Fishing Vessel St- Jude

Five Reasons to Hit the Market Before It's Over for the Season

Only two Markets left for the 2016 season, and they'll be held, rain or shine. In fact, the only time I can remember the Market being cancelled was that one Saturday Market with the huge gusty winds which blew canopies away, turning them into projectile missiles... As the sun and pleasant temperatures give way to that monoseason which lasts from October to July, I thought you might need a little motivating to get out there two more times:

ONE: The apple pie contest was moved to this week, October 20! It's not too late to turn out and have your mouth water while you look on.

apple_pie

TWO: It's time to stock up. Last year I experimented with "cold storage" for apples. I put a cooler outside and put a couple bags in and then just ate them at a regular rate. Worked just fine. This frees up refrigerator space for the bags of pears and Asian pears! Potatoes also keep fine in the fridge, and we let squash go all winter just sitting on the floor in the pantry.

THREE: Disaster preparedness! In our home I've been assigned gathering canned/boxed food in case of The Big One. Clearly last Saturday's storm was not The Big One, which means it's still out there. If this nameless disaster were to hit today, based on the current pantry ingredients, my family would be thrown back on lots of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tuna, a can of coconut milk, and some strange parsley sauce that was on clearance at QFC. Our Market offers tuna, of course, in more flavors and varieties than the grocery store, as well as pickled foods in jars, beef and tuna jerky, jams and honey, and beverages. Because if the power is going to be out or you've been pinned under a fallen bookcase, you might as well live a little.

preparedness

FOUR and FIVE and FIVE-POINT-FIVE: Because walking and vegetables and wine will improve your health. Read a great book this week, which I'll write more about later, but the author's main point was that "healthy habits matter more than weight." And, according to author Sandra Aamodt, "four health habits predict much of the risk of dying over the next fourteen years, regardless of weight." These silver bullets are: (1) not smoking; (2) exercising at least twelve times a month; (3) eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; and (4) light to moderate drinking. The Market can't help you with your smoking habit, but walking the stalls can be part of your exercising, and there are fruits, vegetables, and wine bottles galore. (FYI, "light to moderate drinking" was defined as a glass of wine per day for women and two glasses for men.)

So you see, I've turned the last couple weeks of the Market into a life-or-death situation for you. So please--choose life!

Blink, and You Might Miss These

We were at the Mariners game last night, being alternately grieved, thrilled, annoyed, and then thrilled again by the 7-6, extra-inning triumph over the Detroit Tigers. There was mediocre pitching. There was a bag of kettle corn and a serving of garlic fries. There was a grand slam. There were Tigers fans getting on my nerves.

Thanks for the pic, MLB.com

I bring all this up for no reason, except that the Mariners don't win all that often, and we ought to savor it.

Just as we ought to savor the summer fruit season as it goes whizzing by! The strawberries are already done and the cherries soon to follow.

Get 'em while they last!

 Tell me you've tasted these offerings as well...?

FYI, a "nectarcot" is an awesome sweet-tart fruit that reminded me of a pluot. All our fruits are coming at us at an accelerated pace because of the heat wave, so we have to stay alert! My hub even spotted ripening blackberries among the monstrous weeds that threaten to overtake the Greater Puget Sound if you relax your vigilance for even a few months. Blackberries. In July.

But while we're snatching up fruit as the season flies by, don't miss other tasty things making appearances.

Did you notice the smoked tuna on offer at Fishing Vessel St. Jude's? So. Yummy.

Under a glass dome, like the treasure it is

And how about the appearance of Jujubeet, with their cold-pressed juices and wholesome snacks? More on them later because I used to work at their Bellevue store, but for now, one of their publicity shots:

I've had this exact drink at Jujubeet

And, this Saturday (7/11) and next Thursday (7/16), don't miss the reappearance of Peasant Food Manifesto, food truck of awesomeness.

