Martin Family Orchards

Get Your Thanksgiving On -- Only Two Markets Left!

Has it been driving you nuts, all the Christmas ads playing already? As a major Thanksgiving fan, I don't need the stress of worrying about Christmas this early. Let's take our holidays in order, people. Which means I should acknowledge Veterans Day before I get on with this post.

Thank you, veterans. May you be celebrated with a home-cooked meal today, which in no way makes up for your service, but it's more than lots of folks get, nowadays.

If you don't happen to have any veterans in your life, here are a couple books I've recently devoured about our soldiers (and the hardships they've faced!):

Now onward to Thanksgiving. With only two Markets left, we have to plan ahead. So this would be the week to buy your usual favorite items, as well as ingredients for a couple make-ahead side dishes. Since we'll be headed over the Pass to see my in-laws, I'm in charge of several side dishes and hope to put a couple in the freezer this weekend: rolls, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce (which keeps forever in the fridge), and possibly the base for butternut squash casserole.

If you've been invited to a friend's and only have to bring beverages, consider some fresh cider from Martin Family Orchards, or a bottle of Washington wine. And don't forget that hostess gift! Maybe some toffee or a pie? Definitely flowers.

Here--I've made your shopping list for you:

apples (I might just get a whole box. The ones in the store are so not crisp.)

pumpkin (for the daring among you. I imagine you could whack it in half and cook it on LOW in the slow cooker, just like I do for butternut squash. Super easy.)

winter squash

green beans


cranberries (hoping we'll see Bloom Creek...)



baked goods (if you don't like to make your own rolls or pies. Buy now and freeze.)

eggs (I'm getting a couple dozen, at least. Eggs keep forever in the fridge, although we blow through them at our house. I'll miss those thicker egg whites all winter!)

And with all the preparing for Thanksgiving, you might be too tired to make your own dinner, in which case I recommend some of the delicious prepared food. See everyone Saturday!

A Few Things to Be Thankful for at 2014's Last Bellevue Farmers Market

The original teacup squash, grown by the hub

Alas, we have come to the end.

And there's not even any time to mourn properly because Thanksgiving and Decembermageddon will shortly be upon us. At least my 11YO daughter reminded me to put out the Thanksgiving decorations, for their brief stint before the Christmas bomb goes off in the house. (Exhibit A: my favorite tablecloth [right], all but buried under three computers and truckloads of papers, homework, and other crud.)

If your mind is desperately trying to get a head start on the season, let me help you out. Whether you have to put the whole meal together, or someone just assigned you one dish, the Market has what you need.

Your holiday Market shopping list:

  • Cranberries for sauce. It's fine to make it now--all that sugar keeps it indefinitely.
  • Salad greens. Chard, kale, spinach, mixed greens. Thanksgiving meals can be so starch-heavy that you want your salad to perk up the palate. The flavorful greens go well with Holmquist Hazelnuts and Tieton Farm and Creamery Cheese. Toss in some thin apple or pear slices!
  • Soup. Make your own with some butternut squash or pick up some quarts to go from Got Soup? Everyone just needs a teensy cup of flavorful soup, to prepare them for the heavy-duty eating ahead.
  • Bread and rolls.
  • Cider and wine.

 Martin Orchards has mouth-watering apple and pear flavors. Drink them straight, heated with mulling spices, or splashed in with sparkling water for your own "sparkling cider." We bought a half-gallon of the pear, but my children have been complaining because we've had to ration it. This visit I'll grab the gallon.

  • Potatoes for roasting and mashing. Lots and lots of potatoes. In a range of colors and without any nasty pesticides.
  • Carrots and brussels sprouts. Roast 'em. You won't be sorry.
  • Now, I know you already got your heritage turkey. But don't forget sausage and herbs for the stuffing!
  • And round off with a couple pies. Buy on the spot, or place an order with Adrienne's, with pick-up at Bellevue Presbyterian Church on Wednesday!

Just look at those puppies!
Ye all-important Order Form

And, supposing you weren't asked (or trusted) to bring anything. Well, every hostess likes a thoughtful gift. May I suggest...

