Harmony Fields is a small, seasonal farmstead sheep creamery in Bow, Washington. This means we only make cheese with milk from animals we raise right here on our land. Our East Friesian/Lacaune flock of sheep produce milk for about six months, so that is our window for making our fresh (feta and soft, spreadable) and aged cheeses (tomme).
After the lambs arrive in March and the milk begins to flow, we are in constant motion, caring for the animals, making cheese, and managing the pasture. As a family of four, our daily routines vary throughout the season. Some days are market days, others are cheese days. The sheep are milked twice a day — that is a constant! We do have help with milking, but here is an example of a busier day at Harmony Fields:
5:20 AM: The alarm goes off.
5:30 AM: My husband gets up to feed the animals, except the milking ewes, and I make coffee. We both tip-toe down the stairs, so as to not wake our two girls, who are four and two.
6 AM: I round up the milking ewes in the barn and get them in line for the milking stanchion. After milking, I clean all the equipment, the milking parlor, and sheep barn. The sheep are then let out to pasture for the day.
8 AM: I head back to the house to help get the girls dressed and off to their preschool.
8:30 AM: A little time for breakfast and office work — and a much-needed shower!
9:00 AM: Off to the cheese room! I may begin with packing orders or will start heating the milk for a new batch of cheese. There are usually several steps involved. Once I am in the cheese room, I am there to stay. About 70 percent of cheesemaking is cleaning, so there is always a lot to do.
2:00 PM: Done with cheesemaking steps for the day, it’s time to take some deliveries and pick up the kiddos.
3:00 PM: The milking ewes come back from pasture. I then feed the other animals, like the donkeys and ducks.
4:00 PM: I cook dinner while the family has playtime.
5:00 PM: Dinner!
6:00 PM: It’s back to the sheep barn for the evening milking. After, the sheep cozy up inside for the night.
8:30 PM: I check my email and any other paperwork. Then I settle in to read, write, or catch up on the news.
10:00 PM: Time to sleep before doing it all again.
Visit harmonyfields.com to sign up for a summer cheese CSA, shop for gifts, or learn more about the farm.
– Adapted from Sommer Collier
Panzanella is a pleasant, summertime salad ideal for putting stale bread to good use. Didn’t quite finish your loaf from Breadfarm? “Waste not want not” is never better with this cool, sweet, and savory Italian bread salad featuring a medley of produce from Skagit Valley growers. Here, ripe blueberries from Bow Hill Blueberries and cantaloupe from Red Shed Farm are complemented by fresh basil grown at Blanchard Mountain Farm.
* Make sure to use bread that’s at least one or two days old, as it will absorb the moisture from the fruit and dressing while holding its shape. Fresh bread will become soggy and dissolve.
For more recipes, visit our Dine section here.
At least one billion people in the world suffer from metabolic syndrome, a medical term used to describe a cluster of chronic and usually degenerative diseases including obesity, insulin resistance (which is related to Alzheimer’s, dementia, arthritis, and cardiac disease), hypertension, and diabetes.
Sixty percent of Americans have at least two of these chronic diseases, and studies show that only 12% of Americans have what researchers call ‘optimal metabolic health.’ In other words, more than 80% of the population has poor metabolic health. In normal times, this statistic would be alarming. Considering the current state of the world, it is downright frightening. If there was ever a time to be in good health, it is now.
Our healthcare system already spends an inordinate amount of time and resources treating chronic disease, and has now been sent into a complete tailspin because of COVID-19. Although initially considered a disease of older populations, new C.D.C. data has shown that nearly 40% of people hospitalized because of the virus were between the ages of 20 and 54. However, the risk of dying is still significantly higher for older people and those with heart disease.
So why are so many young people falling victim to this disease, and why are chronic health conditions like obesity and diabetes increasingly accepted as the norm? One word: food.
Before COVID-19, this nation, most of the civilized world, and several underdeveloped nations were already sick. The cause was not due to an infectious communicable disease, but rather a global epidemic of non-communicable diseases related to poor diet and lack of physical activity.
Is the food we are eating trying to kill us? The short answer appears to be yes. Metabolic syndrome and almost every chronic and degenerative disease in our society can be related to what we eat and how much we eat. As bleak as this situation may seem, there are changes that you can start making right now to turn your health around.
Lose weight. Obesity and its related conditions suppress the immune system and worsen the effects of viruses like COVID-19. Removing processed carbohydrates (refined sugars, bread, pasta, muffins, cookies, cakes, sugary soft drinks, etc.) is an excellent place to start. It’s also important to eat more animal protein, good sources of fat (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil), vegetables, and fruit, nuts, and seeds. A Paleo diet template can help get you on track.
