Grant County (Quincy)

15 02 2008

What do Microsoft , Yahoo!  and potatoes have in common? Quincy, Washington, population about 5,000. Quincy offers up wide open spaces, incentives, and cheap electricity rates. Microsoft and Yahoo! offer a couple hundred technical jobs (with mostly imported labor), a construction boomlet, and the prospects of an energized local economy. Hopefully, that doesn’t also mean a bunch of fast food franchises and a swipe of the great anonymizer turning this small farming community into another ugly modern boomtown with all the personality of a ruralized Lynnwood. Unfortunately, a quick peek at the real estate available already shows a plethora of cookie cutter boxes in the 2,500 s.f. range.

What to do? Well, I think it might be good to extol the virtues of some of the fine local options already available in Grant County! Maybe this influx will have the positive effect of making it possible for more new small businesses to open up in the area. Quincy would benefit from a few good restaurants. It’d be nice to not just drive through.

As it is, we end up visiting Quincy once a year. Sometimes it’s on the way to someplace else and sometimes we include it as part of The Harvest Loop. All the literature calls it The Cascade Loop, but we try to time it such that we can stock up on our wonderful Eastern Washington stone fruit (cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.), legumes and popcorn. Occasionally, we don’t make it all the way round the Loop opting to turn around in Cashmere, but then it’s home for a flurry of canning and freezing. One year we may jackpot on the cherries and some years we just catch the tail end of the nectarines, but if all the stars align correctly and harvests are plentiful, early August is a great time as you can usually get a little bit of everything. It takes a lot of will to head east of the mountains at that time of year, however. It’s hot here and it’s even hotter over there!

The rewards are worth it whenever we go.

White Trail Produce, Quincy

One of our first stops in Grant County is always White Trail Produce. The stand is along SR 28 before you get to Quincy proper. If nothing else, we need to restock our Japanese Hulless popcorn supply. We used to buy it a couple of pounds at a time, but this time we just went ahead and picked up the 12 pound tub. That should hold us until next time. White Trail also carries a great variety of fresh local produce, both organic and not, local wines, and other wonderful treats.

Quincy Valley legumes

Another item to stock up on while out there is legumes. We picked up brown lentils this time, but there are also beans of every color and stripe. If you’ve never had beans or lentils from our state, you’re in for a treat. They’re more tender and flavorful than any other. I’ve not had to soak them yet!

River View Farms WheatSnax

It’s not all corn and beans either. There’s also wheat! In this case, in the form of some darn tasty snack food. WheatSnax are a simple concept, fried wheat berries and salt, but it’s quite addictive. A bit like CornNuts, but with the additional bonus of being “mother-approved” and the business venture of a young man and his family in Quincy. You can read all about it at their display at White Trail Produce.

Jones of Washington Vineyards

Naturally, there’s wine as well. The area is thick with wineries so it’s always fun to go to tastings and chat with winemakers. This was a nice one from Jones of Washington Estate Vineyards.

If one of you newly planted Quincy techies have suggestions, please let me know. We’ll be coming over to drive The Harvest Loop when the time comes again.

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What’s popping?

2 11 2007

I meant to make this blog post last Thursday, but a large project landed on my desk and I’ve had my nose to the grindstone since. Self-employment is feast or famine and, apparently, it’s a feast moment for me right now although you wouldn’t know it since I’ve barely had time to eat. Normally projects don’t take a week and a day, but this started at about 10% completed and had to go to 90% as quickly as possible. Usually things move a little more gradually than that. Of course, the engineer is the one that has to work the weekend (if he so chooses) depending on when he’s scheduled submittal. Meanwhile other projects have piled up so I’ll probably be slaving away part of my weekend as well. I’m just happy to catch up a little on my blogging and web surfing tonight. 🙂

So what’s popping? Well, popcorn, of course! The photo is from last year, but it’s from the same source. We had ours simply with salt and butter, but the maple-baked popcorn is quite worthy.

Maple baked popcorn

Of course, you might not associate popcorn and Washington, but in fact, we have a dedicated Starving Popcorn Farmer in  Grant County. He grows only white Japanese hulless which he has decided is the only popcorn worth popping. We tend to agree. It certainly cuts down on the time spent trying to pick hulls out of our gums and is quite tasty. 🙂 Since Quincy might be a bit out of your reach at this time of year, you can avail yourself of his online store.

We picked up our 25 lb. bucket of popcorn kernels at the White Trail Produce stand in Quincy. That should last us over the winter. As an aside, our CSA provided us with some popcorn this summer too. It was deliciously nutty and we had the last of it just recently. It goes to show that delicious popcorn can be grown on the Westside as well. We can leave the ethanol corn farming to the big square states!