Five Acre Farms

The Seasonal Hostess

"Do you have any apples?" my ten-year-old houseguest asked.

"No," I said. "What do you want apples for?"

He didn't answer and went away, but not half an hour later he was back. "Do you have any apples?" Like I might have grown some in the meantime.

"No. You asked that a few minutes ago. Why do you want apples?"

"I like apples."

"Oh. Well, they're not in season. We have cherries. And a few peaches." Nevertheless, feeling hostess guilt, I checked the Safeway produce display next time I was at the store. Sure enough, apples: crisp, glorious, and all the way from...New Zealand!!! I couldn't do it. This is the season of tasty fruit abundance in the Northwest, as long as you don't insist on fall fruits like apples and pears. Hoping absence would make his heart grow fonder for apples, I compromised and got organic grapes from California. 1000-mile diet.

Not that I don't understand the difficulty of waiting for the seasons. I've been hitting up our various produce vendors weekly: when will they have melons? vine-ripened tomatoes? enough corn that we marketgoers don't have to arm-wrestle each other for it? Like I didn't spend the spring asking when we could expect strawberries. And the answer is soon, soon, soon.

Call it human nature. The second the strawberries are in our mouths we start craving blueberries. Hardly are the blueberries swallowed than we want watermelons. And the watermelon rinds haven't even been carted out to the yard waste before we're wondering why the farmers don't have any butternut squash.

Whidbey Island's Five Acre Farms, of the lovely hand-painted signs, reports that green beans and drying beans will be in next week. The garlic is drying and should show up in a couple weeks, along with acorn squash. And, thanks to their top-secret growing techniques, Damon and Joe think the first vine-ripened tomatoes are on the horizon. Vine-ripened tomatoes grown on Whidbey--available in a couple weeks? My husband would love to be in on the secret, since all we have on our vines are a few little green marbles.

If you relish food preparations that are exactly in tune with our micro-seasons, be sure to catch Seth Caswell's chef demo this Thursday at 4:00 p.m. Caswell is the chef/owner of Queen Anne's emmer&rye restaurant and check out my Six Minutes with a Chef interview of him on See you Thursday!