Category Archives: Farm Friends

Food and Family Traditions

Most of us have family traditions that revolve around food, a special birthday meal or a unique dish that is served at Thanksgiving.  Some of us have a cultural connection to a cuisine like Italian, Middle Eastern or Asian, these are the foods that we share with family and the ingredients that tie us to a culture.

This July 16-19 we are excited to share with you the opportunity to learn a few of the cooking techniques that make up New Mexican cuisine. These include cooking with chile, corn and the most important ingredient; cooking together with family and friends. Bel Candelaria Harrison has written this blog post about some of her food connections. The beginning of a conversation that we will build upon during the July 16th through the19th workshop, A New Mexican Christmas in July.

Family and Food
Cooking in our large family was woven into our daily existence. Ten of us, eight siblings and Mom and Dad would often sit around the kitchen table to share various cooking chores. Whether the task at hand was shelling salted and roasted piñon (pine nuts) we had harvested earlier that day, and piling the shelled piñon into a single pile just for the sheer pleasure of stuffing all of them into our mouths at once, or processing chile, chopping garlic and onion, cleaning beans, making tortillas, or just having a cup of coffee, we were really quite rich. We were rich not because we were preparing an expensive meal, but rather, most often, a humble meal of beans, chile and tortillas. We were rich because we formed relationships together around our table as we laughed, talked, teased, argued, and sometimes cried. Almost every important event was discussed around the kitchen table. And, the food always tasted soooo good!TamaleNMW
Today, we relive that sense of family and togetherness every time we gather to share a meal. Friends and family gathering to prepare food and sitting down together to enjoy the results of our joined effort may sound overly simplistic but it is joyful to me, even more so when you have grown your own vegetables, or collected fresh eggs from your chicken coop. I can’t wait to cook with my sisters at Quillisascut Farm just for that reason.

Learning and Food
My personal food revelation included discovering Lora Lea and Rick, their farm and the idea of “slow food.” My husband and I have a garden for which he deserves full credit. My appreciation for garden fresh, organic, and sustainable food has grown along with my very first herb garden to our large garden today. My daughter now also has her own garden and chickens. Passing on a passion for good, healthy food is a blessing. The learning continues.

Memories and Food
Some of my first “food” memories are those with my father and brothers, from sardines, scallions and scrambled eggs, Mexican Pizza, refried beans at 2:00 in the morning to the surgical removal of the egg yolk from a fried egg. The sardines, scallions and scrambled eggs were dad’s creation and he made the best tortillas.CornHusksW The Mexican Pizza however, was nothing I recognized until years later as a counterfeit Italian Pizza. The Mexican Pizza was made of a tortilla, red chile and cheese. Refried beans, well, you add bacon drippings to anything and it is absolutely fabulous! My brother could get anyone to do anything with just a smile like getting me up at 2:00 in the morning to make refried beans. He once removed the egg yolk from a fried egg with a table knife and a fork (I mean no egg white on the yolk at all and egg yolk unbroken) and transferred it on to a piece of tortilla in the shape of a scoop. He proceeded to eat the entire thing with laughing, dark brown eyes wide open!

Today, my sisters and I continue to make memories with food. We love to get together with friends and family to cook, laugh, talk and share whether it is a birthday, a holiday, or just dinner.

Come to Quillisascut for A New Mexican Christmas in July where we will learn, laugh, talk and share with the Candelaria Sisters!

Becky Selengut

Chef Becky Selengut, author of the sustainable seafood cookbook Good Fish, founder of 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 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

Cooking words. Writing food. Drinking tequila.
@ChefReinvented on twitter


Making mozzarella while making friends.

My friend Evelyn and I had been talking about getting together and making mozzarella for months, and it finally happened!

She was struggling with getting her stretchy cheese technique together ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal Vegetable Miracle.

Our goats are not giving any milk right now so Evelyn picked up some Spokane Family Farms whole non-homogenized cows milk, brought it out to Q farm and we got to work. Or maybe we should call it play, there is something joyful about stretching mozzarella and getting to eat it the same day.


If you want to try out the recipe that Evelyn and I used you can find it here thanks to Jessica Dally. We used two gallons of milk and the cheese turned out fantastic.

One of the tricks in making any type of cheese is being gentle with the curds. It is tempting to over work them at the time of stretching, so be quick, stretch them into the size of ball you wish and drop them in ice cold water.

