Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

Sunday, August 24th: Prolific Crops of August, 2014!

August 23, 2014
Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

As growing seasons go here in Washington, few in memory have been more epic than the summer of 2014. Crop after crop has come in earlier, produced larger yields and tasted better than ever before. And one such stunning crop is pickling cucumbers, which have been with us in earnest since a mind-blowing June! These particular bags of pickling cukes come from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. As you can see, their cukes are nice and straight, making them ideal for packing in mason jars for pickling. And you can get these bags pre-sorted by size, such as “extra small,” “small,” “medium” and “large,” so if you are putting up a lot of pickles this year, you can just get the size you want in one of these bags and make your like much easier. I have been pickling Stoney Plains cukes since the mid-1990s. I used to get them from Terry’s dad, Bob Meyer, at the Olympia Farmers Market that he helped found in the late 1970s. In fact, Bob also help found Washington Tilth Producers, Washington State Farmers Market Association and the Organically Grown cooperative distributors. We lost Bob back in 2002, but all of us who love great, local food here in Washington still owe him a great debt of gratitude, and I, for one, dedicate one jar of pickles to his memory every year!

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I was over visiting Hilario and Eddie Alvarez on their farm in Mabton, Washington on Friday. Alvarez Organic Farms now counts the number of chile pepper varieties they grow at more than 400, many of which are new varieties without names that have resulted from crossbreeding amongst the other varieties. Don Hilario took me on an exhaustive tour of his pepper fields (well, it exhausted me, but I think he could have kept going all night), and just when I thought I had seen every pepper on earth in the many acres of peppers in the fields behind his house on the mother farm, he said with pride, “Okay, now let me show the farm where we grow the bigger varieties of peppers!” I think that farm had more peppers on it than the mother farm. Hilario grows them all with pride, and his son, Eddie, brings them by the truckload to us here at your Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday. For that, we are all grateful. 2014 is an extraordinary year for peppers, too, with the hot, dry, sunny days making their plants produce more peppers that are more colorful, sweeter and hotter than ever! Enjoy.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It is time to get your pesto on, folks, or whatever you like to do best with fresh basil from Growing Things Farm! Their basil is so beautiful and fragrant right now, ready for your caprese salads, that fish, that perfect dessert with peaches and more. I had the good fortune of visiting Michaele and her crew on the farm on Thursday in Duvall, and to see their robust basil fields. This is food grown with love!

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Say what? Yes, these are a new crop of pears. These are organic Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards, just in time for packing in the kiddies lunch bags (say it ain’t so!). And in case you haven’t noticed, this year has seen the fruit trees of Washington put out record fruit sets of the most delicious fruit ever, earlier than ever. See, global warming does have its up sides.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes. If you aren’t relishing 2014’s absolute abundance of tomatoes of all kinds, you must not love tomatoes. Because many of us live through the cold, dark, wet months solely for the promise of farm fresh, vine=ripened tomatoes come summer, and this summer’s bounty is enough to carry us through two Northwest winters. These gorgeous maters are from our buddies at Colinwood Farm in Port Townsend.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in case you missed the memo, raspberries are back in full force now from several farms. These are from Hayton Berry Farms, up in Skagit Valley. They’ve also got these lovely blueberries currently, as well as their most prolific blackberry harvest in years. Yes, this continues to be an epic year for berries folks. Make sure you take advantage!

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Holy cow! Labor Day Weekend is next week! Time to get ready. Load up on sausagessteakschops and more from Skagit River Ranch today, and get grilling with the family while everyone is all in one place at the same time for the last time until Thanksgiving!

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Look kids! It is adorable little heads of baby red romaine from One Leaf Farm! The summer of 2014 has been great for lettuce, too. One Leaf grows a lovely selection of heirloom lettuces that are beautiful and delicious. But like so much else this summer, you had better enjoy it now with vigor, lest you regret missing it come December.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

We are getting into serious plum season now, with such deeply sweet and complexly flavored varieties such as these Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards from Selah. They are big, juicy and ready to eat, and you have to admit, they are also gorgeous, eh?