Eat less; fast intermittently if possible. If you are eating three meals plus two snacks a day, you better be an elite athlete in training. Based on the amount of exercise the average person engages in per day, there is no need for three large meals with the addition of snacks. Make sure you include animal protein and fat in your meals, both of which will keep you feeling full until the next time you are really hungry.
Move more. We have become a world where we spend more time sitting in one spot than we do standing, squatting, or moving around. Even though most of us are practicing social distancing, we are still able to get outside and go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is also a great opportunity to recharge our Vitamin D stores, which help boost our immune system.
Get more sleep. If you sleep less than seven hours a night, you are not doing yourself any favors. Sleeping is when our body restores energy and repairs cells and muscles. It is also important for our overall emotional wellbeing.
Learn to cook. If not now, when? With many restaurants temporarily closed, make this your opportunity to go back to basics. Start with my recipe for Cajun Shrimp with Cauliflower Rice, a flavorful dish that combines healthy animal protein with a veggie-forward spin on a daily staple.
I am ever the optimist, and believe that most of the time things happen for a reason. Through this all, I keep asking myself “Why is this happening and what can I learn from it?”
I can’t say for sure, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe this is a nudge from Mother Nature telling us it’s time to take back responsibility for our health and pay attention to what we are eating, what we are doing, and how we are living. Maybe it’s time to go back to eating whole, natural foods, slowing down, and simply living.
This is my second recipe using cauliflower “rice,” and I’m sure it won’t be my last. I didn’t add a lot of seasoning to the cauliflower because the Cajun prawns pack more than enough flavor on their own. Once you have removed the prawns from the pan, I recommend adding a little more oil and a couple pinches of the spice blend and then spooning a little onto your rice. You will have enough of the Cajun spice blend to easily double this recipe.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
The Skagit Challenge – how many Skagit Valley growers and producers are making up your meal? This recipe counts three farmers, one rancher, and one brewer. With over 80 commercial crops grown in the rich, alluvial soils of the valley, take your pick throughout the entire year. To complement the chimichurri, we paired this meal with Garden Path Fermentation Honey Tripled Triple Ferments.
Briefly pulse the garlic and shallots in the food processor. Add the fresh herbs, salt, and spices. Pulse. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar into the mix. Can be served immediately. Stores up to two weeks.
In March, grilling outside in the Pacific Northwest may not be top on anyone’s list. However, pan-searing is a fantastic option.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil, enough to lubricate the pan but not cause splatter. Place the meat in the pan. Sear until slightly caramelized and the meat has created a seal, allowing it to release from the pan. Do the same on the other side. Repeat. Cook until desired doneness and/or internal temperature is reached. Rest 10-15 minutes. Remove the inedible membrane running down the center of the cut prior to slicing.
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F.
If potatoes are large, slice in half. Boil for 30 minutes until just tender, not falling apart. Pour half of the olive oil in a 9”x13” baking dish. Place the potatoes in the dish. Smash with a potato masher. Sprinkle with salt and the remaining oil. Roast until crispy and golden brown, 35 – 40 minutes.
Sorrel Chimichurri – Harmony Fields & Waxwing Farm
Early spring is the seasonal lull before the storm of early summer harvests. However, the tender leaves of French Sorrel are in full force. In addition to farmstead sheep cheese, Harmony Fields grows certified organic fresh and dried herbs. This winter-hardy sorrel brings a bright, lemon flavor to the chimichurri. These early spring herbs are available in April and May at area farmers’ markets and the Harmony Fields Farmstand.
Trust your seasoned farmer to know which garlic to grow — one that has thick, crisp, easy-to-peel, and spicy cloves. Waxwing Farm in Mount Vernon grows certified organic vegetables, including heirloom and Ark of Taste varietals that thrive in the Pacific Northwest. Their loyal farmstand and CSA customers know their garlic . . . and cook with no other.
Hanger Steak – Skiyou Ranch
Skiyou Ranch 100% grass-fed, organic beef can be found at the Bellingham Community Food Co-op year-round. Their fourth-generation ranch exceeds the Five Provisions of animal welfare, translating into flavorful cuts sought after by both chefs and home cooks alike. Featured in this recipe is the Hanger Steak, second only to tenderloin in tenderness.
