Big Spoon Jam

Summer is Here--No, Seriously

The Chelans!

Yes, indeedy. Clouds and gloom notwithstanding, we know summer is nearly upon us by the fruits beginning to roll in. Last week I picked up this tasty, earliest cherry variety from Robbie at Collins Family Orchard of Selah, Washington. He expects the first Rainiers this week and his personal favorites, Titans, in early July. For those not quite ready to let go of the fall-winter feeling, Robbie has plenty of Pink Lady apples which still crunch satisfyingly.

The man himself

Strawberries appeared in greater number, provided by Youngquist Farms, Hayton Farms, and Alm Hill. My pint container lasted exactly five minutes once I got home, so it looks like a half-flat will be in order this week.

In the vegetable department, the perfect sugar snap peas continue. We eat these raw with our Homemade Ranch Dressing, steamed with sesame oil, or added to stir-fries.
And Kai at Hedlin Farms was selling little bags of baby artichokes last week! If they're still there this week I plan to get some, having run home to consult my favorite vegetarian cookbook, Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She suggests a simple Baby-Artichoke-and-Scallion Saute, a recipe this blogger did a post on.

Get a napkin, 'cause you're gonna drool reading this

For those of you who eat your way through the Market, I made my first visit of the season to Crepes and sampled their seasonal savory bestseller, the Copper River Salmon Crepe with Caramelized Onions and Creme Fraiche. Uh huh. (Only around for another week or two!) And washed it all down with their "mojito-style sweet tea," a minty-citrusy, refreshing concoction that Marketgoers swig rain or shine. If sweets are more your thing, Crepes' bestselling sweet offering is the Salted Caramel with Bananas, Almonds & Whipped Cream.

Not that the crepe stopped me from swinging by The Box again. I wanted to try the Mini Bagel Burger that I couldn't get my kids to order last week. De-li-cious. And at its modest slider size and price, you still have plenty of stomach and wallet to head over to the next stand.

With all the wonders of the new Market season, I haven't been able to keep you up to date on the latest food-horror books I've been reading, but I'll have a doozy for you soon. It's Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland, and, suffice to say, when my family is on the East Coast this fall for a little vacation, I'm not letting anyone eat the Florida-grown tomatoes. Be thankful we're on the West Coast, and we have lovely tomato options.

Speaking of lovely tomato options, Tina at Big Spoon Jam recommended her Golden Tomato & Citrus Marmalade when I asked what would be great on cheese and crackers to serve at book club. She was right. Piquant and very tasty. Tina says it's also her most local current offering, having been torturously and lovingly made with all those teeny, fiddly, local golden tomatoes.

So get thee to the Market this week! Pick up some old favorites and try something new.

Top Ten Discoveries at the 2012 Bellevue Farmers Market

(Bonus Discovery for my male readers: women love flowers even after Mother's Day. These ones, for example.)

If you didn't make it to Opening Day last week, don't let this Thursday pass you by! I could easily have titled this post "Top 45 Discoveries at the 2012 Bellevue Farmers Market," because there is lots, lots, lots new and exciting.

So, my Ten Discoveries Made on Opening Day. I give you, in no particular order:

  1.  More eggs. Not only do both Growing Things Farms and Skagit River Ranch offer the precious little orbs on Thursdays, but Skagit has increased the size of its flock. Which means no more 100-yard dash necessary from the opening bell, and no more elbowing and heated words required when supplies run low. (Eastsiders may look like relaxed suburbanites, but not if you come between them and their eggs.)
  2. Out-of-this-World Asparagus. Like most asparagus lovers, I've been "cheating" with Mexican- and California-grown varieties since about February, but last week I laid hands on my first Washington asparagus of the season from Crawford Farms in Prosser. Set the oven to 450F, drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a handful of Hedlin Farms cherry tomatoes, roast about 20 minutes. Oh. My. Land. Hands-down the best asparagus I've had in who knows how long. The husband corroborated my opinion. Seriously--get your hands on some.
  3. Pie! By the slice or by the whole, courtesy of the Snohomish Pie Company. Jenny and Angela claim Apple-(Marion)berry Crumb is the top seller, but you may have to try every kind before you settle on a family favorite.
  4. Gluten-free treats. If the luscious offerings of our bakers send your body to unhappy places, please join me in welcoming Manini's. This certified gluten-free (and rice-free) bakery features muffins, cookies, bars, and bread mixes made from "ancient grains" like millet, quinoa and amaranth.

5. Crisp, crisp apples. Uh-huh. You may think apples are mushy and halfway to applesauce this time of year, but Martin Family Orchards brought some Fujis out of cold storage that you've got to bite into to believe.

6. Natural food coloring? Nestled among the many plant starts I found Amethyst Basil at River Farms (better known as our melon purveyors later in the season). Liz tells me that if you put the leaves in vinegar, it will color it purple! If coloring things purple isn't your thing, I found just about every other variety of basil as well...

7. Vegan "bacon." While we're on the topic of oxymorons, Wade Bennett at the returning Rockridge Orchards offers, among his many, many other tasty products, Applewood Smoked Salt. When added to foods, Wade declares, it gives that vegan something the unmistakeable je ne sais quoi of bacon, that soup├žon of what farmer/author Novella Carpenter called the "gateway meat" that lured her back from vegetarianism.

8. Local/Exotic Jams, courtesy of Big Spoon Jam. Bastyr-educated, one-woman-show Tina concocts "unique and sensual" flavors that "stretch the boundaries." This is not your Goober Grape. Try Tea-Smoked Pear or "Forager's Preserves," a mix of wild blueberries and Douglas fir tips. As a bonus, Tina tries to cut down refined sugar with honey.

9. Soap and lip balm. Found the former at Growing Things and the latter at Alm Hill. You don't just eat well at the Market, you smell better and have kissable lips. XO.

And, 10. Frozen blueberries. If you can't wait till the fresh ones of summer, grab a bag of local, frozen from Alm Hill or Crawford Farms. My kids just pop a handful in their lunches, and they hold up pretty well.

This all is just for starters! Make your own discoveries this Thursday and feel free to share in the Comments.