Posts Tagged ‘heirloom tomatoes’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

Sunday, July 28th: Juicy Melons, Heirloom Tomatoes, Ginormous Zucchini, Donut Peaches & Ladybugs!

July 27, 2013
A ladybug on a thistle flower from The Old Farmer. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

A ladybug on a thistle flower from The Old Farmer. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When’s the last time you saw a ladybug crawling around on flowers at a Big Box store? Round about never, I’d imagine. But ladybugs are common here at your Ballard Farmers Market! This one is on some beautiful thistle flowers from The Old Farmer. And this year, you will find bouquets of flowers here like never before, because so many kinds of flowers are in bloom all at the same time!

Cantaloupe melons and Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cantaloupe melons and Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lyall Farms has the first melons of the season today! They just started harvesting these cantaloupes and Yellow Doll watermelons this week. And yet again, their arrival is the earliest we’ve ever recorded. So dive in, folks! This summer is awesome, and who knows when we’ll get the next one like it.

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

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

One Leaf Farm has been teasing us for the last couple of weeks with their first heirloom tomatoes of the season, and the early birds got them. Well, now, the teasing is over, and we all are in the tomatoes! This is the scene from their tables at our sister Wallingford Farmers Market this past Wednesday. Oh, yeah, baby!

Donut peaches from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Donut peaches from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah. My favorites peaches. These are donut peaches – Saturn donut peaches, to be precise — from Tiny’s Organic Produce. I remember when I first encountered these back in 1999. They were just then beginning to be grown significantly by orchardists here in Washington, and as such, they began making their first appearances in local farmers markets. I came across them when I was visiting the Yakima Farmers Market for the first time — it opened that year. I stayed at a B&B just up Highway 12 in Naches, and that B&B was surrounded by orchards, one of which was full of these funny looking fruits. My hosts offered me one, and I fell instantly in love. They are sweet, juicy, have a tiny, easily removed stone, and are nice and small, so I found them easier to eat, and a lot less messy. And they are delicious. My hosts sent me home with an entire box of them! If you haven’t tried them yet, today’s a great day for them. They are excellent picnic food, and they are great for hikes, too!

Fresh, Washington coastal red king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh, Washington coastal red king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It continues to be a spectacular year for grilling, and that means you’ll need some of this beautiful wild Washington coastal king salmon from Wilson Fish for the barby. I recommend picking up some alderwood smoker chips, too, or better yet, cut some fresh alder branches off of your tree — get ones that are pinky to index finger in diameter and cut them 3-4″ long — and toss them on your hot coals before putting your fish on the grill. The alder smoke with make for absolutely amazing flavor in your salmon!

Slinging fish tacos at Los Chilangos. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Slinging fish tacos at Los Chilangos. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of fishliciousness, how’s about fish tacos from Los Chilangos right here at your Ballard Farmers Market? They use fresh rockfish from our own Wilson Fish, and cook it up to order for you. Sure, you can find fish tacos other places, but can those places tell you the name of the people who caught that fish, let alone be able to direct you just a few feet up the street to where they are standing selling their fish?

Summer chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. Yet another crop arriving earlier than we’ve ever recorded. These are wild summer chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. And when I took this photo last week, they also still had morel mushrooms. Yet again, the spring meets the fall in the middle of summer in this extraordinary year we call 2013!

Hericot vert green beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hericot vert green beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Mmm. Hericot vert green beans from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Okay, franco-snobs, I do realize that the name of these beans I just typed is redundant. It’s like saying “chevre fresh goat cheese.” But some people studied Spanish in grade school, so please… Anywho, these most delicate of green beans — they are very slim and cook quickly — are a true summer treat. I love to do a quick sauté of them with some pearl onions, or the little purple onions Stoney Plains has, and some nice bacon. (I used some of Olsen Farmsjowl bacon Friday night with them — yummers!)

