Category: Farms

Lavender Harvest at Island Thyme

Orcas Island’s apothecary turns 20 and sees a sustainable future in aromatic artisan products

In the little hamlet of Olga on Orcas Island, Chris and Eliza Morris have built a garden paradise around their sustainable business, Island Thyme, a purveyor of delicious-smelling herbal lotions, salves, soaps and sprays that nourish the skin and body with a broad harvest of herbs such as chamomile, calendula, cinnamon, rose, and, of course, lavender.

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Chefs on the Farm



Recipes And Inspiration From The Quillisascut Farm School Of The Domestic Arts

Authors: Shannon BorgLora Lea Misterly,Karen Jurgensen
Photographers: Harley SoltesHarley Soltes
224 Pages, 978-1-59485-080-6
Mountaineers Books 08/25/2008

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o The perfect “treat” for foodies, organic gardeners, cookbook addicts, and sustainable practitioners alike
o Sustainability is an accelerating trend in the food world

With the rising interest in organic and locally grown food, there is also an increasing interest in connecting the farm to the table. Chefs on the Farm describes the seasonal workings of Quillisascut Goat Cheese Farm, a small, family-run business in northeastern Washington state. There, owners Lora Lea and Rick Misterly started a “Farm School for the Domestic Arts” where every summer, professional chefs, culinary students, food writers, and others live and work on the farm. Cooking only with ingredients they find on the farm, students learn to be connected to the food they work with.

Learn more about the Quillisascut Goat Cheese Farm at

The Joys of Duck Eggs

About two miles down the road from me, on the other side of the miniscule town of Olga, Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, owned by the inimitable Toni and Mark, is a true gem on Orcas Island.

Most of the year, you can stop by Toni and Mark’s oyster shack and pick up the prettiest, sweetest little Pacifics, notable for their dark stripes and delicately ruffled shells. All their shellfish are held in tanks, so they are really alive up until you eat them.

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A Dash of Salt Spring Island

Last fall, I had the pleasure of venturing up to the Canadian Gulf Islands as a part of my friend Danielle Custer’s (former chef and current director of Taste Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum) annual birthday trip. In the gang are three others – Rose Ann Finkel, owner – with her husband Charles Finkel – of the Pike Brewing Company, Linda Stratton (sales and marketing at the Pike), and Monique Barbeau, former chef, now mom and foodista.

Each year we pick a different wine region (so far, Willamette Valley, Lake Chelan, Okanagan, BC) – this year, we had access to a great cabin on Salt Spring Island in BC.

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Come support Quillisascut!

I will be signing my book, Chefs on the Farm, at this event on November 5th!

Lora Lea Misterly, Harley Soltes, myself and Karen Jurgenson at our book signing
Lora Lea Misterly, Harley Soltes, myself and Karen Jurgenson at our book signing

The Slow Food Seattle Quillisascut Farm Student Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday November 5th at FareStart in Seattle

Slow Food Seattle and FareStart invite you to a special dinner on Thursday, November 5th to raise scholarship funds for the 2010 Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm School for the Domestic Art in Rice, Washington.

The first Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm School was hosted in August of 2009. The goal of the week was to offer people between the ages of 18 and 29 a chance to live and work on an independently owned farm that produces food in a sustainable manner. Teaching people how food is grown and where it comes from is an investment in a future of sustainable food systems. An educated consumer is an important partner in sustainable food production that is good, clean and fair for all.

To bring a taste of the Quillisascut Farm to the dinner guests in Seattle at FareStart Guest Chef Karen Jurgensen will prepare a three course meal of seasonally available ingredients with wine pairings chosen by Mark Newton, Proprietor and Director of winemaking at the DiStefano Winery. Featured will be the traditional farmstead goat cheeses from the Quillisascut Farm with DiStefano Wines.

Cheese maker and farm owner Lora Lea Misterly and Shannon Borg, wine writer for the Seattle Magazine, will be on hand to sign Chefs on the Farm, the cookbook that they collaborated on with Chef Jurgensen. Chefs on the Farm takes us through a year of farm fresh foods that are grown and eaten in season on the Quillisascut farm. Recipes created by Chef Jurgensen provide delicious inspiration and instruction for the home cook to prepare seasonal meals from the bounty of their own gardens or farmers market stalls. Chefs on the Farm will be available at FareStart. Proceeds will go to the scholarship fund.

A slide show and presentation about the 2009 Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm will be presented by Danny Barksdale, Adriana Rose Taylor-Stanley and Amy Grondin.

