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Fear Factor vs. Jam Party

jamparty2016What could be more fun than getting together with a large group of amazing women on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to face your fears? Jamming can be pretty intimidating, with fears of botulism and all, so it helps to learn as a group with many different levels of experience and knowledge. Our 21 Acres team has everyone from, “What’s a jar lifter?” to “I’ve been making jam every summer with fresh-picked berries since I was 5!”

What started off as a one-two batch project, quickly turned into twenty pounds of fresh peaches, five flats of raspberries, two flats of golden raspberries, and finally one flat of marionberries. A big THANK YOU to Tualco Valley Produce, SAgE Student Farm, and Collins Family Orchards who grew the fruit and our Commander In Chief, Liesl McWhorter, who graciously organized this event and opened up her kitchen to us. These fearless women jumped right in, finding a fun place to station themselves and awaited their orders.

When we were all present and in place, we started by blanching peaches, washing berries, and sterilizing our jars, rings, and lids. Next we carefully measured out our batches of sugar and mashed berries. These mixtures were brought up to boil, the right amount of pectin was added, then brought back up to a boil that cannot be stirred down for one minute.

We then filled the jars with our jam, carefully placed the lids and hand tightened the rings. The final processing step was to place these jam-filled jars in the large pot of boiling water and let it boil for 10 minutes. The only thing left to do was to use the jar lifter to pull them out of the water and let rest on the counter for 24 hours. Oh, and of course, enjoy the jars that didn’t get filled all the way! We made several different flavors; peach & golden berry, raspberry, raspberry and marionberry, marionberry, and of course peach raspberry & golden berry! Our jams can store in the fridge and freezer. These are perfect gifts for friends and family, but also have been used to mix in with morning yogurt, flavor sun tea, as well as concocting some amazing rum and sparkling water cocktails.

Most of all, learning by getting your hands dirty (or sticky in this case) is the best way to get over the fear factor!

Photos Courtesy of Amanda Bullat
Post Written by Krystal Whitaker

21 Acres Harvest Share-Summer, 2016

IMG_4006The first months of the 21 Acres Harvest Share, a food access program for people living on limited resources, have brought families over thirty varieties of fruits and vegetables. We made fun, delicious, and easy to follow recipes including green goddess herb dressing using carrot tops, spicy greens with kohlrabi, carrot salsa, pickled turnips and carrots to use on Banh Mi sandwiches, and cilantro pesto.

We held our first farm glean (picking produce left in the field after farmer’s harvest). The gleaners saved over ten pounds of snow and sugar snap peas, oregano and rosemary then learned how to dry the herbs to enjoy year round. As local farms begin to expand their offerings throughout the season, the Harvest Share will be right along- providing people the opportunity to eat good food.

We still have spots open. Jump in and start enjoying local, tasty produce! Get more information and sign-up here.

Summer on the Farm…at Camp!

Our newest Farm Market employee, Charlie Wainger, wrote this message last week.  If you haven’t had a chance to meet him, hopefully you will as he’ll fill in periodically when staff take vacations or we have a particularly busy day planned.

“I started working in the 21 Acres Market in May and I can’t believe it is already the end of June and the multi-colored tomatoes are on the table. Now the stone fruit and cherries spill onto the scale. Soon I’ll be tending to my own tomatoes at Hidden Valley Camp, a 60-acres overnight camp nestled in Granite Falls. The corn will be thigh high in July while the nasturtium and squashes flower. The herb spiral already dances with bees and the garter snakes sneak through the strawberries.

It will mark my 17th summer at Hidden Valley Camp right as the camp turns 70. I started in the 90’s as a camper and now I run the quarter-acre farm program, which allows campers from 7-17 to plant, harvest, and cook fresh produce. We collect rainwater, compost, tend to the chickens, and cook food in our new cob oven. Check us out at hvc-wa.com.” — Charlie

At 21 Acres we’re fortunate to have staff who really appreciate giving children experiences on the farm like the one Charlie describes.  Our 21 Acres farm camps are run by the amazing and extremely talented Andrew Ely. They are full for the summer with the exception of the last session, August 1-5, Pizza Organica! If it interests you for your child ages 7-12 be sure to register right away!

