|Lora Lea and Rick Misterly (photo from their blog)|
In 1981, the Misterlys bought 26 acres of wilderness in northeast Washington with nothing except some tools, seeds and goats. There was no electricity, so Lora Lea began making cheese as a way of preserving the milk from her goats.
They became licensed to sell cheese in 1987 (Quillisascut Cheese Co.) and they have been selling cheese ever since. They now have 25 milking goats and they produce 2000 pounds of cheese per year. (You can buy their cheese in stores around the state and by purchasing CSA shares.)
Quillisascut™ Curado – raw goat milk, rapid coagulation, cooked curd, pliable body when young, sweet, nutty, and grassy flavors, aged over 60 days.
Quillisascut™ Viejo – same technique as the curado aging to a spicy tang similar to a Romano, firm grating style cheese, aged over 4 months.
Quillisascut Farmer – non-cooked curds, rapid coagulation, crumble on salads or serve with herb infused honey, aged 60 days or more.
Lora Lee makes the cheese herself and, in fact, she is the only one allowed in the cheese making room. (Many cheese makers protect their make rooms from contamination this way.) When she teaches her students to make cheese, she does it in the main kitchen.
In 2002, Rick and Lora Lea officially opened their school for teaching sustainable living skills. They provide scholarships for many of the courses. The funds for this come from the sale of a cookbook they published in 2008 - "Chefs on the Farm."
The Misterlys teach skills like making cheese, slaughtering and butchering livestock, composting, baking bread and farm-to-table cooking. One interesting aspect of the courses is that during the week-long ones, you visit and learn at other farms as well as Quillisascut.
Their Intro to Home Cheese Making course is coming up June 20-21. This is immediately followed by a 4 day Hearth Bread and Wood-fired Oven workshop (June 21-24). (We can't imagine a better way to spend 5 beautiful summer days!)
You can even suggest a topic for your own workshop if you have a group of 10-12 people who would like to stay at the farm for 3-5 days.
2014 Workshop Schedule:
Introduction to Small Acreage Sustainable Farming April 30- May 4, 2014
Let’s make cheese! June 20-21, 2014
Hearth Breads and the Wood Fired Oven June 21-24, 2014
Food Service Professional workshop designed for those working in the food industry. July 27 – 31 (or sign up for one of the student dates) August 23-28, September 7-12
Sense of Place - A Culture of Food August 15-18
There is a beautiful, free e-book on the Quillisascut website (click here) about the farm. In it, the writer recommends "The School of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister as a way to begin to understand the spirit of Quillisascut. I read the book and I loved it. It's about taking the time to experience and savor the essential ingredients in our lives while learning to make real food.
I guess it's why the media page of their website is filled with testimonies to the magic of Quillisascut. Two blog articles, in particular, seem to capture the spirit of the farm-
The best way to understand what the Misterlys are about is to read their beautiful blog. The pictures are amazing.
I hope someday to travel across the country from Massachusetts to Washington State. Quillisascut will be my last stop before I reach the coast. Maybe I'll see you there and we can learn from Rick and Lora Lea how to discover and savor the essential ingredients in our own lives.