Skagit River Ranch

Milking It for All It's Worth

Last night a friend gave me a ride home, apologizing for the glass milk bottles occupying floor space in the back seat. The bottles were from Twin Brook Creamery, a local dairy in Lynden perhaps better known as that brand in glass bottles carried by QFC. If you've never had their milk, Twin Brook does not homogenize, which means (at least in the whole milk variety I bought) the cream rises to the top. It's luscious.

My friend, who hails from a small farming town in Indiana, said, "It's the only milk that tastes like what I had growing up."

Now, knowing my problem with plastics, I would love to abandon my gallon jugs and go glass bottles, but there are two things preventing me:

1. Our family goes through four gallons of milk per week. That would be a lot of glass bottles and a lot of moolah.

2. The glass bottles have to be returned (duh) to receive your deposit back, and I am deeply glass-bottle-returning-challenged.

For supporting evidence of Point #2, consider these bottles that have become permanent fixtures in our garage over the past several years. They're not even Twin Brook. I have no idea where they came from. Whole Foods?

Gathering dust

But whether or not your family can afford glass-bottled milk that puts a lump in the throat of an exiled Indiana farm girl, it's still worth it to shell out for organic milk. Food activist Robyn O'Brien posted this article from Food Ingredients 1st that describes European studies on organic meat and dairy. It turns out their studies confirm what Skagit River Ranch had already clued me into, a few years ago--pastured = better for you. That is, pastured meat and dairy are higher in omega-3 fatty acids (the wild fish kind!) and cancer-fighting antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid (a good fat). If you can't afford the wild fish, or you're freaked out by the articles about overfishing, work a little more pastured dairy and/or meat into your diet. Switching to organic for baby might save on expensive skin cream purchases in the future, as well, as

recently published results from several mother and child cohort studies link... organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema and hypospadias in babies and pre-eclampsia in mothers.

I know organic is expensive. Switching to organic might involve budget cutbacks in other areas. Maybe a couple fewer non-home-brewed coffee drinks per week? Or skip one meal out? (Every time we drag the whole family to a restaurant where you actually sit down to eat, I can't help looking at the bill and thinking, "This would've bought us a week's worth of groceries." And that was for Thai food, for Pete's sake--we're not talking El Gaucho!)

According to their website, Twin Brook Creamery pastures its herd in the summer and then feeds them during the winter on grass they put by. It's pastured dairy, all right, and organic in all but name. So I'm thinking that, even though we can't afford four gallons per week of the stuff (and those bottles would multiply in our garage like the treasure in Bellatrix Lestrange's Gringotts vault), maybe I might switch our half-and-half and whipping cream to Twin Brook. Those only need replenishing every few weeks, and--heck--the bottles are only half as big!

Food Closures Lead to Pantry Raid

So this closed our beloved farmers market last Saturday:

Thanks for the graphic, Cliff Mass!

I shouldn't complain, really. That nice load of wind and rain recharged our reservoirs and brought the first snow of the season to the Cascades. Cliff Mass reports that reservoir levels added enough to supply the Greater Puget Sound for more than three months! Not bad, for a weekend's work. I'm only sorry that I had to go buy meat and eggs and carrots and apples at the grocery store, and I was amazed by the number of mushy apples Whole Foods had out. It's apple season, people! Where are those mushy things coming from? 2013?

To add insult to injury, Chipotle decided to start giving select customers E. coli, and has closed area restaurants while the matter gets sorted. Eek! I have to confess, at least one family member eats a Chipotle burrito or burrito bowl at least twice a month, so, between the Market and Chipotle, this is adding up to a real first-world crisis, here.

Tough times call for pantry raids. This week it was bean and bacon soup. Dried beans from the pantry and bacon from Sea Breeze Farm out of the freezer. Chicken broth from my last Skagit River Ranch chicken. I served it up with homemade bread and a truly disgusting salad composed of whatever I found in the "crisper" that wasn't wilted into molten goo. I'll spare you that recipe...

Here's to hard times, and hoping our Market returns this weekend!

Bean and Bacon Soup (adapted from Taste of Home)
2 quarts of chicken broth
1 lb of white beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
2 Tbsp chopped parsley*
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 onion, chopped*
2 large carrots, chopped*
2 stalks celery, chopped*
6 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled*

Combine broth through pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add salt through celery. Cover and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes, or until beans are tender. Stir in crumbled, cooked bacon. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Summertime, and the Eating's Easy

In talking to many of you, this summer you've been experiencing a steady flow of visitors, out-of-town and otherwise. In between trips to the Space Needle, Safeco Field, and Pike Place Market, you're also working to come up with meals for these friends and family. Thank goodness it's summer, and the eating's easy.

A friend sent me these pics from her recent barbecue (visiting brother):

Grilled salmon in foil
Alongside potatoes and corn brushed in coconut milk and grilled

If your mouth doesn't water when you see these, something might be wrong with you. And these are all things you can grab at the Market, brush with your fat of choice, and throw on the grill.

When we had old friends who now live in Indiana show up, we threw Skagit burgers on the grill, opened a bag of potato chips, and chopped up a watermelon. Done.

