Snohomish Bakery

Consider the Pastries

The Stash--before I got there

Last week was my son's 13th birthday, which means he's reached the age of wanting nothing, or nothing but expensive things (a trip to Hawaii) that I don't intend to buy at this point. One grandma aimed younger and got him Legos. The other gave up and sent cash. We ended up making him a photo book with here's-what-people-remember-about-you testimonies interspersed, which also was not something he wanted at this stage in the game.

But one gift was a hit: at the Market I bought him a truckload of Snohomish Bakery's pain au chocolat, and I put them in the freezer so that he could pull one out whenever the urge struck him. Because, was there ever a person who didn't love flaky, melting puff pastry at their convenience?

Then there was the birthday party the ten-year-old was invited to. The birthday gal was gluten-intolerant or -allergic, so the pastry trick wasn't going to work on her. Or was it?

Remember these beauties, from last week's quiz? (The quiz still doesn't have a winner, so feel free to take notes on your visit this week and win a free jar of Sunny Honey!) Well, these happen to be gluten-free sugar cookies from--spoiler alert!--Sod House Bakery.

We bought two of the cookies, but only one made it to the destination because the other got broken and, yes, we had to eat it. De-li-cious.

And Sod House is not our only source of gluten-free baked goods this year. You've probably also noticed

Wildflour's well-stocked booth. Haven't sampled yet, but I saw quick breads, foccaccia, yeast breads, and treats.

If you were invited to a Memorial Day Barbecue or face barbecues ahead this summer, you don't always have to bring the salad. Offer one of our awesome Market breads, pies, or other treats. Speaking of pie, here's another clue to last week's quiz. That awesome pie?

It's called Three-Berry Pie, and you can find it at Adrienne's Cakes and Pies.

Now that's two answers I've given you!

And, of course, Tall Grass Bakery has returned, with its sourdough rye and soft pretzels and breadsticks and loaves.

Thanks heavens we have months ahead of us to make the rounds and find our new favorites...

In other news, berry season has officially begun, with the arrival of the earliest variety of Washington strawberries from the Skagit Valley. I'll be snatching up some of these for my book party that night, so, judging by how I cleaned out the chocolate croissants at Snohomish Bakery, you may want to hit the Market early!

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.

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.

Let Me Eat Cake

So my bread machine broke last week. It was 6:30 p.m., and we were back from the usual afternoon flurry of activity. I opened the lid, expecting to find a plump, perfect ball of whole-wheat speckled pizza dough, but discovered instead a heap of unmixed flour and plenty of goo leaking out the bottom of the pan. Bummer. And did I remember later to get a new machine or replacement part? Not until I thought about whipping up some pizza dough for tonight. Sigh.

Fresh pizza dough is one of the few items our bakers don't offer at the Bellevue Farmers Market. And why should they, when Veraci is sliding pie after perfect pie into their clay-and-concrete, wood-fired oven? But Marketgoers can pick up just about everything else: pastries, cookies, loaves of bread, pretzels, fresh pasta, whole dessert pies or by the slice--even gluten-free offerings from Manini's!

Tricolore Egg Pasta in upper right

Speaking of pasta, I decided to use up some of our garden-tomato extravaganza with a Pasta Pomodoro, featuring La Pasta's beautiful Tricolore (Three-Color) Fettucine. Let me just say, a pound of pasta is a lot of pasta. Good thing it tasted just as yummy reheated the next day. Can't wait to try those ravioli in the lower left: mushroom, cheese, garlic, herbs. Dmitri sells sauces to go with, or I might just whip up some Alfredo with--what else--added tomatoes.

And then on Saturday I discovered a new vendor, Let Them Eat Cake of Seattle! Artisan pastry chef Laura Springfield graduated from The French Pastry School in Chicago some years ago and worked thereafter making and decorating cakes. When her husband entered the PhD program in Philosophy at UW, they moved out to Seattle, and Laura started this venture. The Bellevue Farmers Market is her first and only farmers market at this point.

