Posts Tagged ‘nectarcots’

Sunday, July 20th: Melons, More Corn, Heirloom Tomatoes, Nectarcots & More!

July 19, 2014
Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just when you thought this summer couldn’t get any more amazing, Lyall Farms brings the first melons of the season to your Ballard Farmers Market! These are Yellow Doll watermelons, and this is the earliest we’ve ever seen them here, by more than two full weeks. Wow. They also have more traditional red watermelons, sweet, juicy and ripe, and ready for you to devour.

Tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Woohoo! The tomatoes from One Leaf Farm are coming in early, and with a vengeance! Four varieties so far, and more to come. Besides the sungold and heirloom cherries, above left, they’ve got Black Krim and Paul Robeson, above right. They are so ripe and juicy and delicious. While I’ve been devouring sungolds straight out of the container and in salads for a week now, last Thursday, I enjoyed some of the Black Krims simply with some salt and some mayo. Not highbrow, just classic.

Organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More sweet corn has arrived this week. This is certified organic sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms, and because I care, I have already done some serious quality control testing on it, and I can assure you, it is awesome!

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.

Nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are nectarcots, from Collins Family Orchards, and as the name suggests, they are a cross betwixt nectarines and apricots. And of all the various stone fruit hybrids, I’d say these guys might be the most difficult to pick out their genetic lineage without us telling you. They kinda look like a yellow-orange plum, and they taste super sweet and are super juicy. They don’t have the fuzzy exterior of the apricot, or its deep flavor, and they don’t have that texture that nectarines have. It is as if somehow, someone was able to cross them and get them to contribute their best flavor notes while giving them the texture of a plum and the sturdiness of a pluot. Bottom line is, they are amazing, but they’re only around for a few weeks, so don’t you dare miss them!

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Every summer, Growing Things Farm brings the most beautiful summer squash to your Ballard Farmers Market. In fact, they size it for you, so that it is easy for you to pick out the perfect sized squash for your plans. Like these baby summer squash that are perfect for a quick sauté or grilling.

Spartans blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Spartans blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We welcome the return of Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm from northern Snohomish County today. They grow some extraordinary organic blueberries, including these SpartansJerseys and Rubels, a close cousin to the wild mountain blueberries on Northern New England and Maritime Canada. Whitehorse Meadows is actually located several miles east of Oso, on the far side of the slide zone on SR 530, which recently reopened. We imagine they’ll be thrilled to be able to get out and see us again, so let’s give them a big welcome back today!

Sweet onions from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet onions from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It has been a bit of a tough year for sweet onions so far — kinda surprising given how good it’s been for just about everything else. But we finally have some seasoned sweet onions for you at your Ballard Farmers Market. These are from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. These sweet onions are from Walla Walla sweet onion seed, but we call them “sweet onions,” without adding “Walla Walla” in front, because the name, “Walla Walla sweet onion,” is protected by a federal USDA Marketing Order, only to be used for onions grown within a 50-mile radius around Walla Walla. Still, these are plenty sweet.

Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny's Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here’s another of those cool hybrid stone fruits: Flavor Supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic. Remember, pluots are genetically 70% plum and 30% apricot, but they definitely favor plums in structure and appearance… well, except that pluots come in an extraordinary diversity of colors, flavors and sizes. For instance, Flavor Supremes have a greenish-red skin, but a deep red flesh (see above). And they are fantastic. Enjoy!

Pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Gorgeous pink turnips from Boistfort Valley Farm are a close cousin to some of the other Asian turnip varieties we see here at your Ballard Farmers Market, only these guys are just a bit more flamboyant. And they taste good, too!

All beef hot dogs from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

All beef hot dogs from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Do you have a hankering for a good all-beef hot dog, but you fear what’s in it, where it was made and how the animals used in it were treated? Well, be afraid no more! These uncured beef franks are from Skagit River Ranch. That means the cattle were grass-fed on lush pastures, treated well, raised organically, and processed with respect. It also means that they are delicious!

Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Chinese spinach from Children’s Garden. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You may have heard me refer to Treviso radicchio as the second most beautiful vegetable on earth and wondered to yourself, “what is the most beautiful vegetable on earth, then?” This is! Meet Chinese spinach from Children’s Garden. It is only grown by two farms at your Ballard Farmers Market, both Hmong, and the last two summers have been kind of hostile to it, so we haven’t really seen much of it since 2011. It can be simply sautéed with some garlic. Or you can just invite your friends over to sit and look at it.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Your Ballard Farmers Market is loaded with lots of heirloom and exotic crops grown by adventurous farmers. But what Summer Run Farm specializes in is growing lovely organic produce standards — the stuff you could find at the Big Box store, but that would pale by comparison to Summer Run’s. Like this cauliflower. Sweet and crunchy, and wonderful roasted, made into soup, dipped in hummus or cocktail sauce, or however you enjoy it best.

Slicing cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Slicing cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There’s nothing like a cucumber to cool you off during the hot days of summer, a phrase we don’t get to say too often. But this year is one for the record books, so let’s get our cucumber salads on, people. Let’s crank out some cucumber sandwiches. Let’s add it to our ice water and make cocktails and gazpacho out of it. They babies are from Alm Hill Gardens. Pick some up today at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Bell peppers from Colinwood Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bell peppers from Colinwood Farm. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These bell peppers from Colinwood Farm are so fragrant that they seem to steal the show for your olfactory glands as you examine the farm’s tables. Pep up your salads, stuff some, or throw them on the barby. This is going to be a phenomenal year for peppers!

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Don’t forget to grab a loaf or two of artisan bread from Tall Grass Bakery today. They have a wonderful selection, from deep, dark pumpernickel, to chewy, moist Baker Street sourdough, to earthy, sweet oat and honey and challah that will complete your sabbath meal or make for amazing French toast on Saturday morning.

Spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let’s finish off this week’s epistle with this brand-spanking-new release of spicy whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. You can’t get these year-round from Purdy, because they are using local ingredients when they are at their peak of freshness. And that means, when they run out, they run out. Lucky for us, this is a very early year for local pickling cukes, so Purdy should be able to put up quite a few jar. But don’t let that cause you to hesitate. Get your pickle on now!

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, July 22nd: Colorful Cauliflower, Nectarcots, Loganberries, Rainbow Carrots, Kraut Juice, Native Potatoes, Raspberry Jam, Beefsteak Tomatoes & The Return Of Boistfort Valley Farm!!!

July 22, 2012

Purple graffiti cauliflower from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Today’s epistle is a tale of many colors and hybrids, of summers delicious bounty and the return of one of Washington’s finest family farms to your Ballard Farmers Market. Let’s start with a splash of color, though, in the form of this wonderful purple graffiti cauliflower from Oxbow Farm. Besides being delicious, cauliflower is one of those weirdly beautiful vegetables that kinda defies logic. And we are now coming into the peak of summer cauliflower season. Woohoo!

Cheddar cauliflower from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We will enjoy at least five different varieties of cauliflower at your Ballard Farmers Market this summer, from the white titan cauliflower we saw arriving from Oxbow last week to this stunning cheddar cauliflower from Growing Things Farm. And soon, we’ll also see green cauliflower and romanesco, the only vegetable that grows in fractals! Each has its own unique qualities and flavor. I like to steam romanesco, then grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of it. I like roasting the white and cheddar in a hot oven, simply tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, though you can dial it up a notch with other spices. Try giving cumin a shot. And try grilling it, too!

Heidi Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farm holding some of their ginormous heads of lettuce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you’re anything like me, first off, let me give you the number of a good therapist! That said, you’ve probably been missing Boistfort Valley Farm from, well, Boistfort. You know, we kinda gauge just how late a year it is for Westside farmers based on how late Boistfort Valley comes into your Ballard Farmers Market, and I do believe this is the latest they ever have. Now, if you are unfamiliar with Boistfort Valley Farm, let me tell you a little about them. Farmer Mike Peroni has been farming in Southwest Washington and selling at the Olympia Farmers Market for almost 25 years. He grew up in an Italian family in Pennsylvania with an Italian’s healthy appreciation of food. He specializes in growing Italian and Asian heirloom varieties of vegetables, and his market displays are so legendary that he is regularly called upon to give workshops to other farmers on how to set up one’s market stall. Indeed, Boistfort Valley Farm is one farm to which some of the most admired farms in Washington aspire to be. Thus I say, so what if they’re late coming in. They’ll be with us now through Christmas, and we’ll get to enjoy their splendor! Welcome back Mike and Heidi, and your crew. We’re all ready to fall in love with you all over again!

Nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, every year, when the nectarcots from Collins Family Orchards arrive at your Ballard Farmers Market, I cannot help but ponder the absolute explosion in stone fruit hybrids over the last 10-15 years. From donut peaches to pluots to apriums to peachcots, it seems the made scientist orchardists are having just too much fun playing pin the pollen on the other tree’s flower and see what we get. The good news is that this madness has resulted in many more kinds of fruit for us to enjoy, and made it available for much more of the year. I mean, remember back when you had two kinds of cherries, one peach, one nectarine and one apricot? How boring does that seem now? Seriously yawnsville, right? Then again, I am still holding out for the introduction of the nectareach, that mythical hybridization betwixt nectarine and peach. I suspect the delay in this particular fruit has something to do with trying to keep the genes from favoring the juicy, watery interior of the nectarine surrounded by the fuzzy exterior of the peach. Yikes!

Ozette potatoes from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ozette potatoes are the closest thing to a native potato that Washington has. Truth is, all potatoes originated in South America. But did you know that almost all potatoes in the United States travelled from South America to Europe before coming here? Yup. However, there are a few notable exceptions. See, in the late 1700s, the Spanish, who, with the Portuguese, are largely responsible for transporting South America’s most famous tuber to the rest of the planet, sailed up the Pacific Coast of North America from South America back in the 1790s looking for more ports to call home. You didn’t think the Strait of Jan de Fuca  was named by the Brits, did you? The Spaniards set up trading posts in several northern ports, including our own Neah Bay, and they brought with them, direct from South America, potatoes — beautiful fingerling potatoes, to be exact. They plunked their flags down in Neah Bay in 1791, and by 1793, they figured out that the weather here kinda sucks, and they scarpered off back to Mexico. But lucky for us, they left behind with the Makah Indians those potatoes, and the Makah continue to cultivate them to this day. Indeed, the Ozette potato is one of the few potatoes to travel directly from South to North America, and now it is our potato, cool and dampness hardy, dense and starchy and delicious — absolutely brilliant roasted, great steamed, smashed and slathered with butter, or grill-roasted in a foil pouch in butter and herbs. Alvarez Organic Farms has them today. Enjoy!

Loganberries from Jessie’s Berries. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Berries exhibit another exercise in diversity and color this time of year. Take the humble loganberry from Jessie’s Berries, for instance. Big, juicy, sweet and tangy. Perfect for jams, pies, topping ice cream, adding to salads or even dressing up salmon and pork. And just look at that astonishingly beautiful color, eh? You know, when I post photos like this one on our Facebook page, I often find myself blindsided by people from all over the world commenting on the photos and expressing how they wished they could be in Ballard with us to enjoy this absurd bounty we have here. We are pretty darned lucky to live here and to have access to all that our local farmers have to offer us. Take a moment to reflect on that, take a moment to thank the farmers today as you shop at your Ballard Farmers Market, and please, show your appreciation for this special market by voting for it in the 2012 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest.

Shelling peas from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nothing goes together quite like peas and carrots, right? They’re like a marriage made in vegetable heaven… or was it a market research laboratory at Green Giant’s headquarters in Blue Earth, Minnesota? Whatever the case, if you still eat peas from a bag you got out of the freezer case of one of the Big Box stores, I beg you to indulge me and dive into fresh shelling peas from Stoney Plains Organic Farm right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Besides how amazing they are straight out of the pod, I personally find it worth the effort to load up on these babies and shuck pounds of them. I’ll enjoy some fresh now, but more importantly, I will fill a couple dozen pint freezer bags with them, packing four pint bags to a gallon freezer bag, and cram the whole lot into my freezer. Then, when I want frozen peas this winter, so I can make one of my favorite pasta dishes with some of Pasteria Lucchese’s pappardelle and Wilson Fish’s smoked salmon, all I have to do is grab one of those pint bags, empty the contents into the pot with the pasta about 30-60 seconds before the pasta is done, drain, and then toss the lot with the salmon, and bam!, I’ve got the best friggin’ frozen peas ever. Ever! You don’t need to blanch them first. Just shuck ’em and freeze ’em. Ever! Bam! You can thank me in January.