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Spectacular eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens awaits you today at your Ballard Farmers Market! I enjoyed some simply pan-fried last night. Awesome. Eggplant, like peppers and tomatoes, comes from the summer-loving nightshade family, and that means it, too, is having an epic year. Try some on the grill, alongside those sausages!

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you had a refreshing bottle of kombucha from Communi-Tea Kombucha lately? Then today’s is a good day for one! Communi-Tea brews its kombucha in Seattle’s Central District. It is real, unfiltered, and comes with a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol, so you have to be 21 to buy it. But that means this is honest kombucha. And it comes in eco-friendly refillable bottles, too!

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for Jersey cow yogurt? Samish Bay Cheese, from Bow, Washington, has it! They offer it in plain and Greek, and occasionally they have seasonal flavored versions. Samish Bay also has a great lineup of award-winning cheeses, as well as grass-fed beef and pastured pork. Yummers!

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you been on the lookout for a nice raisin pumpernickel bread around Seattle, but been frustrated in your search? Snohomish Bakery has you covered! So grab a loaf today, and enjoy the toast you’ve been missing tomorrow!

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 17th: Raspberries Are Back, Bag-O-Fish Returns, Funky Eggplant, Perfect Potatoes & More!

August 16, 2014
Wilson Fish's Washington-coastal coho salmon. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Wilson Fish’s Washington-coastal coho salmon. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey kids! Bag O’ Fish returns today to your Ballard Farmers Market! Yes, this is the annual celebration of the Washington coastal Coho salmon fishery from Wilson Fish. Coho season on the coast is short, and Wilson catches them, cleans them, bags them, and offers them to you at a great price for a late summer feast!

Organic raspberries from Gaia's Harmony Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Organic raspberries from Gaia’s Harmony Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Organic raspberries are back today at your Ballard Farmers Market! After a brief hiatus, during which I’m guessing  they were catching their breath during this prolific year of berry production, the raspberry canes at Gaia’s Harmony Farm are once again bearing fruit for us to enjoy. Woohoo!!!

Purple Rain eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple Rain eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

These princely beings are know as Purple Rain eggplant. They are just one of over a dozen varieties of eggplant grown by Alvarez Organic Farms. Eggplant comes in many shapes, sizes and colors, and more importantly, many textures, flavors and levels of bitterness which affects how you need to prepare them. These puppies do well being sliced ahead of time and then salted and allowed to sit for a bit to neutralize its bitterness and drawn out moisture. If you are cooking it in small pieces, the process time is reduced, of course.

Ginger Gold apples from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Ginger Gold apples from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Collins Family Orchards is rocking the Ginger Gold apples today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Ginger Golds are among the first apples we see each year here, and they are crisp, a bit tart, and make for fine apples crisps or just right off the core.

Sweet Snax carrots from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet Snax carrots from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Meet Sweet Snax carrots from One Leaf Farm. Beautiful, aren’t they? They are sweet and crunchy and delicious. These are just the babies, as they are thinning their fields to allow the rest to grow even longer and bigger.

Flavor Heart pluots from Tiny's Organic. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Flavor Heart pluots from Tiny’s Organic. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fruit names don’t get more blatantly obvious than Flavor Heart pluots.  I mean, just look at them. They are heart-shaped, they are packed with flavor, and they are pluots. Of course, they also have their romantic side, right? Sweet, juicy, and that whole heart-shaped business. Bottom line is, these organic beauties are delish, and you should beat a path to get some from Tiny’s Organic, while you can!

Rio Grande Russet potatoes from Olsen Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rio Grande Russet potatoes from Olsen Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Sure, there are plenty of more colorful potatoes with sexier names, but there is just something about a russet potato that comforts the American soul. These little fellers are Rio Grande russet potatoes from Olsen Farms. They are, like any russet, a great baker, masher and chipper. They’re are nice on the grill, too!