It was our month to host the Supper Club I mentioned in an earlier post here and here, and as the hostess I chose the fourth "Summer Sensations" menu from Debi Shawcross's book:

  • Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Herb Marinated Chicken
  • Quinoa Corn Salad with Mint Vinaigrette and Toasted Pine Nuts (or "Pine Puts," as the cookbooks mispells it)
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Peach, Blueberry, and Raspberry Crisp with Dulce de Leche Sauce
The verdict? The bruschetta and quinoa salad were keepers. (Funny note on the quinoa salad: after listing the menu, Shawcross encourages her readers to become locavores and eat local, if only for a night. So...quinoa? I suppose some of her readers might be Peruvian Highlanders.) And if I had to choose between the bruschetta and the quinoa, I'd go with the bruschetta.
Therefore, I share with you this recipe, with Market-available ingredients marked with an asterisk (*).
Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes
3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced*
2 garlic cloves, minced*
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh basil*
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 baguette, sliced into 1"-thick slices*
1 garlic clove, halved*
6 ozs goat cheese, softened*

In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and lemon zest. Set aside. (Leftovers of the topping are yummy on tortilla chips, FYI.)

Heat grill to medium-high. Place baguette slices on grill and lightly toast on each side. Remove slices from grill and rub one side with garlic clove. Spread about 1 tsp of goat cheese on each baguette slice. Top with a spoonful of tomato mixture.

Serve immediately. About 10 servings of two slices each.

Frankly, I could have made a meal of the bruschetta alone. And, if you haven't tried Tieton Farm and Creamery's offerings on Saturday, you're in for a treat. I'm betting their "Bianca" cheese would be awesome in this recipe.

Quinoa aside, we do enjoy such riches of local food that I'm not surprised everyone flocks to us in the summer. I only wish they'd brought some of their own local goodies to us! Our Indiana friends, for instance, told tales of the sour-cherry-picking extravaganza they enjoyed.

Hard at work at Lehman's Orchard in Niles, Michigan

Enough to make you weep
As if this weren't enough, the residual cherry juice is good for gout (just FYI)
Sigh. Who doesn't love summer?

Of course, if all this cooking, easy as it is, sounds too much, and you missed the sour cherries in Niles, Michigan, you can always take your guests to the Market itself and let them choose from our smorgasbord of goodies, both prepared and unprepared. See you all there!

Make Your Own Breakfast Sausage

I have a discovery for you, necessity being the mother of invention.

Since my husband was out of town this week, I thought I'd take advantage of the situation and serve the infamous "breakfast for dinner" which my kids like and he doesn't.

The only problem? I didn't have any bacon or breakfast sausage, and I was determined not to go to the store. The solution? What else--the Internet! It took all of one minute to investigate three different recipes and decide which one I had all the ingredients for. (And if you'd like to see the original recipe, which requires two pounds of ground pork, it's right here. Otherwise, for my one-pound version, keep reading.)

Somehow it never occurred to me that you could whip up your own sausage and skip the package of Jimmy Dean, the ingredients of which are as follows:

INGREDIENTS: PORK, WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SODIUM LACTATE, SALT, SUGAR, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, NATURAL FLAVORINGS, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID.

Not too shabby, if you pay no attention the items which make up less than 2% of the total.

Homemade, on the other hand, contains one package of Skagit River Ranch ground pork and less than 2% of the following:


We are the 2%


You measure the goodies and mix them with the pork.



Form the mixture into patties of whatever size you like.


Note the non-uniform shape that screams "homemade"!

Fry the patties a few minutes on each side.


And serve them up with your other favorite breakfast items. In our case it was eggs scrambled in butter and pancakes made with whole wheat pastry flour. (We did have some celery and carrot sticks on the side, not in keeping with the breakfast theme but rather with the you-should-always-have-fruits-and-vegetables theme.)


Which leaves just one question to be decided: to ketchup or not to ketchup?

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties
(serves 4)

1 lb quality ground pork
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
pinch dried marjoram or oregano
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
dash of ground cloves

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Then shape into patties. 

Heat skillet over medium. Add patties and cook on one side without disturbing for 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook another few minutes on the other side. Drain on paper towel.

Serve hot or keep warm in a 200F oven while you make the pancakes and eggs!

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

Let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin! Not only are the mornings dark and the evenings dark, and not only have we started to consider an overcast day "good weather," and not only have we sighed to see summer's soft-fruit bounty giving way to the apples and pears of fall, but the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market is in its last week.

This is the time to take a look at the "Thursday-only" farmers and vendors on the website, so you can either stock up or sign up or cut special deals with them when you visit the Market for their curtain call. Are you signed up for Skagit River Ranch's Buyers Club? Do you have enough Soulever Chocolates and Melt mac and cheese and House of the Sun kale chips to hold you? How's your salmon supply? Your hazelnuts? Your toffee? Your hum bao reserves? Got Soup?

Some folks might make the move to Saturday, but it's best to ask. And we have until the Saturday before Thanksgiving to get our fill of fresh and local before it's all gone gone gone. (See picture at top of post.)

As a Thursday swan song, I have two awesomely delicious recipes to help you capitalize on what you'll find this week (fingers crossed): End-of-the-Season Kitchen-Sink Sauté and Yu Choi with Oyster Sauce.



End-of-the-Season Kitchen-Sink Sauté

2 ears of corn*, boiled for two minutes
2 medium tomatoes*, cut in eighths
couple handfuls of spinach or chard, de-stemmed, rinsed and cut in big pieces
2 slices bacon*

Cut corn off cobs and set aside.

