Holy cow! It is September already! The kiddies are back in school, the nights are getting longer and a little cooler. And the crops in your Ballard Farmers Market are beginning to trend toward fall. And yet today, Seattle will break the 80 degree mark for the 43rd time this year. Summer is not over! If it were, after all, you wouldn’t be able to get this amazing fresh, wild Washington king salmon from our buddies at Wilson Fish. That’s because the salmon fishing season on the Washington coast ends in mid-September. So enjoy it now, while it is still here. Cuz in a couple of weeks, it won’t be!
Booth Canyon Orchard returns today to your Ballard Farmers Market for the 2014 season. Says owner, Stina Booth, “This weekend, look for Gravenstein apples (the BEST pies in the world), Suncrest peaches (as close to a mango as you can get in Washington), Morretini pears (if champagne were a pear…..), and weird and wonderful Green Gage plums.”
Westside sweet corn has finally arrived at your Ballard Farmers Market, and this year’s crop is amazing! While we’ve been enjoying the blessings of Eastern Washington’s hot weather and earlier corn crops for almost two months now, the corn fields in Western Washington have slowly been growing to maturity. You’ll find big, beautiful, sweet ears of corn from several Westside farms today, including this beautiful specimen from Stoney Plains Organic Farms in Tenino.
Here is a tip for chosing corn: instead of pulling open the top to see if it is filled out, simply run your thumb over the outside of the husk. You can easily feel the mature kernels inside. See, when you actually tear the corn open, you are actually ruining it either for yourself or the next person, because the minute you do that, all the delicious sugars in it that make it so sweet begin to turn to starch. So please, never tear open the husk to examine it before you buy it. If you need help choosing the best ears, just ask. Our farmers are more than happy to lend you a hand.
Over the past few years, we’ve all gotten quite familiar with our pal, Eric, working behind the tables of Boistfort Valley Farm, slinging ginormous heads of organic lettuce, or hooking us up with amazing fresh herbs or artichokes or any manner of colorful beets, turnips and radishes. But time’s come for Eric to finally hunker down and finish off a college degree he’s be slow-walking for a while now, and that makes today his last day selling for Boistfort Valley at your Ballard Farmers Market. Stop by today, wish him well, and grab some deliciousness while you’re there!
These sweet seedless Thompson table grapes from Magana Farms make for great white raisins. Just pluck them off of the vine, give them a good rinse, and put them in your dehydrator until raisinesqueness ensues. That is, of course, as long as you don’t eat them all fresh, right off of the vine, first. On second thought. you’d better buy twice as many as you think you’ll need!
Your local cooking oil returns today to your Ballard Farmers Market, after its summer hiatus. This is camelina oil, made from the seeds of the camelina plant, an old member of the mustard family. It is grown and pressed by Ole World Oils in Ritzville, Washington. It is non-GMO, has a higher smoke point than grapeseed oil (475 degrees!), and is high in natural vitamin E, making it shelf stable. It is also high in beneficial omega-fatty acids, with a perfect 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. It has a great, nutty flavor that makes it a good finishing and cooking oil. It is great for cooking white fish, chicken and pork, for roasting cauliflower, broccoli, roots and potatoes, for blistering padron peppers and more. It is competitively priced, and best of all, it is local!
It is fresh peanut season at your Ballard Farmers Market again! Yes, our good friends at Alvarez Organic Farms are harvesting peanuts right now from their fields in Mabton, Washington. Still don’t believe peanuts grow here? Then look at this photo I took of Don Hilario Alvarez on the farm two weeks ago! Those are two freshly-harvested peanut bushes in his hands, and behind him is acre after acre of peanuts. Peanuts are not nuts at all, but legumes, and you can see that in the pea-like leaves they have. Love boiled peanuts, or you want to roast your own? Now’s the time!
Ooh, baby. Fresh cannellini beans from One Leaf Farm! These lovely little shelling beans are white when dried, but are green when fresh. And when fresh, their flavor and texture are quite different. I love fresh shelling beans in general. They make for great salads, sides, additions to pastas, spreads… but I especially love them in succotash. Just shuck and boil the fresh beans for 15-20 minutes in well-salted water, until just slightly fork tender. Then toss them into a pan with some rendered bacon or some smoked salmon, add corn freshly cut off the cob, some chopped parsley, some green onion, a bit of crushed garlic and some salt and pepper and give it all a good toss until just warmed through. Don’t overcook it. And enjoy! Remember, too, that you can buy, shuck and freeze fresh shelling beans now, and enjoy them all winter.
The last of the season’s funny-named hybrid stone fruit has arrived: nectarplums. Yes, you guessed it. They are a cross betwixt nectarines and plums. They are large, juicy, sweet and delicious, and they’re pretty cool looking, too, eh? Grab some today from Collins Family Orchards.
This gorgeous bacon is from Olsen Farms. On the left is traditional pork belly bacon, and on the right is pork jowl bacon. And while both are great, the jowl bacon has its own unique, somewhat sweeter, flavor to it that I love for adding to vegetable dishes and pastas.
As the days are getting shorter and (a little) cooler, now’s a great time to enjoy some fabulous late-summer greens. This stunning chard from Alm Hill Gardens is wonderful simply sautéed with a little garlic until just wilted, or added to grain salads or soup.
Why is this guy smiling? Truth is, Got Soup‘s Jerry Baxter always seems to be smiling. Maybe it is the amazing soups he makes for us, in an extraordinary variety of flavors. Maybe it is the great, local ingredients he uses to make his soups, like these from Alvarez Organic Farms, Martin Family Orchards, Nash’s Organic Produce, Olsen Farms, and so many other great local farms, seen at his kitchen recently. Maybe it is because he has figured out how to spend his days either making soup or hanging out at farmers markets, and getting paid for it. Whatever the case, his soups will definitely make you smile, too!
It is the first Sunday of the month, and that means we enjoy a visit today from Fishing Vessel St. Jude! They have the finest local albacore tuna you will find anywhere. It is available in sashimi-grade frozen loins, dried, smoked, and canned. In fact, the canned tuna is great to send home with your visiting relatives! Just make sure they understand not to drain off the liquid inside the can. That is the tuna’s natural juices, not added water, and as such, it is full of flavor!
J.H. Hale peaches from Martin Family Orchards are big, beautiful, sweet and juicy. They are the quintessential peach — the peach’s peach. They are the legendary peach for which Washington is famous. When you look up “peach” in the dictionary, you’ll see these guys. They are a freestone peach, making them easy for canning or making cobblers. And they are in season now!
It is fine pasta weather again, since you can count on your house cooling off overnight, in spite of daytime still being warm. These kale-spinach tortelloni from Pasteria Lucchese will certainly hit the spot for a lovely blast of flavor and quick prep time on a busy weekday evening.
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.