Growing Washington

Buy or Make, It's the Last Market of the 2015 Season!

Oh my. We're headed for that long drought in fresh, local food called the Market Off-Season. Not only that, but Thanksgiving is only a week away!

Time to get your pilgrim on!

While I myself will be at a swim meet in Mukilteo all Saturday, I'll be thinking mournfully of the last Market and how I had no cash last Saturday to buy myself some Bloom Creek Cranberries. I even dragged my 12-year-old Sherpa with me through the rain to the BofA ATM, only to remember my husband had made off with my ATM card.

But you can be at the last Market. And you can fully prepare for your delicious feast. To help you out, I'm providing this Buy/Make Shopping List.

Bet our backyard squirrels would love to get their paws on these

Appetizers

BUY a Proven baguette and some Tieton cheese and smoked salmon. Or some Britt's pickles and Samish Bay smoked sausage for the relish tray.

Or...

MAKE some balsamic- and olive-oil roasted vegetables and some bread-machine focaccia, sprinkled with coarse salt

Salad

BUY some of the spinach or arugula or mixed greens and dressing at Growing Washington

And...

MAKE it into your favorite salad by adding your favorite fresh vegetables. I saw these sunchokes last week, which are crunchy like jicama and lovely in salad.

Turkey

BUY Hmm...hope you placed your order some time ago

And if you did, you'll still need to...

MAKE your roasted main dish. The New York Times offers these instructions.

Sides

Side dishes are the glory of Thanksgiving, in my opinion. And the Market is your source for side dish ingredients.

MAKE mashed or au gratin potatoes. Roast some squash and top it with your favorite sugar concoction. Grab some green beans or brussels sprouts. Don't forget to bring cash for your bag(s) of Bloom Creek Cranberries!

Dessert

BUY a pie. Heck--buy a few and freeze the extras. It is always handy to have a pie in the freezer. You never know when you'll be invited to dinner, and pies are the best way to win friends and influence people. I've never met anyone who didn't like pie. Oh--actually, I did meet one person and instantly distrusted her because how can a person not like pie?

Or...

MAKE your own pies. If there was ever a time to make an effort, this would be it. All those crunchy apples, just dying to be handed to the kids to be peeled and sliced, while you make the crust. Some folks like their apples still firm in the pie, but we like apples that get nice and soft. Ask our fruit farmers which apple is right for you.

And don't forget to grab a hostess gift! Fresh flowers or a box of toffee or a bottle of wine.

Remember, after this we're on our own until May, which means months of get-togethers where people wheel out the same Costco offerings over and over. If you just sighed, you are not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall's Apples and Pears

It's officially fall. Which means I can now serve chili and soup without apologies, even if it hits 70F outside. And, while we have to bid a tearful farewell to peaches and nectarines, the apples and pears are in, and boy are they yummy!

We tried this new variety at Collins Family Orchards called "Candy Time," a marketing brainstorm if I ever heard of one. Who could resist?

This apple gets high marks for its size and lovely coloring, and if you're one of those families which grew up on Red Delicious and other not-tart apples, this could be one to try. Personally I'm not a Red Delicious fan, and I love apples to be sweet-tart, but Candy Time would work well for caramel apples and apples that get dipped.

At a kids' swim team potluck the other day, a family brought a wonderful apple tart featuring apples they'd picked themselves, and the baker gave credit to Ina Garten for the recipe, which I'm betting was this one. It reminded me very much of the recipe it's based on, the French Tarte Tatin, for which I've always used this recipe I got long ago in a cooking class:

Tarte Tatin (from the HomeChef Cooking School)

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp butter
6 small, tart apples, cored, peeled, and cut into eighths
dough for single-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a golden caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, tilting the pan so that the caramel coats the bottom.

Lay the apple slices over the caramel in spokes like a wheel. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dot with the butter.

Roll out the pastry until about 1/4" thick and 2 inches larger than the cake pan. Lay it over the top of the apples, tucking it in around the edges. Poke 4-5 air holes in the pastry with a fork.

