Posts Tagged ‘prunes’

Sunday, August 11th: A Little Rain Makes For Happy Farmers & Even More Local Deliciousness!

August 10, 2013
Wild Black Elderberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wild Black Elderberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For a couple of weeks each summer, Foraged & Found Edibles is able to harvest these wild black elderberries. They had some to offer last Sunday, and hopefully, they will have more today. Native to Eastern Washington, they can be made into wine, jellies, sauces. syrups, baked goods and more. They are loaded with vitamin C, are coated with a natural, wild yeast that makes them ideal for making wine and as a bread starter, and they are believed to have many medicinal qualities as well.

Saffron corms from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Saffron corms from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are saffron corms from Phocas Farms. They are the bulb from which the saffron crocus grows. And when these crocus bloom, it is the bright red stigma that becomes the spice we all know as saffron. Surprisingly, saffron crocus grows well around here. Equally surprising is that August is a great time of year to plant their corms, because they spring to life and bloom in early fall when most other plants are going into hibernation. So, while it is next to impossible for you to get your hands on the dried saffron spice that Phocas Farms produces, because it is all pre-sold to local chefs, you can get some of their corms and try growing it yourself!

Sharon (left) & Gary McCool of Rosecrest Farm chatting with our own Gil Youenes in their on-farm shop. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sharon (left) & Gary McCool of Rosecrest Farm chatting with our own Gil Youenes in their on-farm shop. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When we visited Rosecrest Farm in Chehalis, we learned some naturally cool things about how they make their amazing Swiss cheeses. The photo above was taken in their on-farm store, and that big, white door between Sharon and Gary McCool is the door to their aging room. That door is something like 16″ thick. Seriously. See, the room was originally built decades ago for aging beef, and it was designed to maintain a constant temperature without refrigeration. Amazing! And perfect for aging cheese, as it holds at 50 degrees or so year-round. That’s pretty cool, figuratively and literally.

Fennel bulb from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fennel bulb from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Check out these ginormous fennel bulbs from Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington). Fennel bulb is wonderful stuff. I add it raw to salads, grill it, cook it down into a nice, caramelized accent to pork, pickle it… the sky’s the limit. It has a mild licorice flavor and is slightly sweet. And it is great this time of year. Just be sure to clean it thoroughly, as bits of dirt get down inside it.

A smoked whole side of king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

A smoked whole side of king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wilson Fish is catching some of the largest wild king salmon of the season right now off the coast of Washington. And because these fish are getting ready to swim up Northwest rivers, like the Hoh and Frasier, to spawn until they die, they are loaded up with delicious fat. And that makes for incredible smoked king salmon. This is as moist and divine as any smoked salmon you will ever taste. But because they smoke it up fresh every week, they also sell out every week, so get here early!

Red pearl onions from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Red pearl onions from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I heart pearl onions from Boistfort Valley Farm. These tiny little alliums are only available fresh for a few weeks each summer — a very common theme in today’s post, eh? They may be available dried in the fall, but I like them best sautéed fresh with hericot vert beans (find them now from Growing Things Farm or Stoney Plains Organic Farm), and both are only available fresh this time of year. Peel the outer skin off of the pearl onions, and trim off the top and the root hairs, but keep the onions whole for cooking. I like to toss them with a good bacon — try the jowl bacon from Olsen Farms, which has a nice smoky sweetness to it. As the bacon browns, its fat renders out and caramelizes the onions beautifully. When the onions start to become translucent, and the bacon is mostly rendered out and beginning to brown, toss in the beans and sauté them all together until the beans are heated through but still have a nice crunch to them, which just takes a few minutes. Enjoy!

Shamrock apples from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Shamrock apples from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This time of year, as the early apples come into season, it is not uncommon to see different varieties of apples come and go every week. Between the different growing seasons throughout Washington and the hundreds of different varieties of apples grown here, apples are seemingly always coming into or going out of season. On the one hand, that means you need to pay attention, so that you can enjoy your favorites while they are in season. On the other hand, if you are more adventurous, you can experiment with new kinds of apples all the time! Like these Shamrock apples from Tiny’s Organic Produce, which are in season right now… for a little while, anyway.