Fry bacon on low or med-low heat until to desired doneness. Remove and drain on paper towels, than crumble. Leaving the bacon fat in the pan, turn the heat to medium. When the pan is hot, throw in the greens (as much as you like, really), and stir-fry till almost wilted. Throw in the tomato slices and cook until the greens are dark and soft. Remove from heat.

Stir in corn, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

***********************
This second recipe came to mind because, at my favorite dim sum place in the Bay Area, we always order these greens alongside the other goodies, as a sop to the nutrition gods. When I found yu choy at Blia's stand, I immediate drooled to think of recreating this at home. Usually the greens and stems are stir-fried, and then drizzled with oyster sauce, but Blia's helper guy remarked that his mom usually just boiled them. Done.

[Pic from seasonednoob.com because I forgot to take one!]



Boiled Yu Choy with Oyster Sauce

1 bunch yu choi*, rinsed and cut in 4-inch sections
some bottled oyster sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and put in ALL the yu choy. There's a lot, so you probably have to keep at it for a while. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the stalks are tender.

Drain and drizzle with oyster sauce.

Kids who like broccoli usually like this dish, and doesn't broccoli get old after a while?

So come one and all and see you this Thursday. I'll be the one weeping silently into her reusable canvas shopping bags...

In Heaven There Will Be Tacos and Chocolate

Recently a friend had surgery, so I signed up on Meal Train to bring her some food. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I would be bringing, so I had to enter "No Idea Yet!" as the mouth-watering name of my entree. "No Idea Yet!" sandwiched between Chicken Enchiladas and Spinach Lasagna! Which meal would you be excited about?

All I knew was that, if you need to make multiple meals, a whole chicken is the best way to do it. One meal for us, and plenty of leftover cooked chicken to go into...No Idea Yet!

Therefore I plunked my Skagit River Ranch farmers market chicken into the crock-pot with some salt and pepper, sprigs of cilantro and a cut-up and squeezed lemon, and let it cook a few hours:

The Beginnings of No Idea Yet!

When it was done, I'd at least thought up what my own family would eat that very night, based on what was in the fridge and pantry: Chicken Soft Tacos.

First I sauteed up some Walla Walla onion slices.

I added shredded chicken and about 3/4 cup canned salsa and let the liquid simmer away.

Prior to that, I'd taken a whack at making homemade flour tortillas:

How's that for an appetizing picture?

They came out thick and more flat and tostada-like, but no one seemed to mind.

Then I chopped up ripe tomatoes and some Napa cabbage (because I forgot to buy lettuce at the Market), shredded some Cheddar, and voila!


Chicken Soft Tacos/Tostadas! Tacodas? Tostacos? Whatever you want too call them, they were nothing short of heavenly, and we scarfed them down with beans and some homemade pico de gallo.

One meal down, one to go.

I'm thinking of taking that leftover chicken and making a chicken pot pie. You know: chicken and little cut-up cooked vegetables in a thickened chicken-stock sauce, covered with a crust. It's possible her kids won't eat it, but I know she'll appreciate it, and--heck--the kids didn't just have surgery, so they can fend for themselves and have a bowl of cereal.

Alongside the pot pie, how about a Caprese Salad? Here was our recent one (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil are all at the Market this week!):

Too bad I'm delivering the meal tomorrow. Otherwise I'd be tempted to throw in some chocolates from Soulever. Proprietor and chocolate-teer Aimee Morrow keeps sending me pictures of her luscious creations. If you haven't had any, treat yourself this Thursday.

These babies would be Kaffir Lime Truffles

Aimee promises--brace yourself--Vegan Caramels this Thursday, which she describes as "soft coconut sugar caramel hugged by Peruvian dark chocolate ganache, double dipped in Peruvian dark chocolate." Control yourself, salivary glands!



What can I say? With the possibility of such farm-fresh meals and hand-crafted treats out there, it's almost worth a little surgery. But spare yourself, and get out to the Market while the getting's good. Next week the grind starts up again, but in the meantime, have a great long weekend!

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.

How to Handle Post-Market-Season Letdown

It's been 2-1/2 weeks since our last Bellevue Farmers Market of the season. The giant box of fruit I got from Collins is nearly spent, and I've officially run out of honey and had to buy my first carton of Stiebrs eggs at the store. It's a long way till May.

If you're suffering Post-Market-Season Letdown as I am, I have a few tidbits that might break your fall (and winter and early spring, as the pun might be):

1. The University District Market is still going. I know, I know--I haven't made it over there either. In fact, I should probably change the name of my blog to "SuburbanFarmJunkie" because I really hate trying to park in Seattle. So sue me. The U District Market claims you can park on the street (after circling the blocks countless times) or get tokens to park for an hour in four nearby lots. Haven't tried that yet, but may have to. Because you can find many of our favorite farmers and vendors selling there, and I miss them and their goodies! Plus, I still have memories of Preston Hill Bakery's Christmas stollen.

[image from SeattleLocalFood.com]

2. Make this the year you join Skagit River Ranch's Bellevue Buyers Club. Once a month you place your order, and it gets delivered to a home in Bellevue for you to pick up. Easy peasy. My order is coming today, thank heavens, with its roasts and eggs and such--even the turkey I pre-ordered but didn't pick up earlier because of my aversion to parking in Seattle (see #1).

Missing this face? Me, too! Along with all the good food she sells me. [Pic from SRR FB page]

3. Oh, and speaking of eggs, if you're just missing those wonderful eggs from Van Vuren Farms, with their orange-y yolks and their soy- and corn-free-ness, did you know they do online ordering with drop-offs in Kirkland, Seattle, or Mercer Island, every two weeks?

