Posts Tagged ‘cherry plums’

Sunday, August 10th: Happy Farmers Market Week!

August 9, 2014

WhyMarkets_August2013

Happy National Farmers Market Week! Check out this list of all the amazing benefits markets like your Ballard Farmers Market provide to your community. (You can download this image just by clicking on it.) And guess what else? Your Ballard Farmers Market just won Seattle Weekly’s Readers’ Choice Best Farmers Market Award for at least the fifth year in a row! (Honestly, we’ve lost count. And thank you!) Oh, hey, we’ll have great recipe cards for Farmers Market Week from Washington State Farmers Market Association today at the Market Information Desk, too.

Copia (top) and Brandywine tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Copia (top) and Brandywine tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm is rocking the Brandywine and Copia tomatoes right now! The Brandywines (bottom) may not be the most flamboyant of tomatoes, but they are one of the most delicious — the perfect vehicle for salt and mayo, or on a BLT, or in a simple caprese salad. Copias, on the other hand, are quite flamboyant. Just look at all their different colors and stripes and shapes and sizes! Plus, they are awesome to eat, and they will add a ton of character to whatever creation they join!

Pan-roasted padron peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms by Chef Derek Ronspies of Le Petit Cochon. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pan-roasted padron peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms by Chef Derek Ronspies of Le Petit Cochon. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Padron peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms as pan-roasted by Chef Derek Ronspies of Le Petit Cochon last week during his cooking demonstration at our sister Wallingford Farmers Market. Consider this as enticement to visit today, AND as a recipe. Get your skillet nice and hot, with a high-heat oil, toss in the padrons and pan-roast until tender and a bit browned. Finish with a good sea salt. Eat. You’re welcome!

Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Organic Blueberry Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Organic Blueberry Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. They are a domesticated wild huckleberry from the East Coast. The berries are small and full of flavor, and they remind me of the wild blueberries we used to pick while hiking up Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. I remember I used to eat my weight in them.

A saffron crocus in full bloom at Phocas Farms. Photo courtesy Phocas Farms.

A saffron crocus in full bloom at Phocas Farms. Photo courtesy Phocas Farms.

Our pal Jimmy, from Phocas Farms, tells us that he’s still got some saffron crocus corms available today for you to plant to grow your own saffron, and that if you get them today, you still have time to get them in the ground so that you can harvest them this fall! Yep, these beauties bloom in the fall. See those gorgeous red threads in the flower above? That’s the saffron. So grab some today, and start your own little saffron plantation! Oh, and he’s got a little bit of last year’s saffron harvest left, too!

Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Guess what? It is already apple season! The first apples of the year are now arriving at your Ballard Farmers Market. They tend to be tart, green-skinned varieties, like Ginger Gold, Gravenstein, Shamrock, and these organic Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards.

Carrots from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Carrots from Nash’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nash’s Organic Produce is going carrot crazy this week! Besides these sweet and crunchy bunch carrots, they’ve got plenty of their five-pound bags of Nash’s Best Carrots, as well as big bags of juicing carrots. So get down with your bad, carrot-loving self today at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Cherry plums from Tiny's Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cherry plums from Tiny’s Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

From the pages of the confused fruit handbook come these cherry plums from Tiny’s Organic Farm. But unlike so many other stone fruits that have been hybridized to create things like apriums, pluots, nectarcots, peachcots and more, cherry plums are actually a true plum, not a cross betwixt cherry and plum. They get their name from their small, cherry-like size and their color. But they have the flavor and texture of a plum. So mix it up this week and try yourself something new… or actually old, in this case.

Baby cabbages from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby cabbages from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And under the heading of learning something new every day comes these little, baseball-sized baby cabbages from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. You see, after they harvest the full-sized cabbages in the field, they leave the cabbage plant there, and it grows a second, smaller head of cabbage… this cabbage. Who knew? So, if you need just enough cabbage for one serving of cole slaw, or perhaps you want to braise or grill little, individual servings of cabbage, this is for you!

Rosa-Hale peaches from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Rosa-Hale peaches from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Free-stone peaches have arrived. There is a family of peaches, all with the word “Hale” in their names, and these are the big, yellow, sweet and juicy peaches for which Washington is famous. They come freely off of their pits, ergo the term “free-stone,” and that makes them ideal for cooking and canning, as well as just eating fresh. Think of the pies, cobblers, preserves, salads, and more! These particular peaches are Rosa-Hale peaches from Martin Family Orchards.