Where I had this so-luscious mac and cheese with kimchi:

If any of you out there are Mariners fans, you know the valuable life lessons fandom teaches, which easily apply to eating seasonally:

  1. You can't have whatever goodness you want, whenever you want it.
  2. When the good times come, milk them for all they're worth.
A friend who accompanied us to the game happened to be up getting food and refilling water bottles when the Mariners loaded the bases and Austin Jackson hit his first career grand slam. He heard the pandemonium but got no closer to the festivities than staring up at the monitor by the concession stand. 
Sadly, that will be me, with this week's Markets. I'll be eating pool concessions at the kids' swim meets while you all have a ball. Think of me, when you're enjoying summer's walk-off victories.

2015 Opening Day Shopping List

Woo hoo! It's finally upon us--Opening Day of the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market. And just in time because I ran out of meat yesterday, I ran out of honey the last time I made granola, and I'm pretty tired of cabbage and carrots and mushy apples and no-longer-very-tasty Satsumas.

What's on your fresh and local shopping list? Here's mine:

1. Asparagus! Picked-in-the-last-24-hours asparagus is flavorful and almost nutty. I roast it with some olive oil or throw it on the grill. (Or see this Crawford Farms article for other recipe ideas.)

Crawford Farms pic

2. Spring Salad Fixings! Yes, it's time for a break from coleslaw and winter salads based on grated carrots and cucumbers. Grab whatever greens you find and dress them simply--fresh doesn't require a lot. The Food Network offers this suggestion. Great add-ons would be a tomato or some cubes of fresh cheese.

Food Network pic--it practically dresses itself!

3. Apples and Pears that have been properly cold-stored. There's a reason the grocery-store offerings are mushy now (or from Argentina).

4. Honey. Since I make my own granola, we go through a lot of honey. Time to re-stock. My daughter still remembers the chunk of honeycomb Cary Therriault of Cascade Natural Honey gave her when we visited him and his bees at work.

She even licked the cardboard

5. Meat. As in ground beef, ground pork, bacon, beef stir-fry, pork stir-fry, beef stew meat, sausage, and chicken. We are unabashed carnivores in our house, but we do like to think of our animals as happily fed and strolling about until Death comes for them.

6. Salmon. Brushed with a little teriyaki sauce and thrown on the grill alongside the asparagus.

7. Tuna jerky. A favorite family snack, and we're entering summer swim season, when I always need a little cooler full of snacks. Fishing Vessel St. Jude isn't at the Market every Thursday, but they're scheduled for Opening Day! See the website for other dates. And don't forget their volume discount, if you need to stock up on the world's best canned tuna!

Little Maggie knows what she's doing

8. Eggs. If I'd been thinking, I would have put this higher up the list. Because our family eats eggs like they're going out of style. And the eggs at the Market have the lovely, cohesive whites and bright yolks that signal more nourishment.

9. An impulse snack. Hmmm.... after such a long hiatus, will it be a soft pretzel? A piece of pizza? A hum bao from The Box? A cookie or pie-let? Ice cream or a pop? I can't say, because then it wouldn't be an impulse buy...

10. Dinner itself? This Thursday is already packed with kids' practices and a swim team meeting, so I'm not sure how cooking dinner will even happen. What better excuse to wave the white flag of surrender and just grab something at the Market? We could do soup and bread. Or a whole pizza. Or karagi chicken. Or a new discovery. And then we'd just plot right down at a picnic table, with the Haggis Brothers providing toe-tapping mood music, before we rush off to the next place we have to be.

So grab your own list, and we'll see you at the Bellevue Presbyterian Church parking lot from 3-7 pm this Thursday, May 14!

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

Market Opens this Thurs!

The only hard part will be deciding on what to eat--thank heavens the Season runs through October. How else will I manage my usual pizza and crepes and soup and Mexican and then try the new Indian food? Add to that, Skagit River Ranch will be grilling up their delicious burgers on Opening Day.

Alas, it's too soon for berries, but there should be plentiful greens and fresh vegetables from the hothouses. My plan for Friday dinner is a Chef Salad, accompanied by a good sourdough loaf from one of our bakers. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Bellevue Farmers Market Season Kick-Off Chef Salad

leftover ham from Easter OR Skagit's "ham nuggets" OR a can of F/V St. Jude Tuna, if you're pescatorian
boiled eggs from Skagit River Ranch
fresh lettuce of your choice
hothouse cucumber of your choice
hothouse tomato of your choice
chunked cheese of your choice (I'm thinking Golden Glen cheddar or Queso con Salsa)

Drizzle with dressing of your choice.

