Posts Tagged ‘ozette potatoes’

Sunday, September 19th: Winter Squash, Bags O’ Carrots, Chanterelles, Native Potatoes, Grapes, Parsnips – Basically, Lots Of New Stuff! Woohoo!

September 19, 2010

Kabocha squash from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fall begins (officially) this coming week, though it feels like it’s been fall for weeks now. I keep finding myself thinking it is really warm for December, you know? I mean, since when do we get a Pineapple Express in September? I might get that beach front property on Crown Hill yet! But hey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? So lets take a break from building our arcs today to embrace all the lovely fall crops arriving now at our beloved Ballard Farmers Market. Heck, the weather is certainly conducive to cooking fall foods, so we might as well celebrate them now, eh? Like these kabocha squash from Alvarez Organic Farms. Alvarez won the winter squash sweepstakes this year, though actually you’ll find some from other farmers around the Market now, too.

Nash's Best Carrots. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For those who argue that Nash’s Best Carrots are the sweetest carrots on earth, it is time to rejoice. Nash’s has them again, all bagged up in 5-pound bags ready for crunchy and juicing. Grab a bag to keep on hand for the kids’ lunch boxes and afternoon snacks. If they must eat sweets, let them eat these sweet carrots!

Chanterelle mushrooms from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I have been getting wild chanterelle mushrooms from Mike Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farm since 1991. Seriously. And they have always been the most beautiful, clean, delicious chanterelles I’ve ever had, just like everything else Mike seems to produce from his farm.

Ozette potatoes from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ozette potatoes, like these from Oxbow Farm, are, for all practical purposes, Washington’s only native potato. They are one of four potatoes brought to the Pacific Northwest by Spanish traders in the 1790s. The Spanish established a trading post at Neah Bay in 1791, and they brought with them from South America this fingerling potato that eventually took its name from the local tribes. The Spanish barely lasted until 1793. Apparently, they didn’t like the weather. (Must’ve been two years of weather like the last two we’ve had!) So they buggered off back to points south. But they left the Ozette potato behind, and now it is only one of four potatoes in North America to have travelled here directly from South America. You see, believe it or not, all the other potatoes we know and love here in North America came here from South America via Europe. So enjoy these wonderful native potatoes. They are extremely hardy and rain tolerant, and they are one of the most flavorful and versatile spuds you will ever meet.

Grapes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for some sweet, local grapes to munch on or juice? Magana Farms has some right now. For a state that produces so many grapes, not too many make it to the Market. They mostly get turned into wine. So enjoy some of the few that escape the wine press… that is, unless you press them yourself.

Chinese spinach from Children's Garden. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Last summer was so hot that Children’s Garden’s Chinese spinach didn’t seem to have a chance. But with this summer being cooler and wetter, their Chinese spinach crop is rocking! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This is very possibly the most beautiful vegetable on the planet. Grab some from Children’s Garden today, and ask them to give you some cooking tips while you’re at it.

Black beans from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, shelling beans. They are here, finally. Just look at these gorgeous black beans from Stoney Plains. They also have cannellini beans, cranberry beans and edamame now, too, plus some late-season shelling peas. Enjoy them while you can. Or, you can shell them and easily freeze them and enjoy them like they’re fresh during the dark, wet months. After shelling them, I just put them into pint freezer bags, and then, to give them extra protection, I put several pint bags into gallon freezer bags. Then I just pull them out as I need them, cook them in well-salted boiling water until just tender, and then eat them as is, or added to or sided with other foods. I particularly like cannellini beans tossed with duck fat and served alongside for of Sea Breeze Farm’s sausages and some roasted Ozettes.

Sweet corn from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another weird side-effect of our summer that wasn’t is the ridiculously late sweet corn season. Oh, well. So we all have to suffer with corn in September and October. Oh, the humanity! Well, finally, Westside sweet corn is coming into the Market in adundance. Like this sweet corn from Alm Hill. You know, you can also freeze this stuff very easily, too. Cut the corn from the cobs as soon as you can after getting them home, then put the kernels in pint freezer bags. No need to blanch them , or the beans, first.

Parsnips from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And how about some parsnips? Yup, Colinwood Farms, which came oh, so close to beating Alvarez for the first winter squash of the season, has easily beaten everyone else with the first parsnips of the season. So now, with turnips, beets, spuds, rutabagas, carrots and parsnips in the Market, you can have some absolutely outrageous root roasts, eh? Oh, yeah. Bring on fall, baby. (And we’ll take that with a side of cool, dry, sunshine, please.)