Red Potato Smashers – Hughes Farms
Want to find the reddest of red potatoes? The cool, maritime summers of the Skagit Valley produce that prized, brilliant red color. Hughes Farms, a fourth-generation family farm, can clean, pack, and ship 500,000 pounds of potatoes a day. Many go to markets across the US as well as overseas. Locally, find their red potatoes in bulk or 5-pound bags at many supermarkets, including Haggen, Albertsons/Safeway, QFC, and Fred Meyer.
Honey Tripled Triple Ferments – Garden Path Fermentation
Owners Amber Watts and Ron Extract spent over a year and a half cultivating their wild, Skagit yeast strain before even beginning commercial production. Each batch of beer can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months, unlike the two-week turn-around typical to beer production. Their Skagitonian Honey Triple complements the brightness of the chimichurri and the rich, caramelized flavor of pan-seared steak.
For more recipes, check out our Dine section here.
Have you thought, “If I don’t eat wheat, I won’t get all the vitamins and minerals I need?” Be assured: yes, you can.
The trick: Eat other whole, unprocessed, foods that provide more of the nutrients found in wheat — and less of the antinutrients. Wait, antinutrients?
Antinutrients are compounds present in foods like grains, nuts, and seeds that deter them from being eaten in nature and allow them to continue to propagate. The most common ones in your daily diet are lectins and phytates, which are found in grains and legumes. Antinutrients interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and disrupt the digestive enzymes in your gut — which is why you get gassy, feel bloated, or experience constipation after eating foods like sandwiches, pasta, or chili.
Grains, like wheat, barley, rye, semolina, spelt, and farro, contain the protein gluten. An antinutrient and enzyme inhibitor, gluten is one of the most difficult proteins to digest and can lead to leaky gut syndrome or other autoimmune diseases. It’s also worthwhile to mention: Because grains have to be heavily processed to make them palatable, most of the nutrients are lost. That’s why breads, cereals and pasta are fortified.
The bottom line: To get enough of your daily vitamins and minerals — and properly absorb them — grains containing gluten are not required.
Instead, find other foods that will provide you more of the nutrients you need, such as this recipe for Chia Seed and Hemp Heart Cereal. Your gut will thank you.
Find information like this and delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes at paleoperspective.com.
For more recipes, check out our Dine section here.
Winter means longer nights and darker days. It’s the season for getting cozy with friends and family, breaking out the board games and movie marathons, and cooking up vats of hearty stews that stick to your ribs and keep you toasty as the temperature drops.
I love a comforting bowl of pasta as much as the next person, but occasionally I end up feeling as if I’d rather spend the day watching a Netflix show than out on a brisk hike or in a gentle yoga class.
As winter winds down and spring approaches, it’s time to seek out energizing food and drink options. That’s where this elixir comes in. Raw apple cider vinegar is a golden gift to the digestive system. It contains the mother of vinegar, which is a cloud of beneficial bacteria (rich with probiotics and prebiotics) that can help you stabilize blood sugar, maintain a healthy appetite, and better absorb the nutrients in your food. When your gut’s microbiome is supported and thriving, your brain, heart, and skin health can all be improved.
For optimal health benefits, it’s recommended to drink 1–2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar each day. However, anyone who’s tasted apple cider vinegar knows it’s not the most appetizing drink option. Luckily, this recipe combines the gut-boosting power of apple cider vinegar with other tasty ingredients, resulting in a bubbly pick-me-up perfect for that 3 p.m. slump.
Pairing yuzu (a Japanese citrus that tastes like a combination of grapefruit and lime), sweet hydrating coconut water, and raw apple cider vinegar, this alcohol-free Sunrise Sparkler is energizing, bright, and delicious—the perfect treat to keep you healthy through the final weeks of winter.
For more great recipes, check out our Dine section here.
It’s a new year, a new decade, and often the time many of us are pondering a fresh start with our health and seeking more balance in our lives.
As a holistic nutrition and mindset coach, I’ve learned that balance doesn’t mean perfection. Balance is the art of setting reasonable expectations that you can actually achieve, and then building on them.
There are two reasons for this. One is that, when we start small, we set ourselves up to actually meet our goals. The second is that when we meet our goals, we prove to ourselves that we can trust ourselves and can follow through on what we say we will do. This is huge!
So often the “failure mindset” is what stops us in our tracks; we plan for perfection and then beat ourselves up for “getting off the wagon.” We convince ourselves we’ll never be able to make the changes we seek, so we might as well just quit or start the diet again next week, right?