Soft-ripened Tallulah cheese from Glendale Shepherd. Photo courtesy Glendale Shepherd.

Soft-ripened Tallulah cheese from Glendale Shepherd. Photo courtesy Glendale Shepherd.

If you love stank cheese like I love stank cheese, then this cheese is for you! Meet Tallulah, a soft-ripened sheep’s milk cheese from Glendale Shepherd. This is the kind of character-rich cheese that would make a Frenchman weep. If you prefer to wrestle with your cheese instead of waltzing with it, you gotta get you some Tallulah today at your Ballard Farmers Market! Oh, and this just in: Glendale Shepherd as also begun packaging a five-cheese shredded blend of their sheep cheeses for easy sprinkling on pastas, salads, grilled sandwiches, roasted veggies and more.

Collard greens from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Collard greens from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I loves me some Oxbow Farm collard greens! Sautéed until just tender with some lovely bacon from Olsen Farms, Skagit River Ranch or Sea Breeze Farm, and some heirloom garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm, how can you go wrong? It is delicious and nutrient dense, and it makes a great side for so many proteins, or just build dinner around the collards themselves!

Canned salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Canned salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Do you have guests visiting from out of town who want to bring home a taste of Seattle’s famous salmon with them? Loki Fish makes it easy! Just get some of their canned salmon. It is self-stable, comes in a convenient, sturdy carrying case, and when they get it back to Dubuque, it’ll be better tasting than any other fish they can get there! (It ships well, too.)

Pain au Chocolat from Snohomish Bakery. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pain au Chocolat from Snohomish Bakery. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There is just something about a chocolate croissant, you know? Flaky, buttery pastry wrapped around deep, dark chocolate… meow! I heart them! And Snohomish Bakery makes some lovely ones that they offer to you right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Grab one to snack on at the Market, and a few more for tonight’s dessert!

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, August 4th: It’s National Farmers Market Week! Tomatillos, Eggplant, Cherry Plums & All Manner Of August Localiciousness!

August 3, 2013
Farm-fresh honey from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Farm-fresh honey from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey kids! It’s National Farmers Market Week! Yes, a special week proclaimed by dignitaries, elected officials and bureaucrats that actually celebrates something that matters to us. Go figure. But hey, sooner or later, it had to happen, right? So come celebrate with us today. Now, I won’t bore you with lots of proclamations from the governor, the county executive and the mayor — and trust me, they’ve all issued them — no let’s celebrate with all the amazing local products and people who bring us our precious Ballard Farmers Market week in and week out, year-round, in rain, sleet, snow, sun, wind, hot and cold. We are more reliable, after all, than the postal service. And let’s start this party by honoring perhaps the most important beings in our local, and global for that matter, food system: honey bees. Without them, we would all starve. Really. And yet we silly humans are creating environmental conditions that are killing honey bees by the millions. What can you do? Eat organic. Stop using pesticides. Raise your own honey bees. Pay attention. You wonder why we have less honey in our farmers markets today than we did five years ago? That’s why.

Jim Robinson of Phocas Farms shows how his saffron crocuses have multiplied over the winter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jim Robinson of Phocas Farms shows how his saffron crocuses have multiplied over the winter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Your Ballard Farmers Market is loaded with lots of characters who, out of a labor of love, a love of creating delicious food and quality goods, and a love of community, come here every week at 0-dark-30 from all over Washington to set up their tents and tables while you are still asleep, just so you will be able to stock up on their seasonal goodness every Sunday. One such character is Jim Robinson from Phocas Farms in Port Angeles. Jim may be best known around the Market for his hundreds of varieties of succulents and his wild appearance, but he is best known by Western Washington’s finest chefs for the incredible saffron he grows.

Saffron? Yes. It is so prized by local chefs that his entire crop is pre-sold every year before it is even harvested. And yet Jimmy is quite tall — not the best physical characteristic for raising a crop that demands one to be hunched over down low most of the time. Plus, he and the sun don’t get along all that well. You may have noticed that he is always covered head-to-toe at the Market, save for his face, which is a ghostly white. That white is industrial strength sunscreen, because Jim has light-sensitive lupus. And yet, he busts his hump year-round raising beautiful plants and spectacular saffron, then stands under his tent — outdoors in the daylight — every Sunday with nary a whimper, but instead a laugh, a smile, a flirtatious expression and a firm embrace. Why? Cuz he loves what he does and where he does it — right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Kinda makes it hard not to love the guy, or this place. Oh, hey, speaking of saffron, Jimmy has saffron corms for you this week, and for the next few. The chefs in town may not have left any of his saffron for you, but you can still plant and grow your own. Get them in the ground this month, and you will have your very own saffron later this fall!