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now!

August 23rd: Fish Eggs, Shelling Beans, Native Potatoes & Wild Berries

August 23, 2009
Loki Keta Ikura. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Loki Keta Ikura. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ballard Farmers Market offers many delicacies unique to the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Beautiful keta ikura — salmon roe — from Loki Fish can add a little pop of briny deliciousness to many dishes, or just enjoy it atop a cracker on its own.

Washington's only native potato -- the Ozette -- from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Washington's only native potato -- the Ozette -- from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Washington may be the #1 potato producing state, but did you know that only one potato is considered native to Washington? Yep. It seems almost all potatoes, which are ultimately indigenous to South America, made their way to North America via Europe. But a handful of potato varieties travelled with the Spanish directly to North America up the West Coast in the late 1700s. One of these is the Ozette potato, named for the Makah Nation that has called them a staple of their diet for over 200 years — since the Spanish hastily abandoned their Neah Bay outpost after only one year in 1792 because the great conquerers couldn’t handle our Northwest winter. (Sissies. I mean, could you imagine Mayor Nickels doing that? Uh. Whoops.) Anywho, the result is we have our very own native potato now that is even recognized by Slow Food for its importance, and you can get some from Oxbow Farm today.

Wild blue huckleberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wild blue huckleberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s wild huckleberry season, and Foraged & Found Edibles has plenty of them. In fact, this is the time of year these folks really get cranking with all sorts of goodies they find just growing out there in the mighty forests and wildlands of Washington. For instance, with the help of our recent week of rain, they’ve now also got chanterelle and lobster mushrooms, too, with more fun stuff arriving over the coming weeks as our days grow shorter.

Cranberry shelling beans from Alm Hill. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cranberry shelling beans from Alm Hill. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, maybe they aren’t so much unique or wild, but some fine researchers at Washington State University have been carefully testing shelling bean varieties over the last decade to see which ones grow best here. After all, different crops will succeed or fail based on a region’s climate, soil conditions, etc. The result is that many of our market farmers now offer all sorts of shelling beans to us at the Market. This was not the case just five years ago. Above is an example of cranberry beans from Alm Hill. And below are black turtle beans from Growing Things. And, of course, you can usually get many of these beans dried from Stoney Plains or Alvarez.

Black turtle shelling beans from Growing Things. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Black turtle shelling beans from Growing Things. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fine research, or perhaps mad science, has led to an extraordinary proliferation of incredible stone fruits in recent years, and with farms like Tiny’s, Collins and ACMA diversifying their orchards, we get to enjoy many of them. In fact, while it is not so much the case, as some would have you think, that crops like tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes change every week, when it comes to tree fruit, succession is the name of the game. Every fruit has is day, literally, so market farmers diversify not just to wow us, but more importantly to extend their season. If they just grew two kinds of cherries, one apricot and a couple of peaches, their Market presence would be very short lived indeed. Instead, they plant all different kinds of fruit that is constantly coming into and going out of season. The result is that you must, in fact, come to the Market every week to see what’s new. From plums and pluots to apricots and apriums; from apples and pears to nectarines and peaches, there are literally dozens os varieties, with Market displays changing constantly. For instance, these Sun Plums, below, from Tiny’s will be in season just a few weeks at most, and then they will be replaced by something else.

Brilliant sun plums from Tiny's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Brilliant sun plums from Tiny's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another family of crops being championed by WSU researchers are melons, and in particular, the small melons categorically referred to as “ice box melons.”  Again, the result is that we are seeing many more melons in the Market than we used to, because local farmers have many more reliable seeds to work with, courtesy of WSU. Take these French Mush melons from Full Circle Farm, for instance. They are so small, they fit in the palm of your hand.

French Musk melons from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

French Musk melons from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally today, this has nothing to do with WSU research, wild, native or unique crops, or even fruits and vegetables, but it does have to do with embracing old-world meat-curing techniques to produce superb products for our kitchen and table. I speak of Sea Breeze Farm and their latest example of animaliciousness: pancetta. Ah, the sweet, dry-aged ripeness of pork bellies salted, seasoned and preserved as they have been for centuries in Italy. Thankfully, the boys from Vashon are making it closer to home, and bringing it to us at the Market. Enjoy!

Pancetta from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pancetta from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So spread the word far and wide. It is time to descend upon Ballard Farmers Market for another glorious week to revel in the bounty of Washington, one of the truly great food regions on earth. Of course, you might want to get a head start on your family and friends before you tweet, just in case.