Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quillisascut - Best Apple Cider Ever

I love apples but have never been a fan of apple juice. Until apple pressing day at Quillisascut. Maybe it was because I was there when the apples were pressed, maybe it was the beautiful sunny day, maybe it was the combination of fruit we used. I don't know for sure but on this day I drank the best apple juice ever!

Start with Golden Delicious and Jonagold apples.

Grind the fruit to size.

Press the apple pieces to extract the juice.

Then strain the juice to remove any debris.

Minutes after the apples went through the press, I got this glass of amber liquid which was sweet and tart in smell, mouth watering in flavor and yes, the best apple juice ever! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quillisascut - Pizza!

Quillisascut has a beautiful wood fired oven which we took full advantage of in our meal preparation.  Having just made fresh mozzarella and feta cheese, what else could we do but make pizza? We gathered a bounty of onions, squash, flowers, garlic, leaves, tomatoes, peppers, plumbs, a little sausage, fresh herbs and had a pizza party.

The fixings

Stoking the coals to ready the oven for our pizzas.

This amazing oven baked our pizzas beautifully and we also used it for braising the goat meat the following day.

Oh so yummy!

We cut all the pizzas up and passed the platter!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Farm School!

This month, I was invited to attend the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts, located in Rice, Washington. Quillisascut (Quil-li-sas-cut) is a school that teaches students, chefs, people in the food industry, and anyone interested in where food come from about the farm to table connection. We had several excellent discussions about sustainability, food distribution, and how to re-educate people about the need for nutritious whole foods. The small and intimate campus has a impressive organic garden, a small herd of goats, and a cozy lodge with a professional kitchen and plenty of warm beds. But wait, there's more, the group of people I went with were all chefs! While at the school, we cooked all of our meals from the food grown on the farm, and everything was mouth wateringly delicious!

During my four day stay I learned to milk goats, make four different kinds of cheeses, how to process walnuts to extract the oil, and how to respectfully butcher a goat. There were many other lessons that I learned and I'm happy feel a more enriched and deep connection to my small urban farm.  Thank you Rick and Lora Lea Misterly for providing such a beautiful environment for the rest of us to learn.I'll be doing several postings of my adventures at the Quillisascut Farm School, be sure to stay tuned.

We arrived at the school on a crisp, sunny day, with the smell of the first frost still in the air. The main building is built out of straw bales which makes a sturdy, well insulated structure.

This alpha male is busy breeding with the females this time of year. He is incredibly friendly and oh so smelly!  I've never really known the smell of a male goat, but the musty, pungent, kinda sweet smell is now forever etched into my nose cells. The milk from this herd is the key ingredient for making the wonderful cheeses at Rick and Lora Lea's business, the Quillisascut Cheese Company, located on the property just steps away from the school.

Rick, Lora Lea, and a couple of the chefs.

All our meals were a group effort and everybody shared in the cooking and cleaning.

This is Libby the Komondor guard dog. She protects the livestock and her dreadlocks are a great natural coat of armor.

A mother duck had 13 ducklings while we were at the farm, a very unusual time of year for babies to be hatched.  The family was gathered into a stall where they would be safe from the weather and predators. Seeing these little fluffy babies makes me think of spring!

The Thanksgiving turkey, the one with the blue face.

That's me in the purple coat.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blanching the Harvest

One of the things I like best about harvesting the delicious edibles from the garden is preserving them for eating later this winter. I recently discovered a new method for shocking beans after blanching, which eliminates having to pick the ice out of the beans before freezing. My beans have  struggled this season, but I have managed to have some extra to put up.

Start with a BIG bowl. Then find a colander that will fit nicely inside the bowl, but still allows a couple of inches of room for ice. Add water to make an ice bath.

Top the beans and blanch in boiling water for about 1 minute. I do about 1/2 a pound of beans at a time.

Move the beans into the ice bath for shocking.  Continue adding beans until the colander is full.

Lift the colander out of the ice bath and let the water drain from the beans. And look, no ice to pick out! Now they're ready for bagging and freezing.

Enjoy your beans this winter!

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday hosted by Sustainable Eats, Gnowfglins, Culinary Bliss, and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.