Japanese eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Japanese eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez Organic Farms has their first Japanese eggplant today, along with about a half dozen other kinds of eggplant. They have also just begun harvesting tomatoes, okra and tomatillos, too. You know, it’s kinda funny, but some folks have been thinking that eggplant is late in arriving this year. In reality, it is right on schedule, and just everything else is early, making its arrival appear late by comparison. Go figure. I love grilling these beauties. I slice them down the middle and salt them about half an hour before I grill them to pull some of the bitterness out. And make sure to coat them well with olive oil. Mmm.

Janelle Stokesberry holding a chicken and a dozen eggs from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Janelle Stokesberry holding a chicken and a dozen eggs from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You ever wonder why the Seahawks are so much better lately than any of the other professional sports teams in Seattle? Is it maybe because they eat Stokesberry chickens, perhaps? It’s as good a theory as any, I suppose. Janelle & Jerry Stokesberry raise organic chicken, turkey and duckeggs, beefpork and lamb on their Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia. I can’t wait until they have stewing hens, because I love to make chicken soup with them. And their chickens and ducks, as well as their eggs, can be found on the menus of many of the best restaurants in Seattle. Have you tried the sausages made from their pork by Link Lab Artisan Meats? They are great. And I’ve personally visited their pigs happily slopping through the mud in the spring, little piglets chasing each other around all over the place. Hilarious. If you want your meat and poultry raised well by farmers who care about their animals, and that tastes good, too, they’ve got you covered.

Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are Rubels blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. They are a domesticated wild huckleberry from the East Coast. The berries are small and full of flavor, and they remind me of the wild blueberries we used to pick while hiking up Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. I remember I used to eat my weight in them.

George Vojkovich out standing in his field... with a bunch of cattle. Photo copyright 2007 by Zachary D. Lyons.

George Vojkovich out standing in his field… with a bunch of cattle. Photo copyright 2007 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look! It’s Farmer George Vojokovich of Skagit River Ranch, out standing in his field. That’s him in the upper-lefthand side of the photo. And he is that. Outstanding in his field. His pasture alone in this photo can testify to that. It is lush and green and up to the shoulders of his cattle. And this photo was taken in August! He lets them eat it down to about 6″, and then he moves them to the next pasture. The idea is that the cattle will eat a diversity of forage, not just their favorite ones, and the pasture will recover faster and be healthier. That keeps them healthy, and tasty. And that’s what makes George a dirt farmer more so than a rancher.

Farmer George is also nothing short of a scientist — you really have to be in this business — and he tests his animals to make sure they are getting all the nutrients and minerals they need. After all, the Skagit River Valley is low in a number of key minerals. So, based on the reports he gets, he actually adds minerals either to the pastureland, so it is taken up by the forage, or he puts out self-service stations where the cattle can actually stock up on what they need. They’re a bit smarter than us when it comes to that. The result of all this is some of the best beef you can find around here, and certainly better than anything you’ll find in the big box stores. Better, and better for you and the cattle.

Copia heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Copia tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm is really cranking out the heirloom tomatoes now in a whole host of varieties (see the photo spread on our Facebook page). Just take a gander at these gorgeous copia tomatoes for instance. They are a rainbow of colors and the big ones are all kinda weird looking, but hey, they taste absolutely incredible. To quote Chef Gordon Ramsay, “they are the most amazing, stunning tomatoes ever.” Okay, he didn’t really say that, but those seem to be the only two adjectives he knows, and I’ve been wanting to give him a hard time about it for a long time. Chef, get thee a thesaurus, for the love of Mike! You’re welcome. But do beeline it to One Leaf for tomatoliciousness right now.

Roberto Guerrero from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Nicole Reed.

Roberto Guerrero from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Nicole Reed.