Bake about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least thirty minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter, so that the crust forms the base. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Unlike the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, there's no jam required and a lot less butter!

Don't miss the Bartlett pears appearing, either. I'm always tearing out pear recipes, too, except I never can bear to cook pears because I love them so much raw. If I can resist, however, I want to try this one that appeared in my latest Penzey's catalog. They call it "Pear Mad Almond Tart," which made no sense to me because of its (lack of) punctuation. I think they meant "Pear-Mad Almond Tart." It calls for a tube of almond paste, which is crazy-expensive, and seven pears, so I probably will never make it. If you do happen to try it, please let me know, and I'll be right over to taste-test!

Thanks for the pic and the recipe, Penzey's!

We have four more weeks of our Thursday Market, so be sure to come out and collect your goodies, including these tomatillos, which make great salsa!


Strawberry Fields for a Few Weeks

Ah, bliss.

By now most of you have had your first real strawberries of the season from our wonderful farmers. If you've been buying them by the half-flat, as I have, you've not only been eating them out of hand, but you've even started to "waste" them in recipes.

To wit:

On the plate: Tuna salad sandwiches made from Fishing Vessel St. Jude (Market) tuna, topped with sunflower sprouts from Growing Washington, with a side of strawberries and a glass of homemade strawberry lemonade.

Followed by homemade strawberry birthday cake, thus:

Exactly three drops of food coloring went into this

I have so many things to write about the Market (and have not yet even gotten to visit the Saturday Market), but they will have to wait a week because we all know how quickly the window for each of our Washington soft fruits opens and closes.

Speaking of soft fruits, did you see these guys last week?

 But I digress...

Get these three recipes into your mouth before any more time elapses. Everyone will praise you to the heavens, the instant they can stop oohing and mmmming.

Tuna Salad Sandwiches
1 can Fishing Vessel St. Jude tuna of your choice
1/4 cup chopped pickles (I used my neighbor's homemade) or relish
a big squeeze of your favorite mustard
enough mayonnaise to moisten 
a handful of Growing Washington sunflower sprouts

Mix and spread on slices of your favorite bread. Top with sprouts.

***********************

Fresh Strawberry Cake (adapted from here)with residual Strawberry Lemonade
18 ozs fresh strawberries
1-2 tsp sugar, depending on how sweet the berries are
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks butter, softened

Hull strawberries and cut in large chunks. Put in saucepan and add sugar. Let sit an hour until they release some juice. Then add 1/4 cup water and simmer 15-20 minutes, until berries are soft.

Puree in blender. You will need 1/2 cup puree. Set aside the remainder for the strawberry lemonade.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans.

Combine puree, milk, eggs, and vanilla and mix until well blended.

In a stand mixer, whip butter until pale yellow and smooth. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to butter. Beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add wet ingredients and beat at medium until smooth and evenly combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. (Add a few drops of red, if your batter isn't pink enough for you.)

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth out.

Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes rest in pan for 10 minutes and then turn them out to cool completely on racks. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

For the lemonade, there's no exact recipe. I took the leftover puree and added lemon juice, cold water, and sugar alternately, to taste. It depends on whether you want your beverage to taste more like lemonade or more like strawberries. I wanted it right down the middle. If I'd had some mint, that would have made a nice garnish in the glass. Or maybe it would have been another place to use those delightful sprouts:

I might have to try growing some of these, as I have lentil sprouts, because they are crisp and sweet and tasty on sandwiches and salads. Which reminds me of one last Market salad to leave you with:

Spring Salad à la Bellevue Farmers Market
Fresh Market spinach
Cucumber
Sunflower sprouts
Strawberries
Balsamic vinaigrette or Green Goddess dressing with Market mint and parsley

Shopping List for Opening Day

At long last, Opening Day of the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market is upon us!

The nitty-gritty:

WHEN: Thursday, May 15, 3-7 p.m.

WHERE: Parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Follow the sounds of laughter and music and the delicious smells!

In case you haven't looked out the window, spring has sprung, and our farmers and vendors have loads of fresh, local, beautiful food for us. Consider the following for your shopping list!

