Holy Peak Season, Batman, it's August already, and that means it's Farmers Market Week 2010! Yup, from August 1-7, 2010, the whole gosh-darned country celebrates Farmers Market Week. Read Governor Christine Gregoire's official proclamation. And while you are at it, vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2010 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. We're still in 3rd place nationally, out of some 7,000 farmers markets, but we should be in 1st! But Davis, CA is right now, and Rochester, NY is in 2nd. A lot of Ballard fans voted this last week, and we gained a lot of ground on them, but we still have a ways to go. Do you really want to be responsible for allowing CA & NY to beat Ballard because you didn't take 30 seconds to vote? CA & NY win everything, regardless of who is really the best, and we all know Ballard Farmers Market is the best, don't we? So vote! Vote with every one of your email addresses. Email all your friends, family, neighbors, bankers, attorneys, doctors, plumbers, cats, dogs, goldfish, everyone you know and encourage them to vote, too! You see this photo above? That's from Mother's Day 2010. 12,500 people came through your Ballard Farmers Market that day. If half of them voted for Ballard, we'd bury CA & NY. You don't have to have your cookies turned on. You don't have to register with the site. You won't get any junk mail unless you opt in to receive it. You don't have to make a donation. Just click the link, click vote, fill in your name and email, and you are done!
Hey, did I tell you that I finally got a new camera? It has been just over two weeks, and I am still learning all its bells and whistles, but I am pretty happy with the photos it is producing. I must give a shout out to the good folks at Glazer's Camera for taking such good care of me and for matching me up with a rockin' camera perfectly suited to serving the needs of these market blogs. In honor of my new (to me, anyway) camera, I will share more photos than usual today, while at the same time perhaps being a little less verbose. You can't expect me to spew mind-blowing witticisms for all of these lovely photos. I mean, a fellow can give just so much. That said, just look at all those lovely tomatillos from Alvarez Organic Farms above. Salsa verde time!
I love photographing artichokes almost as much as I love eating them. They really are remarkably beautiful vegetables, aren't they? And I must respect any food that threatens me with bodily injury while I pursue eating it. These gorgeous chokes are from Summer Run.
It's 2 a.m. as I write this, and I must admit that I am indulging in the guilty pleasure of listening to Hall & Oates while I work. Not sure if it's the delirium of the hour or my Philly roots, or maybe it's this heaping pile of that stinking rose known as garlic that just takes me back to those soulful tunes I enjoyed in my youth in those sweltering Augusts in South Philadelphia's Italian neighborhood, when the temp and the humidity would both be 95, and the garbage collectors would go on strike. You know, this Korean Red garlic from Stoney Plains will keep away even the fiercest of vampires while bringing a tear to any Italian's eye. And it is strong enough that it will cover up the odor of that garbage strike, too!
Check out these gorgeous rainbow carrots from Full Circle Farm. The other day, as the low clouds from the onshore flow were finally burning off in late afternoon, there was just enough hazy moisture left in the air that I actually saw a rainbow around the sun! It formed a perfect ring encircling the flaming orb. The only time I have seen this phenomenon before is during winter when humidity in the air forms ice crystals that create the rainbow ring, usually indicating that snow is on the way. But to see it in summer was new to me.
Pickling cucumbers are arriving at your Ballard Farmers Market now, like these bathing beauties from Alm Hill Gardens. When I first got involved with farmers markets way the heck back in 1991, one of the farmers at the Olympia Farmers Market, where I got my start, shared her pickling recipe with me. I used pickling cukes grown by Mike Peroni for my first batch of pickles. Mike currently owns Boistfort Valley Farm, and no longer grows pickling cukes. Back then his farm was called Flying Rhino. Ah, the fond memories.
