My earliest memories of Pake include him teaching me how to perfectly peel an orange, the new pink (!) barn boots he would bring me when mine where about to give way, and the way he would sing, all day everyday. My Grandfather loved to farm, it was his lifelong dream and he achieved it!

As Dutch immigrants, my dad’s parents often had challenges to deal with, Pakabut you would never know from the way they would talk about their lives. The first thing they would tell you is how absolutely blessed they have been, and nothing happens without the will of God. Now I want you to imagine this. Walking out to the milking parlor as the early morning light washes over Mt. Baker. Pausing as you hear a baritone voice joyfully singing hymns to the Lord. This was not someone singing to themselves quietly, but a clear, booming voice you could hear from across the yard! Seriously! My Aunt Ruth will tell you she used to open her windows in the morning so she could listen! Can you tell this is someone who loves his life and his Lord with all his heart? To this day, Pake is remembered for his gentle, but strong, personality, ready smile, and his beautiful voice. However, if you ask someone who knew him, they will tell you about his incredible faith and the impact his wisdom had in their lives. A real legacy.

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I’ve always been a “daddy’s little girl”, but as I grew older, married, and moved out, I’ve started to recognize the similarities between my Dad and Uncle and their father. They love to farm! These brothers will happily talk about cows, land, and future projects for hours. They would love nothing better than to sit on a tractor all day. They both have beautiful voices and sing as often as they breathe! But more importantly is how seriously they take their relationships with the Lord. These are a couple farming brothers who are daily living examples of grace, humility, and honesty to those around them. To me, they have become invaluable sources of wisdom as I contemplate the future and the choices it holds.

These are the foundations we have built our farm, cheese plant, and now the store around. A legacy set in place before my generation was even born. We are truly stewards of everything God has given us! Everything from our families, to the land, and the cows, are blessings and we are going to take the best possible care of them we can. It’s our responsibility!

Katherine

Barn Boots and Ice Cream

There are different types of women. There are put-on-a-skirt-and-go-to-work women and there are put-on-jeans-and-work-at-home women.  On the farm there is a third option, the put-on-barn-boots-and-jump-on-a-tractor women.  Then there are women like me who play childish pranks on her husband, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Judy Velthuizen is the barn boots type.  She would feed the cows in the morning then slip out of her boots, tie on an apron, and lay out an impressive buffet for her hungry family who have been out working with her. It was also common to feed a crew of workers and neighbors who came to help with putting up hay. Hay harvest days are sweaty, dusty, back-straining days that built hearty appetites. Judy took it in stride. I was young and single when I met Judy and I can’t tell you how impressed I was with how she could juggle home and farm work with ease and humor. I had no idea at the time that I too would be a farm wife someday, I hope I am living up to her standard.

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Judy first introduced me to the wonders of ice cream pie at a potluck in the late 1980’s.  I thought it was genius! Two great desserts in one!  That pie was made with a rice cereal and corn syrup crust and lots of chocolate syrup drizzled on top. My pie is a little different and uses my favorite of our new ice cream flavors: Salted Caramel.  I hope it serves as an homage to Judy’s creation.

Caramel Apple Ice Cream Pie

  • 1 graham cracker crust
  • 2 cups finely chopped peeled apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 quart Appel Farms Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  • Candied Pecans (optional)

Melt butter in a small skillet.  Add sugars, cinnamon, and salt, then stir in the apples and pecans.  Saute until apples are tender, about ten minutes depending on the apple variety. Cool completely.
Soften the ice cream enough to make it easy to work with.  Layer one pint of ice cream in the pie crust.  Spread with the apple filling, then top with the rest of the ice cream.  Freeze until solid.
Thaw slightly to serve. Top with candied pecans if desired.

Candied Pecans

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add the sugar and salt and heat until the sugar melts.  Add the pecans and saute for five minutes.  Spread on a parchment covered sheet pan to cool.

Caramel Apple Ice Cream Pie

8 Reasons Why Summer is Better on a Farm

Summer time is always better on a farm. Even a girly girl can go tromping through the woods sometimes!

