Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

Sunday, March 17th: Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day While Planning For Easter & Passover!

March 16, 2013
Shamrock cookies from Grateful Bread Baking. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Shamrock cookies from Grateful Bread Baking. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day from your Ballard Farmers Market! It is said that everyone claims a bit of Irish blood every year at this time, but truth is that there are plenty of us mixed in amongst the Scandinavians and Amazon.comians here in Ballard. And while the streets may run green with beer of questionable origins in other communities today, we Ballardites are more likely to cozy up this evening to a fine microbrew or snifter of Irish whiskey. Whatever your poison, get your day going right at your Ballard Farmers Market, perhaps with some of these shamrock cookies from Grateful Bread Baking, or get your greens on at any number of farms in the Market, as we are surprisingly greens-rich for this early in the year!

Smoked ham from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Smoked ham from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And in a year in which seemingly every Sunday has been some sort of holiday, in two weeks comes Easter Sunday. Your Ballard Farmers Market will be open for you that day, but you might want to lay claim to one of these hams from Skagit River Ranch today, as they are sure to be sold out two weeks from today. Now, if you prefer lamb, they may still have some today, too, and if you are planning for Passover, which begins next Monday at sundown, perhaps you are in the market for a chicken or a nice brisket. Skagit River Ranch has that covered, too!

Desiree potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Desiree potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You will need potatoes to go with your corned beef tonight, or your holiday meals in the coming weeks, and Olsen Farms has that covered and then some. For corned beef, I prefer these desiree potatoes, as they hold up well in the pot with the other ingredients, and they absorb the flavors nicely. However, with lamb, ham or chicken, you might have your own favorite. They’ve got many varieties, so you will be sure to find what you need. And Olsen, too, has lambbeef roasts and hams for Easter.

Rutabagas from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Rutabagas from Nash’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I also like to add rutabagas to my pot with my corned beef, like these from Nash’s Organic Produce. In Ireland, they call these “turnips” or “Swedes”, harkening back to their introduction to the Emerald Isle by the Vikings centuries ago before the Brits took over and ruled it with an iron fist for 700 years. Of course, I say this in the context of this day in which we celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of, well, Catholicism in Ireland who supposedly drove the “snakes” out of Ireland even before the Vikings showed up, though the only snakes in Ireland at the time were actually the Druids, who used the image of a snake in much of their symbolism. But I digress. I put my bagas in the pot up to an hour before its time to serve dinner. Because they are very dense, they cook slowly, but they beautifully absorb all to flavors and spices of your corned beef, and they become perfectly tender as they do.

GaiasGreensKailanKaleChardMustardsBeets

Gaosheng from Gaia’s Natural Goods holding (clockwise, from bottom left) kailan, a golden beet, kale, chard and mustard greens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Of course, your Ballard Farmers Market is full of greens for St. Paddy’s Day. This is Gaosheng from Gaia’s Natural Goods, and she holds in her arms several kinds of greens her family is currently harvesting up in Snohomish. In the lower lefthand corner, those flowery, light-green greens are kailan, an Asian green popular in China and Southeast Asian. Then there is kalechard and mustard greens on the lower right, as well as a golden beet peaking out in front of her right shoulder. Greens are coming on earlier this year than the past few, and that is worthy of holiday celebrations in and of itself, if you ask me.

Kids play at Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Kids play at Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just kidding. That’s what this kid is doing. Yup, this is one of the many adorable baby goats Gil and I got to meet last week on our visit to Twin Oaks Creamery in Chehalis. These kids have a good life, romping and roughhousing with each other in their playhouse. Meanwhile, their moms are producing wonderful goat milk which Twin Oaks is bottling, as well as making cheese and yogurt with it.

KaYing, a.k.a., The Old Farmer. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

KaYing, a.k.a., The Old Farmer. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

KaYing, a.k.a., The Old Farmer, returns this week with her beautiful flower bouquets. Also returning this week are Mee Gardens, Pa Gardens and Ia’s Garden. What this means for you is that, if you return home this evening without a bouquet of beautiful, fresh flowers from one of the six farms selling them at your Ballard Farmers Market, you might as well get yourself acquainted with your couch, cuz that’s where you will be sleeping tonight!

Mixed radish starts from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Mixed radish starts from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know it’s pretty darn near spring when the veggie starts show up at Stoney Plains Organic Farm. This is a flat of mixed radishes, ready for you to get your early spring garden going. After all, spring does start this coming week, right? And ain’t it about time? Of course, we now get to spend the next couple of weeks having to drive directly into the setting sun that is due west in the evening, but I think we’ll survive. Besides, odds are we won’t be able to see it anyway!

