Posts Tagged ‘Chinese spinach’

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

Sunday, July 20th: Melons, More Corn, Heirloom Tomatoes, Nectarcots & More!

July 19, 2014
Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just when you thought this summer couldn’t get any more amazing, Lyall Farms brings the first melons of the season to your Ballard Farmers Market! These are Yellow Doll watermelons, and this is the earliest we’ve ever seen them here, by more than two full weeks. Wow. They also have more traditional red watermelons, sweet, juicy and ripe, and ready for you to devour.

Tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Woohoo! The tomatoes from One Leaf Farm are coming in early, and with a vengeance! Four varieties so far, and more to come. Besides the sungold and heirloom cherries, above left, they’ve got Black Krim and Paul Robeson, above right. They are so ripe and juicy and delicious. While I’ve been devouring sungolds straight out of the container and in salads for a week now, last Thursday, I enjoyed some of the Black Krims simply with some salt and some mayo. Not highbrow, just classic.

Organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More sweet corn has arrived this week. This is certified organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms, and because I care, I have already done some serious quality control testing on it, and I can assure you, it is awesome!

Here is a tip for chosing corn: instead of pulling open the top to see if it is filled out, simply run your thumb over the outside of the husk. You can easily feel the mature kernels inside. See, when you actually tear the corn open, you are actually ruining it either for yourself or the next person, because the minute you do that, all the delicious sugars in it that make it so sweet begin to turn to starch. So please, never tear open the husk to examine it before you buy it. If you need help choosing the best ears, just ask. Our farmers are more than happy to lend you a hand.

Nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are nectarcots, from Collins Family Orchards, and as the name suggests, they are a cross betwixt nectarines and apricots. And of all the various stone fruit hybrids, I’d say these guys might be the most difficult to pick out their genetic lineage without us telling you. They kinda look like a yellow-orange plum, and they taste super sweet and are super juicy. They don’t have the fuzzy exterior of the apricot, or its deep flavor, and they don’t have that texture that nectarines have. It is as if somehow, someone was able to cross them and get them to contribute their best flavor notes while giving them the texture of a plum and the sturdiness of a pluot. Bottom line is, they are amazing, but they’re only around for a few weeks, so don’t you dare miss them!

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Every summer, Growing Things Farm brings the most beautiful summer squash to your Ballard Farmers Market. In fact, they size it for you, so that it is easy for you to pick out the perfect sized squash for your plans. Like these baby summer squash that are perfect for a quick sauté or grilling.

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

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

We welcome the return of Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm from northern Snohomish County today. They grow some extraordinary organic blueberries, including these SpartansJerseys and Rubels, a close cousin to the wild mountain blueberries on Northern New England and Maritime Canada. Whitehorse Meadows is actually located several miles east of Oso, on the far side of the slide zone on SR 530, which recently reopened. We imagine they’ll be thrilled to be able to get out and see us again, so let’s give them a big welcome back today!

Sweet onions from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet onions from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It has been a bit of a tough year for sweet onions so far — kinda surprising given how good it’s been for just about everything else. But we finally have some seasoned sweet onions for you at your Ballard Farmers Market. These are from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. These sweet onions are from Walla Walla sweet onion seed, but we call them “sweet onions,” without adding “Walla Walla” in front, because the name, “Walla Walla sweet onion,” is protected by a federal USDA Marketing Order, only to be used for onions grown within a 50-mile radius around Walla Walla. Still, these are plenty sweet.

Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny's Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here’s another of those cool hybrid stone fruits: Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic. Remember, pluots are genetically 70% plum and 30% apricot, but they definitely favor plums in structure and appearance… well, except that pluots come in an extraordinary diversity of colors, flavors and sizes. For instance, Flavor Supremes have a greenish-red skin, but a deep red flesh (see above). And they are fantastic. Enjoy!

Pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Gorgeous pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm are a close cousin to some of the other Asian turnip varieties we see here at your Ballard Farmers Market, only these guys are just a bit more flamboyant. And they taste good, too!

All beef hot dogs from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

All beef hot dogs from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Do you have a hankering for a good all-beef hot dog, but you fear what’s in it, where it was made and how the animals used in it were treated? Well, be afraid no more! These uncured beef franks are from Skagit River Ranch. That means the cattle were grass-fed on lush pastures, treated well, raised organically, and processed with respect. It also means that they are delicious!

