Summer salads

It’s so summer. I could almost say the hottest, driest summer I can remember. It’s been roughly 6 weeks that have reminded me of  growing up in Florida where virtually everyday the sun rises and stays out shining hot. Except here it’s about 70 degrees instead of 90. I’ll take it.

We earned it here in the PNW. I didn’t get the garden in till the third week of May because it was so wet. The four leggers and 2 leggers were slopping around in mud pretty much till the end of May.

Our four goat mama’s  cranked out three sets of triplets and one set of twins. We had a full house with 11 kids and 4 moms. And so we are building a new BARN. Ollie is so supportive of this venture- it also gives his farming roots a chance to grow and thrive…  The boat and/or sports car has been bumped to the next decade:)

We (well they) will be moving in by September and we’ll be ready to bring on the winter.

wendyellenthomas.com

The garden, though late, is in full swing. We are chowing down on green salads daily and actually got tomatoes early due to my $179 hoop house. We added support with rebar stakes and it’s holding out great. Plenty of basil and tomatillos this year!

wendyellenthomas.comThe first little ones….

We are eating lots of these kinds of salads…

Broccoli & red cabbage-

  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • ½ shredded or finely cut fennel
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T cider vinegar

A little salt and pepper and a dash of honey or maple syrup if you want it a little sweeter but the fennel also gives it a little sense of sweet,

Preserved lemon and herbed quinoa salad- No real recipe for this one.

It’s just chopped up preserved lemon (I’ve been making a lot of this), a handful of chopped parsley, a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh mint and cilantro and toasted pine nuts with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a little  honey apple cider vinegar ( I love this stuff).

And here’s one of my favorite green salads with steak, broccoli salad, white kimchi, spiralized zucchini, a little of our house feta,  avocado, last of our currants and a lime vinaigrette. A little fresh mint on this one as well.  Boy if we could grow citrus and avocado We’d have it all!

On the farm…

Big brown eyed Else

The gang hanging on a late morning
Juan in a box
Mr. Brown posing
Chickens getting their fill of whey

Dinah helping the electrician-

See that bit of green leaf? I’m holding it. I take a bunch of greens, shake them and run and the group chases after me. Fun times!Happy Summer Days!

wendy

goat kids on the move!

It’s a sweet time on the farm when the kids are due. Anticipation, nervousness, excitement join to form a feeling that sort of keeps you on edge, and a little bit holding your breath and not realizing it. I actually start looking at photos of baby goats from the previous year. I’m constantly in the barn monitoring (but not sleeping there like some with many, many goats) I check the kidding kit and track down missing parts or say pull the same snot sucker, (baby nasal aspirator) thing from the bathroom drawer that I had used for my kids 20 years ago. This is still only our third year and I’ve not needed it previously but maybe this time. Our does have mostly done it all themselves with only a little assistance for a couple and they’ve all been born healthy.

Especially with social media, I see I’m not alone in this just post empty nest time. I love being a mom and in some little way I get to help “mother” the kids:) They can’t help but fill your heart. Their trust, vulnerability and curiosity are powerful. And it’s just plain fun and so amusing. Holding a baby goat brings you very much into the present and just gives you a moment to step outside of a sometimes crazy world.  I’m grateful we have the opportunity to experience this process and share it with others. We’ve so enjoyed all the visitors the last two weeks.  We are grateful for another successful kidding season with 11 out of 11 strong, healthy kids. And we will be looking for new homes in the near future!

So let’s get to it…There’s a lot of goat kid cuteness all over the web- here is what we have to add.

First to give birth on April 3rd was Dinah our Lagerian (they don’t have their own wikipedia link). She’s a cross between a La Mancha who have the elf or gopher ear trait(we call them all nubby ears) and a Nigerian Dwarf. You hope for the butterfat of the Nigerian with a little larger size/milk capacity of the La Mancha who also have very sweet personalities.  She kidded, cleaned them and they were nursing by the time we saw them. She’s like that.

With her buckling Duffy.

goat kidsDuffy and sister, Dharma.

They are funny and smart and the first to hang on the doorstep like they’ve lived here for years.

And to venture on the teeter totter- Ollie’s rule of thumb… we might consider keeping kids who play on this. (he made it)

On the same day Jane (nubian), kidded- she was a little early. Jojo, Juan in the middle and Juno’s bum on the right. Beautiful markings on these three. She did great for a first year mom (freshener).

These three getting some lap time with Nanny Nadine. She’s making goat week an annual event:)

Then we waited, and waited, and waited till Friday April 7. Shirley got some relief after a long labor with another three… she only had one last year. She was like…. wwhhhaaattt??? The second buckling, Salvatore (Sal for short) was very big. I’ve yet to get a good photo of the three. Sal on the log, Sadie in front and Mr. Brown on the right. And they are on a different play/sleep schedule than the rest you see under the manger napping.