Yup. Chocolates or toffee or a bottle of wine or a jar of honey or some beeswax candles or a jar of pickles! If they're avoiding carbs and you don't want to unfriend them (yet), maybe some flavored hazelnuts..? All I know is, if someone showed up at my house with Market food offerings, he or she would be my New Best Friend. It's that simple.

Sigh. So while I have much to be thankful for, I'll still be counting the days for baseball season and Market season to resume. In the meantime, continue to check back here for your weekly food news and foodie book reviews!

Three Thursday Markets Left--Eat These While You Can!

I hate the end of the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market because it comes just after the end of summer and presages the end of all Bellevue Farmers Markets whatsoever until 2015. Not to get too dramatic, but there are just THREE Thursday Markets left: Oct 2, Oct 9, and Oct 16. There will still be a goodly amount of Saturday Markets (until before Thanksgiving), but I loved thinking I could buy peaches Thursday and eat them all, since there were more where those came from on Saturday.

Don't let the season end without eating these:

Lunchbox size, unprocessed, and no artificial anything!

How can anyone resist a fruit dubbed "Dapple Dandy," even if it is unfamiliar, as a pluot might be to you. I'm happy to report that, as a lover of both plums and apricots, I'm entirely won over by their pluot offspring. They're pretty, too, which (to paraphrase Jane Austen)  a fruit ought likewise to be, if it possibly can.

Then there are the Asian pears, which Martin Family Orchards had on offer:

This particular variety is crisp and sweet and juicy. Another perfectly lunchbox-sized fruit.

I'm still seeing ears of corn at the Market! Here's a tip: buy bazillions now, and cook them all the same day. Eat the first ears just as corn on the cob. Cut the kernels off a few ears the next night to make this salad from a post last year. Then, on another night, cut the kernels off the last few ears to throw in this soup. (As always, an * indicates an ingredient available at the Market.)

Corn Potato Chowder

Corn-Potato Chowder (Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1976)

2 medium diced potatoes* (I used Yukon Gold from Samish Bay)
1 medium onion, diced*
1/2 cup chopped celery* (sometimes--found it at Hedlin Farms once)
1 tsp salt
2 cups cooked fresh corn*
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled*

In saucepan, combine potatoes, onion, celery, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cover; cook 15 minutes or until tender. Stir in corn, milk, herb, bacon, and dash pepper. Heat through.

A lovely accompaniment to the soup and another user-upper of late season goodies is Deborah Madison's recipe for stuffed tomatoes:

I overbaked them a little. So sue me.

Tomatoes Provençal
4 medium or 8 small ripe tomatoes*
3 garlic cloves*
1 cup flat-leaf parsley*
3 Tbsp chopped basil*
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I chopped up a heel of whole wheat)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease an 8x8 or gratin dish. Cut the tomatoes around their equators and dig out the seeds with your finger. In the food processor (or chop by hand), whiz together the garlic, parsley, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Fill the tomatoes with this mixture and set them in the dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes till soft and browned on top.

Do yourself and your family a favor, and cook a real dish with real, seasonal ingredients before they're gone!

2013 Thanksgiving Holiday Market

You wouldn't know it from the decorations up in the stores or the songs on the radio, but the Forgotten Holiday is almost upon us. Take a seat, Santa--it's time to talk Turkey.

This Saturday will be the final Bellevue Farmers Market of the Season (chorus of waaaaaahs!), and it's chock-full of goodies for your holiday and beyond. Never mind the Twelve Days of Christmas--tell your true love you've got some Thanksgiving Market Must-Haves.

1. Vegetables. Thanksgiving has the most wonderful variety of vegetable side dishes, and we've got the fresh, local vegetables to make them happen. Potatoes. Carrots. Squash. Onions. Brussels sprouts.

2. Apples and Pears.

An impressionistic view from Collins' website

Both Martin Family Orchards and Collins Family Orchard have got the apples for your homemade pies, this season. Talk to the farmers about which varieties they recommend. Some people like their apple slices intact with a little crunch, even after baking. My family prefers no crunch at all. And just for eating out of hand, try the Packham pears at Collins. I am not kidding--don't let these get away. We ate them with groans of utter delight.

3. Cranberries! For your sauce or to throw in your pies or to frost with sugar syrup and serve as a beautiful holiday appetizer.

