Posts Tagged ‘goat meat’

Sunday, February 20th: 10 Years of Market Meat

February 20, 2011

George Vojkovich of Skagit River Ranch moving his herd of beef cattle from one pasture to another. Photo copyright 2007 by Zachary D. Lyons.

10 years ago, you could not purchase meat, seafood or poultry at farmers markets in King County. Today, we rely upon farmers markets for the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry produced by true artisans who care about the products they produce and the animals they husband.

Rib steaks from Olsen Farms being prepared for a cooking demonstration at Wallingford Farmers Market by Chef Seth Caswell of emmer&rye. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In February of 1999, during the annual Washington State Farmers Market Conference at Pike Place Market, a workshop was convened to discuss how to make meat, seafood and poultry sales possible at farmers markets. Attendees at this meeting including USDA inspectors, state food safety regulators, King County health officials, market managers, ranchers, and myself, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. As workshop facilitator, I began the discussion with two instructions: that we were there to figure out how to bring meat, seafood and poultry to farmers markets; and that we would not accept “no” as an answer. The USDA inspectors in attendance refused to speak — they would not answer a single question yes, no or maybe. But everyone else seemed enthusiastic.

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

Interestingly, later that year, I found myself in a conversation with a member of King County Health Department’s meat inspection program — yes, King County is one of the few counties in the U.S. that has one — at the University District Farmers Market. In this conversation, the County staffer said to me she thought people shouldn’t eat animals unless they were willing to travel out to the farm and look the animals in the eyes first. In response, I pointed across the street to the University District Safeway store, and I told her that every Saturday, after they got their fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, many people walked across the street to Safeway to purchase factory-farmed meat. These city folk were very unlikely to ever go to a farm to meet their dinner, I told her. So, if people are going to eat meat anyway, why shouldn’t we give them the option of purchasing that meat directly from farmers who are treating their animals with care and are producing a healthy product?

Cans of albacore tuna from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In June 2000, King County Executive Ron Sims, at the request of farmer Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm and Chris Curtis of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance on the King County Agriculture Commission, convened the King County Farmers Market Health Regulation Task Force. At its first meeting, County inspector Jim Thompson, who had participated in the 1999 workshop, presented what he thought was a regulatory solution to allow meat sales at King County markets by adapting language in the mobile meat sales code. His proposal was enacted with only minor revisions by the King County Board of Health in August 2001.

Goat shoulder steaks from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Then, in late 2001, the first ever USDA inspected Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU) came on line. Based in Bow, it was built by the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative using USDA grant funding in order to address the extraordinary stress put on both farmers and their animals when transporting animals from the San Juan Islands to processing facilities on the mainland. Consider that Washington had only five such facilities at the time in the entire state that would accept less than 50 animals for processing at one time, and the two in Western Washington were both significantly far south of Seattle. The MSU, by contrast, was designed to be able to travel from farm to farm, and to fit on ferries, so that farmers could humanely dispatch their animals right on the farm, reducing the stress on farmer and animal alike. And it offered the additional benefit of allowing farmers to compost byproducts from the process right on the farm, instead of it being added to feed and pet foods via rendering plants.

Fresh ducks from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the new King County code in place, and the MSU online, a revolutionary shift took place at King County farmers markets. Indeed, it changed the way all of us will look at farmers markets forever. The idea that farmers markets could offer more than just fruits and vegetables seemed unthinkable to many before 2001, and yet now, farmers markets are rife with all manner of farm products, from cheese and milk to grain and flour, from fermented foods to wine. Wine was not legal at farmers markets in Washington until 2003. The first grain products entered King County farmers markets in 2007. And yet it is hard to imagine our dear Ballard Farmers Market without these products today.

Fresh whole keta salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Today, Washington has four MSUs, half of all those nationwide. Farms are investing in infrastructure for on-farm processing of all manner of poultry. Fishing vessels no longer must serve at the mercy of large canneries and low prices. And we get to benefit from the pride and care these passionate, hard-working people put into their products, giving us the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry most of us have ever eaten. And they have helped us grow our Ballard Farmers Market into the #1 farmers market in the state, around which an extraordinary food-centric neighborhood has blossomed, from one end of Ballard Avenue to the other.