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.

You may have heard me refer to Treviso radicchio as the second most beautiful vegetable on earth and wondered to yourself, “what is the most beautiful vegetable on earth, then?” This is! Meet Chinese spinach from Children’s Garden. It is only grown by two farms at your Ballard Farmers Market, both Hmong, and the last two summers have been kind of hostile to it, so we haven’t really seen much of it since 2011. It can be simply sautéed with some garlic. Or you can just invite your friends over to sit and look at it.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Your Ballard Farmers Market is loaded with lots of heirloom and exotic crops grown by adventurous farmers. But what Summer Run Farm specializes in is growing lovely organic produce standards — the stuff you could find at the Big Box store, but that would pale by comparison to Summer Run’s. Like this cauliflower. Sweet and crunchy, and wonderful roasted, made into soup, dipped in hummus or cocktail sauce, or however you enjoy it best.

Slicing cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Slicing cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There’s nothing like a cucumber to cool you off during the hot days of summer, a phrase we don’t get to say too often. But this year is one for the record books, so let’s get our cucumber salads on, people. Let’s crank out some cucumber sandwiches. Let’s add it to our ice water and make cocktails and gazpacho out of it. They babies are from Alm Hill Gardens. Pick some up today at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Bell peppers from Colinwood Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bell peppers from Colinwood Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These bell peppers from Colinwood Farm are so fragrant that they seem to steal the show for your olfactory glands as you examine the farm’s tables. Pep up your salads, stuff some, or throw them on the barby. This is going to be a phenomenal year for peppers!

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Don’t forget to grab a loaf or two of artisan bread from Tall Grass Bakery today. They have a wonderful selection, from deep, dark pumpernickel, to chewy, moist Baker Street sourdough, to earthy, sweet oat and honey and challah that will complete your sabbath meal or make for amazing French toast on Saturday morning.

Spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let’s finish off this week’s epistle with this brand-spanking-new release of spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. You can’t get these year-round from Purdy, because they are using local ingredients when they are at their peak of freshness. And that means, when they run out, they run out. Lucky for us, this is a very early year for local pickling cukes, so Purdy should be able to put up quite a few jar. But don’t let that cause you to hesitate. Get your pickle on now!

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 5th: Nothing Says National Farmers Market Week Like Ripe, Juicy Melons!

August 5, 2012

Organic cantaloupe melons from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Happy Sunday, dear citizens of the People’s Republic of Ballard! It’s National Farmers Market Week, it’s the hottest day in two years, and it’s August! Let’s have some fun with silly stuff, gorgeous still, visiting stuff, uncommon stuff and just plain delicious stuff. And let’s get this party started with the perfect summer treat for a hot day like this: melons! Yes, melons have arrived this week in abundance at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check out these lovely organic cantaloupe melons from Alvarez Organic Farms. They’re juicy, sweet, and they’ll even rehydrate you on a hot day! What’s not to love?

BTW, thank you for voting your Ballard Farmers Market “Best Farmers Market” for the umpteenth year in a row in Seattle Weekly’s annual “Best Of…” poll. Oh, hey, and in honor of National Farmers Market, we’d like to ask you to take a moment to show your appreciation for your Ballard Farmers Market by voting for us in the 2012 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest. Click this. Then click “Ballard Farmers Market.” Answer a couple of questions, and you’re done!

Fava beans from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Whether or not Oxbow Farm actually brings any fava beans to Market today, you just gotta love this sign from last Sunday. And for those of you who don’t know the man behind the farm that is Oxbow, you might not get the full humor of this sign. You see, that man is Luke Woodward, and he grew these favas. Get it now? (Thanks, Siobhan, for that devastatingly charming wit of yours!)

Mountain magic tomatoes from Billy’s Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These little mountain magic tomatoes from Billy’s Gardens are richly flavored and nice and fleshy, making them an excellent cooking tomato. They will hold up just fine on the grill alongside of what have you. They have skins that don’t burst, and they hold their shape great, so you don’t just end up with a smoky blob of tomato mush. I gave them a test drive for you, and I can attest — these little guys rock. And I do loves me some grilled maters in the summertime.