Sharon & Gary McCool from Rosecrest Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sharon & Gary McCool from Rosecrest Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Rosecrest Farm returns to your Ballard Farmers Market with lots of their lovely Swiss cheeses today, after a one-week hiatus. Gil and I also visited Rosecrest last week during our trip to Chehalis. This is a photo of Sharon & Gary McCool in front of their Cheese Haus, which is housed in a very old shop adjacent to their 99-year-old historic barn. Gary manages the cows while Sharon makes the cheese. And did you know that their cheese is made from certified organic milk? Yup. In fact, whatever doesn’t go into making cheese ends up going in cartons from Organic Valley, to whom they sell some of the milk they produce. And you might wonder how Swiss Cheese factors into our holiday theme today. Well, I’m glad you asked! You may be surprised to learn that much of “Swiss” cheese in American deli cases — you know, that squared block of cheese with the big holes in it that is probably banned in Switzerland — is made by Kerrygold in Ireland! That’s right! Americans by the millions are making reuben sandwiches with Irish “Swiss” cheese. Seriously, you gotta love that!

An "Irish" marion berry pie from Deborah's Homemade Pies. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

An “Irish” marion berry pie from Deborah’s Homemade Pies. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let us finish this week’s epistolic tribute to St. Patrick, the Irish, and holidaze to come, with a shamrock-adorned marion berry pie from Deborah’s Homemade Pies. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again — Deborah quite simply makes the best pies on earth. But let’s face it. There’s a lot more fun going on here than just her pieliciousness. There is the shamrock itself, and then there is that fact that we just celebrated Universal Pie Day on March 14th. And my personal favorite is getting to make silly references to troubled Mayor Marion Barry of Washington, D.C. But in the end, what is most entertaining about this pie is eating it. Enjoy!

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.

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.

Sunday, February 12th: To Quote U2, “In The Name Of Love…”, Because Hallmark Says So!

February 12, 2012

Fresh tulips from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yes, it is our annual obligation to encourage you to forego Hallmark’s demands that you go to your local mall to pick up stuff made by the millions in China that is supposed to represent how much you care for someone you love, and instead to get said symbols of your undying love and affection from local producers right here at your Ballard Farmers Market, because when it comes to guilt, guilt begins right here at home! So let’s start you out with a beautiful bouquet of fresh tulips from Alm Hill Gardens. They were cut yesterday, so they are super fresh, and they will keep for many days to warm the heart of that someone special. And hey, when they realize you got them today at your Ballard Farmers Market, they will not only know you cared enough to get them the best, and that you care enough to support local farmers, but it will also let them know that you remembered to get them a full two days before Valentine’s Day!

Beautiful, non-toxic, scentless candles from Ascents Candles. Photo copy 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Along with tulips, you will need some candles to help set the mood. For that, visit our own Ascents Candles for some of these beautiful, scentless candles that are also blissfully non-toxic. That means the stunning meal with which you are about to dazzle your darling will not be disturbed by the smoke from that romantic candlelight. Yup, we think of everything here at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Sweetbread Cellars Wine from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweetbread Cellars is the label for the fabulous wines made by Sea Breeze Farm. And right now, they have some beautiful vintages for your sipping pleasure, including their 2006 Syrah, and their 2009 Vashoneuf, their red table wine blend. Forget the Three Buck Chuck, and show your sweetie you are so cool that you get your wine direct from the winemaker!

Rack of lamb, saddle of lamb and standing beef rib roasts from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Why not surprise your little lamb chop with some actual lamb chops from Olsen Farms? They’ve got lamb loin chops on sale today just for you. And they’ve got New York steaks on sale, too! Hey, anybody can make reservations and take their honey out for a fancy meal. But you are going to hit a home run this year by cooking that fancy meal yourself, right?!?

Spicy salad mix from Colinwood Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And to keep your in-house, romantic dinner humming along, looking mighty sophisticated, whilst still keeping it easy on you in the kitchen, why not grab a bag of tasty salad mix from Colinwood Farms? They are harvesting it out of their greenhouses this time of year, and it is what your body is craving right now… well, besides the undying gratitude of your dining companion.

Lotsa pies from Deborah's Homemade Pies. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For this one, I recommend that you just don’t tell them that you bought this pie from Deborah’s Homemade Pies. Make pretend you slaved all day making it yourself. Leave some extra dirty bowls about the kitchen and a bit of stray flour here and there. The fact that you didn’t actually make from scratch the best flippin’ pie your little cupcake has ever tasted will just be our little secret.

