Posts Tagged ‘okra’

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, August 21st: Welcomes, Farewells, Requests, The New, The Spectacular, Sweetness, Rarity & The Absurd!

August 21, 2011

Honey from Tahuya River Apiaries. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tahuya River Apiaries, how we have missed your wildflower honey these many weeks. See, it turns out that honey is seasonal, too. I mean, duh. But who ever thinks about it? Honey is shelf stable, so it seems it is always around. Heck, it is one of the most shelf stable foods there is, because it is naturally anti-bacterial. There’s just one catch: honey still needs to be made by bees. And this year, with our cold, wet weather, that has not been easy, particularly for bees making wildflower honey. See, first off, bees need the air temperature to be warm enough for them to function, and with temps well below normal this year, the bees got a late start. Add to that our record snow pack in the mountains, which resulted in very late melt, and thus very late wildflowers. And since Tahuya’s bees do their work collecting pollen from wildflowers high up in the Olympic Mountains, they are way behind in honey production this year. And that meant Tahuya ran out of honey to sell at your Ballard Farmers Market for the first time in years. But finally, they have honey again, and they make their triumphant return today. Been missing your wildflower honey? Well, it’s back!

Lotsa pies from Deborah's Homemade Pies. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We’ve also missed Deborah’s Homemade Pies for a couple of weeks. I don’t know if she was running for her life, of just for fun, but it seems every year around now she disappears to somewhere to run. See, Deborah is a marathon runner. She also makes the best flippin’ pies west of the Pecos. So get you one today, now that she’s back!

Download and print these signs to vote for Ballard Farmers Market.

Just 10 days left for you to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest. To vote, just click here now. Plus, you can click the image above to easily download a printer-friendly poster you can post just about anywhere, so everyone you know can just scan it with their smart phones to vote! Bring it to your office this week. Post in on your street. Put it up in the window of your shop. Help us win!

Salmon candy from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Loki Fish has brought back it’s salmon candy for the first time this year. Salmon candy is the smoked bellies of the salmon. The bellies are often trimmed off when the fish are filleted, but they are the fattiest part of the fish, and they are considered a delicacy amongst natives and fishers alike, who eat them smoked like candy, ergo the name.

Alice from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Farewell, sweet Alice of Oxbow Farm. Alice just headed off to Michigan for graduate school. She’s been a fixture here at your Ballard Farmers Market now for several years, first working for Full Circle Farm, and then Oxbow for the last two years. Alice, we’ll miss you. Come back and visit, and don’t forget to write!

Cherry tomatoes and okra from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you’ve seen me around the Market taking photos for this blog, then you know that the vendors let me move stuff around to enhance the images I get. After all, it is in their interest, as I am promoting them. And they trust me to be careful while handling their delicate produce. But let’s face it: the farmers often arrange their displays so perfectly that any manipulation by me would only detract from it. Case in point, this unadulterated display of cherry tomatoes and okra on the tables of Alvarez Organic Farms at our Wallingford Farmers Market this past Wednesday. Hey, if the first bite is with the eye, then a spectacular display goes a long way towards getting folks to buy one’s food, right?

Frenched rack of pork from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Also stunning is this Frenched rack of pork from Sea Breeze Farm. When you look at the meat they bring every week, and heck, once you’ve tasted it, the “meat” at the Big Box store simply cannot satisfy you anymore, regardless the price.

Big dog, little dog at Ballard Farmers Market on August 14, 2011. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Big dog, little dog! Your eyes do not deceive you. That is one enormous dog next to one tiny one. In fact, I think the little guy’s name is “Tiny.” I love how gentle the big lug was with the little one. I mean, he could eat and swallow the little dog in one bite. And yet, somehow, most dogs, when they encounter each other, seem to respect each other as equals. They don’t see huge disparities in size or appearance. They just see a fellow canine whose butt they need to sniff. You know, we humans could a lot from dogs.

Bok choy from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Seems we always have baby bok choy at your Ballard Farmers Market, but we rarely have bok choy. And yes, there is a difference! This is bok choy. It is a completely different plant from baby bok choy. Note the big, white ribs and the dark-green leaves. It is not just the grownup version of the baby stuff. Well, Nash’s Organic Produce has true bok choy now, so enjoy it while you can. It is wonderful stuff.