Fresh chevre from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh chevre from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of the department of redundancy department, have you tried one of the several flavors of chevre (fresh goat cheese) fromTwin Oaks Creamery? They are wonderful, with a nice bit of sweetness and tang. Grab a loaf of bread from Tall Grass Bakery, tear off a hunk, slather some of this on it, and you are all set! And don’t forget to try out their fresh goat yogurt and goat and cow milk, too.

Sangiovese from Kitzke Cellars. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sangiovese from Kitzke Cellars. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Kitzke Cellars returns today to your Ballard Farmers Market… hopefully with some of this lovely sangiovese. And if we’re lucky, they’ll have some more of their recently bottled rosé, too. Cuz it has been some serious rosé weather this summer!

Pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look, kids! It is a fresh batch of whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle! Woohoo! And lucky for them… and us… pickling cucumber season started waaay early this summer, which means so too does pickle season. Grab a jar and get your pickle on today!

Huge zucchini from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Huge zucchini from Children’s Garden. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And finally, I promised you ginormous zucchini, and here they are! No, that is not an optical illusion. They are bigger than Chai’s head. You could hunt moose with them. Or make a lot of zucchini bread. Back in my days at Olympia Farmers Market, a lifetime ago, we called zucchini this big “Norwegian trout” for some reason, though I cannot now recall why. “Viking battle club” might make more sense.

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, July 14th: Sweet Corn, New Apples, Heirloom Tomatoes, Pickling Cucumbers, Salmon, Oysters & Ballard Seafood Fest!

July 13, 2013
Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Happy 2013 Ballard Seafood Fest! And have you seen this year’s logo, or mascot, or whatever it is? I guess its some sort of fishmonger superhero, but it was kinda lost on me. So I decided to use these Viking purple potatoes instead! This is the new crop of them from that sturdy Scandinavian family at Olsen Farms, which makes them even more fitting, and they’d be lovely steamed and mashed with some good butter alongside a nice serving of lutefisk, or maybe some salmon. Here are a few tips for managing your trip today to your Ballard Farmers Market:

  • If you are planning to shop at the farmers market and then attend Seafood Fest, bring a good cooler and plenty of ice or gel packs, and if driving, park in the shade if you can.
  • Don’t store items like berries and salad greens in a hot car, and avoid putting berries, peaches, corn and tomatoes in your cooler, as cold hurts them.
  • If you are just going to shop at the farmers market, we recommend you get here before noon to avoid Seafood Fest crowds and associated parking hassles.
  • Try to walk, ride your bike or take the bus today, as parking will be challenging.
  • Remember that Market Street is closed from 20th to 24th, 22nd is closed from Shilshole to 57th & Ballard Ave is closed from Vernon Place to Market.
  • If spending the whole day, remember to keep hydrated.
  • Pack your patience and enjoy the day. The forecast is for perfect weather!

By the way, we want to give one more plug for the Growing Things Farm Kick Starter campaign. While they have reached their minimum goal of $20,000 to frame out the house once raised above the floodline, they would like to raise another $10,000 so that they can install the plumbing, electrical and insulation, in order to make the farmhouse truly livable.

Sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the love of Mike, is that sweet corn? Yup. The earliest we’ve ever seen it here. This bi-colored sweet corn is from Lyall Farms. They just started harvesting it this week. In fact, just so you know I’m not pulling your leg, I took this photo on Friday at our sister Madrona Farmers Market. And this stuff is suh-weeeet!

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

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

And speaking of absurdly early crops, we usually don’t see these Lodi apples until the first week of August! Really. Lodi apples are usually the first apple of the year, with a crisp bite and a tart flavor. So start keeping that doctor away today!

Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. The crops just keep coming in earlier than ever this year. This is the earliest, by two weeks, that we’ve ever seen heirloom tomatoes arrive. One Leaf Farm grows these Paul Robeson tomatoes just over in Carnation, in East King County. They just started harvesting them, so they’ll go fast. Get here early!

Fresh Bucks program starts today at Ballard Farmers Market!

Fresh Bucks program starts today at Ballard Farmers Market!

