Fresh Hood Canal Spot Prawns from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.
These Spot Prawns, caught on Friday by Hama Hama Oyster Company in Hood Canal, are, for my money, the sweetest, most delicious shrimp on earth! Huh? Wait! Are they shrimp or are they prawns? Well, they are shrimp, folks, despite their name. And there is a biological difference. That said, for our purposes, who really cares, am I right? These beauties are spectacular! And that red color is the color they are when they are alive. Seriously. Most shrimp are grey or brown and turn a brilliant pink or red when they are cooked. Spots start out that way. In fact, it is this red color in Northern Pacific shrimp that gives salmon its red colored flesh when they eat it. White king salmon is just normal king salmon with a genetic mutation that prevents it from metabolizing this pigment from the shrimp into their bodies.
Yeah, yeah… aren’t I just a wealth of information, you are thinking, but tell us more about these shrimp. Okie-dokie. Spot prawns are very sweet because they come from the frigid waters of the North Pacific — in this case, Hood Canal. They are also very delicate, so be very careful not to overcook them. If adding them to a dish, add them last, and only when everything else in the meal is ready to go. They take just a few minutes to cook, and they should have just barely lost their translucence when they’re fully cooked. They’ll be very tender, without a hint of chewiness, melting in divine sweetness on your tongue. The local spot prawn fishery is very carefully regulated, and these are from a rare one-day opening on Hood Canal. Who knows when the next opening will happen? So take advantage of this opportunity for super-fresh, local spot prawns direct from the source while you can, cuz the fact is, this is the first time in the 12-year history of your Ballard Farmers Market that we’ve ever had fresh spot prawns. Seriously.
Over-Wintered Cauliflower in the field in Sequim from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Over-wintered crops tend to be incredibly sweet and flavorful, having built up sugars and nutrients to help them survive the harsh cold, dark, wet months. This over-wintered cauliflower from Nash’s Organic Produce is dense and delicious, and it will absolutely blow you away. And hey, it’s been a few months since we’ve had fresh cauliflower at your Ballard Farmers Market, right? Enjoy it while it lasts, as this harvest will be short, and then we wait another month or two for the summer crop.
Red Dandelion Greens from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.
These red rib dandelion greens are stunning, aren’t they? Then again, everything grown by One Leaf Farm from Carnation tends to be stunning. Entering their second year, One Leaf kinda burst out of the gates last year at our Madrona Farmers Market, blowing us all away with the beauty and quality of their crops right from the git-go. Today, we welcome One Leaf to your Ballard Farmers Market for a few weeks in spring as we await the return of other farms, and they await the return of the Madrona market on May 18th. One Leaf will have lots of other beautiful stuff today, including pink beauty radishes, kale and collard raabs, fresh sage and parsley, lettuce and much more. Stop by today and give them a big ol’ Ballard welcome!
Squash blossoms & baby squash from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.
What?!? Squash blossoms? Now, we’re just screwing with you, you’re thinking. Nope! These beauties are fresh out of the greenhouses of Colinwood Farms in Port Townsend. They’ll have quite a few today, and maybe even a few baby zukes, if we’re lucky. Can’t you just taste them now, filled with local goat cheese and lightly battered and fried? Oh, yeah, baby! That’s livin’!
Asparagus from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Ah, beautiful, young asparagus from Magana Farms in Sunnyside. This first asparagus of the season, in April, is the sweetest, most tender of the year. And now Magana, and four other farms have it in abundance, weeks earlier than last year, at your Ballard Farmers Market. Roast some in your oven tonight with some spring onions, and some morels, if you can find them!
Rhubarb from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.
And how about some ruby red rhubarb to thoroughly demonstrate that spring is here to stay! Stoney Plains Organic Farm has lots of it right now, just waiting for you to make, well, all sorts of deliciousness with it. Pies and crisps, sure, but how about sauces, soups, pickles and more? Get creative with it! This is one of Washington’s premier crops, you know. We produce more than any other state.
Organic Red Onions from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.
We welcomed Alvarez Organic Farms back to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with lots and lots of organic asparagus. Well, they’ve got lots of other stuff, too, right now, like shallots, dried beans and chiles, and these gorgeous red onions. Stop by, say ‘hi’, and grab yourself some Yakima Valley goodness!
Fresh goat yogurt from Silver Springs Creamery. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Silver Springs Creamery is in full swing with the new year’s goat yogurt, now that the kidding season is over, and the girls are back to working hard. You know, I love visiting Silver Springs, up north of Bellingham, just miles from the Canadian border. The spring after which the farm is named is the purest in Whatcom County and runs right through the middle of the farm. And the pasture is so green and beautiful. I love how, at milking time, the goats walk themselves into the milking parlor and hop right up on their little stands to be milked. Farmer Eric Sundstrom and his two children just need to be there to milk them. Try some of their goat milk, yogurt or cheese today. You’ll taste healthy pastures and happy goats, and you’ll be healthy and happy, too!
Over-Wintered Beets from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Let’s finish off this week’s epistle with some over-wintered beets from Alm Hill Gardens, just down the road a piece from Silver Springs in Whatcom County. You can tell these tasty roots are over-wintered just by looking at them. The roots are big, while the leaves are little. That’s because the leaves froze off a couple of times over the winter, and they’ve only just grown back a little. That makes the roots oh, so sweet, and the leaves oh, so tender! You know, Sarah Palin may be able to see Russian from her back door, but from Alm Hill, they can see Canada! So cruise on by for some of these yummy beets, maybe some tulips, and all their other goodies that come from so far north that, if they were any farther north, they’d need a passport to come to your Ballard Farmers Market!
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.