Awww....[pic from Van Vuren website]

Because the best gift you can give your family is good food! Talk about a gift that keeps on giving. When we support our local farmers and vendors, we're giving our family the gifts of a healthy local economy, a nurtured environment, and--better yet--we're giving them the gift of better health. As the rates of food allergies, diabetes, and cancer rise, the more real food we feed our families, the longer we can all go!

Thanksgiving Countdown

Skagit Turkeys (note the heavenly light surrounding them)

My mother-in-law and I just divvied up The Dinner. Here's how it played out:

RITA--
Turkey (but my Skagit River Ranch turkey will be delivered this week for personal consumption)
Gravy
Hors d'oeuvres
Pumpkin pie

ME--
Homemade rolls (I'll substitute some whole wheat flour)
Apple pie (delegated to the pie-baking husband)
Butternut squash (suitably disguised as dessert--I'll also add marshmallows to the topping)
Green bean casserole
Brussels sprouts with apple and bacon

That last item I forgot to mention to her, so it'll be a surprise. Did I mention that Thanksgiving is my favorite-est holiday ever? All the food of Christmas, without the gift-giving onus. A holiday where you actually sit around being thankful for what you have already received. No lists, no debt, no gift wrapping, no shipping, no returns. The only downside to the World's Best Holiday is that it marks the end of our Bellevue Farmers Market season. And that is a bummer.

Last chance until May to stock up on just-picked local goodness! Apples. Pears. Greens. Squash. Tomatoes. Herbs. Eggs. Salmon (buy and freeze!). Honey. Jam. Treats from Snohomish Bakery and Manini's. Toffee. Soup. Fruit-veggie smoothies and more.

So long, farewell, Bellevue Farmers Market 2012 season!

10-3 in the Congregational Church parking lot. Dogs are welcome, as are early birds! The only birds who have to fear this time of year are the turkeys. And on that note, I leave you with this compelling music video by Katie Rice Music on behalf of our feathered feast fixings.

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!

Beat the Heat at the Bellevue Farmers Market

The dog days of summer are upon us. Witness this little fellow I saw at last Saturday's Market:

Meet Sawyer, Market afficionado and recipient of a complimentary dog treat

Yes, the weatherman promises, the heat is here--at least through the end of the week. As if the blessed 80s weren't warm enough, my family is headed over the mountains to "enjoy" mid- to high 90s, coming back next Friday when the Tri-Cities will supposedly zoom over 100F. The downside: I'll miss Thursday's Market. The upside: as we leave Richland, I hope to check out their farmers market, The Market at the Parkway.

But since, for most Western Washington folk, a couple days in the 80s are enough to provoke whining and rain dances, I leave you with a few beat-the-heat tips, Market-style.

Tip #1: Grab an ice cream. From Molly Moon on Thursdays or these guys on Saturday:

Parfait is parfait--perfect for a summer day

Tip #2: Treat yourself to an apple granita (slushy) at Rockridge or a mojito-like lemonade at Crepes on Thursdays or a fresh-blended fruit-and-veggie concoction at The Juice Box on Saturday.

The unslushy version ain't bad either

Tip #3: Stay out of the kitchen and fire up the grill. A couple days ago we grilled rib-eye steak from Skagit River Ranch that had been soaked in a little lime juice and rubbed with chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Alongside the steak we grilled Market sweet onions and red and green bell pepper strips. Then we served it up as fajitas, on homemade tortillas (not that hard to make) and topped with sour cream and the awesome fresh Green salsa from Saturday's Seattle Salsa Guy.

John, serving samples

 John makes his salsas weekly, usually not more than a day ahead of each market. They feature freshly-squeezed organic lemon and lime juice, sea salt, Walla Walla onions, local cilantro, and, of course, plenty of tomatoes! There are Red and Green blends, in Hot and Medium levels of heat, as well as a chunkier Pico de Gallo which John labels the "Coarse Blend." His recommendation, if you don't try my fajitas? Fish tacos. Grill up some salmon or rockfish, sprinkle with garlic or sea salt, squirt with lemon. Wrap it in a corn tortilla and top with fresh salsa and sliced avocado. Mmmm... Unfortunately, we couldn't try the fish taco option because we'd already hogged down our entire container of green salsa with the fajitas. Maybe next week...

Or, Tip #4: Don't cook at all! Come down and grab a pizza or tamales or crepes or hum baos. Soup or a burger. Chase your main course with a slice of pie or the last cherries of the season, an apricot or two. Whatever you do, come hungry!

Stay cool, fellow food lovers.

Bellevue Farmers Market: Bad News, Good News Edition

If you're like me, you always want to get the bad news over with first. But, take heart, in the instances I am about to share with you, the good news almost always outweighs the bad.

THE BAD NEWS: First off, there is a terrible drought crippling the Midwest that promises higher food and fuel prices. We had some friends visiting from Indiana, and they reported on the endless heat and wilted fields of corn. If you want to lay eyes on some pictures, Forbes ran this photo essay recently. So if you love your frozen and canned corn, your high fructose corn syrup, your ethanol, and your countless other corn products, there are rough times ahead.

