Salt and Limes

The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy

We passed through the town of Bristow, just about 45 minutes southwest of Tulsa, and drove another 15 minutes west through the dense forest. After turning onto a red dirt road and a few twists and turns, we arrived at The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy in Depew, Oklahoma, population 481. The farm is 400 acres of gently sloped land, blanketed in lush green grass and dotted with small ponds. It is owned by the amazingly talented duo of Lisa Becklund (chef) and Linda Ford (farmer). Lisa is from Seattle but left her home and successful restaurant in 2005 for an old farm in Oklahoma. She had a dream and desire to grow and raise her own food from the ground up. Linda is from the Kansas City area and grew up on farms in southwest Missouri. After many years working in large cities, she was drawn back to the farm life. She volunteered at the Living Kitchen for 2 years before making the farm house her permanent residence in 2009. Their parallel desires led to the creation of what is now one of the top restaurants in Oklahoma.

The first order of business, which is optional, is the farm tour (stilettos not recommended). It was led by Linda and a farm cat. We stood by the large plots of arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, corn and squash as she explained that during the dust bowl years, this region may have lost up to 12 inches of top soil. In other words, this farm has required many years of rehab to become as fertile as it is currently. There was a broken down old school bus parked on the far side of the garden with no engine and the door wide open. The inside had been redesigned to be chicken compliant. The main cab was filled with roosting bars and egg boxes (not sure what the correct farm terminology is here, birthing centers?). The bus is moved periodically to provide new pasture for the chickens which subsequently improves the soil quality. Our last stop on the tour was a meeting with the goats. They are used to people being around and quickly ran over to meet us after Linda gave an impressive yodel-like call. In fact, some of the patrons on the tour had been on a previous farm tour and bottle fed the former baby and now teenage goats. It was explained that the goats are never used for meat and rather transferred across the farm to a sort of animal retirement center led by a Llama, seriously.

We drove up the dirt road another half mile or so to the location of the dinner. We parked, jumped over a few puddles in the parking lot, and then traversed the brick walkway under an awning of oak branches. It was just about sunset and the old log cabin was dimly lit. The floor boards of the front porch were creaking under our feet and it felt like we were traveling back in time to the Pioneer days. It felt haunted and romantic at the same time if that is possible. The kitchen was small but efficient and we walked through it while the Chef and staff were busy at work preparing the first course. It was a perfect 75 degrees outside which was lucky because the dinners are all on the screened in back patio.

This is a BYOB joint so they had emailed us a few days ahead of time with beer and wine recommendations. They provided a large metal ice bucket to keep our wine and beer cold. They also had freshly brewed coffee and quite a few different cold and hot tea options.

Each week provides a different theme but a consistent 90% or more of the food is grown/raised on the farm. Examples of the fall and winter dinners from this year are- Moon and Stars, Heirloom Garlic, Heirloom Tomato, Red Dirt, Wood, Smoke and Fire, The Pig Roast, Dinner for Poets, Autumn Tapestry and Home for the Holidays.

This particular dinner was "The Three Sisters". A beautiful story was presented prior to the dinner which detailed the mythical but scientifically proven co-existence between sister Corn, sister Bean and sister Squash. The corn provides structure for the bean to grow on, the bean fixates Nitrogen in the soil for the corn and squash, and the squash provides ground cover to retain water.

There were nine courses served at strategically planned time intervals over a 2.5 hour period. They were all amazing so I'll keep my descriptions short and to the point.

Course #1- Smoked acorn squash soup with toasted sweet corn, pinions, dill and parsley. A very nice but mild smokiness. Excellent attention to textures.

Course #2- Tamale duel- White corn chili tamale vs blue corn cheese tamale with yellow and green tomato salsas. I absolutely love tamales and this was an excellent representation. There was no clear winner of this duel as they were equally matched.

Course #3- Old fashioned New Mexican style Posole and heirloom "Eye of the Goat" beans. Simple and classic but made with unique varietals. It also made a great dipping sauce for course #4.

Course #4- Double ferment blue corn porridge (Navajo Chaquewa) bread. Everyone knows my favorite food is bread. This one was so good that I asked for a tablespoon of the starter to take home.

Course #5- Watermelon and arugula salad. Clean and fresh with a nice spiciness from the arugula.

Course #6- Roasted heirloom wedge of squash with roasted garlic and herbs.

Course #7- Yellow watermelon and lemon verbena ice. The perfect palate cleanser after the savory squash and garlic.

Course #8- Flat iron sirloin tip, sweet potatoes. Perfectly cooked to medium rare. Tender as filet but with much more flavor.

Course #9- Layered corn meal honey cake, juniper butter cream, spiced cocoa elixir. Once again, the baker is a star.

The entire experience here was so good that I am leaving my job to become a farmer. Well, maybe someday I will. In the meantime, I will just wake up at 7am every quarter, on the day that reservations are released, to bid for our spot at as many Living Kitchen dinners as possible.

The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy
Address- 25198 S 481st W Ave, Depew, OK 74028
Phone- (918) 284-8169


Written by Erik Paulson
Photos by Erik Paulson
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