The light begins- January

The light remains a little longer each day and it feels good. In my early days on Orcas Island, the dark lingered longer but in a good way. It was a time to rest and regenerate. Winter in times past truly began for us after the holidays. The last of the tourists and part time residents fled the rainy, cold dark and save for a scattered showing in the spring, they didn’t return until Memorial Day. Without internet like it is today, the dark was filled learning and reading off the screen, creating, sharing food. Potlucks were popular as was craft night, “stitch and bitch”. We spent guilt free time binge watching Northern Exposure on VCR tapes recorded by friends and did I mention the crafts. I learned to spin wool (not very well), knit and bought a 4 harness cherry wood loom. It’s something I’m still holding onto.  The weaving went well enough that I made and sold chenille scarves at our still thriving, local art cooperative, Olga Artworks. Keeping the wood stove going and the pipes warm was also a priority. Early garden planning was always a joy as it still is. But now we don’t mark up catalogs, call in and verbalize each item number. And we don’t wait patiently for seeds (or anything) to arrive 10-14 days later. And so it was.

Twenty five years later looks different for us and the island as a whole.  We are just short of five months at Wild Island.  Many restaurants still close in the winter for a few weeks and as long as ten weeks. A shift has slowly occurred and people are much more active than the times mentioned above. Locals are out and about. Busy. Folks are visiting more in the off season to avoid the crowds. Our local Chamber of Commerce has done a bang up job creating festivals and parades and putting Orcas Island on the map.  Businesses like Girl Meets Dirt are doing promotions like this one  that share the bounty of our island. We’re even in NYTimes top 52 places to visit in 2019. This change of pace requires an adjustment. It means attempting a steady pace year round versus the summer blow out and winter restoration theory. It might require a few more morning baths!

We enjoyed a  few days off over the holidays and we now are staying open through the winter. Winter to me primarily being January and February.  We’ve seen smiling faces walk through Wild Island’s door these first two weeks of 2019. People come for a quick stop on their lunch break, or they’ll call in an order for pickup. I love too, when customers, a majority at this time of our community and friends, come have some food then stay and feel the comfort of our dining room. It’s intimate and conversations jump between tables. One of my favorite dishes we’ve had on special that I hope to get on the daily menu is a warm kale salad.

I finely cut kale- a variety is nice but you use can use any single variety. Give it a little massage with a dash of olive oil, lemon and salt. I top the kale with warm quinoa, roasted squash (insert any root veggie), mushrooms and chickpeas, It’s seasoned with salt, olive oil and lemon and topped here with red kraut, avocado and cilantro. I’m thinking a nice tahini, green goddess like dressing could be nice here too.

Happy January!

Wendy


Shitake sesame kelp noodles

So what’s up with these kelp noodles.

I see references and recipes as far back as 2012 on Elana’s Pantry but they didn’t hit my radar till this past year and I still had only tried them a couple of times.  I put them on our Star Route Kitchen menu last week and to be honest, when I first pulled them, out I was a little nervous.

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roasted carrot ginger turmeric soup & dukah

I’ve got a new gig I’m loving. We are finishing up the second month of Star Route Kitchen food club. We’re preparing and delivering from scratch, whole food menus to a handful of Orcas Island residents. Check out my new Star Route Kitchen page where you can get some ideas of your own for plan ahead foods to have for the week.

We are currently in R&D mode these last few months of the year. I’m asking for feedback on recipes, logistics of packaging and delivering and getting my cooking chops back on track. Chloe and I are having a blast on Mondays cooking and on Tuesdays delivering. We may add next year, a second menu option such as anti-inflammatory or something in that direction. The goal, in season at least, is to use our garden goods and island farm produce and stay on the wonderful trend that has been happening… Keeping it local. And I clearly state that is not exclusive. I will buy from around the world but always organic when available. The food that leaves my kitchen is the quality of the food we eat at home and my standards are high.

Last week,  this  carrot, ginger, turmeric soup with a coconut milk and veggie stock base rocked. Not to toot my own horn… or Ollie’s (my  awesome, jazz trumpet playing husband for any new readers). It was warming and tasty especially with the Dukah we made to garnish it. And here I added a little goat yogurt.

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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

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Chunky Chicken and mushroom soup

Chunky chicken and mushroom soup…

chicken soupWe are working, I hope, through the last of the days on end rain storms where even the worms drown in unforgiving driveway puddles…

IMG_7389 and unplanned driveway streams…

IMG_7390Goats are hanging near the doorway..

IMG_7398As well as the dynamic duo…

IMG_7397

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What happens when the freezer door is left ajar? #1

Things melt. Some not in a nice way. Like berries. The fish on the other hand was just thawed and still very usable. But we’ve had a lot of  scallops, halibut cheeks and salmon this week. Now I’m not complaining exactly, except I wouldn’t indulge in this much good product in just one week.

Scallop Chowder-9

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Wham Bam Thank you Ma’am Tuna Sandwich

Do you ever have those nights where you just aren’t in the mood… to make dinner. Well here’s a quickie that will put a smile on your face without a lot of effort. It’s just a little inspiration to pull from when you just can’t get your head around making anything.

Tuna salad with capers, avocado and tomato

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