Our apologies to the Midwest

THE GOOD NEWS: Washington corn is looking and tasting great! My in-laws brought us a dozen ears from around the Tri-Cities area, and they were beauties. Full-grown ears with sweet, crisp kernels. Not unlike the ones I saw for sale at Alvarez Organic Farm (Thurs and Sat). Get your hands on about 3-4 ears and try the following recipe. You will not be sorry.

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder (modified from a recipe found in Not Your Mother's Slow-Cooker Cookbook--Market ingredients marked with an "*.")

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 of a large Walla Walla Sweet onion, chopped*
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped*
2 cups chicken broth
1 small bay leaf
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
about 3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut off the cobs*
1-2 cups diced cooked Polish Sausage from Skagit River Ranch* (ours was leftover from a barbecue, so it imparted a lovely smoky flavor)

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over med-hi. Add onions, celery and carrot and cook until the onion is transparent and browning. I dislike crunchy onions in soup, so I do this about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and add all ingredients EXCEPT milk, corn, and sausage. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

Add the milk, corn and sausage. Stir. Cover and cook on HIGH another hour. Adjust seasonings.

THE BAD NEWS: No sampling of alcoholic products at our Market.

(L to R) Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Red Table Wine, & Red Dessert Wine

THE GOOD NEWS: You won't be sorry if you give those products a try! I've posted before about my deep, deep love of Rockridge Orchards' Quarry Stone Hard (Apple) Cider, and at the Saturday Market we now welcome Wilridge Winery. Wilridge is a family-owned operation with organic grapes grown outsideYakima and a tasting room at the Pike Place Market. While the selection may vary from week to week, Megan chose her recent favorites this time out. For your next meal on the patio, check out the Pinot Grigio and Viognier, two crisp whites with green apple notes and a hint of pear. If you're grilling steak, try the award-winning Red Table Wine. Or the Dessert Wine with some dark chocolate.

THE BAD NEWS: Razey's Orchard reports that Bing cherry season is drawing to a close.

THE GOOD NEWS: We still have another couple weeks of Rainiers and still longer of such varieties as Lamberts and Sweetheart. Binge while you can!

THE BAD NEWS: I locked my keys in the car at the Saturday Market and had to borrow a Market volunteer's cell phone to summon my understandably irked husband.

THE GOOD NEWS: Before I could get a hold of him, I thought I would have to walk home, bag of iced Loki Salmon, hunk of Samish Bay Ladysmith with Chives, and all. It was very hot on Saturday, if you recall, so to prevent possible heatstroke I stopped at The Juice Box and ordered their "most fruity" option, the RPP. This freshly prepared juice concoction featured sweet red bell pepper, pineapple, key lime, and coconut water. Delicious and refreshing. Next up I want to try their "Julius," which I heard them recommend to a mom as something her kids would like. Before I could even finish my treat, my hub called, and I was spared the long trek.

THE BAD NEWS: Economic times are tough (duh).

Lori, naming names

THE GOOD NEWS: Farmers markets march onward, growing in number by nearly 10% last year, according to Reuters. This is made possible by eaters like you, committed to good food and community, and wonderful folks like the Bellevue Farmers Market sponsors, which Director Lori Taylor spent time calling out and thanking last Thursday. Thank you again, sponsors and Marketgoers, for making our wonderful Market possible!

Give Visiting Friends a Taste of Bellevue

"Quarry Stone" on the far right

We had friends in town the past several days, and while my part-time job chauffeuring my three children hither and yon prevented me going into full-time tour guide mode, I did manage to get them to the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market. Big, big hit.

Big, and perfect for slicing!

Doug and Kim had already sampled Rockridge Orchards' luscious Quarry Stone Hard Apple Cider at our house the night before, so we bought another bottle of it, along with some of the Skipping Stone Berry Cider and Tayberry Wine. Haven't opened the Tayberry yet, but the two hard ciders went over well, with Quarry Stone still my favorite. I've already promised to bring it to a 4th of July barbecue. Seriously, you have to try it. Just be sure to leave me a bottle. Tastewise I'm not a beer fan, so the Quarry Stone leans to the fruity, rather than the dry ale side. It was absolutely perfect with the Skagit River Ranch burgers we grilled up on Saturday, topped with Market lettuce and a Kittitas Valley Greenhouse tomato. For those who prefer drier hard ciders, Wade Bennett has those as well.

I fully intended to try something new at The Box, but my kids demanded another Kahlua Pork Hom Bao and made such loud mm-mm sounds eating it that Doug got one, too. Thank you, Chef Reis. The branching-out will have to happen next week (or when I don't have the kids). Please keep that mini bagel burger around another week!

Our friends' youngest daughter was recently diagnosed with a gluten allergy, so Kim eyed the gluten-free offerings at Manini's with interest. Scientific American  reported this week that children who grow up in urban settings are more likely to develop food allergies than those raised in rural areas(!). Since nowadays our kids largely eat the same Big-Ag food, whether they're country mice or city mice, researchers are still theorizing as to cause. Do rural kids have better immune systems because they're around more dirt? Are city kids exposed to more pollutants? The jury's still out, but--hey--if your suburban kids need a gluten-free muffin, Manini's can set them up.

Gluten-Free bread mixes, if you go for semi-homemade

And finally, while a swim meet prevented me from making the Saturday Market last week, I do have a tidbit on it from the week before. Please welcome Millingwood of Lake Stevens! Dave Mills has a flock of 335 chickens, roaming freely on five acres and producing 130 dozen of the tastiest eggs per week. Such natural, organic egg goodness went into my daughter's homemade Red Velvet birthday cake, and I like to think those two eggs offset the whole bottle of chemical food coloring I dumped in next. Yikes.