See you at the Market! 3-7 p.m., parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue.

It's Good to Be Beige

For all you map-o-philes, the Center for Disease Control has released an interesting new one: County Level Estimates of Diagnosed Diabetes. This is the first time they've been able to break the data out on a county-by-county level, versus a state level. Leaving aside the newly-revealed "Diabetes Belt" in the nation's southeast, the data on Washington State are enlightening. Those burgundy counties (i.e., more than 10% of the population diagnosed diabetic) are Grays Harbor and Adams. King County clocks in nicely beige, with fewer than 7% of the population diabetic. One thing to note: these figures are only for people 20 years or older, so the rising rates of childhood diabetes are not represented. They probably demonstrate strong correspondences to the adult rates, however. For more information, check the Scientific American run-down. I wonder how many of their identified risk factors play a role in Grays Harbor or Adams, not to mention those deeper orange counties: (1) high obesity rates; (2) sedentary lifestyles; (3) lower education levels; and, (4) higher percentage of non-Hispanic blacks. Because the researchers are government-funded, there is much mention of encouraging people to live an "active lifestyle" and to watch the the number of calories, but no mention of the where those calories should come from. Well, it's a start.

Speaking of where calories should come from, eating fish gets another endorsement, this one from Science Digest. If you happen to carry the "bad" APOE gene, one found in 15% of the general population and 50% of those suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, "a diet high in Omega 3 oils and low in cholesterol appears to significantly reduce the negative effects of the APOE4 gene in mouse models." Around our house we refer to fish as "brain food." If your supplies of Loki Salmon are running low, remember they can be found online and at local Thriftway markets, as well as the year-round Ballard, U District and West Seattle Farmers Markets. As for the BFM's tuna supplier, Fishing Vessel St. Jude, find their cans at Whole Foods.

And then, in a final note that completely undermines all that has come before, I'm thrilled to have spotted the Molly Moon truck around Bellevue. Look for it Wed-Fri and again on Sunday, from 5-10 p.m. at All The Best Pet Care, 1048 116th Avenue Northeast and check the Molly Moon blog for updates!

May Day

Good news, everyone! The countdown to Opening Day is on. If you follow any other local farmers markets, you see them all gearing up. My own hands are twitching for some Loki salmon, some Fishing Vessel St. Jude tuna (can you say "multi-can discount"?) and a quirky new vegetable to try, depending on what's on offer. Word has it Foraged and Found will be there with possibilities like nettles, morels, various wild lettuces, and fiddleheads! (Recipe ideas for such items can be found in the Bellevue Farmers Market Cookbook or at a blogsite such as Mixed Greens.) The kids and I were also sitting at MOD Pizza last night, agreeing that it, while tasty, couldn't touch Veraci at the Bellevue Farmers Market.

Market Season also means I'll have fresh blog fodder for you, rather than just fear-inducing food factoids that I've trolled from the media. Speaking of which, here's the round-up for the week:

1. If you haven't yet seen FOOD, INC., it's an informative and entertaining movie. And it's now on Netflix Instant Play, for those of you who considered seeing it in a theater but thought you might be stoned for bringing in your processed snacks and super-sized Diet Coke. I confess I have a thing for smart bald guys who talk about food, and this movie has two: Eric "Fast Food Nation" Schlosser and Michael "Omnivore's Dilemma" Pollan. (Celeb farmer Joel Salatin may also be bald, but he never took off his hat.)

2. And I read Susan Brackney's PLAN BEE: EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HARDEST-WORKING CREATURES ON THE PLANET. Very fun and educational book. Given all the buzz (forgive me) about the honeybee's demise, I must say I was heartened by a few things I learned here. For one, honeybees aren't native to the Americas. So if they completely disappear here, it'll be us going native. For another, "killer" bees also help with pollination and make honey! Brackney reports that apiarists can also cultivate this hardier species, at a certain increased risk to themselves. And for finally, they may not make honey, but butterflies, birds, and bats also help with pollination. If only the bats were just a tiny bit cuter...