And if you’ve never seen it- here is Mr. Brown straight from the womb.

Getting cleaned up.

And hoping he can figure out how to get up and hit those teets.

And last but not least on April 8th (my birthday too), Nena kidded THREE MORE- unassisted. I think she intentionally waited for the 90 minutes we were not in the barn.

We’ve got Nellie on the left, Nigel in the middle and Oreo on the right.They all started in their own corners and within a few days started playing together inside and out. Once they were sure footed, introductions to Else were closely supervised.

She is still only 7 months old and very curious.The kids are outside in between napping and nursing. They are in constant motion on the rocks and logs.

And they are venturing out into the yard now.goat kids

One of my favorite things with this whole venture is I’m like the pre-teen mecca. It’s so sweet watching these girls nurturing the kids- lots of snuggling and a natural rocking like a baby.

There likely will be regular photos on Instagram if you want to follow along… wendyellenthomas or Facebook

Happy Easter, Spring and all that you celebrate!

xx

wendy

farm update- kids are coming (goats that is)

We are on our second day of sun. Well, dry and partly sun at least. It has been a very long rainy season- like for reals not just “seems like the wettest year EVER!” We have all been sloshing through mud and we are over it. #Mudzen.

Here’s a glimpse of most of the farm fam… Click here to see where this began.

#starrouteorcas

Add some chickens in there and our land mates’ Blue Healer, Jasper.

 

 Dinah and Otto looking rather dapper.

Nena on the left and Jane- both full Nubian- enjoying a moment of sun this week.

Dinah and Shirley with actual shadows do to this orange ball in the sky.

If you’ve been keeping up on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook– you might already know these guys are all PREGGERS in a big way. They are due in the next 2-7 days- follow along on one of the above.

Nena

The last of the stored apples… never you mind the dump run pile back there.

Our newest girl Else (pronounced Elza). Ollie named her:) Else LOVES attention.

And loves to stick her rough, black on top, pink on bottom tongue in the bucket when it’s getting filled.

And we are all VERY excited about the new digs. Yes- we are  building a REAL barn! Else seeing if she fits.

Otis and Else

Otis after a proper romp in everything mud.

He likes his baths.

Chickens are back to earning their keep… giving us these eggs that make me never want to eat an egg from anything other than on organic, really free-ranging hen again. The chickens get a little flax seed in their Scratch and Peck grain feed. The yolks are intense and nutritious. EAT the YOLKS folks (bumper sticker coming soon)! I made a little goat cheese from frozen milk- not as good as fresh but it worked. Yogurt too.

Our weekend no knead sourdough wheat loaf- this one with walnuts…

and top with these…

I forgot the chives- the only thing growing in the garden- although sorrel & rhubarb is coming out.

Sorry – got distracted by food again. We’ll say goodbye now. xx

Carrot, ginger, turmeric, cashew smoothie

AKA  “Golden Bliss smoothie” – thought I should just say what it is straight off there in the title but I like Golden Bliss:)

We’ve been drinking this colorful, energy packed smoothie many a winter morning and straight on into spring. It’s packed with protein,  immune boosting and  anti-inflammatory properties.

I could drink it everyday because it tastes so damn good but we alternate with the berry spinach smoothie. The carrot conversation was happening for me as we (me again at least) have been influenced by media that carrots are high sugar (albeit natural) and carbs and then the Glycemic Index (GI) gets thrown in there and that sounds serious. In the last decade research on not only GI is readily available but also GL- Glycemic Load- which is how the body processes the food. It’s similar with our cholesterol scores. You’ve got to read the fine print- HDL LDL and ratio… Here are a couple links to check out on GI and GL  …..  TTYL (just kidding).

I start off juicing organic carrots, lemon, fresh peeled ginger and turmeric. Everything organic if possible (Here’s 2017 dirty dozen). Lemon helps flush your system in so many ways. And these two roots bring a plethora (like a ton) of healthy benefits. Ginger supports the GI tract, has anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties as well as aids in lowering cancer risks. And the same can be said for turmeric along with aiding in detoxification and which when combined with carrots also helps with the absorption of beta-carotene. Please read further in the links above. Turmeric has become so popular you can generally find it in the grocery store and we are lucky to have organic turmeric in our local co-op.  Sometimes I’ll change it up and add a little beet too.

Our Champion is a power horse and it’s easy to use and rinse.

golden bliss smoothieI’ll shoot for a cup of juice per person. And usually after the veggies I’ll run a little coconut water through the Champion to work through the last bits of pulp. Then just take the juice to your blender- I LOVE my VITAMIX and am not paid to say that (but would not be opposed to that).  Add plain yogurt- I am using our goat yogurt, cashews, raw date, a few ice cubes and a grind or 2 of pepper to help with the absorption of the turmeric. I will also add a scoop of whey protein but you’ve got protein already with your yogurt and nuts… up to you.

