Wednesday, June 17, 2020

My Culinary Farm Immersion Experience: One Week at Quillisascut Farmstead

                     

       

            Quillisascut represents the mecca of modern-day trending ‘grow-your-own, farm-to-plate, sustainable living, etc.’ movements.



            Last week one of my former culinary professors, Maribeth Evezich invited me to an online lunch-n-learn to share my experience at Quillisascut School of the Domestic Arts with her first-year nutrition and culinary students. A wave of nostalgia rushed through my body. I instantaneously projected myself back to that mustard yellow kitchenette, where all stages of a sourdough’s life were present, and aromas of the active cultures filled the air and danced with the yeast rising the proofing bread.






            Experiencing Quillisascut is to know and experience true farm-to-table and farm-to-restaurant eating and cooking firsthand. This special plot of 26 bountiful acres sits right outside the Colville National Forest in Rice County, WA. Rick and Lora Lee Misterly, the homesteaders behind the farm school, hosted an intimate group of culinary nutritionists and educators for a weeklong farm immersion in Fall of 2018, each of us beckoned on a journey to connect deeper with our environments, the various cycles of life, and ultimately ourselves. Quillisascut’s approach remains very aligned with mine- seeing food as the common unifier that brings people together, with a wholistic undertone to it all. 


Everything is connected; there is no denying that.


Immediately upon stepping foot on the farm, I glimpsed into my future; the vision of one day living off the land bloomed into existence- a possible reality. Over a dozen goats and chickens, roosters and ducks roamed the grounds. We harvested and foraged just about everything we ate directly from the farm, if not it was sourced from neighboring farms or acquired from the occasional ‘restock-for-bulk-items’ trip to the local co-op, PCC. The magenta fields of scattered amaranth complemented the daily pink sunsets. Wild, edible treasures flooded the garden, from walnut trees (which, after cracking walnuts by hand I now know why they are so expensive!) to tomatillo plants, a plethora of peppers, root vegetables, and squashes, to an abundance of leafy greens.

Lauren and I barehandedly skinning a goat


Everything served a purpose. Nothing inhabited for no reason.


The chickens hatched the eggs, and combined with a little culinary magic in the kitchen, we feasted on savory breakfast dishes. The goats yielded pungent and tastefully tangy milk (yes, WE did the milking at 5 o’clock in the morning) transformed by Lora Lee to make goat milk coffee creamer and the farm’s bestseller, goat cheese. The ducks and goats spent their lives contributing to the farm’s cycle, but with life comes death. Rick selflessly completed the butchering of a goat as well as three ducks, while the fellow attendees and I partook mostly with our eyes. If willing or felt called to do (which I most certainly was), an opportunity arose to skin the carcass of the goat, pluck the feathers of the still warmed bodies of the headless ducks, and gut out all of their insides. Vegans, are you having second thoughts about this farm utopia? Side note: I spent two years of my life adhering to a VERY strict vegan lifestyle, so with the appreciation and respectability of animals still in the forefront of my mind, it was a humbling experience to say the least. Just as life yields to death, life also emerges from death. Not a single part of those animals weren’t eaten (deep fried goat testicles are a hit!). A newfound reverence. 


Students from Bastyr University plucking duck feathers


                We broke bread together; we feasted, we indulged, we cooked, we learned, and sipped a little too much wine until we laughed and cried in unison. I have kept so many magical moments from that week on the farm to myself and those I shared them with. My path led me to Quillisascut in a very unique way, but I assure you this lifestyle and deep reverence for nature are much more tangible than you think. If you’re reading this blog, consider yourself in-tuned and connected. It’s ok to give a f*ck! It’s ok to challenge modern ways of living. It’s ok to take a leap of faith, sell everything, and start farmsteading. Ok, slightly joking. But trust each step you walk on your path, listen to your gut, hold tight to your wildest dreams, put ideas into action, and make your dreams a reality. A fruitful life awaits.


Wood Fired Brick Oven in the backyard where pizzas were baked, featuring whole and cracked walnuts


 

To learn more, go to http://quillisascut.com/ and follow their instagram @quillisascut

To see the style of curriculum I trained under, check out Maribeth Evezich at www.wholefoodsexplorer.com and follow her instagram @wholefoodsexplorer





 


 

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