Evelyn is planning on using her cheese in a special recipe that calls for mozzarella and eggplant. I think we will probably eat ours sliced and topped with Kalamata olives, salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Or do do you say Calamata? Either way let me know how this Mozzarella recipe works for you.

Sarah Hayden Williams

More news from friends of Quillisascut

Sarah came to tcafe-sarahhe farm during our early foray into introducing cooks to the source of their ingredients. At that time we were inviting people working in the industry to come out and spend a few days on the farm and learn along side us as we went about our daily chores. She now owns the delightful and delicious, Cafe Sarah in North Creek, New York.

At what stage of your profession were you when you first learned about Quillisascut?

– I learned about Quillisascut shortly after starting my job as pastry chef at Rover’s in Seattle. I was 25 and scaling a very steep learning curve in my career, like being thrown in with the lions… Chef Thierry Rautureau introduced me to Rick when he brought a cheese delivery to the restaurant. Karl Vennes, who was lead line cook at Rover’s at the time had just recently been to the farm and wouldn’t stop talking about it. Rick and I got to know each other during subsequent cheese deliveries and I finally got out there for a visit and met Lora Lea in late summer 1997. It was such an incredible, magical weekend and it changed my life!

Share some of the memories from your first visits?

– so many…. I do remember the first time I pulled up that driveway and saw the house and the view of the mountains behind and I had such a feeling of comfort and home, immediately. I arrived right on time for afternoon milking, so Rick handed me a coverall, introduced me to Lora Lea and led me to the milking parlour. I had never milked an animal in my life, but learned awfully quick, no nonsense in the milking parlour! I swear the goats were testing me, I would get a bucket just about full and she would put her hoof right in it so all that milk had to be dumped. Rick dumped it in a basin for the barn cats and literally poured it all over them, but they didn’t care.
My favorite time of day at the farm was right after morning milking and chores, Lora Lea and I would make breakfast while Rick finished up in the barn and we would sit down and have coffee and listen to the radio and talk. So peaceful.
-being so amazed that every single thing we ate was produced on the farm or by neighbors nearby, nothing was purchased, except beer and wine.
-watching Rick and Oly work the goats in perfect harmony. She was an amazing dog
– making felt hats and soap with Lora Lea in the winter; lazing about the yard in the middle of a summer day, making ice cream from the fresh morning’s milk.
-I stayed at the farm with Willow and Daisy Mae while R and LL went to Oregon, so many funny things happened that week, but one of things that really stuck with me, (besides the baby goats being born when THEY WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO..) was going out to the barn in the morning and it was barely light and all the wild turkeys would drift down from the giant pines like giant beachballs, silently. I didn’t know turkeys roosted so far up in the trees. I became very good at chopping wood that week, a skill I still use and value today. I could go on and on.


Fill us in on what you are working on now.

-I moved back to the Adirondacks in upstate New York, from Seattle, in 1999. My dad flew out and we rented a U-Haul and a flatbed for my car and drove straight to Quillisascut for goodbyes. I was so sad, but very glad my dad could meet the Misterly’s.
I opened my own bakery in 2001 and proudly brought the first espresso bar to North Creek. My time spent at Quillisascut really influenced how I run my business. I try to do everything as close to nature as possible and with love. It is my 12th winter in operation. I only wish I could get back out there for a visit, hard to do when you are the sole owner and operator.

Tell us about the changes in your life related to a more sustainable future.

– Being at Quillisascut showed me how connected to our food we can and should be. I was so impressed at how every single thing could be made with my own two hands. I’ll admit that I didn’t love watching the butchering, but the way Rick was so loving and careful with the animals made me respect not only him, but the way our food brings us life from life and we must give back in return. I am very aware of what I feed my family and do my best to buy local and fresh always.


My experiences at Quillisascut are some of the things I value most in my life. I learned what real work was, not just “going to work”, but HOW to work and how it can be so enjoyable and rewarding and worthy. I consider myself very, very lucky to have met the Misterly’s when I did, at a time in my life when I needed them and the farm and a new way of looking at the world. I have so many happy memories of time spent around the table with great friends, old and new, after a day of milking, hauling, chopping, cheesemaking, baking, grinding, digging, kneading, twisting and plucking. I always slept so well there. I cherish that time so much. I can’t wait to drive up the driveway with my daughters someday..

Sarah Williams owns Cafe Sarah in North Creek, New York. Visit her website or if you are in her neighborhood, stop in for a treat!