Golden Glen Creamery

10 Reasons to Enjoy Late Summer at the Market

Plenty of delightful finds at our Market in late summer, and this week I share a random smattering with you.

1. Still plenty of berries. Buy and freeze now, or forever hold your peace. Although we've already put up blueberry and peach pies in the freezer, I still bought a half-flat of blueberries for quick snacking and this tasty coffee cake.

2. Blessed are the beermakers because Rockridge Orchards has hops. I'd never even seen a hop. Wouldn't know one if it hit me in the face. But Wade has 'em, and by this picture shall you recognize them:

3. Skagit River Ranch is talking turkey. Yep, it's time to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey. Come by and leave your info and downpayment. I can vouch for the deliciousness of these turkeys, and if you've followed this blog, you'll know that I made 13 meals out of last year's bird! More on that this year, but I hope you'll join me in the Lucky Thirteen Thanksgiving Challenge.

4. Apples, Pears, and Asian Pears are in! Fresh, crisp and luscious.

The Asian pears, in particular, are the perfect size for the lunchbox.

5. I spotted new varieties of familiar favorites, including these gorgeous tomatoes from Billy's:

They look like oversized Rainier cherries, and just picture the interesting pico de gallo they'll make!

6. And bet these striped zucchini don't grow in your garden like they do at Hedlin Farms:

Zucchini is tasty on the grill with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Or do lengthwise slices in the oven, sprinkled with olive oil and parmesan cheese.

7. You might have realized by now that sampling things at the Market can be hazardous to your waistline and wallet. We were lured in by fellow Marketgoers to Golden Glen Creamery's booth to try the Dill and Garlic Curds. The rest is history. Don't say I didn't warn you.

8. Speaking of Golden Glen, they've added new varieties of their butters, including "Northwest Mushroom Trio" and "Cilantro-Lime," along with tried-and-true flavors like "Cinnamon Spice" and "Honey." If you love store-bought garlic bread, try GG's garlic butter spread over a Market baguette. You may never go back again!

9. There's been fuss over the recent Stanford study which found organic food wasn't appreciably "healthier" than non-organic, but, as everyone was quick to point out, nutrient level varies wildly from fruit to fruit and vegetable to vegetable, depending on the soil conditions, time-to-market, weather, and farming method. One wonderful thing about the Market is that you can meet your farmer, ask about his or her soil and farming philosophy. Talk pesticides, conventional and organic. Food doesn't have to be a mystery at the Market.

And, 10. We've got new prepared foods! Have you tried the hot dogs at Saturday's Hot Dog Girl stand? Or the original juice blends at the Juice Box? I love how our prepared food vendors, from Crepes to jam-makers, take advantage of what's in season to whip up special offerings. Don't miss out this week, and come hungry!

The Market for Every Diet

That's what I'm talking about.

The weather forecast promises the arrival of summer, just in time for this week's Markets! And summer's arrival means it's time to break out the barbecues and bikinis. Well--at least the barbecue. But, if you were indeed thinking bikini this summer, have I got a Market for you.

Some parents and I were shivering poolside for morning swim team practice, swathed in blankets and nursing coffees, while we abused our children by making them actually get in the darned water. And the topic of diets came up. One woman was reading the latest book, a modification of the meat-and-non-starchy-vegetables "paleo" diet. She assured me it was an "easy" diet, one the whole family could try without too much effort. I took a quick look at its anti-sugar and anti-grains stance and handed the book back. All I know is, when I die, they will find me with pasta in one hand and bread in the other.

If you do hold with the "caveman"/paleo camp, you believe human beings' bodies function best on a hunter-gatherer, non-processed diet. We have a Market for that.

Two If By Sea

Your PALEO shopping list:

Fresh/frozen salmon
Pastured beef
Pork
Chicken
Sausage
Farm-fresh eggs
Salad Mix
Broccoli
Asparagus
Spinach
Kale
Cucumbers
Tomatoes

Strict paleo dieters lay off the dairy products, but if you lean Atkins-ward or modified paleo, you know cheese, butter, yogurt, and milk are fair game! Add in:

Golden Glen's Cheese Curds and Flavored Butters

Blessed are the cheesemakers! May I personally recommend Golden Glen Creamery's Cheddar with Sun-Dried Tomato, Samish Bay's Ladysmith with Chives, and Tieton Farm & Creamery's Feta, made with goat and sheep's milk? If you can't have crackers with your cheese, make sure the cheese is good enough to eat on its own!