Laura was sampling these cut-out cookies which are almost too beautiful to eat, but my nine-year-old managed with no problems:

If you look carefully at the album behind the cookies, you'll see a Cinderella scene with coach, all done in cake and fondant! Talk about looking too good to eat. No way would I let anyone cut into my creations if the birthday cakes I made my family came out like that. Mine are all about the 9x13 pan, and the only bragging rights are that they don't come from a mix. Just a quick scroll through Laura's website will assure you that you don't want any of your children seeing the pictures, or they will never be content with homemade again.

Too often, beautiful baked goods are not the same thing as yummy baked goods, but, having brought home the Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream-Cheese Filling and Chocolate Ganache, I have to say you don't want to save these treats for the display case. Yum.

Pumpkin is the one not shadowed by the giant reflection of my head.

And if baked goods aren't your thing, Laura also does chocolates. Haven't tried these yet because we must draw the line somewhere, for crying out loud.

The problem is which to try first

I don't just load up on carbs at the Bellevue Farmers Market, however, or at home, when my appliances are operating. I also stalk vendors on the off days in their home territory. Yep, a friend and I hit up the antique shops in Snohomish one morning and then finished with a visit to both the Snohomish Bakery and the Snohomish Pie Company, located across the street from each other. You'll be interested to hear that these are both lovely little eatery/bakeries. The Pie Company has all its pie-baking out front, so you can see racks and racks of their offerings. You can't see into the Bakery's back room, but all the pastries and breads we find at our Market are right there, and they'll even serve up a sandwich on your favorite bread. (I recommend the Meatloaf on Pumpernickel.)

We have just three more Thursdays left this season (Saturday Markets go until Nov 17), so we'll see you this week, I hope. I'll be the one holding the pretzel!

Market Countdown!

Hip hip hooray--the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market opens in just over three weeks! Hope you've already marked your calendar for May 10, 3-7 p.m., in First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue's parking lot (last year's location). Opening Day is certainly on mine--in ink and highlighted.

Some exciting news about this season:

  • Welcome back to Rockridge Orchards! My mouth waters, just thinking about one of their cold apple ciders on a hot summer day. Their web page highlights ciders, vinegars, produce, wine, and honey, so I can't wait to see what they bring. I'll definitely have more on the blog about them when we open.
  • Snohomish Pie Company joins us Thursdays! Not to be confused with the luscious Snohomish Bakery (who, thank heaven, will be returning on Saturdays), the Snohomish Pie Company specializes in--you guessed it--pies. All I can say is, those folks in Snohomish really do know a thing or two about baking.
  • Millingwood Organics of Lake Stevens will bring eggs on Saturdays, to the relief of us marketgoers who arrive too late on Thursdays!
  • If you're a fan of Tieton Farm & Creamery's subtle, tasty goat and sheep's milk cheeses from last year's Saturday Market, be aware that they're moving to Thursdays. Don't be caught out for that weekend cheese tray...

More news to follow, as we get closer!

Last week I visited the in-laws in Richland, Washington, and was thrilled to see this article in their Tri-City Herald about Washington asparagus farmers.The very first Washington asparagus is being harvested as we speak, people! The paper reports about 100 asparagus growers in our state, with 70% of them in Benton and Franklin Counties (where Richland and my in-laws can be found). The article's worth a read. As a non-farmer, I had no idea that asparagus is the most labor-intensive crop to harvest. It must be done by hand, as the worker with a pack strapped on him stoops over to whack each stalk with a knife. (My father-in-law confirmed this, having grown up in Dayton, Washington, which used to be Ground Zero for Green Giant Asparagus.) Not only is the work hard, but the same field can be cut up to 65 times in a season! Bring it on, I say. Love the stuff.

Happy 2nd half of April to you all.

Last Farmers Market of the Season!