Lovely date- about a half of a pitted date per portion.

I’ll give it a good couple minutes in the blender till the color lightens up and the healthy oils in the nuts have broke free. And that’s it! It’s so good.

And here’s what else I’m doing to extend on my daily smoothies when I’m not juicing the base or use to make a hot immune boosting tea. I juice a large amount of ginger, turmeric and lemon and freeze it in ice cubes.

frozen ginger and turmeric shots

Totally simple and a good way to keep this  incredible combo at your fingertips (your soon to be yellow fingertips)!

Golden Bliss smoothie- carrot and cashew

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An energy and nutrient packed way to start the day!

I’m using a Champion Juicer and Vitamix

Ingredients

  • 3 medium carrots washed and tops trimmed
  • ½ peeled lemon
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled (approx .3-.5oz)
  • 2 inch piece of turmeric, peeled (approx .5oz)
  • 4-6 oz plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ½ raw, pitted date
  • dash of black pepper
  • OPTIONAL – protein powder
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Directions

  1. Juice carrots, lemon, ginger and turmeric. Top off with water or coconut water to make 1 fluid cup.
  2. Place vegetable juice in a blender and add yogurt, cashews, date, pepper and ice cubes and protein powder if you choose to use it.
  3. Blend together till color lightens- approx 1-2 minutes on high.

The sun has made limited visits and the mud is making a solid effort to dry up! We are planting seeds and watching buds bloom.

Happy Spring,

xx

White Kimchi with Pear & Fennel

Inspired by the fermenting demo at 610 Magnolia with Chef Edward Lee, I made this white kimchi with pear and fennel within days of returning home from the IACP conference in Louisville. It’s loosly based on the recipe from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee.

White Kimchi w/Pear and Fennel

  • Print

*Note: Allow 2-24 hrs to soak cabbage in salted water at room temperature

Ingredients

  • 1 large savoy cabbage 3-4lbs cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 4-6 qts water for soaking cabbage
  • 1 bulb fennel, tops trimmed(save for something else), chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 pear, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 8 ounces of daikon radish,peeled and chopped
  • 6 green onions cut in ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, stems trimmed and discarded, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2oz ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 TB honey
  • ½ cup of whey if available

Directions

  • Cut the cabbage into quarters, cut out the core and discard. Coarsely chop cabbage into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
  • Toss in 1 cup of salt and massage into cabbage.
  • Cover the cabbage with water and place a weight (like a plate) on top to submerge cabbage. Let sit at room temperature for 2-6 hours (I’ll let it sit overnight even).
  • Drain cabbage and rinse. You will see it has begun to soften.
  • Chop the fennel, onion, pear, bell pepper, daikon, green onions and jalapeño pepper.
  • Mince the garlic and ginger and mix together with the ¼ cup of salt, honey, fish sauce and whey if available.
  • Mix cabbage and all remaining ingredients thoroughly and stuff into ½ gallon mason jar. Have an extra quart jar available for back up!
  • Take your fist and mash down the kimchi to bring up the liquid.
  • Place swatch of cheesecloth on the jar and place a lid on it.
  • After two days, gently open jar, “burp” it and make sure contents are under the liquid.
  • Leave at room temperature for 3-7 days and then refrigerate.
  • NOTE: I will let mine ferment on the counter for up to 2-3 weeks if it’s in a cooler pantry. This comes down to factors of room temperature and personal taste preferences. It will continue to ferment in the fridge- just not as quickly.

I packed all this into a half gallon canning jar along with another quart jar. It’s always a little give and take depending on the size of the cabbage.

I tried something Chef Lee did, putting a swatch of cheesecloth just under the lid. It keeps the contents off the underside of the lid.

After only 3 days it was burping and bubbling and the solids were completely immersed in the liquid. Using the whey does help expedite this process. You can either find someone who is making cheese, strain some from yogurt…Or just skip it. I’ve made pounds and pounds without whey and they turned out great. I also prefer not use the rice flour slurry that Chef Lee uses in his recipes.

Chef Lee and Darra Goldstein, editor of Cured Magazine, hosted this pre conference event. If Darra has a fan club, I want in. She is a walking food fact and history encyclopedia.

He prepared Chow Chow, a fermented green tomato relish I’ll surely make in August.

A white kimchi like the one I’ve made today, pickled beets and pickled watermelon with peppercorns, fennel fronds, celery, dill allspice, clove and garlic.

These deviled eggs served at Chef Lee’s demo are garnished with pickled watermelon.

I’ll be making the white kimchi again for sure as well in the summer with produce from our own gardens (and may sell it under a new business name- #StarRouteOrcas). But I could not wait until summer to try putting together this recipe. For lack of napa cabbage I went for a nice big head of savoy.