Japanese Black Truffle tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Japanese Black Truffle tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This week’s gorgeous tomato of the week from our friends at One Leaf Farm is the Japanese Black Truffle tomato. This heirloom tomato traces its origins to Russian, where it is prized and fetches a high price. Its flesh is very dark, ergo its name. (Though you might ask, “then why is it called ‘Japanese’ if it’s from Russian?” Don’t have a good answer for you.) It is pear shaped, and it has a deep, rich flavor. It is just one of eight tomato varieties currently being harvested by One Leaf! (See a photo album of all their tomatoes on our Facebook page.)

Tomatillos from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatillos from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatillos! Hmm. Can you say salsa? Alvarez Organic Farms has everything — and I do mean everything — you will need for amazing salsas right now, from these tomatillos to tomatoes to garlic to onions to chile peppers to cucumbers! Heck, you can even toss in some of their watermelon!

Early Italian prunes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Early Italian prunes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Italian prunes have early and late varieties, meaning we see some in August, and then some more in October. And lucky us, as they are one of the finest stone fruits around! But don’t get hung up in the name “prune” like Californians did. They actually rebranded them as “plums” because they were worried that Americans associated the word “prune” with constipated old people. Europeans do not have this uptightness, and the Italians celebrate their beloved prunes. And while they will keep you regular, please do not be afraid to eat these delicious jewels because of their name. Eat them fresh, dried, in jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys, syrups, pies, tarts and more. Find them today from Magaña Farms.

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

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

Speaking of folks who can appreciate a fine prune, Deluxe Foods is back today with their wonderful lineup of jams, jellies, chutneys and sauces, though it is a little early yet for their prune varieties. See, they make their products with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients using heirloom recipes, and they sell them until, well, they run out. That means we’ll see prune flavors in a month or two, just in time for hearty fall dishes. For now, you can enjoy their berry flavors on your toast, like this Raspberry Jam with Thyme.

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, October 9th: Award-Winning Wine, A Rainbow Of Chard, Fermented Vegetables, Concord Grapes, Porcini Mushrooms, Alfalfa Honey & So Much More!

October 9, 2011

Two more award-winning wines from Lopez Island Vineyards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery has won many awards for its wines, and in particular for its 2009 Malbec & Madeleine Angevine, above. They have just released their 2010 Madeleine Angevine, of which they only made 40 cases. They’ve set aside 5 cases for their Ballard Farmers Market faithful. If you would like a bottle (or 2) of what could very well be the most flavorful “Mad Angie” they have ever produced (and it has been a consistent award winner for over 20 years), stop by their stall at the Market today, as it may not be here next week! Also, they are offering the last of their Platinum Award winning 2009 Malbec today. Grab some for the holidays now, while you can!

Carrie modeling broccoli from Alm Hill Gardens back in 2009 at Wallingford Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill’s beloved Carrie Palk is leaving us soon to return to Ohio to be closer to her family. So we’ve been honoring her with lots of fun photos of her modeling Alm Hill’s produce each week. Today’s photo was taken back in 2009 at Wallingford Farmers Market. One look at this photo, and even George Herbert Walker Bush would eat broccoli! And truth be told, this year’s broccoli crop is, itself, the best looking in years, and Alm Hill’s got lots of it right now.

Rainbow chard from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

The nights are cooler now, and I don’t know about you, but I am spending a lot more time in the kitchen again. I loves me some tasty greens this time of year. Like this spectabulous rainbow chard from Oxbow Farms. Stunning, isn’t it? And sweet as can be! And they’ve got a rockin’ selection of kales now, too, plus collard greens are back. Woohoo! Heck, any day now, it’ll be Brussels sprouts season again. (I can hardly contain myself.)

