanksgiving will be brighter, if they are all like this, they are bright.

A snowy winter visit because we just miss Rick and LoraLea, this year they came over to us. Things became difficult and the drive maybe a bit to much, but in the winter, Quillisascut is portable. We head to Bella Luna Farms, where Pam and Bob illuminate us with their glow, and Pam and Loralea make cheese, we eat soup, and celebrate friendship, no matter where we all are, usually for Karl’s birthday with a nice bottle of Didier. No matter how tired we all are or get from long drives, days of farm work, cancer, chasing goats and babies, quiet as we unusually were, the love of “the farm” is a carefully chosen family of which we never escape and never want, even when we pick on each other. This was the 2013 winter visit. Our time together changes but is always, just that….together. Winter brings such a blanket of snowy warmth, here or at Quiilisascut, life slows and gives us the time to think about our ideas of bringing the farm and us together.
Because spring now approaches, a memory of late in the winter of 2011 arises, I couldn’t wait for the visit, I just had to make a trip, as it was our son, Milo’s, very first farm visit. Karl couldn’t make it, but I felt the need to bring the baby to Rick and LoraLea’s as soon as I could, (he was about 8 weeks old or so) I had the time, our dear friend Linnet accompanied me as we braved the beautiful drive to ‘christen’ Milo on the land we were married, and with this weekend, the sun shone and pool boy was discovered. Ahh…pool boy…..

….pool boy needs his/her own blog post too. Pool boy means spring is coming, the deck is open, and there is a drink to be made. I believe I was pool boy in the year ’11, (he or she changes) but as I wasn’t drinking, I was feeding my little one and staying healthy, I took the role of mixer. I think I put extra special love into those cocktails, because the myth and story of our beloved pool boy has grown into iconic proportions and can never be let down! There is much to learn, but must be discovered from this elusive character, he shifts and sprouts each sunny day with an idea that it is time to sit and enjoy each other, enjoy the next breath of fresh air, breeze and fantasy of what is to come. The big grief this spring is that I am not drinking, due to the meds I am taking, but given the right situation and right pool boy, I could be persuaded. Though pool boy isn’t just a cocktail maker or hour where it is “past the yardarm” of a work day, when it is time to break out the tonics or a simple glass of wine, he breaks us out of the wistfulness of a day of hard work, no matter what each of us are doing. We honor ‘his’ work at keeping us in smiles, after we have cooked, planted seeds, simply to sit and heal in my case, stack wood, build a deck or dream. It is pool boy who reminds us to acknowledge the labor of loves we have at hand.

I think this spring, when I return from my LA respite, my UCLA drug trial, the trail should take me straight back to that Quillisascut sun spot and soak in some healing juices of the farm. Soon, soon, I hope. That will be living, I can write or read about it after. After all, there is a birthday coming up that needs celebrating, and then it will be time for the hot work of summer, growing the fruits of Autumn’s next bounty. The life on the farm is continuous, similar yet ever changing like each new drink we taste together in the sunshine.

New Beginnings

Farmers don’t need an active imagination to see the beginnings of life, everywhere we look we see evidence of the dream of the world. Spring brings us full circle, we have gone through the darkness of winter and now looking right, left or straight ahead, we see new life.

Green shoots of fresh grass, a few crocus blooming over there, ducks getting it on, eggs are filling up nest boxes, life is renewed. I feel it rising up in me and flowing like the seasonal spring in our lower pasture. I feel refreshed for a new beginning, anything is possible. Do you feel it, too?

Seasonal creek runs through Quillisascut lower pasture

In late February the filbert trees take a lead in the sexual gymnastics on the farm. The male flowers (catkins) begin to stretch out and turn bright yellow and if you look close along the branch-lets, you will see the tiny red hairs emerge from the female flower. The wind stimulates the male catkins, moving pollen to female flower. Here we see evidence that the dance of nature is fragile, yet goes on and on.

For you, here now, captured live the sexual exploration of the day, the beginning of a nut.

Amy Pennington

Next up in our series of interviews with Quillisascut Alumni. Amy P. is a cook, author, and urban farmer who currently lives in Seattle.

What was your motivation for attending the Q workshop?

I wanted to go the very moment I first heard about Quillisascut Farm School. I had grown up on a small homestead and I had the compelling urge to reconnect with that memory. I was also beginning to really explore the concept and lifestyle of cooking and eating only locally grown, seasonal food, so Quilla seemed like the perfect adventure to learn more. I was in my mid-20s and an administrative assistant for a Seattle restaurant group at the time. I was Tom Douglas’ assistant.