What: The Slow Food Seattle Quillisascut Farm Student Scholarship Fundraiser

Where: In the Private Dining Room at FareStart, 7th & Virginia

When: Thursday, November 5th, 6pm to 9pm

Cost: $50 per person plus tax & gratuity – tickets available from Brown Paper Tickets

Chef Jurgensen’s Menu for the Slow Food Seattle Quillisascut Farm Student Scholarship Dinner

Quillisascut Cheeses, Breads, Lavosh

2005 Donna Maria (Rhone Blend)

First Course

Bouillabaisse Sip, Tarragon- Hazelnut Pistou

2005 Domenica (Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend)

Second Course

Oxtail, Parsnip Lasagne

Roots in Bagna Cauda

2005 Red Meritage (Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon)

If you have questions about Slow Food, FareStart, the Quillisascut Farm School or the November 5th scholarship fundraising event please feel free to contact Amy Grondin at (206) 295-4931.

Okanagan Days

As I’m writing this on a Sunday morning, I’m watching the neighborhood’s three-legged cat hobble around a construction site next door. He gives me hope—that even though I’m a procrastinator and often don’t post when I know I want to, that I’m still hobbling around nonetheless! I’m out there searching for mice even though I might not catch them! That said, here is the post I should have posted two weeks ago right after I came back from my trip to Okanagan, B.C., Canada. Here it is!

We finally have summer—the days are dry and even what you might call hot. I’m off on my friend Danielle’s annual birthday wine tasting trip—two years ago we went to Willamette Valley, and last year we went to Chelan. This year, the four of us ladies, of various ages and positions in life, agreed wholeheartedly on B.C.’s Okanagan region, just north of central Washington.

I drove out, they flew, and I was the designated rental car. Our first day, we visited three wineries and a goat cheese maker, a full day for five hours. Lunch at Quail’s Gate, then to the famous, fabulous Mission Hill. tried Chardonnay and Ice Wine, but mostly drank in the view and the architecture. This place is known as the most beautiful winery in the area, and I’d have to agree. It’s Mondavi-ized the area, created a destination for people to ooh and ahh over, and then go taste the wines at the smaller, more boutique or mom-n-pop wineries.

We also went on a trek to find the Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan farm and shop, off in the hinterlands of Kelowna’s alpine hills along the shores of Lake Okanagan. They featured over a dozen styles of goat cheese with lovely names like Misty, Blue Velvet and Heavenly—and they were—from fresh yogurt cheese to ash-covered soft-ripened cheese, to smoked cheese to hard, tangy cheeses to a fantastic blue. I bought two Moonlights, a soft-ripened cheese similar to Mt. Townsend Creamery’s amazing Cirrus. Then to Cedar Creek Winery just down the road.

The next day, we visited the Naramata Bench, some miles south of Kelowna along the shores of Okanagan Lake. We visited Poplar Grove, Nichol, Kettle Valley (with their crazy Gewurztraminer slushy, great idea but there was nowhere near enough wine in it, just sugar icee with a splash. Then to Elephant Island Fruit Winery, one of the best tastings we had. All their wines are fruit wines, and before you get all snobby on me, you have to realize these wines are their own animal, and each is unique. The pear wine was light, fresh and dry, with a nose of jarlsburg and smoke, to me at least! The perfect thing with a goat cheese salad and an afternoon on a sunny porch. There are also wines from Fuji apples, crabapples, raspberries and their wonderful non-vintage Stellaport made from dark red Stella cherries, fermented and aged in French oak in an 8-year solera system. This wonderful wine had a nose of baking spice and mocha, and dark cherry, of course, with coffee, balsamico and prune on the palate. Would be fantastic with fondue!

We had lunch at the gorgeous little Heritage Inn, an old renovated hotel with a good restaurant. At lunch we opened a bottle of Joie’s 2007 A Noble Blend and loved it. Joie’s winemaking couple, Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble, have a small cooking school and winery (not open to the public) just up the road. This wine has a nose of lime zest with a bit of fresh tropical fruit, pineapple, and zesty acidity, great balance. We were so impressed with the wine that Monique called them right from the lunch table and asked if we could come by. Michael said sure! he’d be happy to show us around, so we trotted off to the winery and met he and Heidi and their lovely little farm. We ended up leaving with three half bottles of wine from their afternoon test tasting, and arms full of pears from their little orchard.

There’s so much more to say about this trip, but other wines I liked were Le Vieux Pin (we had lots of laughs trying to prounounce that – it’s Le (as in book) Vee-yeuu (as in book) Pa nh (nasally n!) how do you write that phonetically, I don’t know, but the wines were fabulous. Also visited their other new winery, LaStella, which was gorgeous, you MUST go there! More on that later. Also Blue Mountain sparkling wine and pinot blanc and pinot gris.

And Nk’Mip (INK-a-meep) which was big and resorty and disappointing as far as wine goes, but looked like a great place for family vacations.

More later!