  1. Bare feet! Shoes out, calluses in! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shoes, but this is a freedom that can’t be beat. A regular washing of the feet was required before we were able to come back into the house, but it was worth it.
  2. “Down below”. This is how everyone refers to the area past the barns.
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    Fields, a forest, creeks, sand pit, the river- if any fun was to be had it was here. Running around building tree forts, swimming in the natural ponds along the creek, summertime was spent wild a free with out a worry in the world. This was also the best way to guarantee we wouldn’t wake my dad up from his afternoon nap. Four rowdy kids and their neighborhood friends do not mix well with a daily 3am wake up call.
  3. The “Boom”. With summer comes irrigation. With the irrigation comes a massive sprinkler we fondly called “The Boom”. Nothing beats a hot day better than running through a grass field getting soaked by a huge stream of water being shot over your head!
  4. A creek! Once in a while I would be really brave and join my brothers exploring. Something that was always sure to be a day of adventure was following the stream from the farm to the river. We would come home with scrapes from blackberry bushes, stinging nettle bumps, smelling of skunk cabbage, covered in muck, but with the biggest smiles on our faces and stories to tell. *Side note, shoes are typically not a good idea when attempting this. I can’t tell you how many shoes/boots were sucked off our feet never to be seen again!*
  5. A river bar. Now we weren’t allowed to go down here by ourselves until we were older, but the private “beach” next to a beautiful (icy cold) river quickly became the older kids hangout. HayI can’t tell you how many summer nights were spent gathered around a bonfire. Country life at it’s best.
  6. A haymow. Did you know you can make the absolute coolest forts ever in a haymow? Some of the bales were too big for us to maneuver, but the smaller, lighter, straw bales made great tunnels, rooms, and walls! I can’t tell you how many things I would smuggle up there to outfit my “house”.
  7. Other Farm Kids! We were blessed to grow up with multiple cousins around at all times. However, our family was much larger than biological. BoysOur farm in next door to the Smit Family farm, and like us, the family had moved into the area to farm and would pass their livelihood from one generation to the next. Therefore, not only did these kids have one farm to run around on, but two! Multiple generations of these families grew up (playing and working) together on the combined biggest playground ever! 
  8. These. icecreamsandwich-15 I’m going to cheat a little bit for this one! We didn’t have these growing up (with the exceptions of some church fundraisers), but we have them now!! Nothing says “summer on the farm” like one of these babies. And yes, I am addicted already.

If you asked my parents how it was raising kids on a farm they may tell you about the constant dirt and random animals we would bring into the house. But they would also tell you how it was the best possible thing for their kids to grow up in an area where their imaginations could run as wild as their feet. Some may think farmers don’t appreciate the land as much as they should, but I can tell you this. My family loves the land they have been entrusted with. Generations have grown up here learning respect for nature and the way it works. It was the best childhood you could ask for. Honestly, if we didn’t respect the land enough to take care of it in the best way possible, it would never last long enough for future generations to explore. We wholeheartedly believe God has blessed us beyond what we deserve, and because of that we have an even bigger responsibility to manage those blessings properly.

Relay for Life Fundraiser!

Come visit our booth and support a great cause next weekend! It’s no secret cheese and wine make a great pairing, so this event is bound to be a smashing success. Not to mention all the yummy appetizers to fill up on, check out the vendor list in the flyer! All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society! If you would like to visit the website to learn more about this awesome organization click here.

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I think we all know someone who has been touched by cancer. While it is indeed a horrible thing, I can honestly say it is amazing to see so many individuals, families, and businesses come together to raise funds and awareness through such a fun event! We live in a great community and Appel Farms Cheese is proud to participate!

Why you should get your local strawberries right now!

The beginning of summer for me is heralded by Boxx Berry Farm opening their doors.  When I was growing up, the only time I ever set foot on a farm was our annual trip to Yelm to pick strawberries for mom’s freezer jam.  I have fond memories of grimy knees, stained fingers, and the heady smell of berries warm from the summer sun.  I may have met the farmer that owned those fields, but I don’t remember him/her. I did hear stories of farmers: their hardworking life, patience, and general steady character.  Being constantly around farmers now, I have come to take these traits for granted, but it was brought home to me again as I visited Boxx Berry Farm the other day.  I parked out front and wandered through the patchwork quilt of fruit and vegetable fields, with dust from the road swirling around my ankles.

Alyssa working at the upick stand
The yield this year is small, but the berries are large, juicy, and sweet.

The u-pick stand was manned by Alyssa, the daughter of Roger and Vonda Boxx.  It’s been a delight to see her grow from the skinny little thing running around the farm to the beautiful woman she is now.  Roger paused in his own labors to greet me and we gazed down the rows of strawberry plants.  I asked him how it was going and he confessed that it’s a disappointing year.  They are expecting less than half their usual yield of strawberries.  The winter, though mild, was harsh on the strawberry plants.  But farmers are a stoic breed, he brushed the worry aside like brushing the dust from his shoes and shrugged, “there’s always next year.”