See you all Thursday! Don't be surprised if I stop you and ask how you plan to cook some of the goodies in your shopping bags.

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 soupçon 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.

Arsenic--It's Not Just for Murderers Anymore

In Dorothy Sayers' mystery novel Strong Poison, a woman is on trial for the murder (by arsenic poisoning) of her lover. Is she guilty or not? Certainly she had some motivation, and she did hand the fellow his cup of coffee. Fortunately, Lord Peter Wimsey has taken an interest in the case and--not to spoil anything--makes some surprising discoveries when he investigates a certain man's hair clippings. The clippings, you see, contain traces of arsenic. Murder will, and does, out, and all ends happily.

The chemicals entering our body leave their traces, for good or bad. This is true whether you're a human being or an animal eaten by human beings. Riding the pink-slime, food-additive wave, journalist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about chemicals found in Big Ag chicken, including antibiotics, acetaminophen, antihistamines, antidepressants, caffeine, and even that old murder-mystery favorite, arsenic. Similar to Lord Peter's analysis of hair clippings, scientists found all the goodies in feather meal, a poultry by-product made from--uh--feathers.

Antibiotics we all know about--chickens raised in close quarters, around and next to and on top of each other, tend to get sick more and need a boost fighting off all the germs. But the other chemicals? It turns out the antihistamines, acetaminophen, and antidepressants are given to relieve anxiety. Chickens, like humans, get anxious under stress. The caffeine? Well, that keeps them awake longer so they can eat more and fatten up faster. And the arsenic? Is some chicken being poisoned by a vindictive lover? No--arsenic actually fights infection and makes chicken meat plump and appetizing. Like Airborne and Botox, all in one. Mm, mm arsenic.

If I worked as a PR specialist for Big Ag, I would see this as a $$$ opportunity. Dose those chickens up just a bit more, and you could market a Headache-Fighting Chicken (acetaminophen is better known as Tylenol)! Or how about a Cheer-You-Up-Chicken (one pumped with antidepressants)? A caffeinated Five-Hour-Energy Chicken?

Honestly, what has my un-chemically-plumped, free-roaming, organic, antibiotic- and additive-free Skagit River Ranch chicken done for me lately? Looks like, if I want to poison my husband or children, I'll have to hit the grocery store. For nefarious purposes, nothing I find at the Bellevue Farmers Market will do the trick...

See you Opening Day, Thursday, May 10, 3-7P, in the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue parking lot!

Talking Turkey Again

"Can they guess I reheated this from last night?"

A couple weeks ago I posted on my Skagit River Ranch turkey and how my goal was to wrangle thirteen meals out of one bird. I'm happy to report that we're through ten meals, and I still have six cups of shredded, cooked meat in the freezer and two quarts of turkey broth. Meals #9 and #10 were actually the same batch of Turkey-Tortilla Soup--the first time around it fed me and my three children, and the second time it was the four of us and another family of a mom and three kids. She supplied the rolls and salad, and we were off to the races again!

(Which reminds me of another Thrifty Organic Tip: eating in community makes the most of individual surpluses and shortages. Seriously--we still have nine butternut squash in the pantry that my husband grew last summer. Anytime we're invited to a potluck, I immediately volunteer to bring the vegetable side.)

While I was placing my monthly Bellevue Buyers Club order from Skagit, I happened to notice a turkey article of their own, featured in Edible Seattle. It's worth reading in its entirety, but several points particularly struck me:

  • Skagit raises the same "Broad-Brested White" variety as conventional turkey farmers because of the American fondness for white meat. However, The Vojkoviches' turkeys roam pastures freely during the day and roost at night in a giant, mobile turkey house.
  • "The birds’ diet is a combination of foraged bugs and decaying plant matter (up to 30% of their total diet), native grasses such as clovers, fescue, and rye, and a supplementation of organic grains like camelina (an ancient Egyptian grain high in Omega-3’s) as well as spelt, emmer, and wheat, all milled on the ranch."
  • Skagit uses no antibiotics or growth promotants, and their turkeys take six months to reach slaughter size. Compare that to 14 weeks (female) or 18 weeks (toms) in the general industry.
  • Skagit processes all birds on site in their WSDA certified-organic facility, avoiding contamination from shared processing facilities. (Check this article for cross-contamination from shared facilities.)

 
If you're thinking of joining me in a Lucky Thirteen challenge next year, be sure to reserve your turkey when the Market opens in May. They do sell out!

And speaking of the Market opening, the dates have been set and the countdown officially begun. How easy it is, on a sunny day, to imagine Market season is just around the corner!

2012 Opening Days
Thursday Market opens on May 10th at 3 pm
Saturday Market opens on June 2nd at 10 am
 

Lucky Thirteen Meals

Your run-of-the-mill Butterball breeder

 I'm on a mission. For the third Thanksgiving in a row, I bought a turkey from Skagit River Ranch. No matter that we would be spending the holiday with my in-laws, and that Christmas, too, was spoken for, protein-wise. I parked that fifteen-pound baby in the freezer and hunkered down for the major turkey-eating occasions to pass.