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

I continue to maintain that Chinese spinach is the most beautiful vegetable on earth. And it is coming into season right now at Children’s Gardens. I only know two farms around here that bring this delicacy of Asian cooking to Market around here. And it is plenty easy to prepare, too. A little garlic and a quick sauté is all it needs, though you are welcome to gussy it up however you see fit!

All blue potatoes from Nature’s Last Stand. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I just love the color of these particular all blue potatoes from Nature’s Last Stand. And first, let us clarify… there are no truly blue fruits or vegetables. Those that are called blue really are just very dark shades of purple. But what I love about these beauties is that they don’t even bother to hide their purpleness. It kinda just jumps right out at you.

Red Vein Sorrel from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More cool looking food alert! Check out this red vein sorrel from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. At first glance, I’d say it is venturing to give Chinese spinach a run for its money, but really, I think it wins more in the coolness category than the straight up stunningly beautiful category. Either way, one thing you can’t say about your Ballard Farmers Market is that the tables of produce throughout it are boring or the same old same old, like at the Big Box stores.

Donut peaches from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now, here’s a peach that Homer Simpson can really wrap his mouth around! This is the coolest looking stone fruit — the donut peach from Collins Family Orchards. Donut peaches are great in so many ways. They are free-stone peaches, meaning the flesh comes cleanly off of the pit, or stone. The pit is tiny, meaning that pound-for-pound, you are getting more peach for your buck. And for flavor, they simply cannot be beaten. They are sweet, juicy and delicious, and I count them as my favorite peach.  Plus, because of their shape and size, they actually are the least messy peach to eat.

Emmer/farro pasta flour from Bluebird Grain Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is the flour from which Italians originally made pasta. Bluebird Grain Farms does a fine milling on their emmer farro pasta flour so that it is easier to work with for making pasta. Indeed, when you see emmer pastas at Pasteria Lucchese, they are making it with this flour. It is a whole grain flour with a rich, nutty flavor that makes for amazing pasta. Oh, and Bluebird is making its monthly visit to your Ballard Farmers Market today!

Gypsy peppers from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look! Pepper season has begun! And these gypsy peppers from Lyall Farms are a staple of my summer grilling diet. They are mild, with only the slightest hint of heat, and they grill beautifully, becoming soft and smoky. On hot days like this, I look to eat everything off of the grill, and keeping some of these fellows around fits that bill perfectly.

Gluten-free loaf bread from Dolce Lou. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you must eat a gluten-free diet, you probably have been waiting for a decent gluten-free loaf of bread to cross your path. You know, a loaf of bread that looks and tastes like, um, bread? Chewy. Moist. A loaf that, when you squeeze it, it regains its shape. And a loaf with great flavor! Well, your wait is over. Dolce Lou has succeeded where so many others have failed! Check out their 90% whole grain sandwich bread (left) and their olive loaf! Woohoo! So start enjoying bread again!

Canned albacore tune from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fishing Vessel St. Jude joins us today for their monthly visit to your Ballard Farmers Market, and Joyce tells me that they have a great new batch of honey-smoked albacore — “very delicious,” Joyce says. They also have some great sushi-grade loin cuts, as well as their famous canned albacore in many varieties.

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and 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, September 18th: $30 Fish In A Bag, The World’s Most Beautiful Vegetable, The Most Commonly Eaten Meat On Earth, Tomatoes From Mt. Vesuvius & Washington’s Native Potatoes!

September 18, 2011

Whole coho salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The salmon fishing season along the Washington coast ended on Thursday, September 15th, and Wilson Fish has the last of their fresh Washington king and coho salmon today at your Ballard Farmers Market. In fact, Gene tells me theyhave 49 whole coho — their famous Fish In A Bag deal — today for just $30 each! But they will go fast. So get here early!

Dinosaur egg pluots from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Kids love dinosaurs, right. So why not add some dinosaur egg pluots to their lunch box? They are sweet, juicy and delicious, and they look as cool as their name. Your kids will be the ones bragging about having fresh fruit in their lunch at school. And Tiny’s Organic Produce has plenty of them right now!