Meet Roberto Guerrero of ACMA Mission Orchards in Quincy. He and his family grow a stunning variety of tree fruit, from apples to peaches to cherries to nectarines, on their beautiful farm just north of the Gorge Amphitheater. And just in the last two years, they secured organic certification for all of their acreage. How can you tell an orchard is organic? Simple. Look at the undergrowth under the trees. Do you see all that grass and brush? That’s the sign of an organic orchard. Seriously. They are overgrown under the trees, and most go through and mow and grind up brush just a few times each year. Then, they leave the debris right there to decompose, returning nutrients to the soil and keeping out undesirable weeds that conventional farms would have to sprayed. Plus, it helps keep the ground moist and cool when it’s really hot over there. You may see a jungle in this photo. I see a healthy orchard producing delicious fruit!

Honey Smoked Albacore from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Honey Smoked Albacore from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fishing Vessel St. Jude makes its monthly visit to your Ballard Farmers Market today. Woohoo! I often feel like Bubba Gump when I start to list off all the delectable forms in which you can acquire St. Jude’s albacore tuna. They have it cannedfresh-frozen, jerkied, and even honey-smoked (above). The canned comes in a myriad of wonderful flavors, too, and the frozen is sashimi grade. Stock up today. We won’t see them again until Labor Day Weekend!

Cardamom Zucchini Sweet Bread from NuFlours gluten-free bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cardamom Zucchini Sweet Bread from NuFlours gluten-free bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Name change alert! d:floured gluten-free bakery (my favorite saucy name for a bakery, mind you) has changed its name to nuflours. Apparently, someone else had their grubby paws all over their old name. So, many lawyers and much research later, they now have a new, not-so-saucy but equally functionally name, with the same logo and same great gluten-free products. Like this cardamom zucchini sweet bread that features zucchini from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. The point is, regardless of the name, you can still have your cake and your gluten-free diet, too.

Dragon's Tongue beans from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Dragon’s Tongue beans from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Growing Things Farm is deep in the fresh beans right now. They have six different varieties, ranging from green to yellow wax to purple runner to these Dragon’s Tongue beans, above. And did you know that Dragon’s Tongue beans will eventually grown about to be shelling beans, too? Pretty cool, huh? And delicious! Oh, and they want to thank you for supporting their successful Kick Starter campaign, too.

Green bell peppers from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Green bell peppers from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s pepper season, and over the coming weeks, we will see an ever-increasing variety of peppers arriving at your Ballard Farmers Market. We start off with these humble green bell peppers from Lyall Farms, and we are already seeing some of the over 200 varieties of peppers grown by Alvarez Organic Farms starting to appear this week. 2013 is on pace to be an epic year for peppers!

Cherry plums from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cherry plums from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

From the pages of the confused fruit handbook come these cherry plums from Tiny’s Organic Farm. But unlike so many other stone fruits that have been hybridized to create things like apriums, pluots, nectarcots, peachcots and more, cherry plums are actually a true plum, not a cross betwixt cherry and plum. They get their name from their small, cherry-like size and their color. But they have the flavor and texture of a plum. So mix it up this week and try yourself something new… or actually old, in this case.

Tropea onions from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tropea onions from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah. The lovely and divine tropea onion. I love these beauties. And I do recall hearing the lovely and divine Alice of Oxbow Farm (the growers of these onions) say that they are, in fact, her favorite onion. Named for the town of Tropea on the toe of Italy’s boot, these sweet onions are so popular in Italy that they are synonymous with “red onion” there, though that would be confusing here in the states, with the many red varieties we have. But if everyone just tried one of these, in salads, on the grill, sautéed or cooked down to make an awesome sauce or garnish, perhaps they would become synonymous with red onions here, too, because they may indeed be the best of the reds.

Chocolate-Coconut Fudge from Pete's Perfect Toffee. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chocolate-Coconut Fudge With Almonds from Pete’s Perfect Toffee. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pete’s Perfect Toffee has introduced yet another flavor of fudge, because after all, there is no such thing as too much fudge. The new flavor, pictured above, is chocolate-coconut fudge with toasted almonds. Oh, stop it, Pete! You’re killing me… with sweet deliciousness!

Hand-forged blue steele pans from Blu Skillet. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hand-forged blue steele pans from Blu Skillet Ironware. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Carbon steel pans are great for searing and caramelizing – and they make fantastic over-easy eggs! They are similar to cast iron, but forged rather than cast. This makes the pans lighter and easier to handle, as well as less porous and quicker to season.  They can take high temperatures, and they can go from stove top, to oven, to table – where they make a beautiful addition!” Sometimes, it is just easier to quote the vendor’s website, you know? Especially when it is as well-written as is the site for Blu Skillet Ironware. Patrick Maher and Caryn Badgett make these gorgeous pans right here in Ballard.

