Oyster Indulgence


Stacy’s friend, who lives on the water and participates in a program using oysters to improve water quality, gave us an enormous laundry basket full of the tasty bivalves. It’s a luxury to have them in the shell, since we usually harvest wild oysters, which requires us to shuck on the beach and leave the shells for baby oysters to grow on. Still, what to do with such a bonanza?

Knowing we had about three days to consume the lot, we took five dozen to a party and threw them on the barbecue until they popped open–about three minutes a side. Then we melted a dollop of butter mixed with tabasco, garlic and lemon juice into the cup-shaped side and served on the half shell. These were gone in minutes.

Next day we gave away several dozen, then had a “surf-n-turf” dinner of mallard breast (from the treasured stash given to us by Smarty) marinated in olive oil, garlic and rosemary then pan seared, and more oysters with the leftover butter sauce from the night before. And finally, on the third day, Stacy went all out and made these “Rockefeller” style morsels. That’s sauteed spinach with butter, lemon, garlic and cream spooned over the oyster, followed by a sprinkle of fresh-grated parm cheese and a quick pass under the broiler. Surprisingly, even after three straight days of oysters, I was sad to see the last one go.

Meanwhile, Back At The Farm…


The blueberries are almost in full bloom now, with bees buzzing around and some sunshine on new leaves this week. Gotta love those bumblebees. I’ve heard that their mass-to-wing-area should make flying an impossibility, and yet, there they go, bombing around like little helicopters. Unlike honey bees, bumblers are all-weather workers, and have the strength to get into the tight blueberry flowers, so they do the bulk of our pollinating. Last year, Stacy discovered that when bumblebees can’t reach inside the flower, they cut a tiny hole down low on the petal and access the nectar and pollen through the side. Amazing.

This is the point, I think, when actual blueberries and the U-pick season start to seem like a reality. Of course, it’s also the time when the workload seems overwhelming and the chore list grows faster than we can cross things off of it. Stacy’s really busting it up there, and I’m helping as much as I can, and I’m still not sure if we’ll get it all done. I guess that’s why farm families used to have so many kids?

Opening day is still at least two and a half months out, but it feels like we’ll need every minute of that to be ready. Back to it!


The Willows Inn Book Event


The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, WA is one of the hottest “destination” dining experiences in the world, racking up incredible reviews from Bon Apetit, Gourmet, The Wall Street Journal, etc. They were even featured in last month’s issue of Outside Magazine. The main hook? They’ve taken the locavore concept to the extreme–everything they serve is foraged, grown or caught on tiny Lummi Island or the surrounding waters, then prepared with impeccable technique and care by star chef Blaine Wetzel and his talented crew of sous chefs.

So it’s seriously humbling to be reading from and talking about Closer to the Ground at The Willows Inn, on May 14th and 15th, as part of their literary series. This is going to be really fun–we’ll have a talk/reading in the afternoon, share a great dinner and then do a little garden and forest foraging the next morning with some of the restaurant crew. I’m stoked!

Many thanks to The Willows Inn and Village Books, in Bellingham, for putting this together. For more information or to reserve a spot, call The Willows Inn at 360.758.2620 or visit their event page at: http://www.willows-inn.com/events/author-series-with-dylan-tomine/.  A copy of Closer to the Ground is included with reservations, but if you’d like an extra copy or seven (joking) or just want the book, the good folks at Village Books are happy to ship: http://www.villagebooks.com/book/9781938340000. If you can make it, come on out to Lummi Island for a great overnight getaway in a gorgeous setting, with amazing food and some book talk as well. I think we’ll have a great time.

Summer Veggies Ahead


Okay, time to get down off my soap box and back to regular life. Lots going on around here with farm and garden, which is to say we’re hopping around like crazed monkeys. Must be spring.

When we left for our road trip, Stacy planted veggie seeds for indoor starts, watered them in and covered the seedling trays with clear plastic lids. When we returned home, this is what greeted us. Broccoli starts, reaching for the sky. Or ceiling, as it were. We can hardly wait to start eating.

Put the tiller on the tractor yesterday, and I’m going to grind dirt later this week. New plan this year is to try to build more raised beds at the farm and get ’em filled and ready before the starts need to be transplanted. I spent last weekend deconstructing the irrigation system and stakes in the dahlia bed for tilling and prep. Still need to put it all back together again…stay tuned.