3. More good news for saturated fat lovers! Scientific American confirms what other studies and Nina Planck already pointed out: natural, saturated fats found in things like butter and bacon were not the killer after all. The food and diet industry hastened to replace saturated fats with such "improved" ingredients like transfats and soybean oil and carbs, carbs, carbs, only to find this move didn't help a bit with heart disease, diabetes and such. Butter and bacon fat are back on the menu! And--bonus--they taste way better.

4. And, lastly, if your house is overrun by mice, you may want to consider putting out some soda pop and processed food. Science Daily reports that the phosphates in such items have been shown to reduce the little squeakers' lifespans. Extrapolated to humans, researchers conclude that "high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging...[and] may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy." Whoa, there--we may not care one bit about chronic kidney disease or cardiovascular whatchamacallit, but premature aging??? Soda, we are through!

For some happier reading, if you haven't already checked it out, peruse my article on the BFM for Bellevue.com. Ever wonder how many people come to our Market? Check out the interesting statistics Lori provided.

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

After this Thursday, October 15, we bid good-bye to the Thursday BFM until next May (sniff, sniff), but thankfully this year we still have the Saturday Market through November 21--the only Eastside market going through November. Trust me, if you've slogged over to the U District Market post-BFM and circled the thing four times in the rain looking for a parking spot while your kids complain in the backseat, you know this is cause for celebration.

The week's news:

If you eat any part of the ONE BILLION POUNDS of canned or pouch tuna consumed by Americans each year, you'll be interested in Seven Reasons to Stock Up for Winter on Fishing Vessel St. Jude Tuna:

  1.  Absolutely delicious. Beats commercial canned tuna by an order of magnitude. Once you have a salade Nicoise made with FVSJ tuna, you'll never go back.
  2. The Malley family offers a discount when you buy six cans.
  3. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. "Cancer-fighting brain food," I tell my kids. Plus, it tastes better than the bottles of fish oil I bought. If I couldn't choke down a teaspoon a day, I felt it unjust to ask it of them.
  4. Troll-caught means sustainable fishing. All Albacore tuna ends up in American cans, basically, and large commercial fisheries generally longline, catching tons and tons of tuna and any other fish that take the bait (by-catch). 
  5. Troll-caught tuna are younger than the commercial average. Younger tuna means LOW mercury because mercury is cumulative. FVSJ frequently tests its tuna and reports non-detectable levels of mercury, far below the FDA requirement and even exceeding the Environmental Working Group requirement. See their site for details: www.www.tunatuna.com
  6. Family-owned and operated. A huge benefit of a farmers market is being able to talk directly to the people who bring us our food. According to writer Richard Ellis, big companies like Chicken of the Sea can no longer afford to process tuna in the United States and have moved offshore, where minimum-wage laws do not apply. Ouch.
  7. Did I mention it's delicious?

We May Be Ugly and Frumpy, But Have You Seen Our Vegetables?
Travel & Leisure recently pitted 30 U.S. cities against each other as vacation destinations, comparing criteria ranging from the brains and beauty of their inhabitants to cultural offerings to food and shopping. Seattle ranked abysmally low in looks (24th) and stylishness (25th)--Cleveland, who's your Daddy?--but at least we ranked #1 in Farmers Markets. Oh, yeah. Take that, Portland.

If you're the type of tourist who considers the locals part of the attraction or repulsion, burn a half hour on this website: http://www.travelandleisure.com/afc/2009

And finally, You Better Not Be Eating that Nutella Crepe in the Car
In TRAFFIC: WHY WE DRIVE THE WAY WE DO, Tom Vanderbilt claims that "on-the-go eating occasions in the United States and Europe are predicted to rise from 73.2 billion in 2003 to 84.4 billion in 2008" (Vanderbilt 16). Yikes! Does it count if one of those eating occasions was polishing off an entire half-pint of strawberries before I got home?

No wonder Vanderbilt also reports that male drivers in the U.S. have higher rates of skin cancer on the left arm than the right because of all the time spent in the car (17). Dear readers, I recommend long sleeves and a meal at the Market, where the oblique October sun hits both arms equally.