Instead of launching off on some uber-strict diet that relies on willpower alone, try an 80/20 or 70/30 diet, where 70-80% of what you eat is nourishing, and 20-30% of what you eat is what I call “fun food.”
Get really solid at that, prove to yourself you can follow through on what you say you’ll do, and then consider adding on.
I like to think about food choices in terms of abundance, rather than restriction. Instead of less this, or no that, try focusing on what you get more of: fresh, delicious goodness, like this Deconstructed Spring Roll Bowl.
This nourishing bowl is full of nutrients and flavor, and is ready in less than 30 minutes.
For more like this, check our Dine section here.
As a little girl, whenever my family celebrated a major holiday, we would give thanks for the food we were about to eat. Each time, I wondered why we only gave thanks on holidays and special occasions.
In many cultures around the world, it’s customary to say words of gratitude before every meal. The Japanese use the phrase “Itadakimasu,” which means “I humbly receive,” and the French say “bon appetit,” which means “enjoy your meal.”
This time of year, as many of us prepare to sit down and share a meal, perhaps we can extend our thanks to those who helped. Like the farmers who grew the vegetables, the rancher who raised the turkey, and the trucker who delivered it all to a local store.
I consider myself a thoughtful person, but from now on I plan to think a lot more about what it is I’m really thankful for, like the pleasure of making good food for loved ones. I’m especially grateful for easy-to-prepare treats like this Pumpkin Custard, which is grain free, dairy-free, and free of refined sugar. You can make it up to two days ahead, which makes it the perfect end to any Thanksgiving celebration.
2 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can of pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut milk
4 cups boiling water
• Preheat oven to 350 F.
• Put kettle on to boil water.
• Add eggs to a large bowl and beat lightly.
• Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
• Fill four 4-ounce ramekins with custard.
• Place ramekins in 13 × 9 baking dish and set on middle rack of oven.
• Add boiling water to baking dish to 1-inch depth.
• Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
• Carefully remove from oven and set ramekins on wire rack to cool.
• Serve with whipped coconut cream.
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The leaves are starting to fall, the days are getting shorter, and the evenings are just cool enough for a sweater. Autumn may signal the end of summer, but it’s also the beginning of my favorite time of year: the time to cook soups, stews, and other warming comfort foods. Even better: Because we’re in no rush to go anywhere, we can often let these meals slow cook and simmer.
October is also a perfect time to reap the bounty of our gardens—or our local farmer’s field—that are bursting with potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, and squash.
As a kid, squash was never on the top of my favorite foods list, but rather on the “Do I have to eat that?” list. Now, I can’t get enough of it, especially since I discovered one of the greatest kitchen gadgets ever invented: the vegetable spiralizer!
Full disclosure: After I bought my spiralizer, it sat in the box, unopened, for more than four years. It now occupies a place of honor in my kitchen, and it’s all because of this recipe. If you’re looking for a flavorful, gluten-free meal that incorporates all the fresh foods of the season, then this is the recipe for you.
1 38-milileter can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Chopped fresh basil to garnish
1 lb. ground beef
1 large egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mushroom powder
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
• Preheat oven to 400 F.
• Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place baking rack on top.
• In a large bowl, mix ground beef, egg, and spices until well combined.
• Roll meatballs. Make sure they are all the same size so they cook evenly.
• Bake on middle rack in oven for 18–20 minutes.
• Remove from oven and set on paper-towel-lined plate.
• Serve with zoodles and my Simple Marinara Sauce, or place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for use later.
• To prepare the zucchini, use a spiralizer to cut into long strips. Using a steamer basket placed over a pot of boiling water, cook for 2–3 minutes or until al dente.
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Move over avocado toast, this breakfast salad is coming in hot! With soft-boiled eggs over a succulent bed of greens topped with creamy avocado, sweet sprouts, and crunchy radish moons, you’ll never want to eat anything else for breakfast again.
1 — Hello! You’re eating greens with breakfast. Most breakfasts include refined grains like cereals or breads that spike our blood sugar first thing in the morning, setting us up for sugar cravings all day. Eating a plant-based breakfast is a huge win, and an incredible way to start your day.
2 — It is so versatile. Think of the ingredients below as primary components to start. You’ve got your base—greens, and your creamy—avocado (or try hummus or yogurt). You’ve got your eggs, which can be soft-boiled, poached, fried or scrambled. You’ve got your crunchy—could be radishes, onions, or nuts; and your sweet—think roasted yams, carrots, beets, or dried fruit; and other veggies and toppings as you’d like. I like to prepare mine ahead of time so it’s as easy as opening up my fridge in the morning. For fun ideas, head down to the Saturday Farmers Markets to pick up local, in-season ingredients to play with—packing a nutritional punch while supporting local farms.
