Sunday, September 19th: Winter Squash, Bags O' Carrots, Chanterelles, Native Potatoes, Grapes, Parsnips - Basically, Lots Of New Stuff! Woohoo!

Fall begins (officially) this coming week, though it feels like it's been fall for weeks now. I keep finding myself thinking it is really warm for December, you know? I mean, since when do we get a Pineapple Express in September? I might get that beach front property on Crown Hill yet! But hey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? So lets take a break from building our arcs today to embrace all the lovely fall crops arriving now at our beloved Ballard Farmers Market. Heck, the weather is certainly conducive to cooking fall foods, so we might as well celebrate them now, eh? Like these kabocha squash from Alvarez Organic Farms. Alvarez won the winter squash sweepstakes this year, though actually you'll find some from other farmers around the Market now, too.

For those who argue that Nash's Best Carrots are the sweetest carrots on earth, it is time to rejoice. Nash's has them again, all bagged up in 5-pound bags ready for crunchy and juicing. Grab a bag to keep on hand for the kids' lunch boxes and afternoon snacks. If they must eat sweets, let them eat these sweet carrots!

I have been getting wild chanterelle mushrooms from Mike Peroni of Boistfort Valley Farm since 1991. Seriously. And they have always been the most beautiful, clean, delicious chanterelles I've ever had, just like everything else Mike seems to produce from his farm.

Ozette potatoes, like these from Oxbow Farm, are, for all practical purposes, Washington's only native potato. They are one of four potatoes brought to the Pacific Northwest by Spanish traders in the 1790s. The Spanish established a trading post at Neah Bay in 1791, and they brought with them from South America this fingerling potato that eventually took its name from the local tribes. The Spanish barely lasted until 1793. Apparently, they didn't like the weather. (Must've been two years of weather like the last two we've had!) So they buggered off back to points south. But they left the Ozette potato behind, and now it is only one of four potatoes in North America to have travelled here directly from South America. You see, believe it or not, all the other potatoes we know and love here in North America came here from South America via Europe. So enjoy these wonderful native potatoes. They are extremely hardy and rain tolerant, and they are one of the most flavorful and versatile spuds you will ever meet.

Looking for some sweet, local grapes to munch on or juice? Magana Farms has some right now. For a state that produces so many grapes, not too many make it to the Market. They mostly get turned into wine. So enjoy some of the few that escape the wine press... that is, unless you press them yourself.

Last summer was so hot that Children's Garden's Chinese spinach didn't seem to have a chance. But with this summer being cooler and wetter, their Chinese spinach crop is rocking! I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This is very possibly the most beautiful vegetable on the planet. Grab some from Children's Garden today, and ask them to give you some cooking tips while you're at it.

Ah, shelling beans. They are here, finally. Just look at these gorgeous black beans from Stoney Plains. They also have cannellini beans, cranberry beans and edamame now, too, plus some late-season shelling peas. Enjoy them while you can. Or, you can shell them and easily freeze them and enjoy them like they're fresh during the dark, wet months. After shelling them, I just put them into pint freezer bags, and then, to give them extra protection, I put several pint bags into gallon freezer bags. Then I just pull them out as I need them, cook them in well-salted boiling water until just tender, and then eat them as is, or added to or sided with other foods. I particularly like cannellini beans tossed with duck fat and served alongside for of Sea Breeze Farm's sausages and some roasted Ozettes.

Another weird side-effect of our summer that wasn't is the ridiculously late sweet corn season. Oh, well. So we all have to suffer with corn in September and October. Oh, the humanity! Well, finally, Westside sweet corn is coming into the Market in adundance. Like this sweet corn from Alm Hill. You know, you can also freeze this stuff very easily, too. Cut the corn from the cobs as soon as you can after getting them home, then put the kernels in pint freezer bags. No need to blanch them , or the beans, first.

And how about some parsnips? Yup, Colinwood Farms, which came oh, so close to beating Alvarez for the first winter squash of the season, has easily beaten everyone else with the first parsnips of the season. So now, with turnips, beets, spuds, rutabagas, carrots and parsnips in the Market, you can have some absolutely outrageous root roasts, eh? Oh, yeah. Bring on fall, baby. (And we'll take that with a side of cool, dry, sunshine, please.)

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!