I do most of my cooking on stainless steel pans from Revere Ware. When they were first introduced in 1938, Revere Copper & Brass made a point of referring to them as exhibiting the best of both form and function, and that was important after the Great Depression. After all, if you were going to spend money on cookware, you want it to last, you want it to work, and you want something you can show off to your dinner guests. And today, as we limp our way out of the Great Recession (because even though it was, in fact, a depression, apparently it is not cool anymore to actually call it that), things are no different. We want quality, form and function. Blu Skillet gives us just that. I have been putting one of their 10″ pans through its paces for a week now, cooking everything from halibut to corned beef hash in it, and it works great. It is getting more seasoned with ever use. It browns and sears great. It cleans easily. And best of all, it is made right here. Yup, one more thing you don’t need Corporate America to do for you anymore! Booyah!

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.

Sunday, August 15th: Gluten-Free Bread, Ripe Melons, Heirloom Tomatoes & Fractalized Romanesco! Please Remember To Vote For Ballard!!!

August 15, 2010

Platypus Breads & House of the Sun, together in one booth at your Ballard Farmers Market on August 8, 2010. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, it’s not one of my best photos, but it does illustrate a point: your Ballard Farmers Market incubates new small food artisan businesses. Over the years, we’ve helped launch Veraci Pizza, Tall Grass Bakery, Dante’s Inferno Dogs, Anita’s Crepes, and many a farm. What you see in this photo from last Sunday is two new businesses for 2010, Platypus Breads and House of the Sun, sharing a precious 10′ x 10′ space at the Market. See, this time of year, Ballard Farmers Market is stocked to the gills with farmers and their many crops. It is, after all, peak season. But as the season ebbs and flows, on occasion we have the odd space that opens up in a given week. Such was the case last week, and we were able to give two of our favorite new food artisan businesses a shot at the big leagues of farmers markets we all know and love as your Ballard Farmers Market. Indeed, our dear Market has become a Holy Grail of sorts to many would-be food artisans, but we just have so much space to squeeze vendors in, especially this time of year. Fortunately, we operate four other neighborhood farmers markets throughout the city, which affords us the opportunity to give a number of new farms and food artisans a chance to get their feet wet in the Seattle farmers market scene each year. In the process, we get to meet some extraordinary people with great ideas and vision that result in some amazing and unique food products, and Platypus Breads and House of the Sun are perfect examples. Platypus Breads fills the incredibly important and unbelievably vacant niche of gluten-free bread making, and it does so with gluten-free breads that are, well, actually really good! And House of the Sun has created a line of raw and vegan foods that not only fills a niche for folks on a raw-vegan diet, but is so damned good that grilled flesh eaters like me thoroughly enjoy them, too. And the best news of all is that they are both back at Ballard Farmers Market, again sharing a tent, today!!!

Gorgeous melons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey Lyall Farms. Nice melons! Melon season is just beginning to kick in, you know. I am told we will get hit by a tidal wave of melons as early as next week. Woohoo! And you know, I heard back from my buddy, Evan, from Rochester, NY this past week. You can see his newest, quite conciliatory comment attached to the bottom of last week’s post. The long and short of it is that, in the big picture, we’re really just one big farmers market family from coast-to-coast, working hard to support family farmers and feed our neighborhoods, while having a little fun sparring with each other over this silly America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Still, silly or not, we would still like to crush our competitors in New York and California who currently lead us in the polls like so many garden snails. Are you with me, people of Ballard? Do you want to show these folks who think Ballard is part of the city of Seattle that we are, indeed, the People’s Republic of Ballard, proud of our independent heritage, still bitter about having been absorbed by Seattle in 1907 as the result of an election during the fishing season, when half the men in Ballard were out at sea, and we know we have the best damned farmers market on the planet, let alone America, and we’re not gonna let anybody beat us in this election!!! Shake off that bitterness, people of Ballard. Learn to trust the process again. Vote with all you heart, soul and email addresses, and if each and every one of us takes the 30 seconds to vote and we still lose to Rochester, we will simply tip our hats and say, “We’ll get you next year!” But we must not go down without a fight! Vote now!!!