Strawberries Top this Year’s Dirty Dozen List

The Environmental Working Group released the 2016 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list a few weeks ago.  For the first time in 5 years, apples have been eclipsed at the top of the Dirty list.  Unfortunately this is not because apples are any cleaner, it is because many of the strawberries available for sale are dirtier than ever.  According to USDA tests, “strawberries are the fresh produce items most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues, even after they are picked, rinsed in the field and washed before eating.”  What’s more, to sterilize the fields before planting strawberries, conventional growing tactics including spraying and injecting large amounts of poisonous gasses into the soil.  This kills weeds, pests, and pretty much any living organism that exists in the soil.  (Click here for EWG’s full article on strawberries.).

 

Sustainably-grown strawberries - free from pesticides and full of flavor

Sustainably-grown strawberries – free from pesticides and full of flavor

Choosing to buy Organic berries, or from berry farmers committed to keeping their land free from any chemicals, is a healthy choice for yourself and our planet.  The Farm Market at 21 Acres works with a handful of farmers who are experts at growing delicious strawberries free of any chemical sprays or poisonous gases.  One of their secrets is to go with the flow of nature, which means planting, cultivating and harvesting in season.  I spoke with Jesus Gonzalez of Tualco Valley Farm last week.  Jesus thinks our warm Spring weather could result in ripe strawberries as soon as the last week of May.  With the goodness of seasonal berries on their way, it is time to dust off your canning pot and call in recruits to help with the processing.  Or, if water-bath canning isn’t your cup of tea, consider the easy recipe below for no sugar freezer jam.

Email or speak with the Farm Market staff about reserving a flat or five of strawberries for your canning needs and eating pleasure (bulk discounts apply).  The best flavors come and go before we know it so now is the time to enjoy to the fullest.

Charlie and Elaine are our newest Farm Market employees.  Come say "hello!"

Charlie and Elaine are our newest Farm Market employees. Come say “hello!”

Stop by the Farm Market for a printed copy of this year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.  Or, check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Living Apps from EWG for a lot more produce information and helpful tips on food, beauty and cleaning products.

 

No Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam

From the Ball no sugar pectin package

 

Ingredients:

3 lbs strawberries, stems removed

1 ¾ apple juice

1 ½ package no sugar pectin

 

Directions:

Mash the strawberries in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, whisk the apple juice and pectin and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Pour the liquid into the mashed strawberries and stir for 1 minute.  Ladle into freezer-safe containers (be sure to leave ½” of space on top) and place in the refrigerator overnight to let in cool slowly and set.  Store in the freezer for up to a year and in the fridge for 3 weeks.

 

 

Waste-Free Kids

babeYou probably think this is an oxymoron! Having no or less waste with a houseful of diapers, clothes, wipes and toys may seem impossible, but there are some practical alternatives to raising a “zero-waste baby.”

Here are just a couple of ideas from Katherine Martinko, mother of three.

  • Cloth diapers
  • Washcloths not wipes
  • Fewer skin-care products
  • Used/re-purposed clothing
  • Home-made baby food
  • Fewer toys
  • Minimal fancy gadgets and toys

Read more tips and find out why these are better alternatives. And make sure you purchase non-toxic products too! (Read here why eliminating a baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals is so very important.)

“A truly green baby, by contrast, is the one whose lifestyle is least consumerist and most minimalist, whose parents don’t go out and stock up on a mountain of unnecessary new items in order to get it through the first year of life.”

Check out the full article here.

Two Little-Known Tips for Long-Lasting Tulips

My grandmother lived in Anacortes, Washington all throughout my childhood.   Driving to Grandma’s in the Spring, my Mom always took the back roads to catch views of the tulip fields in bloom.  (Personal tip – the view from the cliff on Best Rd just before the La Connor turnoff is spectacular).  I suppose it is little surprise, tulips are by far my favorite flower.

tulips and tulip poster

This time of year, the daffodils have faded but the tulips take up the trumpet to herald the arrival of spring in all its colorful glory.  A vase of tulips in my home makes me happy and reminds me of my grandmother.   Especially, these two tips Grandma used to keep them looking fresh as long as possible:

  • Drop a penny in the vase. If you prefer the look of your tulips with straight stems rather than bowing over the edge of the vase, adding a penny will do the trick.   If your stems are already bowed, the penny will stand them upright again like magic.
  • Stab your tulips. This sounds violent but this is what Grandma said.  When the bloom has opened to your preferred look, take a paring knife and pierce the stem vertically just at the base of the flower.   I have no idea why, but this halts the bloom from opening further.

