It’s Memorial Day Weekend, Ballard faithful, and that signals the traditional start to summer ’round these parts, if not the actual start, which does not arrive until July 5th. But as we already realize, this year just doesn’t seem to want to be as dreary, cold and wet as the past three, so let’s get this party started right now! To that end, we present the earliest arrival of organic strawberries in recent memory! Yep, Tiny’s Organic Produce began harvesting these beauties this past week, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Woohoodillydoo!!! And just to assure you I ain’t pullin’ yer leg, I took the above photo on Friday at our Madrona Farmers Market. I also made sure to do a little quality control, and these are about as sweet and delicious as strawberries should be allowed to be by law. Seriously. Go figure. So as long as no bridges between here and East Wenatchee collapse in the next few weeks, we are in the strawberries, baby!
Oh, we’re just getting started, people! Yes, these are organic cucumbers, and yes, I did just take this photo in the last week. These cucumbers are from Colinwood Farms over in Port Townsend. Using their location in the Banana Belt — that area shielded from rain and clouds by the Olympic Mountains — and their greenhouses, Colinwood harnesses their bonus sun very effectively, and one of the results is cucumbers in May. (Yes, it is still May!)
Strawberries, check. Cucumbers, check. Cherries?!? Check! These are first-of-the-season Burlat cherries from Lyall Farms. See, they have this orchard over in Prosser in an area that gets earlier and more heat units in the year than anywhere else in the state. Plus, that orchard is loaded with some varieties of cherries that ripen much earlier than most. The result is that Lyall gets a two to three week jump on everyone else in the cherry department. Add to that our milder weather than in recent years, and it’s go time! And again, I took this photo on Friday, and I did quality control, too. These are the real deal, folks! Oh, and it is last call for Lyall’s cured onions and sweet potatoes until fall, so grab the last of them while you can!
Oh, don’t give me that sad puppy dog face that says you were expecting to see a photo of tomatoes now instead of this green garlic from Magana Farms. This stuff is pure gold this time of year. With a Market full of tender young greens, asparagus, mushrooms and other deliciousness that pairs well with garlic, green garlic is a magical treat! When farmers thin their garlic fields in the spring, this is what we get. Use the entire thing, from ball to the tips of the stalks. Toss it in where you would garlic, and what you get is not only your garlic flavor, but a sweet, grassy taste of spring unique to green garlic. The only people who know not of what I speak are those who have not tried it. The rest of us are the ones breezing past you to grab a bunch, so we can add it to everything we cook!
And what’s this? It’s fresh halibut caught off the coast of Washington by Wilson Fish… just for the halibut. This is the freshest, most delicious halibut you will ever eat. These fish aren’t as big as those caught in Alaska, and the result is a superior flesh. Plus, it comes with no frequent flyer miles, freezer burn or having been trucked “live” in a tanker down the Alaska Highway for four days. (Really. They do that!) Grill a piece tonight, along with some asparagus, green garlic and green onions on the barby, and you will be a very happy camper.
Another spring treat is pea vines, These are from Gaia’s Harmony Farm from up in Snohomish. These are great quickly sauteed with some of that green garlic in olive oil. Gaia’s is also making fresh vegetable juice using their produce, and that of other farms at the market, to make a drink that please your palate and your body!
Speaking of Memorial Day barbecues, don’t forget to pick up some burger patties or a package of ground beef from Skagit River Ranch today. Or maybe you’d prefer some of their great sausages, steaks or chops on the grill. Grab it today, thaw it in the fridge overnight, and grill it up nicely tomorrow!
Some lovely, wilted frisee from One Leaf Farm tossed with some of Skagit’s bacon and some of Twin Oak’s feta sounds pretty good right now. Bitter plus salty equals divine. One Leaf also has their first harvest of beautiful, tendor collard greens and kale today, too, plus Japanese wax turnips so tasty, you might finish off the bunch before you get home, so please get two!
Just a few weeks left of fresh cider from Martin Family Orchards. Their 2012 apple harvest is running out, and they won’t have cider again until fall. Grab a jug for your Memorial Day picnic, and enjoy one last sweet taste of fall before summer begins in ernest.
Pickles. No, I am not using a term of endearment here, though I suppose I could be, since the humungous variety of pickles made from local ingredients by Purdy Pickle is rather endearing! And you will need a few jars for your Memorial Day picnics — dilly chips for your burgers, asparagus for the fun of it, and carrots to use as swizzle sticks in your cocktail! You can thank me later.
Get your day started right tomorrow, or finish off dinner tonight, with one or six of these sticky buns, or maybe a cinnamon roll, from Tall Grass Bakery. Of course, Tall Grass has a spectacular selection of fresh artisan breads to round out your barbecues and picnics this weekend, too. Just get here early enough that your favorites aren’t sold out already!
We finish off this week’s Memorial Day Weekend installment with some gorgeous asparagus from Collins Family Orchards in Selah. You will obviously need asparagus for every meal in your immediate future, so grab a bunch of bunches, eh?
There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.
Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.