Chef Peter Birk of Ray's Boathouse performing an Eat Local for Thanksgiving cooking demo in 2008. Photo copyright 2008 by Zachary D. Lyons.
The holiday season is already upon us, and our weather isn’t letting us forget it. Nothing like a blast of cold air to make any native Northerner think, “yup, it’s gotta be about Thanksgiving by now!” And indeed, it is. That great American holiday that is not remotely unique to this country. Indeed, every culture on earth has some sort of Thanksgiving celebration. But I think we Gringos may take it more seriously than just about anyone else. Heck, the whole bloody country shuts down for the day. Christmas, New Year’s Day and Independence Day aren’t as thoroughly observed in this country as Thanksgiving Day is. But I worry sometimes that we forget this day is about more than just football, family and feasting — it is first and foremost about being thankful for the ridiculous bounty we enjoy in this nation.
So let’s first give thanks for the land which, really, was taken from millions of people who were here before our ancestors showed up. After all, we can’t lose the irony that we celebrate this day with a feast purported to be modeled after one held amongst Pilgrims and natives in Plimouth, Massachusetts in the early 1600s. And as we feast, we should also give thanks for the land and the farmers that give us the bountiful tables over which we gather each year at this time. In fact, thank a farmer yourself today during your visit to your Ballard Farmers Market. And Eat Local for Thanksgiving. There really is no excuse not to make your entire table local this year. As you read this post today, take a moment as you look at the photos to reflect on just how thorough your Ballard Farmers Market is at supplying you with everything you could want on your table this Thursday. Take Cascade Harvest Coalition’s Eat Local for Thanksgiving pledge, and stop by for some great side dish ideas for Thanksgiving from Chef Peter Birk of Ray’s Boathouse during his 4th annual Eat Local for Thanksgiving cooking demonstration from noon-1 p.m. (You find his recipes already posted to this blog. Either scroll down, or click on Chef Recipes under categories in the right-hand menu.)
Turkeys looking a bit nervous at Alm Hill Farms. Photo courtesy Growing Washington.
Hey, you slackers! You’re in luck. Though all of our regular poultry farmers are already sold out of their turkeys for Thanksgiving, two other farms actually still have some to offer you: Alm Hill Gardens and Tiny’s Organic. Clayton from Alm Hill says his big birds (pictured above — no, that’s not a self-shot of Clayton) are 16-17 pounds each and are going for $5.49/pound. He doesn’t have many left, so check in early. And Tiny’s will have 15-20 heirloom turkeys to choose from in the low teens in weight. They have three heirloom varieties to choose from, though again, they are likely to go fast. Today, if you want one of these turkeys, you must not be a turkey yourself. Get up, bundle up, and get down to your Ballard Farmers Market early!
Brooke Lucy from Bluebird Grain Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Brooke Lucy from Bluebird Grain Farms will be back today with all their great grain and flour products. This will be their only day here until the Sunday before Christmas, so stock up. Also, not only will Bluebird feature its own cooking demonstration today, but their emmer flour will be featured in Chef Peter Birk’s cooking demonstration as well. So come get some great ideas for working with local grains, and in particular emmer, the most ancient of grains.
Carnival squash from Anselmo Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Anselmo Farms has some spectacular winter squash right now, like this carnival squash. You know you want to roast some of these bad boys up for T-Day, don’t you? Mmm. And please give thanks with us for Anselmo Farms as your Ballard Farmers Market’s founding farmer. They spent the first winter with us through the rain, snow, wind and cold, all by themselves, in the parking lot of the old US Bank, where the library now is. But for them, we might not be enjoying this Market today. And please remember, as you give thanks, that markets like this don’t just magically happen. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into them. And believe you me, we are thankful for the loyalty and support our Ballard community has shown us for the last 10 years. Oh, and thank you for voting your Ballard Farmers Market the best farmers market yet again in Seattle Magazine’s Best of 2010 issue, which hits newsstands this week.
Cheese maker Matthew Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery in one of his four cheese caves in Port Townsend. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Looking for a great aged cheese for your holiday table? Have you ever tried Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Trailhead tomme? I love this stuff. And I love this photo of Mt. Townsend’s Matthew Day, looking like a king maker with shelf after shelf of Trailhead aging in one of their caves above his head. You know, at the moment, it is the only tomme available at your Ballard Farmers Market, what with the unfortunate absence of Estrella Family Creamery (who could use a couple of good pro bono attorneys to help them in their battle with the FDA, if you have any ideas), and with the Port Madison goats taking the rest of the year off to have babies.
