Sunday, January 10th: Tulips, Wool Yarn, Pizza, Wild Mushrooms, Fresh Lamb & Sunchokes. January is Still a Month of Plenty!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and this is not a file photo. This past Sunday, Alm Hill Gardens brought their first fresh-cut tulips of the new season to your Ballard Farmers Market. They "force" them in their greenhouses, so we can enjoy them in the darkest, coldest time of year. Thank you, Alm Hill Gardens, for providing us a ray of hope that spring is just around the corner.

Just as refreshing this past week was the return of fiddle player, Arwen Morgan, a member of the very musical Morgan family which performs as a group under the name The Cutters, though many of them play individually at Ballard Farmers Market. But Arwen's return, after an absence of almost a year, is particularly uplifting. You see, she suffered a terrible accident early in 2009 in which she broke her back, and until a month ago, it still hurt her too much to stand out and play for us. But play for us again she is now doing, so if you see her, welcome her back, and toss something in her fiddle case to make sure she covers the spread on medical bills, and maybe someday, our artists and farmers won't have to worry about getting hurt, because we'll all be covered by insurance, kinda like they do in Sweden and Brazil.

Have you stopped by to welcome our newest Ballard Farmers Market vendor, 'Zaw Artisan Pizza In The Raw? These guys are making pizzas fresh at the Market, using Market ingredients and organic dough and sauce, for you to take home and bake. Take their Brussels Sprouts & Bacon pizza (above), for instance. The sprouts are from Nash's, and the bacon is from Skagit River Ranch. And hey, we all knew that bacon makes Brussels sprouts taste good to anyone. So why not take it a step further and make a pizza out of it, right?

Not all the farm products you'll find at Ballard Farmers Market are edible, but they are farm products nevertheless, so if you're gonna buy them somewhere, won't you feel better buying them directly from the farmer? Take these beautiful hand-dyed and spun wool yarns from Brookfield Farm, from up in Whatcom County. All of this wool comes from their own sheep. Plus, they produce wooden furniture from their own trees. If you're gonna sit down and knit a sweater, might as well do it on one of their chairs with some of their yarn, eh?

Our local forests and mountains are still producing tasty fungi, and the good folks from Foraged & Found Edibles bring them to us every week at Ballard Farmers Market. Wild black trumpet mushrooms (above) are in season right now, and they often have other varieties we don't report on here, as they are too unpredictable or in too small quantities. They may even still have some Washington truffles today. But check with them early, as anything unusual will sell out quickly.

The Market is still loaded with fruit, from apples to pluots to these gorgeous Asian pears from Martin Family Orchards. You'll find great fruit from ACMA, Collins, Jerzey Boyz, Lyall, Rockridge and Tiny's this week as well.

Pasteria Lucchese makes some wonderful fresh pastas by hand. They have a perfect elasticity and bite to them, besides being just plain delicious, and their ravioli and plin are simply inspired. They use many Market ingredients for their fillings, too. So treat yourself to some tonight, and let Sam give you tips on how to dress them.

Sea Breeze Farm treated us to fresh lamb again this past week. Of course, their refer-case display varies from week to week, depending of what they have slaughtered and butchered on the farm that week, but you can always count on whatever they have in their case to be fresh and magnificent. So if it's full of lamb, get lamb. If it's full of pork, get pork. It's all good.

It is that time of year to celebrate sunchokes, that most North American of tubers that kept many a Native American and colonist alive through the harsh winter months way back in the day. Sunchokes, a.k.a, Jerusalem artichokes, like these from Full Circle Farm (above) can be used much like potatoes (which are South American). I like them in root roasts and soups. Try puréeing them with parsnips, or you can steam cubes of them until just fork tender -- about ten minutes -- then brown them in butter and fresh thyme like home fries.

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.