Award winning wines from Lopez Island Vineyards. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let’s finish off the night with, um, well, more wine! And hey, why not buy that special someone part of a vineyard? Okay, well, not really. But today is your last chance to get in on Lopez Island VineyardsSiegerrebe Futures.” They are taking preorders for case quantities of their Puget Sound Siegerrebe at $20/bottle, prepaid. This wine will be $25 when released in late March! Also, last call on their 2010 Riesling at $10/bottle – that’s $4 off! Hey, you’ll be serving up fine wine while saving some cash. That shows you can be thoughtful and romantic, while being responsible all at the same time. That makes you a keeper!

Hey, there is plenty of 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.

Sunday, June 18th: Hayton Strawberries, Finnriver Hard Cider, Hama Hama Oysters, Pasteria Lucchese Cannoli… Happy Fathers’ Day Indeed!

June 19, 2011

First-of-the-season strawberries from Hayton Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Say Happy Fathers’ Day with strawberries from Hayton Berry Farm at your Ballard Farmers Market. What says, “I love you, dad!” better than strawberry shortcake? Am I right, people? Hayton returns to Ballard today for the 2011 berry season. And hey, Hayton’s strawberries are transitional to organic, which means you won’t be finding the residue of nasty agri-chemicals in these beauties, which will really show dad you care!

Bottle-fermented hard ciders from Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Welcome our newest farm to your Ballard Farmers Market, just in time for Fathers’ Day: Finnriver Farm & Cidery. They’re from Chimacum, over in Jefferson County. They make old-school hard ciders and fruit cordials from their own fruit. Grab a couple of bottles for dad to wash down all those oysters. What oysters, you say?…

Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.

These oysters! Yes, Hama Hama Oyster Company returns to your Ballard Farmers Market today, and dad’s all over Ballard couldn’t be happier! You see, they had their truck with all their farmers market equipment stolen right out of their storage facility here in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, which is why we’ve missed them the past two weeks. But they’ve got a new truck and a new setup, and they are back today with live oysters and clams, and smoked, pickled and fresh-shucked jar oysters. If you just get dad the first three items on today’s checklist, you will be good with him for the next year. But wait, there’s more!

Spinach from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the dad with a Popeye complex, we’ve got a new crop of spinach from Nash’s Organic Produce!

Rainier cherries from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the dad that likes to spit pits, we’ve got these early Rainier cherries from Lyall Farms. And for all of you who are asking, how the %$#@#$!!! can Lyall Farms have Rainier cherries already, here is how. See, this is an early variety bred by WSU researchers specifically for Washington. It is ripe a good 10 days before other Rainiers. Add another 10 days for the location of Lyall’s orchard in Prosser, which is both extra sunny and extra warm, and that’s a three-week advantage. Now you know!

Iris bouquet from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the sensitive dad, how about a bouquet of these beautiful irises from Children’s Garden. Hey, dad’s like flowers, too, you know!

Communi-Tea Kombucha in a convenient single-serving container! Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And for the dad who needs a boost, how about some kombucha from CommuniTea? Chris now bottles his kombucha in these convenient, single-serving bottles. (Thanks, Chris!) And better yet, all his bottles are reusable. Just return it next week when you get your next supply! I guess that would also make this for the “green” dad, too, then. Just remember, Junior, to have mom buy it for dad, as you have to be 21 to purchase this stuff in Washington.

Fougasse from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I see a Fathers’ Day barbecue in your future. Don’t forget the bread! In fact, get dad some fougasse from Tall Grass Bakery, full of olivy-oniony goodness. Get it in the traditional pretzel-like form, or in a lovely loaf for the slicing. Either way, get two — one just for dad and one for the rest of the family. Trust me on this one!

Mutton and wine from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

What yuh eatin’? Mutton. Does dad like his meat a bit on the gamey side? Well, Sea Breeze Farm has some true mutton this week! Mutton is from two-year-old sheep, whereas lamb is usually six-months old or less. Mutton has a much stronger flavor than lamb. Never had it? Give it a try this week.

Cheese maker Matthew Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery in one of his four cheese caves in Port Townsend. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And I bet dad would love some great, local cheese, eh? Well, you are bound to find something for any dad’s palate at Mt. Townsend Creamery. They have a dozen or so styles of cheese available here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Stop by and do some “quality control” (read: sampling), and then grab the kind that’ll please your dad.

Spicy salad mix from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ooh! Spicy salad mix from Alm Hill Gardens. That’s the trick. Let’s see. We’ve got kombucha, cheese and oysters to balance dad’s equilibrium, then hard cider, mutton, spinach, spicy salad mix and fougasse for dinner. You’ve got a bouquet for the table, cherries for the pit spitting contest and strawberries for shortcake. But it seems like something is still missing. Hmm. Oh, I know what’s missing!!!

