Sunday, March 13th: Bring On St. Paddy’s Day!


Shamrock cookies from Grateful Bread. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s a big week, folks. We start it off with Daylight Savings Time, which pretty much means we’ll all feel like zombies all week long, and billions of dollars in productivity will be lost, because all of our body clocks will be screwed up. But hey, it’ll be light an hour later, so it’s worth it, right? Then, on Tuesday, comes the Ides of March. Gee, are there some dictators with whom we can dispatch this Ides of March? Let me think… Finally, on Thursday, comes the NCAA Basketball Tou… no… I mean, St. Patrick’s Day — that day when everyone claims to be Irish, drinks green beer, eats corned beef, and remains largely blissfully unaware that the holiday in actuality celebrates the demise of Pagan culture in Ireland at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. Woohoo!!!

Beef roasts from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I would suggest you pickup some corned beef from one of our vendors today, except none of them will have any. And if you wanted to get any beef to have corned for you, you’d be living it a little on the late side, as brining takes about 10 days. See, that’s what I do every year. Right now, I’ve got about 10 pounds of Skagit River Ranch beef soaking in a nitrate-free brine over at Golden Steer Meats in Bellevue. The good news for you is, they actually have plenty more over there. But if you want the nitrate-free stuff made with natural beef, you’d better call and have them reserve you some now. And tell ’em you’re from the People’s Republic of Ballard. They’ll appreciate that.

Savoy cabbage from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now, you will find plenty of cabbage today. Personally, I prefer using savoy cabbage, like this from Full Circle Farm, when I cook corned beef. You see, corned beef is the ultimate one-pot meal, and when you add the cabbage at the very end, you want it to soak in all the spices from the broth. Savoy cabbage, with its many nooks and crannies, is perfect for this, as the broth works its way in between the leaves. Delish!

Red Lasoda potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And how about some beautiful red lasoda potatoes from Olsen Farms? These you’ll want to add to the pot about 45-60 minutes before the meat is done cooking, so they, too, will soak up the brothy goodness and be ready to mash with some good butter. I also like to use desiree potatoes with corned beef. It’s a little waxier than the red lasodas. And remember, it is good to have lots of leftover potatoes and corned beef for hashing and for sandwiches.

Rutabagas from Nash's. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We call ’em rutabagas. In Scandinavia, they call them Swedes. But in Ireland, they call them turnips. Regardless of what anyone calls them, though, they are also a staple of the traditional corned beef meal. Cut them up into 2-inch chunks and toss them in the pot just before the potatoes. They are very dense and will take some time to become tender, but they, too, will absorb all the spices of the broth and will be ridiculously good. And lucky for us, Nash’s harvested a whole bunch of fresh rutabagas, just in time for our feasts this week.

Golden Glen butter. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We are fortunate around here to have access to delicious farmstead butter from Golden Glen Creamery, and if there is one holiday that requires lots of good butter, it is St. Patrick’s Day. Butter is sacred in Ireland. Indeed, they have an entire class of fairies dedicated to butter. The butter of Ireland is rich and yellow, made from the milk of cows that eat the green grasses and forage that give the Emerald Isle its name. And the climate in Western Washington is not dissimilar to that of Ireland — damp, drizzly and green — so Golden Glen’s cows live much the life, and produce much the same kind of butter, as the cows of Ireland. So grab a bunch to slather onto your red potatoes and your brown bread, and just to eat by the spoonful like you’re Elvis.

Two more award-winning wines from Lopez Island Vineyards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And what St. Paddy’s Day would be complete without some booze? Might as well make it some high-class hooch, you know? Like these two most recent award winning wines from Lopez Island Vineyards. The Malbec 2009 just won a Platinum medal at the 2011 Winemaker Challenge International, and the Madeleine Angevine 2009 won a Gold medal there as well.

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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