The other tips for flower arranging from Grandma: 1.  Flowers are individuals, always go with an odd number in the vase; 2.  Daffodils and tulips never mix.  Have tulip or other flower tips of your own?  Please comment below to spread the knowledge.  Happy Spring everyone.

—  Liesl McWhorter

Spring Into Spring With Fresh Meal Inspirations

Spring into Spring with fresh meal inspirations from the Culinary Program at 21 Acres. All of our culinary classes highlight the use of local, seasonal and sustainably-grown ingredients. Our goal is to inspire and empower guests to consider using more whole foods as the foundation of their diets in order to promote personal and environmental well-being.

— Amanda

21 Acres Culinary Class

Here’s the current schedule:

 

Cultural Classics: Chutney, The Ultimate Flavor Enhancer | Thursday, April 14, 6:30-8:30pm

Chutney is a thick sauce of Indian origin that often contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices. This flavorful condiment has been used throughout history and across many cultures to enhance mealtime flavors. Inspire your senses in this hands-on class.

 

Local Foods for Local Adventures and Weekday Snacks | Friday, April 15, 6:30-8:30 pm

Join Chef Kristen Fuerstein in this hands-on exploration of locally delicious, easy-to-prepare portable snacks. Menu items to include: Not Your Basic PB&J Granola Bars, Savory Veggie Bites, and other pack-able snacks.

 

One Food Three Ways, Sea Vegetables | Saturday, April 30, 1-3:00 pm

So you think veggies only come from your garden or the farm? Welcome to the new world of seaweed! These sustainable plants might be your new go-to green. In this hands-on class you’ll have the opportunity to use various seaweeds in three delicious dishes: salad, a main course of salmon infused with sea veggie butter, and a decadent dessert.

 

Spring Salads & Salad Dressings | Friday, May 6, 6:30-8:30pm

Are you ready to lighten up for Spring and Summer? As the weather gets warmer, our bodies naturally begin to yearn for lighter and fresher foods. Join culinary educator Rebecca Sorenson in this hands-on kitchen experience to learn how to build tasty and satisfying salads.

 

Eat Your Weeds: An Introduction to Spring Foraging | Saturday, May 7, 1-3pm

Don your farm boots and possibly a rain jacket to join culinary educator and wild plant expert Rebecca Sorenson in exploring the fields of 21 Acres. Rebecca will guide you in search of wild, delicious, and nutrient dense edibles. After foraging, we will assemble our bounty in the kitchen and transform it into a flavorsome wild green pesto served with fresh farm bread, a tasty wild salad, and a mouth-watering beverage of nettle infusion.

 

What’s On Your Plate| Tuesday-Friday, May 10-13, 6:30-8:30pm & Saturday, May 14 12-2pm

Note: This course has been approved for 10 CPE credits for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Calling all nutrition professionals, educators, and anyone else with an interest in the inspiring story of local food history. Join Ruth Fruland, Ph.D, and professionals from the 21 Acres staff as we explore the essence of food culture in the Pacific Northwest within the context of environmental sustainability over the course of four evenings; we will examine and celebrate four iconic Pacific Northwest foods: including salmon, potatoes, apples, and wheat.

 

Cultivating Cooks 201 | 5 consecutive Wednesdays, May 18-June 15, 6:30-8:30pm

Calling all aspiring chefs! Our Cultivating Cooks Youth Culinary Series is under way for the 2016 season. We’re excited to introduce Chef Andrea Roelen as the fearless leader of this inspiring program best suited for young adults ages 12-17.

 

Spring into spring with fresh vegetarian flavors | Friday, June 3, 6:30-8:30pm

Looking to expand beyond meatless Mondays? Are you looking for new veg-menu inspirations? Join Chef Kristen, our resident vegetarian chef, in this hands on culinary experience. We will use locally sourced ingredients to create a plant-based menu guaranteed to delight your taste buds as well as promote a steady flow of energy throughout your day.

