Harvesting Between the Rows

I am working on making peace with weeds, especially the edible ones. All of the weeds have an important job. Probably the most important is clothing the soil (soil doesn’t like to be naked)! Weeds move in to disturbed areas, like our open gardens, and set up camp.

This spring I have been playing with ways to cook and dress up pig weed (wild amaranth). It is a super easy plant to grow, it comes up everywhere without encouragement. It also pulls out of the ground without too much tugging, especially when it is young and the soil is loose, and in my garden there is an abundance of these plants!

Pigweed has so many great characteristics. It draws nutrients up from down deep in the soil, bringing nutrition to the plants that come up next. It shades the soil and helps keep it moist. It doesn’t seem to have pests, the leaf miners leave it alone, no worms on the leaves, no aphids, the deer don’t even seem to eat it.

Most important it is delicious. It tastes similar to spinach. I like it cooked better then raw, although the tiny seedlings can be used as micro greens!

The stems are my favorite part, especially when they get longer and fatter, but before they get tough. Pan-fried in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt, they were reminiscent of asparagus. Chopped stems can be steamed like green beans. But the bulk of the greens are wonderful quickly stir fried until bright green and tender, they taste fresh and retain a little crunchy texture, or braised until they soften into a creamy mouth full of joy.

Simply top with butter or olive oil, maybe a splash of vinegar. Serve them with a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce, or as I did last night, pour on a glaze of walnut oil and top with toasted walnuts.

You can dress it up with bacon or any pork product to add a layer of flavor. Our friend Roong said it is a familiar green from his home in Thailand, he braised some for us with a bit of bacon and onions. And when Gary Nabhan was here he cooked up the greens with some spices and used them to fill empanadas for dinner.

Yep, these weeds are turning in to one of my favorite garden foods, free, abundant, and delicious!

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

We are always trying to adapt recipes to feature what we grow here at Quillisascut Farm. This recipe uses the walnut flour that is left from pressing the ground walnuts for oil and the Calais corn that is growing in the garden. A special treat is the Noyaux made from lightly toasted apricot kernels (the nut inside the apricot pit) steeped in brandy. And of course, the sour cherries that are ripening on the tree!

Featuring Quillisascut Farms Walnut flour, Calais Corn Flour, Noyaux

Sour Cherry Cornmeal Clafoutis
Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 c. Walnut flour
1/4 c. Cornmeal
2/3 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
3 Eggs
1 1/4 c. Whole Milk
1 Tbsp. Noyaux or 1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 1/2 cups of cherries Sour Cherries, pitted

Butter for the pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the walnut flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy. Beat in the milk and Noyaux (or almond extract). Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is lump-free.Let the batter rest for 5 minutes then whisk before pouring in the pan.

Put the cherries in the pie pan and pour in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is set. Allow to cool before cutting.

American Chop Suey Casserole

AmericanChopSuey3I have been working with my sister, Janae, and my nieces, Leah and Mikelle on a cookbook of family favorite recipes. The flavors and textures bring back happy memories of meals shared around our old kitchen table.

Last night I made this American Chop Suey Casserole. Janae gave me a couple quarts of her home canned tomatoes, essential to get the flavor that sets off this dish and Rick had to drive to Kettle Falls to pick up a block of Tillamook  Cheddar (shhhh)
Here is the recipe, let me know what you think.

American Chop Suey Casserole (not what you think, and isn’t chop suey an american dish?)

1 quart canned tomatoes
1 pound hamburger
1 large onion
1 cup cheddar cheese in cubes
3 cups of pre cooked rice
3 cup of pre cooked macaroni
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter (to dot the bread crumbs)
enough bread crumbs to cover
In the cast iron dying pan saute onions until soft brown add hamburger a cook until done season with salt and pepper.

In a large casserole combine cooked onion, hamburger, tomatoes, rice, macaroni and cubed cheese. Sir until combined top with bread crumbs and dots of butter
bake at 350 for 1hour or until bubbly and bread crumbs are browned.

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!

Honey Are You Home?

Honey, what are we going to do about the crisis with honey bees? You know the vanishing of the bees, colony collapse disorder, pesticide die off and poor nutrition. You can read a whole list of problems in this short article in Truth out, Everything You Wanted to Know About the Bee Die-off

One item the Truth-out article didn’t talk about was how commercial hives are used in pollinating cultivated plants and the impact and possible stress on the bees during the seasonal migratory movement of hives from San Diego,California up through the different blooming crops until they reach Washington state. Add all the problems together and the bees can’t survive.

Yes, the big focus on the financial side of honeybees is their work as pollinators. The money for commercial beekeepers is made by renting out their hives to pollinate crops. Honey is a secondary income. If you are like me, my first thought was honey bees = sweet honey.

Here in Stevens county a few of the local beekeepers have decided to keep their bees home, renting out hives to local orchards and farms for pollination. They are putting more marketing energy into honey production and sales. (and some of the side products like beeswax or bee pollen)

For us, as bee and honey lovers, we get to taste and share in the harvest of specialty honey from our region. All of the students that have been though our farm workshops have had a chance to try Snowberry honey from our Beekeeper friend Steven Schott. (some of you may be sorry you didn’t buy more)

There are many ways that you can help save the Honey bee. One of them might just be the sweetest, let’s keep our Honey home!

Here is a fun video of Rick and our daughter Willow, capturing a swarm of honeybees.