Because the harvest will be small this year, I am relishing each and every berry.  There’s nothing like the imminent danger of paucity to make you cherish what you can get, don’t you think?  I made freezer jam on Monday, just like mom’s, and today we are having Panna Cotta.  My son describes Panna Cotta as offspring from the marriage of gelatin dessert and ice cream.  Panna Cotta is light, creamy, and easy to make but looks absolutely elegant.

Panna Cotta

Strawberry Quark Panna Cotta

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup lowfat quark
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Place half and half into a medium pan.  Stir gelatin in gently and set aside.

Blend quark, strawberries, seeds from the vanilla bean, and sugar in a food processor until smooth.

Heat half and half and gelatin stirring constantly until almost simmering, do not overheat or the gelatin will not set.  Remove from heat.

Fold 1/3 of the hot half and half into the strawberry/quark mixture, then gradually add in the remainder.

Divide into serving glasses, the number of glasses depends on their size and if you are doing layers or all one flavor.  For two layers, I like to tilt the glasses in a muffin tin (use crumpled paper towel to keep the glasses from sliding around) for the first layer then set the glasses straight for the second layer.  Allow to set for 4-6 hours before adding second layer.

Elizabeth cutting strawberries

Vanilla Quark Panna Cotta

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup lowfat quark
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Place half and half into a medium pan.  Stir gelatin in gently and set aside.

Stir together the quark and seeds from the vanilla bean, set aside.

Heat half and half and gelatin stirring constantly until almost simmering, do not overheat or the gelatin will not set.  Remove from heat.

Fold 1/3 of the hot half and half into the vanilla/quark mixture, then gradually add in the remainder.

Divide into serving glasses or carefully pour on top of the first layer.  Chill 4-6 hours before serving.

Before a couple of years ago, yogurt was not something that I cooked with.  I ate yogurt with fresh fruit and in smoothies, but that’s all.  Then we started making yogurt at Appel Farms and I discovered the wonderful world of cooking with yogurt.  Our yogurt is in the South Asian style of dahi, naturally thickened with no preservatives or gelatins.  It’s about the same consistency as Greek Yogurt but is sweeter even though no sugar is added.

I love collecting cookbooks so I used our new yogurt as an excuse to run out and buy a couple of cookbooks.  I love to scour local consignment stores for old cookbooks, particularly if they have the word cheese in the title.  My favorite yogurt cookbook is The Complete Yogurt Cookbook by Karen Cross Whyte published in 1970.   I especially love the section on “Yogurt Folklore” that includes a paragraph on Dahi.

“East Indians eat dahi plain or thinned with water as a beverage.  They claim dahi will induce sleep and calm the nerves.  It even has “a soothing effect on hysterical subjects,” they maintain.  Nationally known nutritionist, Adelle Davis, states that a deficiency of calcium causes nerves to become tense, and insomnia is likely to follow due to the inability of the body to relax…Yogurt is naturally rich in calcium; ninety-one percent of it is assimilable in one hour.  Calcium from yogurt can readily be absorbed because it supplies both fat and lactic acid which aid in the assimilation of the mineral.” –Karen Cross Whyte

Reading my yogurt cookbook

So, if you need a late night snack, yogurt is perfect!

One thing that is tricky when cooking with yogurt is sauces.  Yogurt adds a rich, luscious tang but can be frustrating if not added properly.  Yogurt will separate if heated too quickly or too high so proper tempering is essential, take my word for it, I learned this lesson the hard way.  My favorite sauce is a yogurt gravy that I serve with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

Chicken Dinner

Creamy Yogurt Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons pan drippings
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup Appel Farms yogurt at room temperature (or substitute plain greek yogurt)

Put 2 tablespoons drippings in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour. cook, stirring until golden.  Add water and bouillon cube.  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Spoon 1/3 of the roux into the yogurt and whisk.  Pour the mixture into the pan and heat to serving temperature.

Lemon Roast Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small lemon wedge
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, beat oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Brush entire chicken including cavety with the lemon marinade.  Place celery and lemon wedge in cavity.  Place chicken in a shallow baking pan.  Pour water into pan.  Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, baste chicken occasionally with pan drippings.  Chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 degrees F.  Serve with Creamy Gravy.
Recipe from Yogurt Cookery (another favorite book) published 1978 by Sophie KayPrepping the chicken

One of my Cheese Shop customers gave me this recipe a few years ago.  I didn’t test the recipe but took a chance and served it right away to some visiting reporters.  I know that was crazy, especially since the reporters represented a couple of Seattle culinary magazines and food columns.  I am not a chef, and most of my culinary arts training came from watching Alton Brown on the Food Network, so you can just imagine how much sleep I got the night before this presentation. Then why did I take a chance on an unknown recipe? Because it looked simple, and because my customer vehemently guaranteed its success.