8 cups mixed greens (I used 1 head kale + 4 cups salad mix)
1 purple radish (I got it in my farm box from Boldly Grown Farm), could also use 6–8 regular red radishes, sliced thin
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup microgreens or sprouts
2 avocados, sliced
Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling (optional, but delicious)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Crunch (radishes, nuts, onions, sauerkraut)
Smooth (avocado, hummus, yogurt)
Sweet (roasted yams, carrots, beets)
• Leave the eggs on the counter until they are at room temperature. Bring a pot of water to boil, and add a pinch of salt and baking soda.
• Once the water is boiling, gently lower the eggs into water and boil for 6 minutes.
• Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. Peel, if using right away, or place in fridge with salad until ready to eat.
• Assemble the greens (i.e. kale, chard) into four bowls, chopping if needed.
• Top with the soft boiled eggs, radish, cilantro, microgreens/sprouts, and avocado.
• Whisk together lemon garlic aioli, and season with salt and pepper.
• Drizzle aioli and balsamic vinegar over salad. Enjoy!
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Shrimp is my favorite thing to both grill and eat at a barbecue. It’s doesn’t take a long time, it pairs well with everything, and there are a million different ways to dress it. Being from the south, I tend to prefer dishes with a bit of south-of-the-border flavor. This grilled margarita shrimp is so delicious, with some tang from the lime, a kick from the jalapen᷉o, and just a touch of sweetness from the brown sugar. Skewer the shrimp for easy on and easy off the grill. Adding the lime slices to the skewer gives the shrimp that little extra touch of moisture and flavor from the juice. Plus, it looks pretty. Make sure you soak your sewers in water first to keep them from charring.
1 pound raw jumbo shrimp
⅓ cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon minced jalapen᷉o
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons tequila
Thin slices of fresh lime
Fresh lime wedges
I love pairing this dish with a side of cilantro lime rice. I keep it quick and simple by using Minute Rice, and amp up the flavor by using chicken broth instead of water. Go with the ratio of one part rice to two parts broth (for two servings, I do one cup of rice and two cups of broth). While the rice cooks, I chop the cilantro. I love cilantro, so I usually use a full bunch, but you can adjust the amount to your personal preference. When the rice is done, add in the chopped cilantro and the juice of one lime. Stir together and serve as a bed for the shrimp skewers.
I pair it with the riesling from Dynasty Cellars in Bellingham, my favorite local wine. It’s dry, with a tiny hint of sweetness on the back. It pairs so well with shrimp, and complements the other flavors in this meal as well. Peter Osvaldik — owner, founder, and winemaker at Dynasty Cellars — also makes a great rosé that I love pairing with seafood. If you’re stopping in at the tasting room on East Bakerview Road to pick up a bottle, take the time to order a tasting flight of their other white wines. Though the riesling is my favorite, all the whites at Dynasty are great.
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As the days get longer, so do our to-do lists. Spring is nature’s alarm clock after our long, sleepy Northwest winters. It’s easy to find ourselves overlooking the most important meal of the day, especially when we begin to get busy. Unfortunately, that is when we need that breakfast fuel the most.
Thankfully, nature comes to our rescue and provides us the raw ingredients to create a simple, healthy, and sustainable morning meal. The convenience about morning smoothies is that you can prepare the ingredients in advance, freeze them for the week, then each morning, toss your prepped ingredients into a blender and voila! You have reached your day’s quota of fruits, veggies and protein packed into your first meal. Smoothies are easy to take on the run, or enjoy at home before heading out for the rest of the day.
Thinking of spring, as a season I associate the words “greens,” “growth,” “life,” and “lush.” The gardens thrive, flowers bleed color and the grass becomes greener. Directly from the earth is where our key ingredients will come from, whether you grow them yourself or shop from your local grocery store. The great thing about smoothies is that the ingredients are interchangeable. Berries and greens work just as well as bananas and greens. Add peanut butter, sun butter or almond butter to add a boost of protein. To get a thicker texture and colder smoothie, it helps to freeze the fruits and veggies in advance.
1 frozen banana, cut into eighths
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 handful of kale, spinach, sprouts
½ cup frozen blueberries
¼ cup flax meal
Your favorite protein powder
¼ cup frozen avocado, almond butter
OR a tablespoon of coconut oil for healthy fats
• Place all ingredients into blender.
• Blend away!
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