So this conference really rocked my boat. I’ve hovered over it for years waiting for the right time to land.  And 2017 was it. Ollie came with and had the opportunity to teach for a day at the University of Louisville to boot. Score: Double tax deduction. There were informative breakout sessions on writing and cookbook publishing, the workings of SEO, finding your niche, keynote address on the culture of Southern Foods and plenty of networking and good food. My elevator pitch was pretty, how shall I say, weak. But I actually have a fair amount of confidence behind my year of exploration. My midlife awakening. I was quite chuffed around 4am the night before the conference thinking about midlife crisis and how that’s not what I am experiencing. I couldn’t wait to wake up and coin the midlifeawakening hashtag. Yeah… if I had thought about it three years ago maybe. Well, I wasn’t shy to # my thoughts to an already existing stream of midlife consciousness. It’s true. I’ve never been happier than I am right this moment. I had a lucrative couple years doing a job from which I gained friendships and knowledge to carry through life but a job I don’t want to carry into the next decade. My fingernails yearn to be packed with dirt and dough.

So I’m workshopping and conferencing to my hearts content this year. This winter/early spring at least till our four does have their babies (kids) and start making buckets of milk! And then I’ll be making loads of cheese!

Happy fermenting!

xx

wendy

Salmon Poke at home

As previously mentioned in my last post on the UCLA writers program, I ate poke from Sweetfin everyday. One day I also ate it at The Poke Bar (no beating around the bush)- . Also very good but I liked the base of kelp noodles at Sweetfin… and the name.

My poke bowl

salmon-poke-8It’s not like poke is a terribly new thing. It’s been a Hawaiin staple for ions and it often appears on Japanese restaurant menus . Read what Seattle Eater has to say and follow to their site for poke findings in Seattle.

“Poke comes from the Hawaiian word for “to slice or cut,” and most commonly uses ahi tuna as its base, but it can include any fish, crustacean, or even land animal. Poke is often drizzled in sesame and sometimes gains a savory flavor from inamona, a relish of Hawaiian native kukui nut (candlenut), macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and other seasonings.”

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UCLA extension writers’ program

I spent Feb 9-12th in LA for a craft and courage writing class taught by Barbara Abercombrie at the UCLA extension Writers Program. She and the twelve people in the class took me and “my writing” I will say with confidence,  to another level. I am not shy to say it was for me more about the courage than the craft. Which I might think for many is a major hurdle. We often, undeservedly, call it a hobby.

writer-studio-signBarbara hit the nail on the head for me.”Coin or stamp collecting is a hobby, writing is a calling” And this isn’t to get all dramatic but writing can be almost this secret that you keep to yourself.  I’m not sure where it falls in the realm of passions such as gardening or cooking. Do we call those hobbies? Is meditation a hobby? Do we choose not to validate writing if it doesn’t earn money? Maybe it’s because writing is something we (I) can spend a fair amount of time on and there is no basket of greens and strawberries or a meal on the table as proof of my labors. Writing doesn’t often produce a tangible thing- at least not something you want to share. Maybe writing along with the meditation is increasing my gray matter!

Cue blog. I’m bumping up its priority in my life once again.

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#Womensmarch Orcas Island

I started to write a post on spaghetti squash, feta and sausage but had a hard time wrapping my head around food after such a monumental weekend. #womensmarch

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I haven’t done any blog reading the last three days and haven’t taken a pulse of blogs and politics. At least with the food and garden bloggers I follow. I’m sure there are countless political blog posts and I will be honest in saying I don’t follow many… ok – any. I read NYTimes online and I try to stay informed. And a visit to my Dad, who lives in a cabin on our property where MSNBC runs virtually 24/7, provides a strong dose of information.

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Apple and Celeriac salad

This apple and celeriac salad brings a freshness and brightness to your meal while committing to the definition of “seasonal”.   And I say “seasonal” with the utmost respect. I’ve never been ready to give up bananas or avocados, chocolate, olives or other “staples”. Shit did I just do “quotes” again.  And I suppose those items fall under the definition of  “local”.  I can say I am not a proponent of berries, beans, tomatoes or summer squash in winter due to cost and moreover lack of taste. But on to “salad”!

apple and celeriac saladThis awkward root veggie, rather foreboding at face value, grows like a beet or kohlrabi.  With it’s thick roots and roughly a third of the ball in the ground and the rest nestled in the soil, it has a mild, almost sweet taste. See here.

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Lemon tahini sauce

Are you thinking what? Lemon tahini sauce? Really?

Yes. really. It’s basic and it’s so good. And we all need a reminder sometimes of the basics. I went to look up the recipe online only to find my favorite Mollie Katzen recipe. I searched my shelves at home high and low for my Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I’m so sad. I think in an extreme Kon Mari moment I gave them away. I haven’t completely accepted that possibility and am hoping I will stumble across  them.veg-and-lemon-tahini-sauce-7

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