The Farm Diaries

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The first time I laid eyes on Taylor was in the summer of 2004. He was clean shaven, had short hair, and his hands were smooth and callous free. I thought he was one of the most handsome guys I’d ever met and immediately wanted to get to know him better. We were young and had both landed awesome summer jobs working on a dude ranch in western Montana. The days were busy but we were working for other folks and had the luxury of clocking “in and out” of our shifts for the day. That fist summer together was carefree and wonderful.

Fast forward twelve years and we’ve somehow found ourselves the owners/operators of a small organic vegetable farm in rural Oregon. Long gone are our days of carefree living and spontaneous adventures. Honestly, if you would’ve told me that summer (back in 2004) that in twelve years I’d be sharing my nightly happy hour in the back of a pick up truck, covered in sweat and dirt, snacking on radishes and drinking cold beer with that same clean cut guy I had a massive crush on years ago, I would have laughed in your face. That same guy now has the most earth-worn hands I’ve ever seen. The tiny creases on the far corner of his eyes (from squinting at me daily in the sun) are more present with each passing season. Despite that– I find him more handsome with each passing year. We’ve been farming for eight years now and I still have to pinch myself when I take a moment to step back and observe our reality. We’re almost unrecognizable to each other.

We’ve officially made it passed the halfway mark of our 2016 farm season. This year has definitely had its fair share of ups and downs and we feel emotionally and physically drained. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve produced but we’re always striving to get better and more efficient with our operation. As we transition into the month of September we’re filled with a lot of anticipation and hope for what our late summer and early fall crops will produce. We’re definitely at the point in the season where we’re emotionally tired and a complete crop devastation might actually kill us (we’re feeling weak!) Now is the time when we need to dig deep….there’s still a long road ahead and it’s a little too early to feel this beat down.

Sometimes I fantasize about a different life. What if we stayed on the ranch in Montana for a few more seasons? What if we worked in offices that were air conditioned? Would we live longer? Would having the luxury of clocking in and out of work make us happier? Would we be making more money doing something different? (actually….yes!) What would that feel like? There’s a lot of beauty in working for someone else and the freedom to take time off or go home at the end of the day (and not stare out at all of your unfinished business) can be tempting at times.

As much as I fantasize about an easier way of life I know I need to count my lucky stars for so many reasons. We’ve cultivated a wonderful community of CSA members, farmers market customers and some of the restaurant owners that we deliver to have become some of our best friends. Farming may kick our asses on a daily basis but damn, we really are lucky to do what we do even when it’s not the easiest way to make a living.

What we do isn’t any harder or more difficult than what anyone else is doing. Every job has its difficulties and what I’ve found talking to friends who are teachers, waitresses, doctors or stay at home parents is this—we’re all just trying to do the best we can and hard is just hard.  We’re all in this together and it feels good know that everyone is just trying to stay afloat. What I hope is that at the end of the day, no matter how tired, worn out, or beat down you may feel, that you get to sit down, clink glasses and enjoy a tasty meal with someone you love. Those quiet hours in our kitchen at night are some of the happiest for us and I hope you all get a little taste of freedom in your own kitchens as well.

So…..cheers to surviving August! And let’s hope for a little energy boost to help get through September. Happy Friday everyone!

(some of the photos above were taken from my girl Kate Schwager–thanks for spending early mornings in the fields with us Kate!)

Farm Stand Summer Vegetable Bowls

summer harvest bowls-2

These summer vegetable bowls are loaded with some of the season’s best ingredients. Roasted summer produce is tossed with quinoa and topped with crispy pan fried chickpeas and doused with a zesty basil tahini sauce. Simple, delicious and filling to boot!

I love the flavors of the season and hope you all enjoy this simple recipe as much as we do. Pair with a glass of crisp white wine for a delicious weeknight meal.

Cheers from Tumbleweed Farm.

 

Farm Stand Summer Vegetable Bowls

Dinner

  • PREP TIME
    15 minutes
  • COOK TIME
    30 minutes

Roasted Veggies & Quinoa 

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced into thin rounds (or any small eggplant variety)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (or any grain of choice)

Pan Fried Chickpeas

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained
  • pinch of salt

Basil Tahini Sauce

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil, roughly chopped + additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

 



Serves 4

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss all the vegetables with the olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast until the veggies are tender and lightly browned, about 20-23 minutes. Toss halfway through cooking.
  2. Prepare the chickpeas by tossing the spices, nutritional yeast, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, about 15-18 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chickpeas to a paper towel lined plate to drain. After the chickpeas have drained add them to the bowl with the spices and toss to coat.
  3. Prepare the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy. This works best with a blender or small food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more water to thin the sauce if need be.
  4. Toss the roasted veggies with the cooked quinoa. Divide between bowls and drizzle with the sauce and top each portion with the fried chickpeas. Garnish with minced basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Use this recipe as a guide
*Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary
*Taste test as you go

Chili-Lime Melon Salad

melon salad

“I’m sick of summer produce.”

A lovely woman (who I’m sure had no intention of breaking my heart) proclaimed at our farmers market booth just the other day. We’d just set up our stand which included hundreds of pounds worth of summer bounty and we were sweating head to toe from the 98 degree heat. I smiled, bit my tongue, and said nothing. The thing is, summer produce is at its peak in our neck of the woods and we’ve been waiting so damn long for fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, melons galore (even though the harvest is beyond back-breaking) peppers, cucumbers, zucchini (yes– even zucchini– the most hated vegetable during the month of August!). The winters are long around here and this moment in time is so short and treasured that I never want to rush it. Pumpkins can wait. Yep, they can wait until the last tomato of the season has been plucked from the vine and the summer squash has been tilled under. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter squash and hearty vegetables that nourish us through the dark days of winter–but those days aren’t here yet, and I’m holding onto every last taste of summer until I’m forced to indulge in our winter harvest.

To honor this amazing time of year I leave you with my favorite “recipe” for cantaloupe. This obviously isn’t even a real recipe but that’s what is so wonderful about this time of the year. You don’t need a recipe to enjoy the fresh flavors of the season. A few spices, some good quality salt and voila!!! Your taste buds will be dancing!! Try your own spin and use whatever spices you have on hand–cayenne pepper or even smoked paprika could be nice! The most important thing is to use fresh, in season cantaloup and you really can’t mess this up!

Cheers to summer!

Chili-Lime Melon Salad

Salad

  • PREP TIME
    5 minutes
  • COOK TIME
    0 minutes
  • 1 cantaloup, seeded and sliced into wedges
  • juice from 1/2 a lime + more to taste
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder
  • coarse sea salt
  • minced cilantro (as much or as little as you like!)


Serves 2-4

  1. Sprinkle the sliced melon with the lime juice, chili powder, salt and cilantro.
  2. Serve at room temperature.
*Use this recipe as a guide