I would be remiss if I didn’t first acknowledge what a gorgeous day we were given – sunshine, blue skies, mild temperatures and the green of Whidbey Island all around. We were able to set-up tables on the deck, overlooking Penn Cove, just a few steps from the newly remodeled Captain Whidbey bar (after all, it’s very important to stay hydrated!).
We had about thirty guests join us for this all-day Cook Together, and when working in groups it’s sometimes difficult to absorb all the delicious knowledge being offered by the experts – Monica had great tips to share on making the perfect tortillas, Jesse’s techniques for carving lamb were priceless and Andrea schooled us on how densely nutritious lamb and sheep’s milk is – luckily, we have all the info right here if you missed any of it! This menu proved that when you buy fresh, whole foods you can use very simple techniques to get vibrant results.
One of our missions with Cook Together is to encourage you to “get out of your head” when cooking, to use your instincts, be okay with experimentation and enjoy the process and people you are with. Recipes are a good starting-point, but try taking those nuggets you’ve learned and apply them to another dish, or substitute ingredients (don’t like the taste of cilantro? Use basil!). Jesse and Monica have over 30 years of combined experience between them, it takes a LOT of trial and error to get to where they are – so be patient with yourself and have fun on this journey to consuming, cooking and eating better!
The photos in this gallery were provided by the talented www.kristenmarieparker.com – her photos are available to purchase and she’s a hard-working (aka hirable) photographer!
A small farm is a labor of love, a generous gift from the hardworking farmers who invest their time, money, sweat, tears, and heart into the careful cultivation and creation of beautiful artisan food.
To receive these gifts and enjoy the bliss of consuming them is to experience a transformative experience of gratitude, just as these beautiful animals transform and concentrate the energy of the land and give so generously in the form of meat, wool, and milk.
Gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership and from this place all things are possible, and so the creativity of the farmers and the animals can, with the right awareness, fuel our own creative visions as well.
To consume these products from a place like this is to consume the essence of the land that supported these animals, and to feel the heart and love and work involved in its creation. It is a privilege to be able to sample this food so close to source, to meet those who have poured their hearts into this vision, to be able eat delicious food with source energy and provenance intact; a rare treasure in these Costco times.
Lamb is a nutrient dense food that feeds our souls and our bodies. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a great food for building the tissues of the body, especially important for athletes or after surgery but truly important to all of us. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, including B12, selenium, zinc, niacin, phosphorus, and heme-iron; the iron we can only get from animal sources, that best protects us from anemia. The animals concentrate the nutrients of the food they eat and turn it into an incredibly bioavailable and delicious source of concentrated nutrition.
Sheep milk is unique and elegant; richer, with more solids and less water, and often easier to digest than cow milk. The delicious milk becomes incredible yogurt and prize-winning cheese. Taking these stunning raw ingredients from the island we stand on and gathering them together to be prepared into a meal creates a synergy of flavors and benefits, greater than the sum of the parts.
The herbs used to flavor (here cilantro, coriander, oregano and more) are possibly the most fascinating; small in quantity but powerful in effect, herbs are secret power houses of therapeutic benefit. Terpenes with magical names like caryophyllene and linolool, pinene and limonene, are compounds in plants (most famously cannabis) that give flavor and aroma, and also many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-pathogenic, digestive support, and even anti-cancer. The flavor that beckons us to add herbs to our food also unlocks the door to supporting greater balance in our bodies as well as our palate. They are rich as well in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, the mineral foundation of health.
Celery is a miracle in a stalk with flavonoids like apigenin and luteolin that reduce the risk of cancer, as well as compounds that lower inflammation and blood pressure.
Chilies are another small wonder, with a tremendous amount of vitamin c which helps us absorb the heme-iron of the meat; as well as endorphins that make us feel good and reduce the perception of pain, which their heat may bring on!
And the greatest amplification is that of the power of community in coming together in the most ancient of rituals, to prepare a meal and nourish ourselves for yet another day of the dream of life. The benefits of being in community are both physiological and spiritual (which are of course inseparable anyway) as we relax into a parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ state and as we slow down and become yet another group of hungry humans on the planet sharing the joy of preparing and consuming a delicious meal together and in connection.