Lamb rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So today, when you pickup your beloved local meat, seafood and poultry direct from the producer, think about that day back in February 1999, when in essence a sort of Lexington & Concord event took place in the local food movement — when a group of people told, instead of asking, the USDA and local regulators that we wanted local meat at our markets. Because the rest, as they say, is now history!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.

Sunday, January 16th: Carrots, Goat, Squash, Apples, Mustard Greens, Cookies & More Carrots!

January 16, 2011

5-pound bags of Nash's Best Carrots. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When I saw these words of wisdom from Nash’s Kia Armstrong, I had to share them with you.

“This time of year, every single carrot is personally plucked from the sweet Sequim soil and then washed and hand-packed for your crunching munching pleasure… IF, for some reason, you find yourself bemoaning their (still very fair) price, I suggest putting things in perspective….try the following:

  1. Step outside of your warm home/office/kitchen and if it doesn’t happen to be raining, find a hose and give yourself a good soaking.
  2. Locate the nearest patch of ground. Claw at it with your hands like an animal. Kneel down, keep clawing. Get up, bend over, keep clawing. Dig like your life (or your livelihood) depended on it.
  3. After 10 minutes, when you start to get tired, find something that weighs about 30 lbs, carry it a few dozen feet, and lift it over your head as though you were tossing a 5-gallon bucket of muddy carrots into a big wooden bin on a flatbed truck.
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for several hours, occasionally soaking yourself with the hose.”

Just something to think about as you are crunching that sweet local carrot while whining about La Nina.

Goat meat from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Mmm. Goat. It is, after all, the most commonly eaten meat on earth. Really. And it is delicious and lean, too. In fact, I enjoyed a lovely leg steak from Quilceda Farms grilled over charcoal just the other night. Awe-friggin-some, I tell you. They’ve got some great roasts and shanks for slow-cooking this time of year, too, and sausages. Plus they’ve got recipes for just about every dish imaginable using goat meat, in case you are lacking creativity at the moment.

Carnival squash from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There is still plenty of sweet winter squash at your Ballard Farmers Market, like this lovely Carnival squash from Colinwood Farms. And if for some reason cooking winter squash intimidates you, you don’t have to make some magnificent stew, soup or gratin with it to enjoy it, in spite of what your kitchen-savvy friends tell you. Heck, you can split one of these Carnival squash in half, scoop out the seeds (which you should save and roast), slather the two halves in olive oil and lay them facedown in a baking dish and bake them in a 350-375 degree oven until tender (about 20-30 minutes), and then eat the whole thing, skin and all! As for those seeds, separate them from the stringy, gooey stuff, toss them with olive oil in a pie tin, salt, and bake in the oven alongside your squash. They’ll be done in 5-10 minutes, so you can snack on them while the rest of dinner is cooking.

Crisp Cameo apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I love have many varieties of apples there are. In fact, there are apparently 7,500 of them! Holy Apple Sauce, Batman, that’s a lot of apples! No wonder you find completely different kinds of apples from one farmer to the next at your Ballard Farmers Market. Like these gorgeous Crisp Cameo apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. It’s a Cameo, but not. It is actually a hybrid of a Cameo. That’s why they offer up samples of all their apples, so you can find the one that’ll help you keep the doctor away, eh?

Red mustard greens from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey, there are still greens at your Ballard Farmers Market, despite this winter of our discontent. Just check out these red mustard greens from Full Circle Farm. I love ’em. They are tender and spicy and can make a great salad, or give them a quick saute with some olive oil and garlic for a lovely side dish. Heck, throw them in soup. Who’s stopping you?

Saretti cookie dough from Pasteria Lucchese. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cooo-keee! Apparently, these are Sara’s favorite. At least that’s what the label says. They are Saretti cookies from Pasteria Lucchese. Well, that’s not entirely true. Actually, it is a frozen loaf of Saretti cookie dough, which you just thaw and cut disks off of and bake. You can use a little at a time, if you just warm your knife up in hot water and slice disks off while still frozen, or you can buy like six of them and impress your friends at your Super Bowl party with fresh, home-baked cookies while you cheer on the Seahawks as they redeem themselves against Pittsburgh! (That’d be sweet, eh?)

