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.

MAD Inspiration


Winter is a time to reflect, to question and to envision a path forward. I found insight in this talk by Italian ethno-botanist Andrea Pieroni at the MAD symposium in Copenhagen.

Pieroni speaks about the language of food, science and culture. He believes science needs to step back and learn from traditional knowledge, that the scientific taxonomy of plants doesn’t tell us the human stories about communities of people, plants and their relationships. How plants are celebrated, prepared or eaten is often narrated in the context of traditional names of common plants. Andrea states that the cultural information becomes lost in the language of science.

Andrea’s challenge to build a platform to educate young people and all of us about where our food comes from inspires us.

We have built our vision of this educational platform on our farm, check out the 2015 workshops. Now we need you to share the vision, help us make 2015 Quillisascut Farm workshops the best ever! Sign-up, tell your friends, the table is set.

Here is Andrea Pieroni at the 2012 MAD Symposium.

Pleasant Valley

Jan6PleasantValleyLast year I took a photo  every Tuesday of the view up Pleasant Valley. Standing by a Black Locust tree, alongside our driveway, you can just see the tree branch tip in the upper left corner of the photos. I missed a few weeks during the workshops or when my forgetfulness took over. It is fun to see the seasons all laid out to compare, and compare the few weeks when the grass is green.

You can view them in a larger format on Flickr January- December 2014 You can view them on Flickr
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