Working at Zig Zag Mountain Farm entails quite a bit of heavy lifting, but it also requires that each of us spend at least one day a week taking care of the indoor chores. Each morning AJ asks, “Who wants to be in the kitchen today?” and he is usually answered by all of us looking at one another with eyes that are just begging the person next to us to raise their hand and report for kitchen duty.
Even though no one ever wants to be in the kitchen, it is a necessary role to keep the farm running smoothly. Kitchen personnel are responsible for making lunch and dinner for the group, preserving any abundance of vegetables, and general cleaning around the house. Today was Chase’s lucky day to be stuck indoors on a crisp, sunny day on the farm. As any loving girlfriend would do, I volunteered to keep him company, and preserve the radishes and carrots that we had recently harvested.
He began his kitchen duty with a rush, as he attempted to come up with a lunch menu that would keep the workers full until dinner time. At this time of the year, we do not have many vegetables to harvest from the garden so we must make do with what we have. His crafty concoction was vegetarian enchiladas with a side of rice and beans. He stuffed the tortillas with black beans, rice, green pepper, jalapeño, freshly foraged mushrooms, and onion. His enchilada sauce was a self creation that used up a bit of canned tomato sauce from earlier in the season. We served this with homemade green tomato salsa that was made last week.
After lunch, he washed all the dishes and set about making a sweet carrot bread for an afternoon snack. I had been working on prepping the radishes and carrots in the morning, so I had some extra shredded carrot with his name on it. As he was making the bread, I started on a Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Radish Pickle. I had never singlehandedly canned a vegetable in my life until coming to Zig Zag Mountain Farm – Mom, I know we used to always make jelly, but I am pretty sure I just watched you do all of the work. Since being here, I have pickled radishes and carrots, canned salsa, and preserved stewed green tomatoes. Each time I try a new recipe it seems to get easier and more enjoyable.
While I was canning my mind away, Chase came up with a plan for dinner. We had lots of basil that needed to be used, so he made a tasty pesto. He mixed the pesto into pasta with fresh tomatoes and topped it with parmesan cheese. Not to be outdone by our professional chef fellow workers, we also made fresh breadsticks and a kale salad. These “professional chefs” are Mick and Marisa, they recently moved here from Chicago and are planning to live in Portland for the near future. Mick last cooked at RIA in Chicago and his talented girlfriend Marisa has mad skills in the kitchen. They are great friends and have even been known to break couples up due to their perfect kind of love. It’s the truth. Their good friend in Chicago spent a weekend with them and the next week broke up with his girlfriend because he wanted to find the same kind of relationship. Yes, they are the perfect couple and incredible cooks. Together, they have prepared stunning meals that will forever standout in my mind.
It’s not even fair to try and describe the flavors of Mick’s biscuits and mushroom gravy or his spiced brittle with pumpkin seeds atop yogurt, curried apples, pumpkin butter and pie crumbles – which is now lovingly know as the “pie-fait.” Mick and Marisa’s ingenuity in the kitchen has inspired Chase and I to spend more time making things from scratch for our own meals. Baking bread, rolling our own breadsticks, and making our own corn muffins are no longer too complex for our amateur cooking abilities, we now just tackle them because, really, what is the worst thing that could happen?
It always seems like kitchen duty is the most exhausting of days and once dinner has been set on the table, it is the greatest feeling to know that your day is finally over. We have gained much respect for the stereotypical farmwife during our days of kitchen duty. I cannot imagine being stuck inside a kitchen all day, everyday, while my partner works outdoors and wanders to the table when hunger strikes. If I had been born in any other generation I would likely have been deemed a deviant and shunned from the family. Luckily, I was born in a generation where Chase and I, together, share any and all kitchen duties.