Fill us in on what you are working on now:

Since leaving the farm, I left my corporate job in 2007 and stared my own business, GoGo Green Garden – wherein I build, plant & tend edible gardens for people and businesses in Seattle. I am also a food writer and have since published 3 books (Urban Pantry, Apartment Gardening & Fresh Pantry – a new eBook series for 2013).

How did the Quillisascut experience help shape your decisions?

I kept a journal when I was at Quillisascut and on the way home in the car, I wrote in my journal (which I happen to have with me in Scotland!) that “My life has not been altered. My life has been affirmed.” From that moment forward, I have always made business and personal decisions with the environment in mind. I was always good about being conscious – recycling, saving water, etc, but after the farm I went to an extreme. And while it seems extreme to be vigilant about not wasting food or not wasting water or saying you have ‘enough’, any decision I make harkens back to this simple agenda.

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What is happening in your life today that motivates you?

What ISN’T?? Everything I do is exciting, I have to say. I love that I get to write for a living and share my experiences while encouraging others to eat seasonally and more healthfully. I love being in the garden and growing food. A lot of times it feels like a drag to have to dress up properly and haul out to a garden to do work in the rain and get muddy, but after about 5 minutes I remember why I started this business in the first place. Connecting to the earth is an amazing experience, very meditative, very circle-of-life and I’m thrilled every time.

Share with us the changes in your life related to a more sustainable future.

My biggest life change was quitting my job and the stable income it provided and going out on my own. Today, it has been 5 1/2 years and while it is not always easy (in fact, it is more often difficult) I wouldn’t change it for the world. I preserve most of my food now, I grow for myself, I don’t buy many things at the store, I re-use water, etc.

I think everyone should lead by example and I’m doing that by teaching people to not only grow food, but by giving them the power to understand THEY can grow food. My hope is that I am slowly shifting other people to a more sustainable future.

How did your experience at a Quillisascut workshop influence your career ?

Quillisascut was the very clear point in my life where I pivoted. I was living pretty green and doing a decent job, but I literally feel like I shifted my pace 90 degrees and headed down a different road. Quilla was a game changer – it helped me focus, gain clarity and really define what is important to me.

I made a few amazing friends during my stay at Quillisascut. We had nine students the week I came and the farm had a kitchen helper and an intern and I’m in contact with the majority of them all to this day. (Only two, in fact, are MIA.) Three of them are my best friends and we just had a reunion. After our time on the farm, Lynda left Seattle to start her own farm in the Methow Valley & is a cheesemaker now. Aliye moved home to California and now owns her own biz delivering organic produce to peoples homes. And I started my business, so I really see Quilla as an incubator, as well. It’s a great resource for anyone wanting to head out on their own, as it offers a frame of reference and really sets the stage for change.

For more info about Amy go to her website. She is currently working on a series of e-cookbooks, or the books Urban Pantry or Apartment Gardening.

Glass Gem Corn

Every garden year a new variety comes along and becomes my obsession. I saw a photo of Glass Gem Corn on Pinterest, my friend Sylvia See had pinned it from Native Seed Search. I fell for it, hard, I NEED to grow this corn, so right away I looked it up on their website. At that time they were taking reservations for this years seeds, and I signed-up via their online list.

Yesterday Native Seed Search sent out a special email to the 7000 people who were on the list, opening up the sale of this years Glass Gem corn seeds. They are listed in a secure section of their website that can only be accessed with a special code, with a limit to one packet of 50 seeds per person. I quickly selected a packet and loaded it in my shopping cart.

Then I went about selecting a few other seeds, a gardener can never have too many seeds. Native Seed Search has an incredible selection, here are the packets I purchased: Tabasco peppers, for lacto fermented Quilli-basco sauce come this fall, Wenk’s Yellow Hots, which are very productive and one of our favorite hot fresh or pickled peppers and Del Arbol de Baja California Sur, a chili I have read about but never grown. Also, a pack of King Richard leeks fit for a king.

The Glass Gem corn looks like it should be kept in a jewelry box. If we have a productive crop from these seeds, if the corn can mature in this northern climate, I promise to have seeds to share with you next year. I will keep you posted how it goes. Of course I don’t yet have the seeds in my hand and as every gardener knows there are many variables to a healthy harvest.

You will have to wait on any photos, but I promise to keep you updated on how the corn does in this region. If you want to see images and read more about the history of Glass Gem Corn follow the link to the Native Seed blog.