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

These white nectarines from Collins Family Orchards are amongst the sweetest of all stone fruits. Their white flesh is very high in natural sugars that make them like candy. If you want to try a truly sweet, juicy fruit, these are not to be missed.

Pickling dill from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We finish this week’s installment with a necessity, if you plan on making any kind of dill pickles this summer: pickling dill. This pickling dill from Stoney Plains is what I rely on every year, along with their pickling cucumbers, to make my famous pickles. Now, if you are new to pickling, and you are wondering, “can’t I just use any dill and cucumbers?” Well, no, not really. See, the flowers on this dill are what pack the most intense dill flavor, and the skins on pickling cucumbers are more porous, allowing them to more easily soak up all the delicious herbs, spices, salt and vinegar you pack them with. Now, I could just give you my entire pickling recipe, but then, I’d have to kill you.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. And please remember to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest!

Sunday, July 10th: SeafoodFest, Peaches, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Summer Squash, Raspberries & Okra!

July 10, 2011

Sam Lucchese of Pasteria Lucchese as a pirate. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s Ballard SeafoodFest. Rrrr, matey. (Yeah, I know. But try getting an Italian to dress liking a Viking!) After we all load up on all manner of local deliciousness from great farmers, fishers, ranchers and food artisans, like Pasteria Lucchese’s handmade pasta, sauces and desserts, let’s all pillage Seattle! Free Ballard!!! Woohoo! (Oh, hey. Can I ask you a favor, before you start pillaging? Please take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest. It just takes a few clicks and about 30 seconds. Thanks. Rrrr.)

Whole king and sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In the spirit of SeafoodFest, we bring you, well, seafood! SeafoodFest celebrates Ballard’s historic ties to the North Pacific salmon fishing fleet in particular, and the huge chunk of that fleet that calls Ballard’s own Salmon Bay home. Loki Fish is one of them that calls Fishermen’s Terminal its home port. But right now, they’re up in Alaskan waters catching salmon and sending it down to us in Ballard to enjoy. Like these whole king and sockeye salmon they had at your Ballard Farmers Market last week. Loki has all five species coming into the Market now!

Dungeness crab from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hama Hama Oyster Company raises awesome oysters and clams that they bring to Market every Sunday. And now, just for the summer months, they are also bringing in freshly caught and steamed Dungeness crabs! Oh, yeah, baby!

Whole king and coho salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just take a look at these beauties. They’re whole king and coho salmon from Wilson Fish. Wilson fishes along the Washington coast, catching halibut, rockfish, true cod and ling cod, in addition to salmon. Most days, the fish you are buying from them at your Ballard Farmers Market was still swimming the day before. Now, that’s fresh!

Sugar Time peaches from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yes, it truly is summer, folks, and it is amazing what long days, some sun and some warm temps will do to finally make lots more crops come into your Ballard Farmers Market. Like these first peaches of the year — Sugar Time peaches from Collins Family Orchards. Just imagine the juice dribbling down your chin and dripping all over your shirt!

Big Beef tomatoes from Billy's Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes! Oh, happy day!!! Billy’s is finally harvesting these Big Beef tomatoes, with many more varieties to follow. Life is good. Very, very good.

Green beans from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And green beans, too. These are from Lyall Farms. I think I am beginning to get giddy! (Yes, I know. You’re thinking, that shipped has sailed!) Besides my shear joy at all this wonderful, local summer deliciousness, it thrills me to no end to be able to add so many new crops to the What’s Fresh Now! pages. (I am, after all, a man of simple pleasures.)

Heirloom lettuces from Nature's Last Stand. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I know, you don’t think lettuce is as sexy as all this other stuff, but to quote John from Nature’s Last Stand, “it is hard to beat really good heirloom lettuce when it is grown well.” You won’t find it at the Big Box store. You will find it at Nature’s Last Stand at your Ballard Farmers Market. Indeed, they’ve got a great selection of heirloom lettuce varieties. Enjoy!

