Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'll Bring the Trail Mix

I'm excited about this upcoming dinner event at the North Cascades Institute this weekend. Tom is staying home with the hounds and Mair Farm cat and I'm heading to the Institurte early because I'm attending a base camp and the Institute is also hosting their annual picnic on Saturday afternoon. The picnic is free to anyone who wants to attend, so if you want to stop by, be sure to say hello.

Their blog this week featured an article I wrote about the importance of eating locally. (Watch out, it might make you hungry for apples). They also had this post that spotlights two of my favorite recipes. Margie's Raw Apple cake is amazingly easy to make.

Chef Shelby Slater selected a number of recipes from my book--Zucchini Cream Sauce over risotto, Spicy Spinach and Red Cabbage Salad to name a few. I hope Shelby makes the carrot hummus for an appetizer, but whatever he creates, I can't wait to taste it. I got a glimpse of the menu yesterday and the Hot Apple Soup will make a perfect blog post on Monday.

After the dinner I'll present a slide show of local farms and food and my talk will include farms in Skagit Valley where the Institute gets food for their events. Blue Heron Farm is contributing vegetables for the dinner and it's on the way, so I'm stopping on the way there.

Is there anything cooler than an invitation to a farm?

I spoke with Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm earlier this week and I learned a lot about her farm. I first heard about her farm a few years ago while shopping at Skagit Valley Co-op. A sign hanging over carrots displayed the name and it was such pretty farm name that it stuck in my mind. Later, I bought a copy of "Washington: Renewing the Countryside" and I found a profile of Blue Heron Farm. Not long after that I heard Anne talk at The American Farmland Trust's Farm Steward of the Land Award in 2008 in Seattle. I think she spoke before Nash Huber, the first Northwest farmer and the first organic vegetable farmer to win the award.

Check your local library for Washington: Renewing the Countryside, edited by John Harrington.

Anne's farm is on Highway 20 before you get to Cascadian Home farm where Anne says she worked for 12 years. Looks like I'll be stopping at this farm stand where I hope they still have a few berries.

Here are a few pictures I'm including in the slide presentation.

This is a picture taken Rockridge Orchards, where farmer Wade Bennett keeps his own bees. It's not exactly Skagit Valley but nothing much happens without bees in the produce world no matter where you live. It's one of the topics Ill cover the the presentation.

And how can you do a food and farming presentation in Washington in the fall without talking about apples? This is Bellewood Acres on Ten Mile Road near Lynden. It was at this farm store where I bought the book above that ultimately led me to Blue Heron Farm.

Seed growing and saving farmland are two other features of the presentation.

And for some reason, this picture makes the cut for just about every slide presentation. I love that Buzz at Rent's Due Ranch sits so confidently on this heaping compost pile that feeds the crops at Rent's Due Ranch.

I'm really looking forward to this event, but I hate to leave my Cooking Assistant behind since he's also my portable therapist and resident comedian who always makes me smile, even when he steals food, since it's usually my own fault.

I think he picks up little clues that I'm leaving before the bags ever appear. One clue is my standard homemade snack food--trail mix.

The little biscuits are gluten-free crackers. I'll write a post about those sometime soon.

Here is the Trail Mix that I adapted from my book:

Trail Mix Redo
(Makes 3 3/4 cups)

3/4 cup nuts (use walnuts and hazelnuts for Northwest selections)
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 or more tablespoons tamari
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped dried fruit (apricots, apples, nectarines, peaches, pears)
1/2 cup dried cherries or grapes

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Roast hazelnuts for 7 and walnuts for 5 minutes. Add sunflower and pumpkin seeds and roast for 3 minutes or until they taste lightly toasted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with tamari.

2. Stir and return to oven to dry for just a few minutes.

3. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruit.

As I snapped pictures of Finn with the food, I almost missed Skinny Chloe behind me, who likes it best behind the scenes. "Oh no you caught me!"

And then quicker than a squirrel stealing plums, she whips her head around.

Some dogs are just born with a proclivity for posing, the love of the lens and the idea of their own Facebook fan page as long as it involves rewards. They can work it for 15 minutes or more of fame. Skinny Chloe is content to work behind the scenes, as long as she gets equal rewards.

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