Caraway sauerkraut from Firefly Kitchens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

As we do the slow fade into the cold, dark, wet months, we bid adieu to some of our farmers who only have summer crops like berries and stone fruit. But that makes room for other familiar vendors to return, after spending the summer vending at our weekday markets. Like Firefly Kitchens, which has returned to your Ballard Farmers Market with all manner of fermented vegetable products made from local ingredients, many of which are sourced right here at the Market. One of my personal favorites is their caraway sauerkraut. This is the kraut made for bratwurst — perfect during Oktoberfest, right?

Giant Italian prunes from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Everyone, run for your lives! It’s the attack of the giant Italian prunes from Collins Family Orchards, and they’re here to overwhelm you with sweet, juicy deliciousness! Aaaaahhhh! You know, I just have to rant again about those wusses at the California Prune Board who decided we should stop calling these prunes because “prune” has a negative connotation. Maybe the stuff they produce does, but not these beauties. They are magnificent. And being a free-stone, they are super easy to dry or jam, too!

Canned salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There are so many ways to enjoy our favorite local fish, salmon. Loki Fish smokes it, freezes it, jerkies it, makes patties and sausages with it, sells their eggs, makes spreads, and, of course, they can it. And this ain’t that mass-produced canned stuff coming from Alaska, via Japan. This is the finest salmon, handled with care, and canned in its own natural juices — perfect for that salmon salad, or stocking stuffers, whenever you like. And, it’s shelf stable!

Concord grapes from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I took a camera class last Saturday at the Woodland Park Zoo, and I got to practice what I learned last Sunday at the Market. The results were interesting, as I played with the use of varying aperture and ISO settings. These concord grapes from Stoney Plains presented a particularly interesting challenge, as I discovered letting more light in was not necessarily desirable, because it tended to wash out the beautiful, deep purple hues of the grapes. Fortunately, I was able to get this crisp shot even with the restricted light on the “auto” setting.

Porcini mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s wild porcini (a.k.a., king bolete) mushroom season again, and Foraged & Found Edibles has lots of them. These are truly one of the great wild mushrooms, but their season is not all that long. Get ’em now, while you can.

Artichokes from Billy's Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Artichokes from Billy’s Gardens. Beautiful, aren’t they? And they are an example of using a low f-stop and a fast ISO. Makes the color pop right out, eh? I mean, don’t you just wanna reach in the computer screen right now and grab a couple for dinner tonight? Hey, if you wanna practice your camera skills, the Market is a great place to do it. Just don’t block anyone’s access to these awesome artichokes, lest you get bonked over the head by a bunch of beets. Trust me. I know.

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

It’s a shame that many people go through their entire lives thinking that the pumpkins used for jack o’lanterns are the only pumpkins. If they ever tried to cook with them, they’d learn fast they aren’t that good. Heck, they’re bred to be big and hollow, not meaty and flavorful. But cooking pumpkins have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. They keep for months, they taste great, and they are extraordinarily versatile. And there are an almost unbelievable number of different varieties of them, too — all different colors and sizes, with all different names. Above are just three from Nature’s Last Stand. So, if you thought pumpkins only came from large bins in front of your local Big Box store, or out of a can, introduce yourself to these gems of the winter squash family this fall. And hey, play a fun game with the kids this fall. Challenge them to find the kind of pumpkin Cinderella’s carriage was made out of . It’s here. Trust me. You can thank me later.

Alfalfa honey and crystalized maple honey from Golden Harvest. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Golden Harvest has a couple of limited edition honeys in its lineup right now, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Above left is their alfalfa honey, which has a fairly rich flavor to it. Alfalfa is a legume, which means its flowers are like those of peas or beans — nectarlicious. And how about some crystalized maple honey. Don’t think Vermont maple syrup here, as we’ve got viney and big leaf maples out here, not sugar maples. But they still offer up a sweet kick of their own. Give it a try.

Cookbook author Michael Natkin doing a photo shoot at Ballard Farmers Market on October 2nd. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of photography, local vegetarian food blogger Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious was doing a photo shoot at the Market last week for his new cookbook. You know, with all the camera crews coming to your Ballard Farmers Market these days, we should start charging them the big bucks, like Pike Place does. Then we can all retire early. As if.

Hey, there is plenty of 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.