Purple carrots from Anselmo Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And more carrots. Purple Haze carrots from Anselmo Farms. What? Purple carrots, you say?!? Um, yeah. In fact, it is orange carrots that are the new color in the carrot kingdom. If you are curious about carrots, or just have way too much time on your hands, like me, check out The Carrot Museum online. It is a wealth of information about all things carrot, including how the Dutch may have created orange carrots to honor the House of Orange in the 16th century. In the meantime, pickup some of these purple beauties. They are great roasted!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.

Sunday, October 3rd: Winter Squash, Heirloom Apples, Shelling Beans, Fresh Peanuts,

October 2, 2010

Winter squash from Nature's Last Stand. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you noticed that the sunny days we do get are just a little crisper these days, and once the sun goes down — a lot earlier, mind you — the evening air chills much faster? It is definitely fall, no matter what our screwy 2010 weather is telling us. Let’s enjoy it! Let’s cook like it’s fall. Winter squash, like these beauties from Nature’s Last Stand, are truly one of the joys of the return of fall each year. Think of the soups, the roasts, the sautes, the salads, the pies! Imagine it roasting in your oven while the whole house warms up. Summer is wonderful for play… most years, but fall is just plain homey. It’s like a big cosmic hug.

Pink pearl apples from Jerzy Boyz. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The leaves on the huge black walnut tree in my back yard are starting to turn gold. In days, the tree will look like its ablaze, and then it will dramatically dump all its leaves at once — just sorta push them all off. I heard a scientist once say fall should really be called “push” or “shove” because leaves don’t usually just fall off of trees. The trees actually go through a process of pushing them off. How cool is that? I love looking out my big picture frame window in my kitchen at that big black walnut as it lights up the neighborhood in gold every October. I can just picture making some applesauce with these pink pearl apples from Jerzy Boyz, cutting the apples, stirring the pot, and running them through my mill, while watching the torrent of leaves cascading down from that tree. You know, pink pearl apples may be the most commonly eaten apples in the U.S. you’ve likely never heard of. That’s because most of them make their way in applesauce. They are sweet-tart, and you have to admit, they’re pretty darned cool looking, too.

Cannellini, pinto & cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, shelling beans — fresh ones — already shelled from Alm Hill Gardens. You know, once shelling beans fully dry, they are not the same as when they are fresh like this. The cooking and the taste both change a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I particularly like the flavor, and the ease, of fresh shelling beans.

Celery roots, a.k.a., celeriac, from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I bet a lot of your fall recipes call for celery root, a.k.a., celeriac. Boistfort Valley Farm has some for you right now, so you can enjoy those fall recipes without delay!

Fresh peanuts from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh peanuts. They’re only available for a few weeks each fall from Alvarez Organic Farms. And yes, they do grow them. I’ve seen the plants. Do you love boiled peanuts and miss them from the South? Grab some fresh peanuts, get your stock pot filled with good, salty water — maybe some chili peppers for spice — and boil those peanuts. You can also roast them in your oven, before boiling, or after, if you want them salty as well.

Celery from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More and more farms around here are growing celery, finally. I mean, it must be the most underrepresented staple crop at farmers markets, don’t you think? Then again, it is a bit dicey to grow. But Stoney Plains is growing it.

Red-leafed beets from Nash's. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Aren’t these red-leafed beets from Nash’s cool looking? I know, you are thinking, “aren’t most beets red?” Well, yes, the beets are. But not so much the stems and leaves, which tend toward green. And if you aren’t eating your beet greens, shame on you. I mean, heck, you are getting a 2-for-1 deal on those beets, what with the roots and the greens, and you are throwing one meal away! Beet greens are delicious, nutritious, and quick and easy to cook. Treat them like chard, which is a cousin of theirs. Me, I like them simply sauteed in olive oil and fresh garlic. Yummers!

Goat meat from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s roasting season! Time to stock up on some delicious goat roasts from Quliceda Farm. You know, goat meat is the most commonly eaten meat on earth. Really. Personally, I love the stuff. It is a bit milder than lamb, very lean, and just plain satisfying. And Quilceda helps us out by supplying a huge selection of recipes, too. Try some. You’ll thank me later.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now!

Sunday, March 21st: Happy Equinox! It Is Officially Spring Now.