From Attitude of Gratitude website

Thanksgiving approacheth, and it's worthwhile to remember our causes for gratitude, as I sit typing this with dinner unmade and my 7th grader in tears beside me over her math. I am grateful for free public education. I am grateful that, prepared or not, there will eventually be food on the table. I am grateful for a three-day week next week, followed by family time and the tastiest meal of the year, in my humble opinion.

For the umpteenth annual time, we can pledge to eat at least one local food at Thanksgiving. Piece of cake, considering the riches of our local produce. Last Saturday at the Bellevue Farmers Market, I found different potato varieties, brussels sprouts, winter squash, apples for pie, cheese for the cheese plate, bread to cube into stuffing, fresh parsley--even first-course soups! Eating local captures the original Thanksgiving spirit, when shipping exotic viands thousands of miles was simply not an option. Eat what you could find or whatever had been put by earlier, throw in your lot with your friends and neighbors, and give thanks.

Enjoy the following links to some of my favorite seasonal recipes:

Elena's delicious Butternut-Squash-Apple Soup. I made this the other day with squash I'd already roasted. So easy and happens to be vegan, if one of your guests is!

Cook's Illustrated Green Bean Casserole. I love this dish in any form, even the open-a-can-of-cream-of-mushroom kind, but this one is over-the-top yummy.

If you don't do mashed potatoes, try this simple Gratin Dauphinois from Cooking Light. (I do substitute whole milk for the nonfat business.)

And, a repeat from an earlier post, the dinner rolls I make ahead and freeze every Thanksgiving and Christmas, adapted from Betty Crocker's Best Christmas Cookbook.

Besides grabbing your feast fixings, be sure to stock up for the long dry spell. Loki Fish offers a discount when you buy 10 lbs, so I'll be loading up on Sockeye filets. If you have a favorite sausage or other meat from Olsen Farms or Samish Bay, now's the time. Artisan bread from Ble or Snohomish Bakery freezes beautifully. Depending on how I plan to serve it, I either slice and freeze (for sandwiches) or throw it in whole.

And if you've managed to dodge hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas, hostess gifts abound at the Market. I've shown up with Jonboy caramels, Pete's Perfect Butter Toffee or a jar of Handmade by Rome jam--the fig with vanilla is fabulous on a cheese tray.

My blog will continue weekly during the off-season, but this Saturday will be our last chance to run into each other live and in person! See you at the Market.

Dang-I-Forgot-the-Briquets Meals

Not just the Fall Guy anymore

Our house has no air-conditioning, unless you count the constant chill provided by La Nina and the Summer of 2011. We did, however, hit a stuffy 78F inside yesterday--perfect weather to grill out. In preparation, I had bought a monster bag of charcoal briquets (my husband is a purist) and then left them in that very bottom rack of the grocery cart and driven home. Grrr...

If this ever happens to you on what promises to be a hot day, consider some summer slow-cooker meals. Just like the barbecue, the slow-cooker doesn't heat up your house. No slaving over a hot stove! Here are three I've made this summer, using Market ingredients and pantry staples:

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork (this one requires planning!)
1 pork roast from Skagit River Ranch or Sea Breeze Farm or Samish Bay
1 bottle BBQ sauce of your choice OR
1 c ketchup
1 c chili sauce or salsa or taco sauce or even pizza sauce
1/4 c mustard
a few Tbsp soy sauce or teriyaki sauce or Worcestershire
a couple Tbsp honey (we have the big jar of Daniel's Honey)
minced garlic, to taste (we like a few good-sized cloves)
dash of hot sauce or Cayenne or red pepper flakes

Mix sauce ingredients and marinate roast the night before. Then dump everything in the slow-cooker, add another 1/2c-3/4 c water, depending on how "saucy" you like things, and cook on low 8-10 hours. Shred meat and serve over rolls. (I bought a baguette from Snohomish Bakery and just cut it in several pieces.)

