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Spring 2017

Leeks

All Ray de Vries asks is that we enjoy leeks three times a day. The Skagit Valley farmer known as the Leek King is not being selfish, though. He’ll also tell you how to grow leeks so you can eat them all year round—and that everyone in the Pacific Northwest should grow them. “We’ve got the perfect climate,” he says.

The de Vries family got into leeks after Ray’s dad, Ralph, retired from dairy farming and planted a large produce garden. Ralph went to Seattle’s Produce Row and asked sellers what they needed. “We need leeks! As big as you can grow ’em!”

So that’s … » More …

Bubbling cider
Winter 2015

The drink that built a nation

Bubbling a revolution in Washington State

It’s canning day at Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Tall, red cans of Rambling Route cider pass through a pasteurizing unit as they come off the conveyor belt of the mobile canning truck. Sold in four packs, the company’s first canned product is intended to reach the masses, perhaps even enticing craft beer drinkers with a moderately-priced, portable cider.

The label on a can of Rambling Route cider describes the journey apples made across the country to Washington: “When it reached the land that would be called Washington, the apple knew.” It knew it had found a home in … » More …

Winter greens
Spring 2015

Winter Greens—Beyond the kale

Kale’s culinary star has certainly enjoyed a recent rise. For a long time this basic brassica was a humble, overcooked, nutrient-rich winter green. But now it has become a salad, a crispy chip, and even a baby green.

It features on the plates of vaunted establishments like Seattle’s iconic Canlis where it serves as a support to the grilled swordfish, but it is equally at home at Tom Douglas’s pizza joint Serious Pie—where it is delivered fresh with parmesan, chilies, and pine nuts in a tangy, spicy vinaigrette.

Now it’s time to look beyond the kale to a whole world of winter greens. WSU researchers … » More …

Spring 2014

What about buckwheat?

Oh, no, no, no,” says Sonoko Sakai as she jets across the test kitchen at the WSU Mount Vernon Research Station to school a student on the proper technique of draining a freshly cooked hand-cut soba noodle.

“Don’t stir it. You have to pat it like this,” she says as she firmly whacks the bottom of the strainer.

Sakai, a former film industry executive, changed course dramatically a few years ago and left LA for Japan to learn the art of making soba, a traditional Japanese noodle made primarily of buckwheat.

She found her way to soba master Takashi Hosokawa and now travels the country … » More …

Winter 2013

Beans

“I was determined to know beans.”

—Thoreau, Walden

Having abandoned journalism and returned to her family’s farm on Whidbey Island, Georgie Smith ’93 started gardening, and one thing led to another. Smith had at least two things going for her, family land and a knack for farming. Farmer’s markets sales led to supplying restaurants, and ten years later, she’s still in business, farming 20 acres on Whidbey’s Ebey Prairie outside of Coupeville with four full-time employees and the same number of three-quarter time workers.

Even though Smith grows multifarious crops—greens, alliums, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, whatever—at the heart of her enterprise right now is a lovely … » More …

Lindsay du Toit with spinach
Spring 2013

Spinach is suspect: A pathological mystery

The case started a few years ago when a farmer approached seed pathologist Lindsey du Toit at WSU Mount Vernon wondering what was damaging his spinach seed crop out in the field. He had planted on clean ground that hadn’t had spinach before. He wondered if maybe the stock seed had a problem.

“It didn’t make sense,” says du Toit, explaining that what happened to the plants didn’t fit with the known diseases. At the time, du Toit and one of her graduate students were looking at fungal pathogens in the seeds of spinach plants. About 75 percent of the spinach seed grown in … » More …