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

For my money, Chinese spinach is the most beautiful vegetable on earth. And Children’s Garden expects to have it through the end of September. It’s a bit late coming into season this year, but then again, what hasn’t been? And don’t let this stuff intimidate you with its beauty. It’s simple to cook. Just sauté it quickly with some garlic!

Bee pollen from Golden Harvest. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For a limited time, Golden Harvest has local bee pollen. But they only have a small supply each year, which is available right now, so if you have been looking for local bee pollen, swing by today and get you some at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Goat meat from Quilceda Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Goat is the most commonly eaten meat on earth. It is just we Gringos that don’t eat it. Gee, could it be because we are uptight Americans? I mean, even the French and British eat goat. It is lean with a flavor a touch milder than lamb. I love the stuff. Quilceda Farms in Marysville produces delicious goat meat. They offer it in steaks, chops, roasts, shanks, sausages and more, and they conveniently provide a huge collection of recipes you can choose from to help break you in.

San Marzano tomatoes from Pipitone Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

San Marzano tomatoes are prized for their dense flesh and deep, rich flavor. These are the tomatoes of Naples, growing in the rich volcanic soil of Mt. Vecuvius. If you’ve ever been to a Neapolitan-style pizzeria, odds are the sauce on your pizza was made from these tomatoes. These San Marzano tomatoes are grown by Pipitone Farms in the rich volcanic soil of the Yakima River Valley.

Italian prunes from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Leave it to the spin doctors in California to try to change the name of prunes to plums, apparently because the name “prune” has negative connotations in their market research studies. Whatever! These are Italian prunes from ACMA Mission Orchards, and they are perhaps the finest stone fruit there is, for my money. They are deeply sweet and flavorful. Eat them fresh. Make jam, sauces and pies with them. Dry them. They are easy to work with as their flesh comes right off the pit. However you enjoy them, respect them with their proper name: prune!

Yellow cippolini onions from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cippolini onions, like these from Oxbow Farm, are those kinda flat onions, like someone sat on them. But they are amazing onions — the pride of Italy — and they caramelize incredibly well. Don’t know them? Ask about them at Oxbow today, and bring some home to play with.

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

Ozette potatoes, like these from Olsen Farms, are the closest thing we’ve got to a native potato here in Washington, the potato producing capitol of the United States. See, all potatoes originated in South America. And almost all potatoes now in North America are descendants of potatoes that first traveled to Europe before coming here. But there are a very few exceptions. The Ozette, along with three other fingerling potatoes, were brought up the West Coast by the Spanish in 1791 and planted near their ports from Northern California to Vancouver Island. The Ozette was brought to the area inhabited by the Makah Nation out near Neah Bay. But the Spanish couldn’t hack our Northwest weather, so in 1793, they buggered off back down the coast, leaving behind these potatoes. So, pick up a little bit of local, and potato, history today. Oh, they taste pretty good, too!

Scrapple from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Scrapple is exactly what it sounds like it is: scraps. Well, usually, anyway. Scrapple originated in southeastern Pennsylvania in colonial times, and it is generally associated with the Amish. It traditionally is made from the leftover scraps of the pig after butchering, in order to use the entire animal without waste, which is then cooked down and combined with corn meal and seasoned, and then shaped into a loaf. It is then generally sliced and fried, as a side meat for breakfast. I loved the stuff when I went to school in the heart of it’s birthplace near Philly. But, of course, that whacky bunch at Sea Breeze Farm had to go gussy it up. Apparently snouts and ears just aren’t good enough for them (okay, it ends up in their head cheese), so they made theirs with pork belly. As if. But hey, I had to try it, for my youth, and for all of you, right? Well, it’s pretty darn good, if not a bit gourmet for a food called “scrapple”. Personally, I would add a bit more pepper, but I suppose I can forgive that. Wanna try scrapple made without the scraps? Stop by Sea Breeze today!

Snow peas from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s late September, and yes, we still have peas at your Ballard Farmers Market — snow peas, in fact. These beautiful snow peas are from Boistfort Valley Farm, and they are just ready for you to toss them into a stir-fry, where they will brighten and sweeten up wonderfully. Yeah, baby!

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.