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

Black-Bean Burritos
1 lb dried black beans from Alvarez Organic Farm
2 tsp chili powder
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (several farmers have jalapenos at different times)
6 c water OR, even better, 5 c water and 1 c leftover red wine

Throw it all in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Check the beans at 4 hours. Alvarez beans are fresher, so they will take less time to cook. If you can't be bothered to watch the beans, set the cooker on low and let it go for longer.
Serve with tortillas and desired condiments. I usually scramble some Skagit River Ranch eggs and make them "breakfast" burritos.

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

Thai-Style Peanut Pork (adapted from Not-Your-Mother's-Slow-Cooker Cookbook)
1 pkg Skagit River Ranch Pork Stir-Fry, thawed. (I've also thrown it in totally frozen and cooked a little longer)
2 bell peppers of any color, cut in big chunks. The farmers have lots of them now!
1/3 c teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes

Throw it all in and cook on low for about 3-4 hours. Then stir in 1/4 c peanut butter. Serve over rice, passing chopped scallions or crushed peanuts for garnish.

Needless to say, the perfect side to any of these would be a fresh salad, leaf or chopped. With the Thai Pork, I often steam some broccoli or green beans or peas and just add them to the finished dish because the sauce is so luscious. Couldn't be simpler, so hit the Market this week and don't despair if the charcoal or propane runs out.

Get While the Getting's Good

If we can't be there, at least we can eat their salt.

Okay, so the sun has gone into hiding temporarily again, but the first Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market of the season was as glorious as all the Thursday Markets have been. What a great day for great food and great conversations. The new location, in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church, has similar ambience to Thursday--trees, asphalt, and a church in the background. Awesome!

And as with the Thursday markets, I made new discoveries on my trip. For one thing, Tieton Farm & Creamery joins us this year from--where else--Tieton in the sunny Yakima Valley. Lori Babcock pastures her own herds of sheep and goats on the farm, blending their milks into some fabulous cheeses. Technically they are known as "Mi-Chevres" because they're not just goat cheese (chevres), but Lori just calls them chevres because she got tired of explaining what a mi-chevre was. All I know is, if you sometimes find straight goat cheeses too tangy, give Tieton Farms a try. The sheep's milk mellows the tang for a milder, sweeter result. By the time I reached the Market, Lori was already sold out of her chevres rolled in Hawaiian Red Salt or Black Lava Salt. (Guess we're all yearning for some tropical weather...) I couldn't miss what I didn't know, however, and found her chevre in paprika very tasty. And after trying Tieton's Feta, I don't know if I can go back to storebought!

New vendor Snohomish Bakery provided a welcome accompaniment to my cheeses: pumpernickel bread with NO caraway seeds. I ran home and sliced up the dark, dense loaf and threw it in the freezer. That day, and every day since, I take two pieces out and toast them up and eat them with cheese or butter. The kids were a little freaked out by how dark the bread is and accused me of burning the toast, but that meant more for me.

And finally, as a dessert, Becky of Oxbow Farms passed on the following recipe suggestion. I was bemoaning the fact that strawberries and rhubarb aren't in season at the same time in Washington, but Becky said a co-worker of hers just makes Rhubarb Sauce. She cuts the rhubarb into 1/2" chunks and tosses it with equal parts sugar and white wine and one vanilla pod. (Say, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup wine to a pound of rhubarb.) Then she covers the pan with foil and bakes in a 350F oven until saucy. Hmmm...

Let me add to that a friend's suggestion for Broomstick Pie, and we'll be in business. This is the non-healthy storebought part of the post. Annie suggests you wrap Pillsbury dough around a broomstick and cook it over your roaring summer firepit. When it's done, smother it in butter and honey (both available at the Market). Dump in a spoonful of your Rhubarb Sauce, and--voila!--Rhubarb Broomstick Pie! You'll probably be a sticky mess and attract bears, but I suspect it'll be worth it.

See you this Thursday and Saturday, rain or shine!