John making Feta
Here is John making Greek Olive Feta.

With the ingredients scribbled on a little yellow post-it note, and her verbal instructions hopefully remembered correctly, I got started.  “Pour enough olive oil to cover the serving plate.”  REALLY?  The little scrap of paper had no amounts given, I just had to guess at it.  I forged ahead in spite of my trepidation and poured a puddle of olive oil on the plate.  The next part was easy.  “Seed and dice some tomatoes, thinly slice some green onions, and crumble some feta.”  I spread what looked like a reasonable amount of each into the pool of olive oil.  Then it came to the Cavender’s Greek Seasoning: “sprinkle seasoning to taste.”  I had never used Greek seasoning before so I was a little (okay a lot) nervous about how much of this new seasoning to spread all over the plate of tomatoes, onions, and feta swimming in a pool of olive oil. I judiciously sprinkled a tiny bit on one corner of the plate and scooped up a spoonful to try it.  I immediately fell in love.  With new confidence, I finished the dip, placed it on the buffet table for the Seattle foodies…and prayed.

Feta Dip

It was a huge hit! Several of the reporters asked for the recipe so I sheepishly showed them my little yellow paper.  I don’t know if they were impressed at my daring or incredulous at my audacity.  Either way, the dip achieved the intended result of highlighting our feta.

Appel Farms Feta

I later found out that the recipe had been published on several blogs. The earliest I could find was: www.memoriesoncloverlane.com so I am giving credit to that blog, but special thanks to my wonderful customer who shared it with me.

Easy Feta Dip

Ingredients
(The amounts vary depending on the size of your serving plate)

olive oil
approximately 1 pound of Appel Farms Feta
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thin
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning*

Cover the serving platter with a thin layer of olive oil.  Spread the tomatoes, onions, and feta over the oil and sprinkle the Greek seasoning on top (I used about 2 teaspoons).  Gently mix and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

*according to Sarah at Clover Lane, you can substitute oregano and a little pepper for the Greek seasoning.

Today is National Apple Pie Day.  I absolutely love the whole idea of a day chosen to celebrate a certain food!  When I hear that it is the day to celebrate Chocolate Eclairs (June 22) or Cheesecake (July 30) I immediately run the grocery store.  These holidays make me happy partly because it’s really quite ridiculous if you think about it, and partly because it gives me an excuse to bake something, not that I need much of an excuse.  Most national food days have no definable origin, although whoever came up with “Sneak some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch” day (August 8) is certainly a genius.  These days also have no official recognition.  The United States Government will never set aside August 30 to celebrate “National Toasted Marshmallow” day, but you can bet that it is marked in red on my calendar!

Today is Apple Pie Day so Elizabeth and I made Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust.  If you have not tried cheddar in the crust of your apple pie then you are really missing out on something wonderful.  The tang of the cheddar is a perfect pairing with the sweetness of the apples.

Rolling out the crust

Cheddar Cheese Crust

12 ounces (approximately 2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Appel Farms sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces shortening (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces butter (frozen in one ounce pieces)
4 ounces cold water

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, cheddar, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the frozen shortening and toss them with the flour mixture.  Use your fingers to rub the shortening into the flour mixture.  Cut in the butter until you have created a mixture of almond and pea size pieces.  Drizzle the water over the flour mixture.  Mix with a fork.

Dump the mixture on the counter. Gather the crumbs into a mass of dough.  If the mixture is still dry, add more water a tablespoonful at a time, sprinkling it over the dough.

Gently knead the dough two or three times, just to combine.

Gather the dough into a circle and cut in half with a bench scraper. Form each half into a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Peeling the apples

Slicing the apples

Mixing the filling

Assembling the pie

Filling

6 medium apples* peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse sugar crystals **optional**

Mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Place the apples in a large bowl with the sugar mixture and orange juice and toss gently.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Rolling out the top crust

Folding and crimping

Brushing on the cream

Assembly

Preheat oven to 450.  Roll out one of the dough disks to make a bottom crust and place it in a 9 inch pie pan.  Pile the filling into the crust and arrange the apple slices so there are no large gaps.  Roll out the second disk for the top crust.  Lay it over the filling and cut off the excess crust around the edges.  Fold the crust over and crimp the edges.  Cut vent holes in the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.

Place the pie pan on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Tent the pie with foil to prevent the crust from overbrowning and bake until the filling is bubbly, about 45 more minutes.  Allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

*I like to change up the filling with different local varieties.  Apples are not in season right now so we used 3 Golden Delicious and 3 Braeburn.