Lapins cherries, like these from Tiny's, are one of the last cherries to come to harvest each summer. I think they are perhaps the most lovely cherries of them all. Just look at that deep, dark, red color they have. They are also one of my favorites to eat. Can you imagine if you didn't have your Ballard Farmers Market to bring you varieties of cherries other than Rainiers and Bings? How boring that would be, but that is in fact the reality of things at even the best grocery stores here in Seattle, a place with better grocery stores than just about any other place in the country, and a place with better cherries, too. That is the difference between farmers markets and grocery stores. And let's face it: grocery stores that do bring in new kinds of crops only do so after those crops have proven themselves at farmers markets for several years. But you and I are savvy enough to cut out the middle man and at the same time enjoy the many heirloom crops our farmers offer us, like Lapins cherries. So, have you voted yet for Ballard Farmers Market?
Oxbow Farm grows some of the most photogenic produce, don't you think? Could these collard greens be any prettier? I think not. They are perfect. Divine. You know, collard greens here are so tender and delicious -- not like the huge collard leaves down South that have to be cooked for friggin' ever, until they are mush. I like sauteing these with bacon and garlic until just wilted and eating them alongside a nice steak. Oh, yeah, baby!
Now that is a spectacular loaf of bread, is it not? It's the All-Rye from Tall Grass Bakery. It is an incredibly moist, quite dense, and uncompromisingly wonderful bread perfectly suited to a big old slather of some of that incredible butter from Golden Glen Creamery, whether your slice be fresh off the loaf or fresh out of the toaster.
It was during the summer of my first year as Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association back in 1999 that I was on a trip to visit the brand new farmers market in Yakima. I was staying at this lovely bed & breakfast on a farm in Naches, and the farm was one of the first few farms to be licensed to grow this new peach called a donut peach. The farmer, still looking for a market for his peaches, sent me home with a box of them. Boy, howdy! I was in love, and I've been in love with them ever since. See, I have always been one of those wusses who doesn't like to deal with all that juice pouring all over me while eating peaches, and the special nature of donut peaches and their tiny pits meant I could enjoy an amazing peach with only a fraction of the mess. I brought home a bunch of these donut peaches from Collins Family Orchards the other day, and I am in peach heaven right now. Makes me think how that Presidents of the United States of America song is passé now that the peaches come to us in the city. No need to move to the country to eat a lot of them anymore.
In as much as I am a wuss when it comes to sloppy peaches, I am a slacker when it comes to salads. So I reach for a bag of salad mix from Colinwood Farms each week. And besides being easy, what I love about salad mix is that it gives me so many different flavors all mixed together without me having to round up all those different ingredients separately. It would take me forever to go through all that stuff it I did. I also love that salad mix is a true expression of the farmer. Each farm's salad mix is different. And I think I have tried just about all of them in Washington over the years. There's this farm over in Sequim called Kol Simcha Farm that produces superb lamb, but they used to also produce the single best salad mix I've ever encountered. I used to go all the way to the Tacoma Farmers Market just to get it from them on Thursdays. You'll find at least a half dozen different salad mixes at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Find the one that works best for you, or just mix it up every week.
Did I say I was going to be less verbose today? Right. Who was I kidding?!? But really, what words can do justice to this image of Raspberry-Blueberry Cream Pie from Deborah's Homemade Pies? It really speaks for itself. But if you have yet to try one of Deborah's ridiculously spectabulous pies, you are out of your flipping mind!!! Honestly, she makes perhaps the best pies on earth. Look, my dad kicks bottom when it comes to making pies, and I genuinely thought I'd never meet a pie that would compare to his... and then I met Deborah and her pies. I swear, if I find at the end of the Market today that she has not sold out of every single pie, I will be forced to stop each and every one of you in the Market next Sunday to ask you how the heck you could get through another week without one of these suckers! I'll do it, too. And for those of you gluten-intolerant types, she's got gluten-free pies even, and she's got savory meat pies for dinner. That's it. Now you've got me wound up. She better be sold out by 2 p.m. today, people!
And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. And thank you!