Then, clear on the other side of the spectrum, was the book I read that compared the human digestive system to that of our closest primate cousins. It concluded that, based on our teeth types, length of gut and so on, we were made to eat mostly, vegetarian. Vegetables, fruits, insects, other plants. Of the primates, our innards bear passing resemblance to a Capuchin monkey's. Therefore I give you the

CAPUCHIN MONKEY Shopping List:
Blueberries
Strawberries
Raspberries
Cherries
Tomatoes
Sugar Snap Peas
Snow Peas
Broccoli
Asparagus
(any bugs you happen to find on the ground--no charge!)

Less strict Capuchin-Monkey-dieters can add in anything remotely vegetarian. If it were me, I would throw in some of La Pasta's Whole Wheat pasta, which Dmitri explains is not as chewy as the not-terribly-yummy whole wheat pasta found in stores because his is fresh. He also offers Roasted Bell Pepper Pasta, and Lemon with Cracked Pepper. Mmmm... if you're doing carbs, make them worth it.

And finally, if you've decided to ditch the bikini and the diet, there's always a scoop of Scout Mint at Molly Moon's. This, if you can believe it, was a "kids scoop"! Note the size of the Thin Mint cookie slab my twelve-year-old scored.

The Non-Dieter's Diet

Something for everyone. Enjoy the sunshine and have a happy 4th!

FAQ about the Bellevue Farmers Market

Photo courtesy Cook's Illustrated

You probably have some of your own, but here are the main ones I've been hit with:

Q: Has the Saturday market started yet?
A: YES! At least, as of this Saturday, June 4, 10-3.

Q: Where will the Saturday market be this year?
A: NEW LOCATION! Directly behind the First Congregational Church on NE 8th Street, two blocks east of last year's site.

Q: Will Skagit River Ranch be at the Saturday market?
A: No, but Samish Bay offers their delicious meat, and--forgive me--the woman known by my family as "the egg lady" has fresh chicken (and duck!) eggs.

Q: My kids eat a lot of storebought crackers for snacks. Do you have any other suggestions?
A. I do! For one thing, slap some cheese or flavored butters on those crackers. A little fat slows down the blood sugar spike caused by the starch. Golden Glen's cheddars are delicious, and they've added Cinnamon Spice butter this year. On Saturdays I could eat Samish Bay's Ladysmith with Chives till the cows come home. And you haven't lived till you've tried their Greek Yogurt. I add some honey and granola and--mmmm... In the fruit and vegetable department, the summer berries aren't in yet, but my daughter likes cucumbers sliced thin and drizzled with seasoned rice vinegar. She also went for House of the Sun's kale chips. And don't forget the marvelous beef and tuna jerkies!

Q: How do you cook the spring vegetables?
A: Always feel free to ask the farmers, but here's a favorite preparation (pictured) for baby bok choy from Cook's Illustrated. Asparagus couldn't be easier: just break off the woody stems, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and roast in a hot oven for 20+ minutes.

Two Farmers Markets Left!

The good news is we aren't going anywhere for Thanksgiving because the parents are coming this direction. The bad news is we aren't going anywhere for Thanksgiving because the parents are coming this direction. Meaning, I don't have to be organized when it comes to luggage and the kids' schoolwork, but I do have to get my act in gear about Thanksgiving dinner. Especially since there are only two Saturday markets left!

When you're thinking about eating local for Thanksgiving, don't forget the following goodies on the shopping list:

  1. The perfect hostess gift. Caramels? Toffee? Smoked Salmon? A jar of jam? Fancy cheese? Flowers, naturally.
  2. Appetizers. Assemble a cheese tray with Golden Glen's Cheddar with Red Pepper and Samish Bay's Ladysmith (Jalapeno, if you feel adventurous). Or whip up some cream cheese and serve it alongside Handmade in Seattle's Ginger Pear Butter. Or stop at Hama Hama for some smoked oysters.

  3. Potatoes. Whether chopped and roasted or mashed with tons of butter, the Market carries every variety. And I've said this before, but after you read Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, you will never want to eat a non-organic potato again.
  4. If you aren't making rolls, grab some tasty bread at Ble. Slice it and throw it in the freezer until you need it.
  5. Don't forget that Samish Bay carries sausage, if you prefer sausage-and-cornbread stuffing. Not to mention, onions and celery can also be found at several stalls. If you like oyster stuffing, hit Hama Hama.
  6. Having a pescatorian Thanksgiving? Treat your guests to Food Magazine's Thanksgiving Salmon recipe, complete with cranberry sauce. Loki Salmon tastes wonderful cooked any which way, and the diehards might not miss the turkey.
  7. And finally, for dessert, there are plenty of apples for homemade apple pie, and I've even spotted a few pie pumpkins. Tiny's Organic had a new apple--the Golden Russet. Not as dramatic to look at as their Arkansas Blacks, but very tasty and crisp.