5 Cheese Blend from Glendale Shepherd. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

5 Cheese Blend from Glendale Shepherd. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Glendale Shepherd introduced its 5-Cheese Blend of shredded sheep cheeses last week at your Ballard Farmers Market, and it sold out in no time flat. I mean, think about it. Shreds of five of their most awesome sheep cheeses mixed together in one convenient package, ready for you to sprinkle on soups, salads, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, eggs and more!

Basin 'R' Yellow sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Basin ‘R’ Yellow sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

The sweet corn just keeps on rolling this summer. This is Basin ‘R’ Yellow sweet corn from Lyall Farms. This is one of those super-sweet varieties with big kernels, and even bigger ears that will feed two. It is a corn developed to thrive in the Columbia Basin, and that it does!

Some of the hard cider lineup at Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Some of the hard cider lineup at Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I had the good fortune to visit Finnriver Farm & Cidery on Thursday. They were busy bottling many bottles of their hard ciders and berry cordials. Indeed, their production has grown significantly since I last visited several years ago, and no wonder. Their products are excellent, and demand is high. And yet, they still produce it all right on their farm, supplementing their fruit with fruit from neighbor farms in the fertile valley around Chimacum. Stop by for a sample today, and then stock up for these last weeks of summer!

Kale, zucchini & collard chips from House of the Sun. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Kale, zucchini & collard chips from House of the Sun. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Has it been a while since you got your kale chips on with House of the Sun raw & vegan foods? Sheesh. You are missing out on the ultimate, guilt-free snack food! It is dried instead of fried or baked, it is made with ingredients from right here at your Ballard Farmers Market, and it is totally satisfying. Better yet, it makes for a great, lightweight trail snack for hiking. Enjoy!

Beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill Gardens is up to its earlobes in organic beefsteak tomatoes this summer. So get in on the action of the most prolific tomato season in recent memory. Make that BLT. Get your salad feeling complete. Make soup, salsa, whatever. Just don’t let this summer go by with enjoying the tomatoliciousness, cuz it will bum you out in January when you get served a lame tomato somewhere.

Chile peppers from Boistfort Valley Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Chile peppers from Boistfort Valley Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

And hows about some chile peppers from, wait for it, Boistfort Valley Farm? Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? But because it has been so hot and so dry in Western Washington this summer, even the peppers on this side of the mountains are rip-roaring hot and delicious. Yay!

Cinnamon rolls from Tall Grass Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Cinnamon rolls from Tall Grass Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally, though I finish off this week’s epistle with cinnamon rolls from Tall Grass Bakery, I recommend that you start your Sunday with one… or two. They are sweet and chewy and de-lish. But if you can’t get down to your Ballard Farmers Market for breakfast, then come get one for an afternoon snack, for dessert tonight, or for breakfast tomorrow. We won’t judge you.

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 1st: Taste That Hard Cider Before You Buy It! Jerzy Boyz Returns! And It’s St. Jude Tuna Day!

August 31, 2013
Some of the hard cider lineup at Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Some of the hard cider lineup at Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We’ve all been talking about it for years. We’ve been hearing about it in the news. We’ve worked for years with the State Legislature to get it to happen. We’ve worked for months with the Washington State Liquor Control Board to implement it. And today, it becomes a reality. Yes, starting today, you can actually sample hard cider and wine from the vendors at your Ballard Farmers Market before you buy it! Yup. All the campaigning and paper pushing is done, and now, it’s go time. So stop by Finnriver Farm & Cidery today for a sample of their amazing collection of hard ciders, and find the one that’s right for you. And just maybe, it’s all of them!