Now I've got to tell you, a humanely-raised local turkey, which grew up roaming organic pastures and supplementing its organic grain diet with delicacies like flaxseed and sea kelp, is no cheap date. Mine set me back $91, roughly double the price of a conventionally-raised gobbler as pictured above. (The photo is from an ABC news report on "turkey abuse" at a NC turkey "facility.") However, in my general addiction to Thrift, I've challenged myself to stretch that turkey into thirteen meals. Why thirteen? Because it makes the math come out even ($7 of meat and/or broth per meal for 4-5 people).

Meal #1: Fancy Turkey Sandwiches. When I used to work in the South of Market district of San Francisco, there was one deli that roasted a turkey every single day, slicing it up into the juiciest, most luscious sandwiches. My mouth still waters, thinking about it. When I planned Fancy Turkey Sandwiches, I had both them and Gilbert's on Main's yummy turkey bagel sandwich in mind. Ingredients: fancy artisan bread, cream cheese, homemade cranberry sauce, lettuce, and thin slices of cucumber. Two of my kids added cheddar.

Meal #2: Fancy Turkey Sandwiches.

Meal #3: Turkey Tortilla Soup. The very day I roasted the turkey, I stripped it of most meat, freezing the meat in packs of two cups each. Then I plunged the carcass in the stock pot with carrots, onion, and water and let it simmer most of the day. When that was done, I strained the broth and froze that in baggies of two cups each, leaving out enough for the first pot of soup.

Meal #4 Fancy Turkey Sandwiches. (I grant you, these were snow day lunches, every day after the first appearance of FTSes.)

Meal #5: Turkey a la King. Two cups of meat; chopped up, steamed vegetables; creamy sauce made with turkey broth, and egg noodles.

Meal #6: FTSes.

Meal #7: Turkey enchiladas. Mix the standard two cups of shredded meat with shredded cheese and salsa and roll 1/2 cup up in each 8" tortilla. Add a strip of cream cheese, if you like extra creamy. Pour enchilada sauce over, sprinkle with cheese and bake till it's how you like it. (I like the cheese not just melted, but browned on top. Maybe 30 minutes covered and 15 uncovered?)

Meal #8: Southern greens with Turkey leg. This one goes in the slow cooker along with some broth and a chipotle in adobo.

And that's how far I've gotten (apart from having just made myself an FTS on a leftover bagel I found in the freezer). I still have the frozen meat, broth, and enough wing and leg and neck bones to do another batch of broth. Thirteen meals shouldn't be a problem!

If you still have leftover turkey hiding out and a favorite recipe idea, please share. I've got pot pies and turkey-wild-rice casserole up my sleeve, but after that I may have to repeat. I think it's safe to say, however, that local/organic can still be thrifty if you put your mind to it. Next year I might need one turkey for the holidays and one for another thirteen-meal marathon!

Twelve New Year's Food Resolutions for 2012

Starting Small

It's that time again--time for the often ill-fated, sweeping promises to ourselves and time for the late-January guilt that follows on their abandonment.

Telling yourself you're going to exercise more (and I am, I am, I am!) may not be sustainable, but a baby step might be more successful. I am going to go for one twenty-minute walk twice a week. Or, I will always take the stairs unless I am late.

Unlike exercise resolutions, making a food resolution doesn't involve any membership fees, sweaty handgrips, new Lycra wardrobes, expensive shoes, or fighting over weight machines. In fact, you may find the achievement of one New Year's Food Resolution so painlessly do-able that you add another along about February, and then one more in March. Eating better is incremental. We make one change and never go back, so with each additional adjustment we are further and further along the road to better nutrition and family health.

So give one of these suggestions a spin. Bookmark this post so that you can come back and add another in a couple weeks. Or work on your one resolution all 2012 and call it good. Either way you'll be that much better off. Feel free to add a Food Resolution in the comments if I forgot any!

  1. Cook one more meal per week. This one saves the gut and the pocketbook. If you already cook every night, pick a different resolution!
  2. Cook one more vegetarian meal per week. Black bean burritos. Soup. Pasta Pomodoro. Baked potato bar.
  3. Cook one meal per week entirely from leftovers or pantry/refrigerator stores. In our house we call it Smorgasbord of Leftovers or Clean-Out-the-Fridge Night.
  4. Take a Knife Skills class. If you're not crazy about cooking, this small investment will increase your confidence.
  5. Learn to cut up a chicken. Not only is buying a whole chicken more earth-friendly, but you can satisfy varying desires for light meat and dark meat around your table. Buying Skagit River Ranch chickens is what made me learn. No more bags of Tyson saline-injected, inhumanely-farmed chicken breasts!
  6. Learn to make one food that you normally buy processed. Be it Hamburger Helper or canned soup or cake mix. Just one. Once you taste the difference and compare the ingredient lists, you'll hate to go back. Cake mixes, canned biscuits, brownie mixes, and the like all got the boot from my pantry a few years ago, and we haven't looked back.
  7. Avoid one genetically-modified food. Most soybeans, non-organic corn, and "canola" is genetically-modified. I'm ditching canola oil this year. Soybeans and non-organic corn were eliminated in past years, insofar as possible. Most chocolate contains soy lecithin as an emulsifier, so 100% elimination is out for us. Fermented and traditionally-processed soy are still okay with us (organic tofu and soy sauce). It's the soybean oil (usually labeled "vegetable oil") and soy protein I stay away from.
  8. Replace one fruit/vegetable from the "Dirty Dozen" with one from the "Clean Fifteen." Buying organic fruits and vegetables can be expensive and isn't necessary in all cases. In fact, a family could stay in-budget well by only eating from the less-pesticide-laden options. If you can't bear to give up that one fruit, if it's on the Dirty Dozen list, make the switch to organic.
  9. Cut out one non-local, out-of-season fruit or vegetable in favor of something local and/or seasonal. My kids groan, but I don't buy out-of-season berries from California (or even farther away). Those strawberries that are huge as tennis balls and taste about the same? No way. We'll stick with our Washington pears and apples in the off-season, or delve into the Bellevue Farmers Market berries that I froze.
  10. Eat one more serving of vegetables a day. Amazing how tough this can be to do. I try to have two vegetable options per dinner: one salad and one steamed something. Or else I'll steam two different vegetables. Or stir-fry whatever I've got in the bin and eat two helpings of it. (One serving equals about half a cup.)
  11. Replace one protein source with its wild/grass-fed/humanely-raised equivalent. If your budget can't afford a wholesale switch to wild salmon, pastured beef, or happily-raised chicken or pork, pick the protein that gives you the most heeby-jeebies when you watch the videos. Yes, the good options are pricier. This isn't all bad (see Resolution #2).
  12. Plant something. Your favorite herb, a summer tomato plant, some carrots. Actually I leave this resolution to my husband because there is no plant I can't kill. Possibly I might consider an edible cactus...

