Archive for the ‘What Is It?’ Category

Sunday, March 8th: Just A Few Of My Favorite Product Photos & My Farewell!

March 7, 2015
A heart-shaped tomato from Around The Table Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

A heart-shaped tomato from Around The Table Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine my three passions into one gig over the last eight years. I managed to find a job in which I got to help develop our local food system while at the same time writing about it and photographing it. What a blessing! I have been working with farmers markets since 1991, and I have served on the board of Seattle Chefs Collaborative since 1999. I also served as executive director of Washington State Farmers Market Association from 1999-2005, and in 2006, I co-authored the Washington State Farmers Market Manual for Washington State University. I have loved all this work, and I am proud of all we’ve accomplish here, leading the nation in local food. So even though I am leaving my farmers market job after today, I will still be around.

For this last official regular blog post for your Ballard Farmers Market, I’d like to revisit with you some of my favorite photos from over the years. Like the one above, taken at Wallingford Farmers Market last summer. This naturally-occuring heart-shaped tomato was grown by Poulsbo’s Around The Table Farm. Yet one more reason to love vine-ripened, farm-fresh tomatoes over homogenous, boring tomatoes from the Big Box stores, if you really needed another reason.

An explosion of carrots from Gaia's Natural Goods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

An explosion of carrots from Gaia’s Natural Goods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

While the previous photo was copied all over the intertubes, it is this photo that actually circled the globe. Yes, this is my single-most plagerized photo ever, and I say that with pride (and a little bit of annoyance — please don’t republish photos without permission or giving credit!). I took this photo of baby rainbow carrots that look like an exploding firework not long before Independence Day in 2012. These carrots were grown by Gaia’s Harmony Farm in Snohomish. I published this photo across all of our markets’ blogs and Facebook pages for the 4th that year, and it just spread across the interwebs from there. Imagine how far it would have travelled had a vision of the Virgin Mother be visible in it?

Fresh sausages from Sea Breeze Farmat Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh sausages from Sea Breeze Farmat Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I’ve taken a lot of nice photos of Sea Breeze Farm’s meats over the years, but I’ve always liked this one of their sausages best. The sausages are all uniform in size and stacked perfectly, highlighted by the wooden butcher block below them. But what sets them off is that they are three such distinctly different colors. Kinda makes you want some right now, doesn’t it? And that is what makes this photo so special.

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rutabagas are one of my favorite vegetables. I must owe that to my Irish heritage. My family eats them every Thanksgiving. Indeed, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them. Then my Aunt Joyce taught me to add them to the corned beef pot on St. Paddy’s Day. (You need to add them 15-30 minutes before your potatoes, as they’re much denser.) They absorb all the flavors of the spices and meat. Nummers. I’ve also always found rutabagas to be quite beautiful, with their deep yellows and purples. And of all my lovely photos of rutabagas — indeed, of all the thousands of images I’ve taken of markets over the years — this one of rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm, spread out randomly in a wooden farm box, is one of my absolute favorites.

Framed cabbage from Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Framed cabbage from Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

This wonderful photo of symmetrically-arranged cabbages in a wooden box was taken back in 2010. They are from one of the gorgeous displays that Big Dave used to erect for Full Circle Farm at Wallingford Farmers Market. The image quality suffers a bit from my old camera’s inferior technology, but the image is still nice, don’t you think?

Chicories from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chicories from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm is known for growing lots of deliciously bitter members of the chicory family. They are quite beautiful, too, and in 2012, I managed to capture this image of escarole, treviso radicchio and Palla Rosa radicchio here at your Ballard Farmers Market. This image is now used on One Leaf’s own website, which pleases me every time I visit it.

Romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Another of the most stunning vegetables — one that magically grows in perfect fractals — is this romanesco, a member of the cauliflower family. And my favorite photo is of this romanesco from Full Circle Farm at Madrona Farmers Market back in 2011. This photos has served as the cover photo for Madrona’s Facebook page ever since.

Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chinese spinach from Children’s Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

But for my money, the most beautiful vegetable of all is this Chinese spinach. With its purple and green leaves, it is just flat-out stunning. Only two farms bring it to your Ballard Farmers Market each summer: Mee Garden and Children’s Garden. This image is of some from Children’s Garden from 2011. And in fact, before I published this photo and waxed poetic about the virtues of this gorgeous leafy green, these two farms were hard-pressed to sell any of it. Now, they can’t harvest enough of it. And for that, I love you, good people of Ballard Farmers Market! You are willing to be adventurous in the name of eating local!

Broccoli in the field at Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Broccoli in the field at Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Most people probably don’t even think about what broccoli looks like growing in the fieldThis is what it looks like! That’s the developing floret right there in the center surrounded by all those lovely, and edible, mind you, leaves. That’s why I’ve always loved this photo from Growing Washington in Everson — it surprises people. No, milk doesn’t just magically come in a carton, and yes, broccoli does have leaves!

Winter squash from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Winter squash from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Winter squash is also very photogenic. And this photo of delicata and carnival squash from Summer Run Farm taken just this past fall happens to be my favorite. The colors are simply explosive, aren’t they? No wonder so many restaurants will use their squash as decorations around the dining room for weeks before cooking them!

Cauliflower in every color from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower in every color from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Did you know that cauliflower comes in so many colors? Just it this photo you’ll see purple, yellow, green, white and green romanesco from Growing Things Farm. Seriously, aren’t farmers markets so much more fun in every way than a boring Big Box store, where you’ll only get white cauliflower, and it won’t be remotely as sweet as this stuff is?