Ask nicely at Bloom Creek, and they'll give you a handout of tasty, easy recipes.

4. Don't feel like making your own cranberry sauce? Camp Robber Jams has plenty of alternative jams and spreads. Rome Doherty has whipped up Cranberry-Jalapeno Jam, Cranberry-Apple Butter and Cranberry Chutney to accompany turkey, all made with Bloom Creek berries. Or, for the less traditional barbecued turkey, he suggests Smoked Apple Butter with Chili!

5. Speaking of things you might not feel brave enough to undertake, remember the Market has handmade pies and tarts and pastries.

Yippie-Pie-Yay's pumpkin offering

6. Or first-course soups made from perfect ingredients! According to Got Soup?'s website, this week Jerry will be carrying a mouth-watering Potato and Kale with Smoked Gouda, among other offerings.

7. Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without any bread. Bread to accompany soup. Rolls to go with turkey (my kids especially love this). Bread for stuffing.

Tall Grass pics

8. And finally, to wash all that goodness down, Ciders and Wines.
Finnriver Farm & Cidery will be sampling special, small-batch cider varieties at the BFM this weekend:

In Finnriver's own words, "The Apple Blueberry is made with Finnriver's own estate organic blueberries and antique Hewe's Crab apples, for a sparkling, ruby-colored blend of sweet berry field and earthy orchard.  The Golden Russet release features the 'champagne' of cider apples for a bright, bubbly, off-dry, charismatic cider that will complement a holiday feast with its hearty taste and tribute to tradition." Oh my word.

And for those who prefer wine and no bubbles, Wilridge Winery suggests their Estate Nebbiolo as the perfect complement to our Thanksgiving meal. According to their website, "The 2010 Naches Heights Estate Nebbiolo is the second from Wilridge Vineyard.  2010 was a challenging year for many Washington vineyards.  However, some late warm weather in the fall favored those who were not afraid to leave the grapes hanging as long as possible.  Nebbiolo loves a long cool growing season like 2010 where it has time to gain ripeness but also maintain acidity from cool nights.  The result is a delightful wine that will gain complexity for many years to come."

Since it's the Thanksgiving Holiday Market will be our last gathering of 2013, don't forget to put some goodies by as gifts and personal stockpiles. It's a long, long way to May.

Boo! Time is Flying...

The aptly named "Brain Squash" (ugh!)

Hope you picked up the fixings for your Halloween party last Saturday at the Market, while enjoying your newly free parking at the neighboring Barnes & Noble! Martin Family Orchards featured a squash-a-ganza alongside their plentiful fruits, including that nasty one pictured above. I didn't even ask if it was edible (I'm sure it is), but the party game might have been who would dare to cut into it. Blech.

Not all the squashes I saw were so aesthetically challenged:

And a downright bee-yooty!

'Tis the season for squash. In soups, roasted, in a souffle--any old way. I can even get two of my kids to eat it, if I do it up Thanksgiving-style, with pralines and marshmallows.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we have only four Markets left to close out the season, four Saturdays leading up to the Big Event, otherwise known as the day before Black Friday. And there are some things you won't want to miss before they're gone.

1. You have eaten from the Los Chilangos van, right? Across my family we've eaten the Huarache, the tacos, and the quesadilla with carnitas. Oh my word. Delicious like you can't believe.

Or maybe, as the weather turns chilly, your thoughts turn toward Hawaii and that trip you're not taking. Well--at least send your taste buds to the Islands, by checking out the new truck:

It's been getting some press, including this detailed review by the Accidental Eater. According to him, the "Loco Moco" is the can't-miss dish I'll have to try this weekend (my 10YO chose Los Chilangos last week). If a ground beef patty, sauteed onions, gravy, and a fried egg over rice aren't your thing (for which I may have to unfriend you), the truck offers plenty of other tastebud journeys.

Wash your meal down with water, sure, but even better would be some of the fresh apple cider at Martin Family Orchards.

You'll still have plenty to take home and heat with cinnamon sticks on the stove! So make your shopping lists and come out this Saturday. Lots of dishes for the Big Feast freeze ahead nicely, like apple pies or green bean casserole, or loaves of artisan bread, one for eating and one for ripping up into stuffing...

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.