Posts Tagged ‘wild huckleberries’

Sunday, August 26th: Righteous Birds, Wild Huckleberries, Thai Basil, Gorgeous Garlic & Celery!

August 26, 2012

Whole pastured chicken from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you ever eaten a really good chicken? I mean, a chicken that you not only talked about for days afterwards, but for years? Well, I have. I believe it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2000 when I drove out to Growing Things Farm in East King County to pick up a chicken from farmer Michaele Blakely for my family to enjoy for Thanksgiving dinner. It was big, beautiful, and it was the best chicken I had ever tasted. It was so good, my family has been eating them ever since for Thanksgiving when we are able to all get together. We don’t miss turkey at all. Well, lucky you. These chickens are available right here at your Ballard Farmers Market.

If you have only ever eaten those mass-produced chickens at the Big Box stores — even the so-called “free range” and “organic” chickens — you will be blown away by one of Michaele’s chickens, because for the first time in your life, you will actually taste what a chicken is supposed to taste like. It’s about the right breed, the right feed, and the right treatment of the chickens, and Growing Things Farm hits the mark on all three counts. Try one this week. You can thank me later! Oh, and you can thank us now by voting for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2012 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest! The deadline to vote is September 3rd, so please vote now! We need everyone to vote!

Wild blue mountain huckleberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These beauties are wild mountain huckleberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. And they are the stuff of legend around here. A month ago, huckleberries briefly were in season over near Spokane, and the Spokane Farmers’ Market posted about them on their Facebook page. I was astounded to see that that photo of huckleberries got something like 75 “likes.” Mind you, them Spokanesters are a bit “like” happy over there. But then, last Sunday, I posted a photo of them on the Ballard Farmers Market Facebook page, and bam!, we got something like 60 “likes.” Apparently, folks around here are a bit bonkers for huckleberries. Well, lucky you, Jeremy’s got a bunch more this week for you at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Polish hardneck garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Meet the Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. They grow… wait for it… garlic! They grow their garlic over on the North Olympic Peninsula, in the Dungeness River Valley, right near Nash’s Organic Produce. And they grow some amazing garlic. From mild to wild, hardnecks and soft skins. Garlic for what ails you. Garlic that assails you. And I don’t even know what that last one means! The most important thing to remember is, there’s no such thing as too much garlic.

Grape tomatoes from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I know. You’re thinking, “What? Just one pint of those grape tomatoes from Boistfort Valley Farm?” Hey, can’t a guy get creative now and then? Besides, they’re kinda purdy surrounded by those lovely, green herbs. And truth be told, these lovely little maters sell so fast, I was lucky to even get this shot! Boistfort’s got all manner of spectacular deliciousness from Southwest Washington on their tables right now. Give them a visit!

Ruble blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These Ruble blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm are descendant from wild blueberries that grow in the mountains of Maine. They have a unique flavor and are packed with antioxidant goodness, and they’re certified organic! And when I first tasted them, they took me right back to my childhood, hiking up Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, eating my weight in wild blueberries as I went.

Celery from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Celery. It may not be sexy, but it is a mainstay in most American kitchens. And it is the perfect vehicle for transporting peanut butter, hummus or onion dip from bowl to pie hole, am I right? It is also really good for you! And right now, Colinwood Farms has some of the sweetest celery I’ve ever tasted. Seriously. It’s actually sweet! Look, you’re going to need celery this week anyway, right? Why not get it from a great local farm?

Golden cauliflower from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This golden cauliflower from Alm Hill Gardens is so stunning, I just had to post it. And these suckers are huge with a capital huge. They dwarf the green beans in the background. And hey, cauliflower is also a great vehicle for onion dip and hummus transport, and it works well with cocktail sauce, too. Or make a nice summery salad with it, some heirloom maters, a little feta and some cukes, all from your Ballard Farmers Market. Woohoo!

Thai basil from Children’s Garden. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This beautiful Thai basil from Children’s Garden is full of tons of flavor. This is the stuff that dreams of the perfect bowl of pho are made of! This is the stuff you always want more of when you go out to any Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. So this is the time to enjoy playing with those flavors at home!

Summer squash from Nature’s Last Stand. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Nature’s Last Stand is rocking the summer squash right now. Theirs is beautiful, perfect, sweet and delicious. Get your ratatouille on. Grill it. Roast it. Eat it raw in salads. Heck, make bread out of it, if you must. Look, folks, you may think you’ve seen plenty of this stuff this summer, but summer is running out. This is the last market of August, after all. Enjoy these jewels of summer while you can. You will miss them come January.

Shallots from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let us end this week’s epistle with some lovely, freshly harvested shallots from Summer Run Farm. They are big, beautiful and full of amazing flavor. Think of caramelizing some shallots and dressing green beans or some of that summer squash with them. Maybe add a little bacon to the mix. Oh, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and 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.

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.

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.