Baby squash with blossoms attached fro Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now this is a pretty picture, ain’t it? This is baby zucchini with the blossoms still attached from Colinwood Farms. Colinwood is an example of a farm that, until about a year and a half ago, was only really known well in Port Townsend and environs. Now, many of us couldn’t make it through the week without some of their vegetative deliciousness. This is the magic of your Ballard Farmers Market. Hey, have you become a fan of us on our Facebook page? We just finally figured out the great “Favorite Pages” feature on our page, and now we are adding all of our vendors’ Facebook pages to that list, so you can easily find them in that universe. And if you check out our Twitter page, you will see we have two lists you can follow on it: one for our vendors’ Twitter pages, and one for our neighbors’ businesses here on Ballard Avenue. Check it all out!

White eggplant from Magana. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Beautiful, tender white eggplant from Magana. You know, our chef from Georgetown Liquor Company, a great vegetarian restaurant and bar in Georgetown, did a great cooking demo on Saturday at our Georgetown Farmers Market in which he made this awesome tomatillos salsa that he served over delicious slices of marinated, raw white eggplant. Check that market’s blog in the next week or so for a recipe!

Heirloom tomatoes from Summer Run. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s been a long wait, but tomato season is finally kicking into high gear, with many farms now having lots of them. This collection of heirloom tomatoes from Summer Run is gorgeous, isn’t it?

Fresh okra from Alvarez. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okra. I love her show. Actually, this is the underappreciated vegetable from Alvarez Organic Farms, okra, the staple of culinary traditions from the Southeastern U.S. to Northern Africa to Southern and Southeast Asia. The problem is, most of us northern white folks have never had it prepared properly. Me, I pickle it. But I love it deep fried and doused in Louisiana Hot Sauce, or in a Southern gumbo, which is in fact another name for okra, or in a Nigerian goat soup with fufu, or maybe tossed with shrimp paste and shrimp as Malay Satay Hut in Redmond. Trust me, when treated right, this stuff’s da bomb!

Shaving kit from Brown & Butterfly. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I love the soap at Brown & Butterfly. Big bars that just feel right in your palm, made with a great variety of essential oils, both for their scent and their medicine. Well, now they are making shaving mug soap pucks, too. You might think, “What’s the difference? It’s just soap.” Oh, but it’s not. Shaving soap needs to have a special lather to it, and it needs to soothe the skin while it facilitates the razor. Try it out in your shaving mug with your camel hair brush, and it you don’t have those, they’ll set you up with the whole kit!

Cherry plums from Tiny's. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are cherry plums from Tiny’s. They’re plums that are about the size of cherries, not some whacky hybrid of cherries and plums, like you’d expect from those crazy cats at Tiny’s. But they have a fascinating sweetness and flavor. In fact, some of them actually taste a bit of fresh coconut. Go figure.

Apple mint from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One of the talking heads on the local TV news Saturday night said that one of things we can do to keep cool during our latest hot spell is to add mint to our water. I don’t know the chemistry and biology behind this, but hey, if they say it on the TV news, it must be true, right? And even if it’s not, who cares? It’s mint! What’s it going to do to you except make your water tasty and your breath minty fresh. You might want to give some of this apple mint from Boistfort Valley Farm a shot for this purpose.

Romanesco from Alm Hill. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, the mighty Romanesco, great cauliflower of Italy, and, to the best of my knowledge, the only vegetable that grows in perfect fractal spirals. Check out those totally awesome fractals in this Romanesco from Alm Hill Gardens. Honestly, is this not one of the coolest looking vegetables you have ever seen?

Lemon cucumbers from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lemon cucumbers, like these from Oxbow Farm, are pretty cool, too. Don’t they kinda look like lemons? And they are plenty tasty, too. I’m thinking they’ll go well in a concoction for some bruschetta, don’t you know.

Monogrammed Desem whole wheat sour dough bread from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I took this photo of a big loaf of Tall Grass Bakery Desem sourdough, whole wheat bread last Thanksgiving. At the time, I actually figured the big “TG” must have been for Thanksgiving. Then I smartened up and realized it was the monogrammed initials of the bakery itself. Desem is a lovely bread, giving you the richness of whole wheat with that wonderful sourdough culture. If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot today. You’ll thank me later!

And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. And thank you!