 

 

Kids on the Farm — Free Open House, April 2

Bring the entire family to 21 Acres this coming weekend for a free open house, Saturday April 2, noon to 1:30 pm. Spread the word to anyone you know who is interested in getting more kids in the kitchen and on a farm. There will be lots to do, including being able to:

  • Create and taste kid-friendly recipes with Chef Asako and Chef Laura
  • Visit the “farm-igami” station where kids can create origami pots, then add soil to plant a seed to take home
  • Create a pollinator-friendly flower ball to plant at home to attract bees and butterflies throughout the summer
  • Explore 21 Acres Farm—take a guided walk about the farm and stop
    to say hello to our resident goats, Lucky and Skippy!
  • In honor of International Children’s Book Day, celebrate food literacy as we
    launch locally-authored Readers to Eaters book titles for sale in the Market.
  • Learn more about 21 Acres’ children’s programming including: Farm Camp, School Field Trips, Storybook Farms, Cultivating Cooks culinary classes and more!
    Farm Camp crafting fun

Take the time to talk to our staff who will be on hand during the open house and learn about our summer farm camp program:

NEW for Teens: Farmer-in-Training June 27 – July 1; Ages: 13 to 18 years

Food from the Fields July 11 – July 15; Ages: 7 years to 12 years

Minds Crafting Your Garden July 18 – July 22; Ages: 7 to 12 years

Pizza Organica: Farm Fresh Pizza Session 1: July 25 – July 29, Session 2: Aug 1 – Aug 5; Ages: 7 to 12 years

What to do with kids who are picky eaters when on a limited budget

Recently, the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece, A Hidden Cost of Giving Kids Their Vegetables, discussing the blame game that is often played on people with limited resources for not feeding their children healthy food. When it comes down to it, children are picky eaters, regardless of family income. This fact, weighs a heavier burden on low-income parents. When money is tight, rather than waste food that children will not eat, parents tend to provide their children with food they know they will eat. This food is oftentimes nutrient deficient, bland and sweet, a trade off that I truly understand.Meghan's kids

I am a mother of 2 small children. I work, my husband works, we are busy and tired. Occasionally, a day or two before payday, we are out of pretty much everything, left with only pantry staples like rice or pasta and beans and we have to be really creative about “what’s for dinner.” I was raised by a single mother, we were food insecure, especially when the food stamps ran out near the end of the month. I understand some of the struggle and hardships that are part of “going without.” Read more

Nettles Mean Spring – Don’t Get Stung!

nettles2016Asako went in search of nettles this past week on the #21AcresFarm. Enjoy her advice AND a #recipe! (Let us know in the comments if you try it.)

Seeing nettles on the farm is one of the first signs of spring. In America it is common to eat them as soup, risotto and such. Being Japanese, I like them simple as a blanched salad (Ohitashi) and eat it with bonito flakes and soy sauce. I also like tossing the blanched (and cut to bite size) nettles with a sauce made with nuts or seeds. Don’t forget to squeeze out the water very well after blanching otherwise your sauce will be watery.🙂

Oh, and nettles have thorns, I mean really, really painful ones. They have histamines and it burns for days. Nettles are extremely nutritious, and are said to be effective for seasonal allergies. Chinese medicines include them as an ingredient, and Native Americans used them too. Just be careful when handling them raw; wear heavy gloves when harvesting, and until you’re done blanching.

FRESH THINKING RECIPE: Pumpkin Seed Tossed Nettles

1. Blanch nettles (I normally blanch twice; 30 sec. to 1 min each time). Squeeze water out well. Finished amount is about 1 cup (if start with approx. 3-4 cups of fresh nettles.) Cut into bite sizes.
2. Mix the following ingredients in a small blender to make dressing. Pulse them together to mix and become saucy.

– Oil (I use camelina, but can be sesame oil) 1 tbs

– Soy Sauce (or Miso) 1 tbs

– Honey 1/2 tbs (add more if you like it sweeter)

– Roasted pumpkin seeds 2 tbs

Enjoy!

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