Summer squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer squash is now arriving in abundance, like these magnificent specimens from Growing Things Farm. You know, it seems one side benefit of our cool, wet spring is that the summer squash is perhaps as beautiful and sweet as we’ve had around here in years. And no one grows it better than Michaele at Growing Things.

Raspberries from Sidhu Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And raspberries. Yup, they’re in season now, too! Yippee! These lovelies are from Sidhu Farms. They grow them it Orting, along the Puyallup River. Grab a flat or three today!

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

And how about this?! Yes, that is fresh okra from Alvarez Organic Farms. Already. Amazing what a little sun and some 80s will do in the Yakima Valley, eh?

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. And please remember to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest!

Sunday, August 15th: Gluten-Free Bread, Ripe Melons, Heirloom Tomatoes & Fractalized Romanesco! Please Remember To Vote For Ballard!!!

August 15, 2010

Platypus Breads & House of the Sun, together in one booth at your Ballard Farmers Market on August 8, 2010. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, it’s not one of my best photos, but it does illustrate a point: your Ballard Farmers Market incubates new small food artisan businesses. Over the years, we’ve helped launch Veraci Pizza, Tall Grass Bakery, Dante’s Inferno Dogs, Anita’s Crepes, and many a farm. What you see in this photo from last Sunday is two new businesses for 2010, Platypus Breads and House of the Sun, sharing a precious 10′ x 10′ space at the Market. See, this time of year, Ballard Farmers Market is stocked to the gills with farmers and their many crops. It is, after all, peak season. But as the season ebbs and flows, on occasion we have the odd space that opens up in a given week. Such was the case last week, and we were able to give two of our favorite new food artisan businesses a shot at the big leagues of farmers markets we all know and love as your Ballard Farmers Market. Indeed, our dear Market has become a Holy Grail of sorts to many would-be food artisans, but we just have so much space to squeeze vendors in, especially this time of year. Fortunately, we operate four other neighborhood farmers markets throughout the city, which affords us the opportunity to give a number of new farms and food artisans a chance to get their feet wet in the Seattle farmers market scene each year. In the process, we get to meet some extraordinary people with great ideas and vision that result in some amazing and unique food products, and Platypus Breads and House of the Sun are perfect examples. Platypus Breads fills the incredibly important and unbelievably vacant niche of gluten-free bread making, and it does so with gluten-free breads that are, well, actually really good! And House of the Sun has created a line of raw and vegan foods that not only fills a niche for folks on a raw-vegan diet, but is so damned good that grilled flesh eaters like me thoroughly enjoy them, too. And the best news of all is that they are both back at Ballard Farmers Market, again sharing a tent, today!!!

Gorgeous melons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey Lyall Farms. Nice melons! Melon season is just beginning to kick in, you know. I am told we will get hit by a tidal wave of melons as early as next week. Woohoo! And you know, I heard back from my buddy, Evan, from Rochester, NY this past week. You can see his newest, quite conciliatory comment attached to the bottom of last week’s post. The long and short of it is that, in the big picture, we’re really just one big farmers market family from coast-to-coast, working hard to support family farmers and feed our neighborhoods, while having a little fun sparring with each other over this silly America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Still, silly or not, we would still like to crush our competitors in New York and California who currently lead us in the polls like so many garden snails. Are you with me, people of Ballard? Do you want to show these folks who think Ballard is part of the city of Seattle that we are, indeed, the People’s Republic of Ballard, proud of our independent heritage, still bitter about having been absorbed by Seattle in 1907 as the result of an election during the fishing season, when half the men in Ballard were out at sea, and we know we have the best damned farmers market on the planet, let alone America, and we’re not gonna let anybody beat us in this election!!! Shake off that bitterness, people of Ballard. Learn to trust the process again. Vote with all you heart, soul and email addresses, and if each and every one of us takes the 30 seconds to vote and we still lose to Rochester, we will simply tip our hats and say, “We’ll get you next year!” But we must not go down without a fight! Vote now!!!