A program called Fresh Bucks has been created by a partnership between the City of Seattle and local farmers markets to double Food Stamps, now known as SNAP, at Seattle farmers markets. Beginning TODAY, July 14th, for every SNAP dollar spent at Ballard Farmers Market, SNAP benefits users can receive an additional dollar to spend on fruits & vegetables, up to 10 dollars. Get them, and more information, from at Market Information Desk at your Ballard Farmers Market at the Vernon Place end of the Market. You can also get more information from the Washington State Farmers Market Association. Tell your friends, family and neighbors!

Fresh whole Alaskan sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh whole Alaskan sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Since it is Seafood Fest, we really should talk about all the great seafood you can find at your Ballard Farmers Market, right? Especially right now! For instance, Loki Fish has all five species of Pacific salmon fresh right now, from their boats fishing in Alaska. Above is whole sockeye salmon. Yeah, baby!

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer Run Farm has these gorgeous heads of cauliflower right now. I’ve been roasting it in the oven lately, tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed cayenne. Set the oven at about 425, and cook until just tender, and maybe a little browned on top. You can grill it, too!

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We’ve heard plenty of talk about smaller cherry harvests and higher cherry prices in the news lately, but truth be told, that’s not what we’re seeing at your Ballard Farmers Market. That’s because our farmers grow specifically for you, and they grow a diversity of cherry varieties, which helps them insure against early freezes and heavy rains. See, the big orchards that grow for the warehouses that sell to the Big Box stores, China and Japan just grow a couple of preferred cherries, like Bings and Rainiers, and when those two crops are impacted, it drives the price up at the Big Box stores. But farms like Collins Family Orchards from Selah are growing just for us, so the price they charge isn’t affected by demand from Japan. Plus, they grow outstanding varieties unaffected by the commodities market, like these Vans cherries, which for my money are the cherry’s cherry – a rich, dark, deeply flavored cherry that is not too sweet or too mild.

Fennel bulb from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fennel bulb from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Boistfort Valley Farm returned to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with their usual compliment of stunning produce. Like this fennel bulb, which is great caramelized and served atop some pork, or pickled, and it is awesome grilled, too! It has a sweet, licorice flavor. And you can eat it raw on your salads, fronds and all. Clean it thoroughly, though, like a leek.

Fresh red king salmon from Wilson Fish.Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh red king salmon from Wilson Fish.Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More seafood! This wild king salmon was caught by Wilson Fish just off the coast of Washington. It is so fresh, they like to say it is from the future. It is at least safe to say that you won’t find it fresher unless you catch it yourself. They also have some coho salmonhalibut and amazing smoked king salmon now, too!

Certified organic blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Certified organic blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Whitehorse Meadows Farm returns today with their amazing certified organic blueberries grown up in North Snohomish County. Their blueberry varieties range from domesticated to almost still wild, and you’ll enjoy comparing their different berries across the season.

Stunning succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Stunning succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I made a mistake last week when I told you that Phocas Farms would not be back this week. I errantly understood that we needed their space for one of our returning seasonal farmers, but I was wrong. Hmm. I think that means I will only be wrong another two times this year, if averages hold up. But I digress. Phocas Farms is here today with lots of gorgeous succulents — they raise over 200 varieties — and in another week or two, they will actually have some saffron crocus corms.

Pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here is another earliest ever arrival: pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. This year is just plain dizzying, I tell you. And they also have lots of onionsgarlic and summer squash, the latter in more than a dozen varieties now!

Live oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Live oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And more seafood! How about some live oysters from the Hama Hama Oyster Company? These are great for grilling or shucking, and if you grill them, Hama Hama has some amazing chipotle butter to put on them. They also have plenty of shucked oysters for frying and shooters, as well as pickled and smoked oysterslive clams and mussels and more!

Red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And I know that finishing off this week’s Seafood Fest epistle with lettuce might seem a bit out of sorts, but hey, this is red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. These heads of lettuce are big enough that the Vikings could have used the leaves to cross the Atlantic! This crisp, sweet lettuce is great for salads, lettuce wraps, and it is even good for grilling! (Cuz you Vikings need your roughage, but you sure aren’t gonna be caught dead eating a salad.)

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, 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.