Get cracking, and we'll see you on Saturday!

First the Bad News

Okay, I've just polished off lunch, my favorite-sandwich-du-jour (roast beef with cucumbers and Ladysmith with Chives on whole wheat) and a Bosc pear, and it's time to deliver the bad news: this is the last Thursday Market of the Season! Who knows where the time went, but it's true. This Thursday, October 14, from 3-7. Don't miss it!

In the balance, I also have good news for you this week:

  1. Saturday Bellevue Farmers Markets continue until the Saturday before Thanksgiving. That means you can still stock your feast with local potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, and so on. And your Skagit River Ranch turkey, if you remembered to pre-order.
  2. We'll still have meat, chicken, and eggs on Saturday. Sky Valley pastures their Rhode Island Reds, White Barred Rocks, and various cross-breeds on organic pasture where possible--clovers, dandelions and glorious bugs! They supplement this diet with organic local grains, depending on availability. Good stuff.
  3. If you haven't tasted the fresh cider from Johnson Orchards, now is the time. Their apple mixture varies by week, but it's always guaranteed delicious. Last Saturday's offering blended Jonathan, Jonagold, Elstar, Empire, and Standard Delicious apples, and around my house we've been portioning it out in precious sips because I came too late to buy the bigger bottle.
  4. Autumn Martin of Hotcakes has added apple-cardamom-ginger pocket pies to the range of offerings. If you were lucky (and informed) enough to attend the recent "Mobile Chowdown" at Quest Field, you know these pocket pies went like--well--hotcakes at the event, as did the ever-popular molten-chocolate cakes regularly available.
  5. And my final bit of exciting news, Elizabeth Tasche of Blé not only makes a mean loaf of whole-wheat bread that goes wonderfully with Golden Glen's butter-garlic-sea-salt-parsley spread, but she's also a children's book author! Her work Mimi's Shoes is available exclusively at J. Crew's Crew Cuts store and online. Food for the body and food for thought. Enjoy.

See everyone on this last Thursday and then on Saturdays thereafter!

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

...for they allowed me to invite myself to someone else's house for dinner last night. Really. There I was, sitting by our neighborhood pool at 5:15 p.m., chatting with a friend. Talk turned to our respective dinner menus, and she was planning chicken-pesto pizza made on the grill(!!!). "How about you?"

Uh...I thought of what was thawing on the counter at home, which was exactly nothing. I thought of how good that pizza sounded. I thought of how much more fun it would be to go to someone else's house and eat their planned meal than to come home and rummage through the freezer. "We'll probably grill some sausages," I said. Which was true, since that's probably what I would have whipped out of said freezer.

"Hmm...that sounds good."

"We could come grill them at your house!" I suggested, sensing weakness. "Have a potluck!"

"Oh..."

"They're from the farmers market! Skagit River Ranch Beef Summer Sausage and some Italian."

"Well, the house is a mess..."

"So's ours! I don't care about that. And I have some sugar snap peas--and pluots--" There was further softening, but I saw I would have to use the ace up my sleeve. "--And I have cheese."

Now this friend has a weakness for cheese. Her ears perked up. "What kind of cheese?"

"I picked up two kinds at the Market. This cheddar with salsa from Golden Glen Creamery and this fresh kind with chives from Samish Bay. They're so luscious! Four out of five Dudleys love them." (The fifth Dudley being my son, who only tolerates shredded cheddar that falls in a certain range of yellows on the color spectrum.) That clinched it. Have cheese, will travel.

And I think they weren't sorry to have us. They complimented the sausage, although it took a little extra grill time since I pulled them hard as rocks from my freezer, and the cheese was pronounced delicious with a "great texture." Even their nine-year-old boy had several thick slices of the Ladysmith with Chives, and my oldest daughter attempted to toast some of the Queso with Salsa over the fire, while others roasted marshmallows.

It's one thing to use our Bellevue Farmers Market as a source of hostess gifts. Another thing altogether to use it to get yourself hosted in the first place. If you haven't picked up farm-fresh cheese and you're still buying those generic blocks from the grocery store, let this be the week you branch out. Our cheesemakers carry everything from fresh curds to aged, grating cheeses. And Samish Bay's Ladysmith was named by Seattle Weekly as "the best, and by best we mean Most Addictively Snackable, New Cheese."

I know I'll be picking up some more varieties this week because we are cleaned out!