Happy New Year and good eating!

Refrigerator, We Have a Problem

Namely, I've blown through all my Thanksgiving leftovers.

The first night it was Turkey Tortilla Soup.

The second night it was Turkey Enchiladas.

This morning I used up the last three cups of stuffing in a frittata recipe that I featured in last year's post-Thanksgiving post. That leaves only about two cups of mashed potatoes which will soon find their way into soup, bread, or be fried in little cakes.

If you're still fortunate enough to have some leftovers, check out these easy recipes.

Turkey Tortilla Soup
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 c. shredded turkey
1 c. corn (optional)
1/4 c. wine
Pinch of crushed red peppers
1 t cumin
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
2 (14.25-ozs cans) chicken broth or equivalent
1 can diced tomatoes OR 1 lg can tomato sauce or 1 jar salsa

Saute onions and garlic in Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot. Add everything else. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips. 4-5 servings.

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Turkey Enchiladas
1 c. sour cream
sprinkle of cilantro to taste
1.5 t cumin
2 c diced cooked turkey
2 c shredded cheddar, separated into 1 c for filling and 1 c for topping.
1/2 jar salsa

6 8-inch flour tortillas
6 ozs cream cheese, cut into long slices
can enchilada sauce

Combine filling ingredients. Divide into equal portions. Fill each tortilla, laying a strip of cream cheese on top. Line the enchiladas up in an 8x8 pan and pour enchilada sauce over. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until cheese browns.

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My other food-related problem is that the Bellevue Farmers Market season has ended (alas). I continue to buy my meats, poultry and eggs through the Skagit River Ranch Bellevue Buyers Club (delivered monthly to a centralized Bellevue location), but if I want local produce and specialty foods, I'll have to venture to another farmers market. It just so happens that a college student in Santa Barbara has developed a helpful tool to locate farmers markets for those times when we are out and about.

The program, called "Find the Data," allows you to enter "Bellevue" under the Location (state, city, or zip) field. Choose Bellevue, Washington, hit Enter, and a list of local markets pops up. Although clicking on a market name will not give you the hours and start and end dates, if any, there is a link to that market's particular website. It's a work in progress, and a helpful start!

During the Market off-season I'll be keeping up with the weekly posts on food, nutrition, foodie book reviews, and more, so check back often.

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

Check out these gorgeous potatoes

I don't know what it is, but it feels like the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market season just flew by! Maybe it was that summer took so very long to get here. How can the Thursday Market end when there are still berries to be had?? My last visit demonstrated this produce schizophrenia: I came home with both nectarines (summer) and brussels sprouts (fall), snow peas (spring/summer!) and Asian pears (fall). Totally bizarre.

While the grill had to be covered and the patio umbrella taken down, and while the sky outside is grisly and weeping, I've nevertheless planned a last-of-the-Thursday-Market-summer-meal: Skagit River Ranch burgers (probably have to broil them) on homemade buns with sliced homegrown tomatoes, roasted Olsen Farms potatoes, and coleslaw. Speaking of Skagit, I have two reminders for my dear readers: (1) If you want one of their turkeys or hams, order this week! and (2) join their Bellevue Buyers Club if you would like to place orders online and have them delivered monthly during the Market off-season to a centralized location in Bellevue.

Meanwhile, the good food and festivities will continue at the Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market right up to the weekend before Thanksgiving. At least fall's arrival brings Comfort Foods. 'Tis the season for pot roasts and roasted vegetables and breads and soups. And let's not forget all those crisp, sweet-tart, juicy apples. New varieties every week. They hardly need improving upon, but if you're invited to a Halloween party this month, skip the bag of candy corn and bring this instead:

Toffee Dip (Can't remember where I got this--some magazine years ago. Enough for up to 12 apples)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
8 ozs. cream cheese

Combine in a bowl. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Add:

3/4 c. toffee bits

Stir well. Cover and chill. Serve with thick apple slices which you either slice right beforehand or shake with some lemon or pineapple juice to preserve the color.

See you all this Thursday. Last call!