To Our New Secretary Of The Interior


April 17th, 2013

Dear Secretary Jewell—

First of all, congratulations on your Senate confirmation. As someone who makes a living  in the outdoor recreation industry, I am excited to have “one of our own” making the tough decisions about how this country uses its public land and water. Though I’m sure you won’t lack for various interests expressing their hopes for your tenure, I thought here at the beginning, I might presume to offer a few thoughts:

As you know, when giant corporations set their minds to something, it’s not easy to hold them back. But last year, in Alaska, they did a pretty good job of it themselves. Shell’s Kulluk oil rig, carrying more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel, ran aground off Kodiak in rough seas on New Year’s Eve. Their other oil rig, the Noble Discoverer, dragged anchor and nearly ran aground last summer, then caught fire in port. Throughout 2012, Shell’s Arctic effort was repeatedly cited and fined for problems with pollution-control systems and illegal fluid discharges. Their spill-response barge failed inspection before it even made it to Alaska.

These events took place following BP’s epic disaster in the Gulf, at a time when the very future of offshore Arctic oil exploitation was at stake. Knowing they were under immense scrutiny, we can assume Shell put all of its best resources and finest minds on the job, and well…the results speak for themselves.

Secretary Jewell, I humbly request that when considering the future of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, you ask yourself: If oil companies can’t even get exploratory equipment into place without accidents, problems and violations, how will they perform when their platforms are connected to the sea bottom pumping millions of gallons of oil and the inevitable Arctic storm blows in or the pack ice pushes through? Is there any reason to believe they’ll handle this better than the far simpler task of towing the Kulluk? Or anchoring the Noble Discoverer? Or, for that matter, operating the Deepwater Horizon?

Another decision you will be facing shortly is whether or not natural gas companies should be required to disclose the chemicals they’re injecting into the ground for hydraulic fracturing. The gas industry argues that the process is safe, and that disclosure of secret formulas would create “unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles.” Hmm…

If the chemicals they’re injecting beneath our homes and watersheds are so safe, why not tell us what they are?

Secretary Jewell, I propose we let them off the hook. Tell the gas companies they’re free to keep chemical formulas shrouded in secrecy on one condition: Company officers and shareholders must consume—in a public forum—one cup of their proprietary fracking liquid. I realize this might sound medieval, but it’s really a win-win for all parties involved. If the gas companies agree, local residents can feel better about groundwater issues in fracking areas. If they refuse, well…then we know that federal oversight—including “bureaucratic obstacles”—is exactly what the industry requires.

I know you have a lot on your plate, most of it the unenviable task of finding a balance between corporate profits and protection of our public resources. The sage grouse decision will not be easy, pitting domestic energy exploration against an iconic species of the American West. The Pebble Mine, should it be approved, could yield billions of dollars worth of precious metals, but would place the world’s largest open-pit mine, with all its habitat destruction and toxic chemicals, at the headwaters of the last great salmon watersheds. And of course, we’re just scratching the surface of your new reality here.

But I also ask that you look at some internal issues as well. When we citizens paid for the $320 million Elwha Dam removal project, it was a great victory for wild salmon and all who love the idea of free-flowing rivers. But the fact that the Park Service, which now falls under your leadership, saw fit to use $16 million of that budget to build a new fish hatchery goes beyond a colossal waste of taxpayer money. All the best available science in recent years shows that the mere presence of hatchery fish works as a powerful detriment to wild salmon recovery. Which, last time I checked, was one of the primary stated goals of the dam removal in the first place.

Building and operating this hatchery, in what’s supposed to be the crown jewel of wild salmon recovery, is what the old timers refer to as shooting one’s self in the foot. It’s as if the Federal Government spent $300+ million on a lung cancer prevention program, and allocated $16 million of the budget to building a new cigarette factory.

I understand the hatchery is already built, but I ask that you look into this issue and find an operating solution that will help the Elwha Dam removal project meet it’s stated goals. More importantly, I hope you can work to keep this kind of gross misappropriation of public money from happening again as we work to recover natural watersheds around the country.

Thank you for your time and consideration, Secretary Jewell. I think I speak for a majority of your fellow outdoor recreationists and businesses when I say we are proud of your appointment and hopeful for the future under your watch. Good luck. Here’s to hoping you find time in your busy schedule to get outside and enjoy the natural wonders our country has to offer.


Dylan Tomine