Baby squash with blossoms attached fro Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now this is a pretty picture, ain’t it? This is baby zucchini with the blossoms still attached from Colinwood Farms. Colinwood is an example of a farm that, until about a year and a half ago, was only really known well in Port Townsend and environs. Now, many of us couldn’t make it through the week without some of their vegetative deliciousness. This is the magic of your Ballard Farmers Market. Hey, have you become a fan of us on our Facebook page? We just finally figured out the great “Favorite Pages” feature on our page, and now we are adding all of our vendors’ Facebook pages to that list, so you can easily find them in that universe. And if you check out our Twitter page, you will see we have two lists you can follow on it: one for our vendors’ Twitter pages, and one for our neighbors’ businesses here on Ballard Avenue. Check it all out!

White eggplant from Magana. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Beautiful, tender white eggplant from Magana. You know, our chef from Georgetown Liquor Company, a great vegetarian restaurant and bar in Georgetown, did a great cooking demo on Saturday at our Georgetown Farmers Market in which he made this awesome tomatillos salsa that he served over delicious slices of marinated, raw white eggplant. Check that market’s blog in the next week or so for a recipe!

Heirloom tomatoes from Summer Run. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s been a long wait, but tomato season is finally kicking into high gear, with many farms now having lots of them. This collection of heirloom tomatoes from Summer Run is gorgeous, isn’t it?

Fresh okra from Alvarez. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okra. I love her show. Actually, this is the underappreciated vegetable from Alvarez Organic Farms, okra, the staple of culinary traditions from the Southeastern U.S. to Northern Africa to Southern and Southeast Asia. The problem is, most of us northern white folks have never had it prepared properly. Me, I pickle it. But I love it deep fried and doused in Louisiana Hot Sauce, or in a Southern gumbo, which is in fact another name for okra, or in a Nigerian goat soup with fufu, or maybe tossed with shrimp paste and shrimp as Malay Satay Hut in Redmond. Trust me, when treated right, this stuff’s da bomb!

Shaving kit from Brown & Butterfly. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I love the soap at Brown & Butterfly. Big bars that just feel right in your palm, made with a great variety of essential oils, both for their scent and their medicine. Well, now they are making shaving mug soap pucks, too. You might think, “What’s the difference? It’s just soap.” Oh, but it’s not. Shaving soap needs to have a special lather to it, and it needs to soothe the skin while it facilitates the razor. Try it out in your shaving mug with your camel hair brush, and it you don’t have those, they’ll set you up with the whole kit!

Cherry plums from Tiny's. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are cherry plums from Tiny’s. They’re plums that are about the size of cherries, not some whacky hybrid of cherries and plums, like you’d expect from those crazy cats at Tiny’s. But they have a fascinating sweetness and flavor. In fact, some of them actually taste a bit of fresh coconut. Go figure.

Apple mint from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One of the talking heads on the local TV news Saturday night said that one of things we can do to keep cool during our latest hot spell is to add mint to our water. I don’t know the chemistry and biology behind this, but hey, if they say it on the TV news, it must be true, right? And even if it’s not, who cares? It’s mint! What’s it going to do to you except make your water tasty and your breath minty fresh. You might want to give some of this apple mint from Boistfort Valley Farm a shot for this purpose.

Romanesco from Alm Hill. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, the mighty Romanesco, great cauliflower of Italy, and, to the best of my knowledge, the only vegetable that grows in perfect fractal spirals. Check out those totally awesome fractals in this Romanesco from Alm Hill Gardens. Honestly, is this not one of the coolest looking vegetables you have ever seen?

Lemon cucumbers from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lemon cucumbers, like these from Oxbow Farm, are pretty cool, too. Don’t they kinda look like lemons? And they are plenty tasty, too. I’m thinking they’ll go well in a concoction for some bruschetta, don’t you know.

Monogrammed Desem whole wheat sour dough bread from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I took this photo of a big loaf of Tall Grass Bakery Desem sourdough, whole wheat bread last Thanksgiving. At the time, I actually figured the big “TG” must have been for Thanksgiving. Then I smartened up and realized it was the monogrammed initials of the bakery itself. Desem is a lovely bread, giving you the richness of whole wheat with that wonderful sourdough culture. If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot today. You’ll thank me later!

And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. And thank you!