1. Fresh asparagus. Yes, you can buy it in the store, but have you actually ever tasted super fresh farm asparagus? A little olive oil and throw it in the oven or on the grill. We had some last year that we actually groaned over, it was that good. Nutty and flavorful. Look for it at Alvarez, Growing Washington, and Crawford Farm.

2. Dark, leafy greens. Recently I've been hooked on kale and chard. I've discovered slivered chard makes a great substitute for shredded lettuce in tacos, or for the greens in your salad. Since I've disavowed bagged salad, I've gotten more creative with the kinds of salads that grace our table. May I suggest this one?

Kale-Lentil-Scallion-Almond Salad with Luscious Dressing 
Not exactly what your salad will look like because Gina of soletshangout.com used some different ingredients

1 bunch dinosaur kale, slivered, with the stems stripped out
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cooked lentils (leftover from my fridge. Canned beans would also work.)
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Luscious Dressing (which I found at Soletshangout.com):
3 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
smidge of ginger powder
two cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon juice

Blend dressing ingredients in food processor or blender and toss with salad ingredients.

3. Canned Tuna!!!! Can I tell you how excited I am that Fishing Vessel St. Jude will be at the Market on Thursday? If you like tuna salad or Salade Nicoise, you will taste them on a whole new level if you grab this tuna. Talk to Joyce Malley about how she catches her tuna and what makes it way awesomer than garden-variety grocery store kinds.

4. Eggs. The Market is here, and I am so over eggs with pale yolks and runny whites. Bring on those happy eggs from happy chickens on the loose! Bring on those richer yolks and firmer egg whites, which must come of eating bugs or other things chickens find on the loose. If you can't bring yourself to eat bugs, eat things that eat bugs. Gray Sky Farms joins our other egg vendors this year, so this should mean plenty of eggs for all.

5. Meat. Got my yearly bloodwork done, and I'm still anemic, dang it. Rather than take iron pills, I'm trying to up my consumption of red meat, so let's hear it for our farmers and their steaks and roasts and hamburger patties and sausages. We've got Skagit River Ranch and Olsen Farms. Pure, pastured goodness. And it's not just beef. You'll also find pork and lamb and cured meats!

6. Honey and Jam? Peach or apricot or nectarine jam, to be precise. Not sure if we'll have honey or jam folks this Opening Day, but I can hope...I've been nursing one jar of Camp Robber Nectarine Jam all winter, and I'd like to use it with abandon, thank you very much.

7. Apples and some frozen fruit. Don't know if you've noticed, but we're reaching the bottom of the barrel at the grocery store. It'll be nice to ask our farmers, "What's the crunchiest variety you have?" And if anyone has frozen peaches or berries, those sure would be nice in a smoothie about now.

8. Potatoes. Ask your farmers to recommend specific varieties for potato salad (boiling), baking, or frying. And just ignore the part in recipes where it tells you to peel them!

Sneak peek of a Snohomish Bakery danish. You want the full pic? You can't handle the full pic!

9. Baked goods. The problem will be choosing. Will it be the pretzel from Tall Grass Bakery? The three-berry pie from Adrienne's Cakes and Pies? Close-Your-Eyes-and-Pick-Anything--You-Can't-Go-Wrong from Snohomish Bakery? I might have to bring more than one kid along, so I'm forced to buy more than one goodie and to "tax" them all.

10. Dinner. Say, just for argument's sake, you get so hungry just walking around the Market, buying items off your grocery list, that you decide just to pick up dinner there. Will it be gourmet mac & cheese from the new vendor Melt? Hard to resist varieties with names like "Cozy Pajamas" (three cheese) and "Game Night" (Buffalo chicken mac). Or maybe you should just pick up some soup or the tried-and-true favorite, pizza. Best yet, perhaps, would be just to meet your family or friends at the Market, that way everyone can choose his own adventure.

Lots and lots of good stuff ahead! Meanwhile, I'll see you all Thursday. I'll be the lady with the camera and the begging children hanging off her.