March 21, 2010

Herb starts from Prana Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the passage of the vernal equinox, there can be no more debate. It really is spring. So get out there and plant something! Fortunately, a number of farms at your Ballard Farmers Market have stuff for you to put in your garden(s). For instance, even if you depend on the Market for your fresh veggies, fresh herbs are something you will love having right in your yard for whenever you might need them, and they are really easy to maintain, too. Check out these lovely herb starts from Prana Farms, just waiting for you to give them a good home.

Raspberry canes from Cascadian Edible Landscapes. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cane berries, like raspberries, marionberries, blackberries, etc., are another fairly low-maintenance crop you can grow in your yard that will come back, with a vengeance, year-after-year. Cascadian Edible Landscapes, new at Ballard Farmers Market, has a variety of cane berries from which you can choose.

Nash's cover crop seed blend returns nutrients to your garden's soil naturally, without the need for harsh chemical fertilzers. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Perhaps you have a patch of dirt that needs a little nutrient rebuilding, so that you can turn it into a nice vegetable garden down the road. Sow it with Nash’s cover crop seed. It’s nitrogen-fixing plants will give your soil a boost, and then you turn it all back into the ground so it composts even more nutrients back into the soil.

A vast selection of succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now is a good time to get your drought-tolerant ornamental gardens going. To that end, Phocas Farms offers literally hundreds of different types of beautiful succulents from which to choose. Plug them into that plain rock wall of yours. Your neighbors will thank you!

Various cuts of goat meat from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With Passover and Easter fast approaching, you’re probably looking for an appropriately large piece of meat for that big holiday gathering. For Easter, you’ll find hams and turkeys from Skagit River Ranch, and these tasty goat roasts from Quilceda Farm. For Passover, pickup a brisket or some lamb from Olsen Farms. Olsen is also running a special on lamb loin and sirloin chops this week.

Fiddlehead ferns from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s fiddlehead fern season. Pick some up for an early spring treat from Foraged & Found Edibles.

Yogurt and feta cheese from Samish Bay Cheese. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Perhaps you want to take a Greek route with some that aforementioned lamb. Samish Bay Cheese offers fresh feta cheese, as well as regular and Greek-style yogurts. Just think of the possibilities!

Cans of albacore tuna from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fishing Vessel St. Jude is back this week with their vast array of delicious, local albacore tuna products. From frozen tuna loins to smoked tuna to a great selection of canned tunas (above), this stuff is low in mercury and high in omega fatty acids, and it will be the best tuna you’ve ever tasted.

Meredith Clark of the Poem Store being interviewed by KOMO-TV. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Meredith Clark operates the Poem Store regularly at your Ballard Farmers Market, where she crafts fresh poetry on demand to feed your soul, while all our farmers are feeding your body. What she is doing is so unique that KOMO-TV featured her on their 5 & 6 p.m. newscasts last Sunday.

Alexandra Kruse interviews Kyra Hedman while Kruse and Jenny Rodenhouse film her. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Indeed, Ballard Farmers Market seems to attract all sorts of creative spirits these days, such as amateur filmmakers Alexandra Kruse (above left) and Jenny Rodenhouse (foreground). They and a group of friends were carrying out a challenge to create zombie-themed short films for a backyard movie party later this year. They interviewed many Market shoppers last Sunday, asking the question, “What would you do if you were the last human being alive on earth, and everyone else had become zombies?” Hopefully, they will load their film onto YouTube so we can share it with you.

New cinnamon rolls from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know and love their crusty, artisan breads. But have you tried Tall Grass Bakery’s new cinnamon rolls? Treat yourself to one or three today.

Spicy and delicious paprikas from Some Like It Hott! Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We can all use a little extra spice in our lives, and trust me, a little of this spice goes a long way. Some Like It Hott! is growing a great variety of peppers in its greenhouses in Port Townsend, then carefully smoking and drying them, then grinding and blending them into great paprika. They have many different flavors and heat levels. Why buy paprika with thousands of frequent flier miles when you can get great local paprika right at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Josephines from Hot Cakes. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally, don’t forget to pick up dessert at Hot Cakes. Of course, these gorgeously luscious Josephines might not make it home, but that is why you will be getting several molten chocolate hot cakes to pop in your oven for later. And don’t forget the caramel sauce!

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for  your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.