House of the Sun

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 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...

Un-Junking Your Vacation Food

Courtesy of GoNorthwest! website

I confess. Our family just returned from four days at Cannon Beach, where all the walks in the world to Haystack Rock could not make up for the amount of food we ate. There was my brother-in-law's home-brewed beer, my mother-in-law's cinnamon rolls and Texas Chocolate Cake, my sister-in-law's "naked" cookies (Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookies, minus the chocolate chips) and pumpkin cookies, ice cream from Osburn's, the slice of the day from Pizza a' Fetta, and, of course, s'mores around the beach firepit. I gain weight just reading over the list.

I made a feeble effort not to let everything go to pot this time. Since other family members had the sweets covered, I shared some healthier snacks: Samish Bay's Ladysmith with Chives cheese on whole-grain chips, hummus, salsa, Billy's apricots. Most people, myself included, will eat whatever's in front of them because it happens to be in front of them. While treats are half the fun on vacation (YMMV), the trick is to make sure better options are also available.

If you have a trip coming up, consider packing the cooler with these farmers market finds:

Beef jerky from Skagit River Ranch or Olsen Farms
Salmon jerky from Loki Fish
fresh and frozen blueberries
a cheese you can pre-slice to serve on crackers or chips
House of the Sun's kale chips
small carrots
fresh peas
watermelon, cut in chunks

Instead of soda, pack a jug of homemade lemonade or mint iced tea. Save money, save calories, save artificial additives and stabilizers, and gain in flavor and nutrition.

Any other suggestions for the road trip pantry?

FAQ about the Bellevue Farmers Market

Photo courtesy Cook's Illustrated

You probably have some of your own, but here are the main ones I've been hit with:

Q: Has the Saturday market started yet?
A: YES! At least, as of this Saturday, June 4, 10-3.

Q: Where will the Saturday market be this year?
A: NEW LOCATION! Directly behind the First Congregational Church on NE 8th Street, two blocks east of last year's site.

Q: Will Skagit River Ranch be at the Saturday market?
A: No, but Samish Bay offers their delicious meat, and--forgive me--the woman known by my family as "the egg lady" has fresh chicken (and duck!) eggs.

Q: My kids eat a lot of storebought crackers for snacks. Do you have any other suggestions?
A. I do! For one thing, slap some cheese or flavored butters on those crackers. A little fat slows down the blood sugar spike caused by the starch. Golden Glen's cheddars are delicious, and they've added Cinnamon Spice butter this year. On Saturdays I could eat Samish Bay's Ladysmith with Chives till the cows come home. And you haven't lived till you've tried their Greek Yogurt. I add some honey and granola and--mmmm... In the fruit and vegetable department, the summer berries aren't in yet, but my daughter likes cucumbers sliced thin and drizzled with seasoned rice vinegar. She also went for House of the Sun's kale chips. And don't forget the marvelous beef and tuna jerkies!

Q: How do you cook the spring vegetables?
A: Always feel free to ask the farmers, but here's a favorite preparation (pictured) for baby bok choy from Cook's Illustrated. Asparagus couldn't be easier: just break off the woody stems, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and roast in a hot oven for 20+ minutes.

New Things at the Market!

Wonderful, wonderful, to find ourselves at the start of another Market season! And although I could only grab half an hour between kids' sports and another kid's pick-up time, it was a half-hour well-spent.

There were plenty of familiar and new faces, as well as familiar faces with new offerings or ideas. A quick run-down:

  • Hedlin Farms had whole wheat flour for sale. 2 lbs for $4 or 5 lbs for $9.25. Can't wait to try this, especially since I've discovered my kids will eat biscuits made with a mix of graham and whole-wheat flour. Kai also had brussels sprouts plant starts and says they grow pretty well here.
  • Itala of Willie Green's  recommends pulsing some baby bok choy into your smoothies (!). A favorite combo of hers: frozen raspberries, baby bok choy, apple or pear, and fresh ginger. Somehow I see my children hesitating over this one, but I'm game to try.
  •  New-to-us vendor Hooting Owl Granola sells a wide variety of tasty cereals, including gluten-free options. All fruit is either unsweetened or sweetened with apple juice, honey, or agave. Had to rip the second-grader away before she chowed down all the samples...
  • Speaking of samples, we also hit up new House of the Sun "raw organic vegan cuisine." If you haven't worked up the energy to make your own kale chips, give theirs a try. Delish. Light and crunchy and perfectly seasoned. House makes entrees and sides and desserts. Have no idea what the "Incan-Goji Torte" tastes like, but it looks very tempting. Not only do they sell at the Market, but they also offer a raw food delivery service to home or office. Check out for more information.
  • Finally, Philip Lee of mobile bookstore Readers to Eaters had a great table set up, including many books I've read and written about for this blog. He carries cookbooks, children's books, foodie-type memoirs. Good stuff. If you've got children's birthday parties up the ying-yang this time of year, think what a great gift a picture book and a food item would make. My second-grader, for example, got wildly excited by all the "baby" vegetables, with Willie Green's baby turnips sending her into squeals of delight. Move over, stuffed animals!

If you didn't make it opening day, plan on coming by this Thursday. Parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue (1717 Bellevue Way NE) from 3-7 p.m. The forecast is for sunshine!