Cheesemaking veterans Rick and Lora Lea Misterly have been quietly working away at their craft for over twenty years on their farm northwest of Spokane. In that time, they've sold thousands of pounds of goat's milk cheeses as Quillisascut Cheese Co. ..... but to focus solely on the cheese would be to miss the bigger picture of the project that is Quillisascut Farm. Over the years the Misterly's place has evolved into a thriving teaching farm, where people from all over the country come to learn all about farming and sustainability. Whether it's simply a school group discovering compost or chefs fully committing themselves to the farm-to-table concept by butchering and cooking a goat, the farm offers myriad opportunities for everyone to, as they say, get their hands dirty. Indeed, dirt is what it's all about at Quillisascut....it's where crops grow, it nurtures the grass that the goats graze on, it's the essence of the farm, of its life.
Chefs on the Farm is part cookbook, part seasonal primer and part farm chronicle. It's divided into seasons, following the yearly cycles of planting, tending, harvesting and preserving. The authors, Lora Lea Misterly and Shannon Borg, a Seattle writer, dwell gently in each moment, finding nuance in the daily routines that, taken together, make a farm run and put food on the table. Recipes are presented against the backdrop of their seasonality and as aspects of work and farm life. Does freshen in the spring, then dry off in the fall. Seeds are stored, sorted, then planted in the spring. Animals are butchered, meals are made. Spring comes, then Winter returns.
I like a lot of things about this book, not the least of which are the gorgeous photos and Kåren Jurgensen's recipes....I can't wait to make Wild Rose Petal Vinaigrette (spring) or Ricotta Gnocchi with Sibley Squash, Pears and Sage (fall). But I am especially pleased to see food (and cheese) in context, because there is, bottom line, just so much more to making, growing and creating both than most people realize. In a world abuzz with ideas about 'local food' and 'sustainability', Chefs on the Farm breathes life into these sometimes abstract concepts. This book is one more way Rick and Lora Lea Misterly are teaching all of us.
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Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts by Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Misterly, photos by Harley Soltes and recipes by Kåren Jurgensen Skipstone/Mountaineers Press 224 pages $24.95 paperback
Order directly from Quillisascut and the proceeds benefit the Quillisascut Farm School Scholarship Fund.