Fresh cannoli from Pasteria Lucchese. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cannoli!!! How could I forget?!? Yes, dad will need a cannoli for dessert. Heck, he may need two or three! I mean, have you had one of Pasteria Lucchese’s cannoli? Boy, howdy! They make outrageous pastas at Pasteria Lucchese, but their desserts are positively out of this world.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, February 20th: 10 Years of Market Meat

February 20, 2011

George Vojkovich of Skagit River Ranch moving his herd of beef cattle from one pasture to another. Photo copyright 2007 by Zachary D. Lyons.

10 years ago, you could not purchase meat, seafood or poultry at farmers markets in King County. Today, we rely upon farmers markets for the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry produced by true artisans who care about the products they produce and the animals they husband.

Rib steaks from Olsen Farms being prepared for a cooking demonstration at Wallingford Farmers Market by Chef Seth Caswell of emmer&rye. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In February of 1999, during the annual Washington State Farmers Market Conference at Pike Place Market, a workshop was convened to discuss how to make meat, seafood and poultry sales possible at farmers markets. Attendees at this meeting including USDA inspectors, state food safety regulators, King County health officials, market managers, ranchers, and myself, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. As workshop facilitator, I began the discussion with two instructions: that we were there to figure out how to bring meat, seafood and poultry to farmers markets; and that we would not accept “no” as an answer. The USDA inspectors in attendance refused to speak — they would not answer a single question yes, no or maybe. But everyone else seemed enthusiastic.

A beautiful pastured chicken from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Interestingly, later that year, I found myself in a conversation with a member of King County Health Department’s meat inspection program — yes, King County is one of the few counties in the U.S. that has one — at the University District Farmers Market. In this conversation, the County staffer said to me she thought people shouldn’t eat animals unless they were willing to travel out to the farm and look the animals in the eyes first. In response, I pointed across the street to the University District Safeway store, and I told her that every Saturday, after they got their fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, many people walked across the street to Safeway to purchase factory-farmed meat. These city folk were very unlikely to ever go to a farm to meet their dinner, I told her. So, if people are going to eat meat anyway, why shouldn’t we give them the option of purchasing that meat directly from farmers who are treating their animals with care and are producing a healthy product?

Cans of albacore tuna from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In June 2000, King County Executive Ron Sims, at the request of farmer Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm and Chris Curtis of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance on the King County Agriculture Commission, convened the King County Farmers Market Health Regulation Task Force. At its first meeting, County inspector Jim Thompson, who had participated in the 1999 workshop, presented what he thought was a regulatory solution to allow meat sales at King County markets by adapting language in the mobile meat sales code. His proposal was enacted with only minor revisions by the King County Board of Health in August 2001.

Goat shoulder steaks from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Then, in late 2001, the first ever USDA inspected Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU) came on line. Based in Bow, it was built by the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative using USDA grant funding in order to address the extraordinary stress put on both farmers and their animals when transporting animals from the San Juan Islands to processing facilities on the mainland. Consider that Washington had only five such facilities at the time in the entire state that would accept less than 50 animals for processing at one time, and the two in Western Washington were both significantly far south of Seattle. The MSU, by contrast, was designed to be able to travel from farm to farm, and to fit on ferries, so that farmers could humanely dispatch their animals right on the farm, reducing the stress on farmer and animal alike. And it offered the additional benefit of allowing farmers to compost byproducts from the process right on the farm, instead of it being added to feed and pet foods via rendering plants.

Fresh ducks from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the new King County code in place, and the MSU online, a revolutionary shift took place at King County farmers markets. Indeed, it changed the way all of us will look at farmers markets forever. The idea that farmers markets could offer more than just fruits and vegetables seemed unthinkable to many before 2001, and yet now, farmers markets are rife with all manner of farm products, from cheese and milk to grain and flour, from fermented foods to wine. Wine was not legal at farmers markets in Washington until 2003. The first grain products entered King County farmers markets in 2007. And yet it is hard to imagine our dear Ballard Farmers Market without these products today.

Fresh whole keta salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Today, Washington has four MSUs, half of all those nationwide. Farms are investing in infrastructure for on-farm processing of all manner of poultry. Fishing vessels no longer must serve at the mercy of large canneries and low prices. And we get to benefit from the pride and care these passionate, hard-working people put into their products, giving us the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry most of us have ever eaten. And they have helped us grow our Ballard Farmers Market into the #1 farmers market in the state, around which an extraordinary food-centric neighborhood has blossomed, from one end of Ballard Avenue to the other.

Lamb rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So today, when you pickup your beloved local meat, seafood and poultry direct from the producer, think about that day back in February 1999, when in essence a sort of Lexington & Concord event took place in the local food movement — when a group of people told, instead of asking, the USDA and local regulators that we wanted local meat at our markets. Because the rest, as they say, is now history!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.


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