Olsen Farms

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.

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

Check out these gorgeous potatoes

I don't know what it is, but it feels like the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market season just flew by! Maybe it was that summer took so very long to get here. How can the Thursday Market end when there are still berries to be had?? My last visit demonstrated this produce schizophrenia: I came home with both nectarines (summer) and brussels sprouts (fall), snow peas (spring/summer!) and Asian pears (fall). Totally bizarre.

While the grill had to be covered and the patio umbrella taken down, and while the sky outside is grisly and weeping, I've nevertheless planned a last-of-the-Thursday-Market-summer-meal: Skagit River Ranch burgers (probably have to broil them) on homemade buns with sliced homegrown tomatoes, roasted Olsen Farms potatoes, and coleslaw. Speaking of Skagit, I have two reminders for my dear readers: (1) If you want one of their turkeys or hams, order this week! and (2) join their Bellevue Buyers Club if you would like to place orders online and have them delivered monthly during the Market off-season to a centralized location in Bellevue.

Meanwhile, the good food and festivities will continue at the Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market right up to the weekend before Thanksgiving. At least fall's arrival brings Comfort Foods. 'Tis the season for pot roasts and roasted vegetables and breads and soups. And let's not forget all those crisp, sweet-tart, juicy apples. New varieties every week. They hardly need improving upon, but if you're invited to a Halloween party this month, skip the bag of candy corn and bring this instead:

Toffee Dip (Can't remember where I got this--some magazine years ago. Enough for up to 12 apples)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
8 ozs. cream cheese

Combine in a bowl. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Add:

3/4 c. toffee bits

Stir well. Cover and chill. Serve with thick apple slices which you either slice right beforehand or shake with some lemon or pineapple juice to preserve the color.

See you all this Thursday. Last call!

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?