Renaissance couple share passions

DJ and Magdalena Bassett planted a small field of wheat on their Happy Valley property, and when harvest time came, DJ sharpened his scythe.

When his efforts to cut the wheat failed, he turned from his ancient tool - the scythe - to a modern tool - the Internet - and found a YouTube video to learn the technique.

"Magdalena makes bread every day and that's where this is going to go," DJ said of the 87 pounds of wheat he harvested.

A lifelong cook and pastry baker, Magdalena estimates she has cooked almost 10,000 meals for her family. She is a graphic designer, mushroom expert and cookbook author.

The Bassetts also operate a lavender farm and online lavender business, publish books, and design and build Web sites. DJ is a world-class photographer. His passion for America's cultural history prompted him to serve on the Clallam County Heritage Advisory Board.

You could call them a Renaissance couple, experts in many fields.

Their latest adventure is sharing their knowledge through a series of classes in Sequim. The classes are offered through Peninsula College's community education courses.

"One of the first things I stress in my classes," DJ said, "is to whip your camera into submission." Each class will include a preparatory session, a field trip and a follow-up session.

"In the field, we'll talk about what they want to do. People often can't get what they see to come out in the picture," DJ said. The follow-up session is important, he said, to solidify the learning.

His passions for history and photography have melded in the field of historical photo restoration. The Bassetts worked with Gary Peterson and Glynda Schaad, local authors of "Women to Reckon With: Untamed Women of the Olympic Wilderness," restoring many old photographs.

"Photo restoration is a

journey of adventure," Magdalena said. "A lot of times, people bring photos that are really trashed."

DJ's classes include Genealogy and Scanning, which does not include a field trip, Natural Landscape Photography, and Beyond Automatic. Mothers with active children might benefit from the "Beyond Automatic" class, DJ said. He will teach how to use the camera in specific situations, such action photography without the blur.

DJ and Magdalena met in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he ran a high quality photo lab and led photo expeditions in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Magdalena was born in Poland and moved to Wyoming after living in New York for 14 years.

"Graphic design is my mainstay," she said. "I worked as a graphic designer with Wyoming tourism. I brought a lot of tourists to Wyoming."

They lived in Santa Barbara, Calif., before moving to Sequim in 2002. Since coming to the peninsula and starting their lavender farm, Magdalena has written "Cooking and Baking with Lavender" as well as a cookbook for young singles, written with her own young adult sons in mind.

Magdalena is enthusiastic about the trend toward cooking and eating locally grown, chemical-free and organic foods, as well as preserving foods at home.

"I have done them for years," she said.

She also has taught culinary workshops to benefit nonprofits, hosted in private homes. Participants pay to learn new cooking skills from Magdalena and the profits from the workshops are given to the charity of the host's choice. "What could be better?" she asked.

Through Peninsula College, Magdalena is offering four classes about mushrooms, including two focused on locally foraged chanterelles, a class on cooking with various wild and store-bought mushrooms and a class on preserving mushrooms.

An avid, life-long mushroom hunter, Magdalena encourages using store-bought mushrooms "unless you are very sure or have a member of the Mycological Society foraging with you."

As mushroom season wanes and the holidays approach, Magdalena will offer classes on pastry and chocolate. Think cream puffs, éclairs, chocolate tarts, meringues.

"We share an appetizer," she said, "and I have handouts, links, recipes and sources, so people don't have to take notes." People also can help in the kitchen and participate in the cooking demonstrations.

Later this winter she will offer a series of World Foods classes.

"My passion for good homemade food is taking me in this direction," she said.

Contact Sandra Frykholm at sfrykholm@sequim

Photo, food classes:

Natural Landscape


Sept. 29 and Oct. 6,

1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Bring sack lunch.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.

Beyond Automatic

Oct. 13 and Oct. 27,

1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Oct. 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Bring sack lunch.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.

Genealogy/Scanning Photos

Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.


Sept. 24, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road

Cooking with Chanterelles

Oct. 1, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road

Cooking with Mushrooms

Oct. 22, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road

Preserving Mushrooms

Oct. 29, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road

Puff Pastry

Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m.- 4 p.m.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.


Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.

Holiday Pastry

Nov. 12, 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Dungeness Design, 520 N. Sequim Ave.

Fees for classes vary. To register for classes, contact Peninsula College at 452-9277 or visit

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