Rainbow carrots from Gaia’s Natural Goods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Like peas and carrots, baby! Pea and carrots!!! And how’s about yet another rainbow of vegetative color? Rainbow carrots from Gaia’s Natural Goods. Simply awesome, eh? But carrots are orange, and raspberries are red, and cauliflower is white, and tomatoes are red, and, and, and… only if you shop at the Big Box stores, baby! Here at your Ballard Farmers Market, we use the jumbo pack of Crayola crayons, and with it, we get more flavor, more nutrients, more goodness, more life!

Tummy Tonic caraway sauerkraut brine from Firefly Kitchens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I am so glad that a couple of years ago, I lobbied hard for Firefly Kitchens to keep making their caraway sauerkraut. It is the perfect accompaniment for a nice bratwurst, you know? And with most brands of kraut in the Big Box stores these days being cooked to death or laden with preservative sulfiting agents, having access to this beautiful, fresh, living kraut made with local cabbage is such a gift. And now, they are even bottling the caraway kraut brine left after the kraut is all jarred for sale. This is a potent living tonic that’ll make your body purr, and it’s also got all the deliciousness of the kraut itself. But stock up soon, because we are hitting peak season now at your Ballard Farmers Market, and all our farms are back and needing multiple spaces for all their fruits and veggies, and that’ll mean Firefly Kitchens will be taking its summer hiatus soon to make room for them all.

Beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Clayton from Alm Hill Gardens has been teasing us with hints of the imminent arrival of beefsteak tomatoes from their greenhouses for a couple of weeks now, but today, they are finally here. Indeed, this photo was taken at our Wallingford Farmers Market this past Wednesday. It is time for real tomatoes again, ripened on the vine and picked at their peak — juicy, delicious and ready to take your burgers, your salads, your soups and sauces to new heights! Can I get an amen?

Fresh duck from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh duck in the house! Okay, truth be told, I don’t know for sure if Sea Breeze Farm will have fresh ducks in their case this week or not. They did last week, and I got me some and pan-roasted it. Yummers! Of course, that game of “what will they have this week” is half the fun of Sea Breeze Farm. You can always count on them having a great array of raw jersey cow’s milk products and a nice selection of artisan sausages, but from week-to-week, you never quite know if it is going to be a fresh chicken and veal week, or maybe lamb and pork. Will they experiment with a new pate? Will the ham being simply salted and smoked, or will the rub contain black pepper and cloves? Will they have cheese? Whatever the case, you can count on it being some of the best meat and dairy you’ve ever encountered anywhere. So stop by today, and see what George has got in the case this week! (Oh, and grab a bottle of their wine, while you’re at it.)

Raspberry jam with thyme from Deluxe Foods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. I think this is the longest post I’ve ever written. And it’s been one big bang after another. So it seems only fitting that we end this week’s installment with one last big bang — raspberry jam with thyme from Deluxe Foods. They make this stuff with raspberries from Hayton Berry Farms and Ballard-grown thyme. If you have not tried the many heirloom, artisan jams and jellies made with local ingredients and love by Deluxe Foods, you really don’t know what jam can taste like. Yes, I know it is my job to be a relentless cheerleader for all things deliciousness at your Ballard Farmers Market, but seriously, my job is ridiculously easy, given what I have to work with. I mean, when have I steered you wrong, eh? So today, go by Deluxe Foods stand, and systematically sample each and every flavor she’s got, and it you don’t walk away thinking it’s the best jam you’ve ever tasted, well then, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! (Stop snickering, Clayton. I know you already think I’m a monkey’s uncle.)

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and 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.