Happy St. Paddy’s Day from your Ballard Farmers Market! It is said that everyone claims a bit of Irish blood every year at this time, but truth is that there are plenty of us mixed in amongst the Scandinavians and Amazon.comians here in Ballard. And while the streets may run green with beer of questionable origins in other communities today, we Ballardites are more likely to cozy up this evening to a fine microbrew or snifter of Irish whiskey. Whatever your poison, get your day going right at your Ballard Farmers Market, perhaps with some of these shamrock cookies from Grateful Bread Baking, or get your greens on at any number of farms in the Market, as we are surprisingly greens-rich for this early in the year!
And in a year in which seemingly every Sunday has been some sort of holiday, in two weeks comes Easter Sunday. Your Ballard Farmers Market will be open for you that day, but you might want to lay claim to one of these hams from Skagit River Ranch today, as they are sure to be sold out two weeks from today. Now, if you prefer lamb, they may still have some today, too, and if you are planning for Passover, which begins next Monday at sundown, perhaps you are in the market for a chicken or a nice brisket. Skagit River Ranch has that covered, too!
You will need potatoes to go with your corned beef tonight, or your holiday meals in the coming weeks, and Olsen Farms has that covered and then some. For corned beef, I prefer these desiree potatoes, as they hold up well in the pot with the other ingredients, and they absorb the flavors nicely. However, with lamb, ham or chicken, you might have your own favorite. They’ve got many varieties, so you will be sure to find what you need. And Olsen, too, has lamb, beef roasts and hams for Easter.
I also like to add rutabagas to my pot with my corned beef, like these from Nash’s Organic Produce. In Ireland, they call these “turnips” or “Swedes”, harkening back to their introduction to the Emerald Isle by the Vikings centuries ago before the Brits took over and ruled it with an iron fist for 700 years. Of course, I say this in the context of this day in which we celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of, well, Catholicism in Ireland who supposedly drove the “snakes” out of Ireland even before the Vikings showed up, though the only snakes in Ireland at the time were actually the Druids, who used the image of a snake in much of their symbolism. But I digress. I put my bagas in the pot up to an hour before its time to serve dinner. Because they are very dense, they cook slowly, but they beautifully absorb all to flavors and spices of your corned beef, and they become perfectly tender as they do.
Of course, your Ballard Farmers Market is full of greens for St. Paddy’s Day. This is Gaosheng from Gaia’s Natural Goods, and she holds in her arms several kinds of greens her family is currently harvesting up in Snohomish. In the lower lefthand corner, those flowery, light-green greens are kailan, an Asian green popular in China and Southeast Asian. Then there is kale, chard and mustard greens on the lower right, as well as a golden beet peaking out in front of her right shoulder. Greens are coming on earlier this year than the past few, and that is worthy of holiday celebrations in and of itself, if you ask me.
Just kidding. That’s what this kid is doing. Yup, this is one of the many adorable baby goats Gil and I got to meet last week on our visit to Twin Oaks Creamery in Chehalis. These kids have a good life, romping and roughhousing with each other in their playhouse. Meanwhile, their moms are producing wonderful goat milk which Twin Oaks is bottling, as well as making cheese and yogurt with it.
KaYing, a.k.a., The Old Farmer, returns this week with her beautiful flower bouquets. Also returning this week are Mee Gardens, Pa Gardens and Ia’s Garden. What this means for you is that, if you return home this evening without a bouquet of beautiful, fresh flowers from one of the six farms selling them at your Ballard Farmers Market, you might as well get yourself acquainted with your couch, cuz that’s where you will be sleeping tonight!
You know it’s pretty darn near spring when the veggie starts show up at Stoney Plains Organic Farm. This is a flat of mixed radishes, ready for you to get your early spring garden going. After all, spring does start this coming week, right? And ain’t it about time? Of course, we now get to spend the next couple of weeks having to drive directly into the setting sun that is due west in the evening, but I think we’ll survive. Besides, odds are we won’t be able to see it anyway!
Rosecrest Farm returns to your Ballard Farmers Market with lots of their lovely Swiss cheeses today, after a one-week hiatus. Gil and I also visited Rosecrest last week during our trip to Chehalis. This is a photo of Sharon & Gary McCool in front of their Cheese Haus, which is housed in a very old shop adjacent to their 99-year-old historic barn. Gary manages the cows while Sharon makes the cheese. And did you know that their cheese is made from certified organic milk? Yup. In fact, whatever doesn’t go into making cheese ends up going in cartons from Organic Valley, to whom they sell some of the milk they produce. And you might wonder how Swiss Cheese factors into our holiday theme today. Well, I’m glad you asked! You may be surprised to learn that much of “Swiss” cheese in American deli cases — you know, that squared block of cheese with the big holes in it that is probably banned in Switzerland — is made by Kerrygold in Ireland! That’s right! Americans by the millions are making reuben sandwiches with Irish “Swiss” cheese. Seriously, you gotta love that!
Let us finish this week’s epistolic tribute to St. Patrick, the Irish, and holidaze to come, with a shamrock-adorned marion berry pie from Deborah’s Homemade Pies. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again — Deborah quite simply makes the best pies on earth. But let’s face it. There’s a lot more fun going on here than just her pieliciousness. There is the shamrock itself, and then there is that fact that we just celebrated Universal Pie Day on March 14th. And my personal favorite is getting to make silly references to troubled Mayor Marion Barry of Washington, D.C. But in the end, what is most entertaining about this pie is eating it. Enjoy!
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.
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.