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally… and this is the big finally… in honor of Ballard’s Scandinavian roots, and because this photos has actually been republished in national print magazines, let’s finish off my celebration of my favorite product photos, and my role as Blog Master, with these Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Their magnificent purple skin belies snow white flesh that makes them a perfect masher.

Thank you for joining me week in and week out for all these years, as I have brought you the news of the day as to what’s fresh now at your Ballard Farmers Market, with a sprinkling of snark and commentary. If at times my tone has seemed revolutionary, that is because the revolution starts here, on your fork. Know that I won’t be too far away, and that you’ll likely still see me around the Market on Sundays. Hopefully, I’ll contribute the odd guest post in the future. And now that I have the time, I’ll be whipping my personal blogs into shape with tales of food and adventure from near and far. You can find my blogs via mayoroffoodtown.com, though give me a couple of weeks to spit-polish them a bit, as they’re a bit tarnished from years of neglect. (If you have need for a skilled writer, photographer or event organizer, contact me through that site.) And I won’t turn down hugs today, either. (Unless you’re sick. Just got over norovirus, and that stuff is just plain nasty.)

xoxo Zach

Speaking of Salad Mix

May 31, 2009

Many farms at Ballard Farmers Market offer salad mix, but no two mixes are the same. It is in salad mix that our diverse collection of farmers perhaps best get to express their creative sides and their personalities in greens.

Alm Hill Gardens has one of the earliest mixes of the year, and they even add flowers to it. In May, they added tulip petals. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill Gardens has one of the earliest mixes of the year, and they even add flowers to it. In May, they added tulip petals. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Salad mixes can be mild or spicy, made entirely of various lettuces or with no lettuces at all. They are a fun and delicious way to get an incredible variety of flavors, textures, colors and nutrients while simultaneously getting a quick and easy salad that is elegant and beautiful. Sure, they cost a little more, but most at the Market are harvested by hand when the leaves are young and tender, requiring great care on the part of the farmers. The prices are more than fair, given the labor intensive nature of salad mixes, and besides, you have to do less work.

Michaele Blakely's special blend of greens make Growing Thing's spicy salad mix unique. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Michaele Blakely's special blend of greens make Growing Thing's spicy salad mix unique. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Many farms at Ballard Farmers Market now offer salad mixes. They include Alm Hill, Anselmo, Colinwood, Full Circle, Growing Things, Nash’s, and Stoney Plains. If you haven’t enjoyed a salad mix from the market before, what you get at the big box grocery store does not compare, so you should give it a try. And if you have been loyal to one salad mix, why not try a few others, just to mix it up. There ain’t a stinker in the bunch. Then, pick up some radishes, carrots, baby turnips, green onions and a little cheese, and you are ready to build the easiest and most delicious salad you have ever tasted.

Colinwood Farms' salad mix is big and bold with spicy mustards and bitter mizunas. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Colinwood Farms' salad mix is big and bold with spicy mustards and bitter mizunas. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Saffron — Yes, Local Saffron

May 17, 2009

Washington-grown saffron from Phocas Farm in Port Angeles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Washington-grown saffron from Phocas Farm in Port Angeles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Add saffron to the list of Washington crops about which you can say, “Wow. Even that grows here?” Yup. It does. And our buddy, Jim Robinson of Phocas Farm, brings it to us. You will find him near the 22nd Avenue end of the Market, on the sidewalk side facing Guitar Emporium.

Saffron is a spice derived from the dried stigma of the flower of the saffron crocus that is dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and coloring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world’s most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia.

Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and somewhat bitter. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods.

Most saffron is grown in a belt of land ranging from the Mediterranean in the west to Kashmir in the east. Annually, around 300 tonnes of saffron are produced worldwide. Iran ranks first in the world production of saffron, with more than 94 percent of the world yield.

For more information, see Wikipedia.

Green Garlic

May 17, 2009

Alvarez Organic Farms' green garlic. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez Organic Farms' green garlic. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Green garlic is one of the great treats of spring. It looks very much like a green onion, except the green tops are flat instead of tubular. (Dude, did he just say, “tubular”?) Green garlic is simply normal garlic in its young, spring form, again, much like its cousin, the onion, and it tends to be made available in the spring by farmers as they thin their garlic fields to allow the remaining garlic the space to grow and mature in the bulbs of garlic we see in late summer and fall. Now, many farmers plant rows of garlic specifically to harvest it as green garlic, due to its growing popularity.

Green garlic at Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Green garlic at Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Green garlic can be used just like bulb garlic, though its flavor is much milder and sweeter. Use the entire stalk. Just trim the tips of the greens and thoroughly wash them, including under the greens, as dirt can collect there, kinda like with a leek. You can even eat the root hairs, though be sure they are clean, and trim off the point where the roots connect with the immature garlic bulb, as it is impossible to wash the dirt out of there.

Slice it up like you would a green onion and toss it in with sautéed greens. Add them to asparagus, green onions and morels, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them all for ten minutes in a hot oven.

Green garlic has a sweet, slightly grassy flavor that just exudes spring. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know the joy of spring you are missing. To quote Oxbow’s Luke Woodward, “I eat it with everything this time of year.” You’ll find it in April, May and June at farms like Alm Hill, Alvarez, Oxbow, Stoney Plains, Summer Run and more.

These green onions at Alvarez look very similar to green garlic, but note how their green stalks are tubular instead of flat. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These green onions at Alvarez look very similar to green garlic, but note how their green stalks are tubular instead of flat. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.


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