Award winning wines from Lopez Island Vineyards. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Have you checked out our latest award-winning vendor, Lopez Island Vineyards? I mean, just check out this lineup of medal winning wines. Lopez Island Vineyards produces many wines unique to the Puget Sound Appellation of Washington, and they are all certified organic. So how about a bottle of truly local, and award winning, vino for your holiday table, eh?
Fresh celery from Red Barn Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Okay, just how many of your holiday recipes call for celery? Like, just about all of them, right? Well, let Julie at Red Barn Farm hook you up with some of her amazingly crisp and delicious local celery.
Baguettes from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Looking for great artisan bread for Thanksgiving… or for tonight? Ballard’s own Tall Grass Bakery has got you covered there. Did you know that Tall Grass got its start with us, even before we moved from Fremont to Ballard in 2000? Yup. Indeed, you might be surprised at just how much of your local food scene in the neighborhood grew out of your Ballard Farmers Market. Like one of the latest Ballard businesses, Platypus Breads, which can set you up with your gluten-free bread needs.
Chanterelle mushrooms from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.
I am guessing you will want to work some chanterelle mushrooms into your favorite stuffing this week, right? Well, several vendors have them today, like these beautiful specimens from Boistfort Valley Farm.
Brussels sprouts from Nash's. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
And if you are like me, Brussels sprouts are a must on your Thanksgiving table. I like to sauté my Brussels sprouts, like these lovelies from Nash’s, with some bacon and shallots, and finish them off with a little white wine — all of which you will also find today at the Market.
Whoopie Pies from Cupcake Luv. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Hey kids, we’ve got a great new vendor at your Ballard Farmers Market this week: Cupcake Luv! Oh, and feeeeel the cupcake love, indeed! Honestly, I am not a huge cupcake fan, and the whole cupcake frenzy in this town kinda bores me, but when I was first introduced to the good folks at Cupcake Luv this past April as they were applying for our weekday markets, I fell in love with the Luv immediately. Besides the fact that their stuff is both creative and delicious, they actually are using all Washington flour, from Shepherd’s Grain. And they use as many ingredients direct from local producers as they can. My personal favorite is their Whoopie Pies, pictured above. Enjoy!
Pepper wreathes and strands from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
You’ll want to gussy up your abode for the holiday, and why not do it with one or more of these magnificent pepper wreathes and strands from Alvarez Organic Farms? You know, the same extended family works with the Alvarez’s every year stringing these gorgeous creations. They bring an innate sense of beauty to them in much the same way our many Hmong farmers do to their flower arrangements. And ain’t it cool that we get to be the beneficiaries of such wonderful cultural traditions? Let’s give some thanks for that, too!
Rio Grande russet potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Potatoes are a must for your Thanksgiving table, and whether you plan to boil, mash, pan-fry, roast or steam them, Olsen Farms has the perfect potato for you. Like these nice, starchy Rio Grande russets, perfect for mashing. In fact, Chef Peter Birk will be working with these potatoes today during his cooking demonstration today at noon.
Empire apples from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Be they for saucing, juicing, making pies, adding to salads or eat right off the core, apples are a must this week, and every week. Being from New York State originally — from the farm country of the Mid-Hudson Valley — I grew up on Macintosh apples. Well, Collins Family Orchards has a wonderful cousin of the Mac, known as the Empire apple, which has a similar clean, sweet and tart flavor and a great crunch, and as my family makes sauce, cider, pie and all with Macs, I imagine you can do the same with these puppies. You can thank me later.
A variety of dairy products from Golden Glen Creamery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.
Whether it is cheese, butter or milk, you need it, and Golden Glen Creamery has it. In fact, their butter is the only farmstead butter in Washington. And the fact that they bottle their milk in refillable glass is not only good for the environment, it makes their milk taste better, too.
Pecan pie from Deborah's Homemade Pies. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.
And hey, you are going to be doing enough cooking this week… or maybe you are going to someone else’s house and have to bring dessert, but you are too busy, too much of a slacker or too inept in the kitchen to make it yourself. No problemo! Why not pickup a pie from Deborah’s Homemade Pies? She’s got apple, pecan and a bunch of other kinds, and I kid you not, they are the best friggin’ pies on the planet. And what makes a great pie? Great crust, and Deborah’s is perfect. Just don’t tell my dad.
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!