Category Archives: Guest Blogs

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

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?

SarahCollageW
– 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.

SarhLLR

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.

wedding-cake

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!

Campanilismo

Our friend Laura Wolfe Gardener shared this idea with us from the book The New American Chef: Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques from Around the World, page 63 in the chapter on Italy.

In talking about the importance of regional foods in Italy, Lynne Rosetto Kasper explains that there are three key concepts: Nostrano (local); Sisposa (Marrying together foods that grow near to each other); and Campanilismo.

“Campanile is the bell tower in every Italian town and village, and Campanilismo refers to the mentality associated with that area. The term defines your home, which is within hearing distance of the bell.” “How you eat within hearing distance of the bell is different from how someone would eat twenty miles away.”

Laura adds, “Those who come to the collective table at Quillisascut are those who hear the same bell. Some ‘March to Different Drummers’. We also ‘Eat to Different Bells’. Culture and a “Collective Mentality” grow out of the deep affiliation for one’s local products.

Thank you Laura for sharing these insights to life around the table at Quillisascut Farm!

The New American Chef: Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques from Around the World

Letter From Joanna

Dear Quillisascut,

I thought I loved you before we even met. I was an eager new culinary student excited about the farm to fork movement…you were the farm that was going to teach me about growing food, making cheese, cooking from the garden and “animal husbandry” (which meant what?). Our love affair was only going to be a week long, but I knew it was going to be magical.

Then we met. And…well…you were a little stinky. And a bit unfinished. And it was hot. How many compost piles are there around here? What on earth is that big hairy dog eating? Can she see? We are butchering what tomorrow? We are all waking up at what time? Oh my. You were a real, working farm that had only done this “farm school” thing once before, and I was a city girl who was living in a glossy magazine-inspired farming fantasy. We were learning together. And I had no idea who I was falling in love with.

You got under my skin. That first week rocked me to my core. We worked in your gardens, milked your sweet goats, and gently learned from Rick and Lora Lea how to understand your message. We cooked and cleaned and built and composted and ate – oh, how we ate! We met your friends and neighbors and I never wanted to leave. Somehow the compost stopped smelling and the unfinished projects started looking like promises. There was SO much happening on such a little farm, and this was just the beginning…for both of us.

Your primary lessons were clear: pay attention to your food; be aware of the impact of your choices; understand the cycle and how the current food system is failing; first local/organic, then local, then organic. Your lingering messages snuck up on me: do what you love, every day; build a lifestyle, not a career; start small, work hard, dream wildly and watch the ripple.

I couldn’t stay away. I visited when I could, helped out for a few sessions the following summer, and then finally gave in and moved in with you for a season. I had the honor of seeing your farm school transform from a concrete slab with a Christmas light chandelier to an amazing gathering space with real bedrooms and a commercial kitchen. I learned that the work never stops and that your stewards are tireless (but do get tired). I ate a lot of pizza. I milked a lot of goats and became quite smitten with a few turkeys. I shelled countless beans and kneaded just as much dough. I met Kären and have admired her ever since. I tried to keep up with Rick and I aspired to be more like Lora Lea. I listened to Daisy Mae’s stories and ate the best cookies ever made. I cried a little and laughed a lot. I was home.

It has been quite some time now since we have seen each other. Marriage, baby, distance and a job have had a way of keeping us apart. But please know that you are a part of me, and that I think of you more than you know. I hope that my daughter will get to meet you and know the satisfaction of watching your sunsets after a hard day’s work. I look forward to sitting around your dining table again soon, sharing stories, reconnecting and refueling.

Thank you, old friend, for changing so many lives while quietly living your own. Oh…and sorry I called you stinky.

With love,
Joanna

Sobremesa

pronunciation | “sO-bRe-‘mA-sa

note | the word is different in Spanish than in Portuguese, where it usually just means ‘dessert’.

reblogged via otherwordly.

Fall and the Farm Virgin

The end of summer is the culmination of our warm weather projects. Here in the inland northwest it is a time of processing and storing foods for winter.  One of our projects is butchering the pigs, it is a big job that calls for helpful and skilled hands.

Late October, when the days grow cool, our close friends visit the farm to help us with the pigs. Animal harvest is a solemn anchor to the season, yet a time of celebrating another year with our friends who have been joining us in this fall ritual for fourteen years.

Ten years ago Chef Greg Johnson came along for the autumn pig butchery. Greg has generously shared his story with us. Lucky for us the weekend was also documented by Gary Moogk. Continue reading

Cassoulet

All of our students know that the culmination of the summers workshops is a giant cassoulet flavored with the creative work of many hands; butchery, charcuterie, garden work, planning and delight!(90 percent of the ingredients are grown here on Quillisascut Farm)

Last Thursday evening was the last workshop dinner and the cassoulet was voluptuous! Duck confit, garlic sausage, lamb shanks, white beans, fresh tomatoes, and herbs all topped with a generous crusting of bread crumbs.

Today I noticed this fabulous article, Cassoulet: The Quilt of Cooking, inspired by a Quillisascut  cassoulet. The meal is celebrated in Wisconsin and showcases a wealth of their regional farmers. Enjoy the story by Jessica Luhning

Here is Chef Karen Jurgensen’s recipe (you can also find this recipe in Chefs on the Farm Continue reading