Hard ciders from Eaglemount Cidery. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hard ciders from Eaglemount Wine & Cider. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Do you find the sheer number of enticing choices of wines and ciders from Eaglemount Wine & Cider overwhelming, especially when you can’t taste them first to see which one you like best? Well, Eaglemount will also be sampling today at your Ballard Farmers Market. So maybe you’ve tried one and stuck with it. Try the others today, find a new fave and mix it up a bit!

Purple Goddess pears from Jerzy Boyz. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple Goddess pears from Jerzy Boyz. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Our friends from Jerzy Boyz return today for the fall season with their amazing, certified organic fruit. They grow many heirloom varieties of applespears, and other goodies on their farm that hugs the rim of the Columbia River Gorge just north of Chelan. Check out these aptly named Purple Goddess pears, for instance. That’s what I’m talking about!

Canned local albacore tuna in a variety of flavors from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Canned local albacore tuna in a variety of flavors from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s tuna day! That’s right. It is the first Sunday of the month, and that means Fishing Vessel St. Jude is here with their extraordinary local albacore tuna. They have it frozen, canned, smokedjerkied and more. This is the best tuna you will ever taste, and it is low in heavy metals and high in beneficial omega-fatty acids. And if you get it in the can, don’t you dare pour off the liquid! See, they don’t add any cooking liquid, so what you find in the can is the natural juices from the tuna that is packed with flavor and goodness.

Sweet corn from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet corn from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look, kids. It’s Westside sweet corn from Stoney Plains Organic Farms. Since it doesn’t get as hot over on this side of the Cascade Mountains, Westside corn takes longer to mature. But what it lacks in speed it makes up for in flavor and sweetness. But it will go fast, so get here early!

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

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

Jerseys blueberries are the latest variety of blueberries to come into season at Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm. They are kind of the classic blueberry, sweet and a little tart. Toss them in your oatmeal. Make muffins. Add them to pancakes. Relish in their antioxidant qualities!

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

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

Whether you fry it, roast it, smoke it, make it with dumplings, or stick a beer can up its bum and barbecue it, a pasture-raised chicken from Growing Things Farm offers you one of the best chickens you’ve ever tasted. Maybe it’s the fresh air and exercise they get. Maybe its because they eat excellent food. Maybe it is just farmer Michaele Blakely’s magic touch. Whatever the case, I’ve been proud to serve these birds for my Thanksgiving dinner many times. So you can imagine the amazing fried chicken they’d make!

Thai eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Thai eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These magnificent little creatures are Thai eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms, and they are just one of about 18 varieties that they grow, 13 of which are gracing their tables right now. If you love eggplant like I love eggplant, check out Alvarez today. And to get your juices flowing , just take a gander at our Facebook photo album of their eggplant.

Organic raspberries from Gaia's Harmony Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Organic raspberries from Gaia’s Harmony Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It may be September, but it is still berry season. These organic raspberries are from Gaia’s Harmony Farm. 2013 has been one of the best berry-growing seasons in history, with better quality, sweeter berries and huge harvests. There is still plenty of time to get your berry on this season!

Peppers from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Peppers from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez isn’t the only farm with a rainbow of peppers. This colorful collection of sweet and hot peppers are from Colinwood Farms, over in Port Townsend. 2013 is a historic year for peppers, too, and the more sun and heat we get, the better, and in some cases hotter, they are. So load up on peppers this year, too!

Purple mizuna from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple mizuna from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple mizuna from Boistfort Valley Farm is as delicious as it is beautiful. It is a little spicy and a little bitter, and it makes for great salads, garnish for sandwiches or a nice, quick wilting for a tasty side dish. Enjoy!

Blooming succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Blooming succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is almost time for the saffron harvest, and that means it is almost time for our buddy, Jim, from Phocas Farms to disappear for a few months back over to Port Angeles. In fact, next week is his last until next year. So if you’ve been putting off getting that succulent garden going, or those saffron crocuses planted, now’s the time. Stock up today, and then use your day off tomorrow to get them in the ground!

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 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.