Snohomish Pie Company

Let Me Eat Cake

So my bread machine broke last week. It was 6:30 p.m., and we were back from the usual afternoon flurry of activity. I opened the lid, expecting to find a plump, perfect ball of whole-wheat speckled pizza dough, but discovered instead a heap of unmixed flour and plenty of goo leaking out the bottom of the pan. Bummer. And did I remember later to get a new machine or replacement part? Not until I thought about whipping up some pizza dough for tonight. Sigh.

Fresh pizza dough is one of the few items our bakers don't offer at the Bellevue Farmers Market. And why should they, when Veraci is sliding pie after perfect pie into their clay-and-concrete, wood-fired oven? But Marketgoers can pick up just about everything else: pastries, cookies, loaves of bread, pretzels, fresh pasta, whole dessert pies or by the slice--even gluten-free offerings from Manini's!

Tricolore Egg Pasta in upper right

Speaking of pasta, I decided to use up some of our garden-tomato extravaganza with a Pasta Pomodoro, featuring La Pasta's beautiful Tricolore (Three-Color) Fettucine. Let me just say, a pound of pasta is a lot of pasta. Good thing it tasted just as yummy reheated the next day. Can't wait to try those ravioli in the lower left: mushroom, cheese, garlic, herbs. Dmitri sells sauces to go with, or I might just whip up some Alfredo with--what else--added tomatoes.

And then on Saturday I discovered a new vendor, Let Them Eat Cake of Seattle! Artisan pastry chef Laura Springfield graduated from The French Pastry School in Chicago some years ago and worked thereafter making and decorating cakes. When her husband entered the PhD program in Philosophy at UW, they moved out to Seattle, and Laura started this venture. The Bellevue Farmers Market is her first and only farmers market at this point.

Laura was sampling these cut-out cookies which are almost too beautiful to eat, but my nine-year-old managed with no problems:

If you look carefully at the album behind the cookies, you'll see a Cinderella scene with coach, all done in cake and fondant! Talk about looking too good to eat. No way would I let anyone cut into my creations if the birthday cakes I made my family came out like that. Mine are all about the 9x13 pan, and the only bragging rights are that they don't come from a mix. Just a quick scroll through Laura's website will assure you that you don't want any of your children seeing the pictures, or they will never be content with homemade again.

Too often, beautiful baked goods are not the same thing as yummy baked goods, but, having brought home the Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream-Cheese Filling and Chocolate Ganache, I have to say you don't want to save these treats for the display case. Yum.

Pumpkin is the one not shadowed by the giant reflection of my head.

And if baked goods aren't your thing, Laura also does chocolates. Haven't tried these yet because we must draw the line somewhere, for crying out loud.

The problem is which to try first

I don't just load up on carbs at the Bellevue Farmers Market, however, or at home, when my appliances are operating. I also stalk vendors on the off days in their home territory. Yep, a friend and I hit up the antique shops in Snohomish one morning and then finished with a visit to both the Snohomish Bakery and the Snohomish Pie Company, located across the street from each other. You'll be interested to hear that these are both lovely little eatery/bakeries. The Pie Company has all its pie-baking out front, so you can see racks and racks of their offerings. You can't see into the Bakery's back room, but all the pastries and breads we find at our Market are right there, and they'll even serve up a sandwich on your favorite bread. (I recommend the Meatloaf on Pumpernickel.)

We have just three more Thursdays left this season (Saturday Markets go until Nov 17), so we'll see you this week, I hope. I'll be the one holding the pretzel!

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 soup├žon 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.

Market Countdown!

Hip hip hooray--the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market opens in just over three weeks! Hope you've already marked your calendar for May 10, 3-7 p.m., in First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue's parking lot (last year's location). Opening Day is certainly on mine--in ink and highlighted.

Some exciting news about this season:

  • Welcome back to Rockridge Orchards! My mouth waters, just thinking about one of their cold apple ciders on a hot summer day. Their web page highlights ciders, vinegars, produce, wine, and honey, so I can't wait to see what they bring. I'll definitely have more on the blog about them when we open.
  • Snohomish Pie Company joins us Thursdays! Not to be confused with the luscious Snohomish Bakery (who, thank heaven, will be returning on Saturdays), the Snohomish Pie Company specializes in--you guessed it--pies. All I can say is, those folks in Snohomish really do know a thing or two about baking.
  • Millingwood Organics of Lake Stevens will bring eggs on Saturdays, to the relief of us marketgoers who arrive too late on Thursdays!
  • If you're a fan of Tieton Farm & Creamery's subtle, tasty goat and sheep's milk cheeses from last year's Saturday Market, be aware that they're moving to Thursdays. Don't be caught out for that weekend cheese tray...

More news to follow, as we get closer!

Last week I visited the in-laws in Richland, Washington, and was thrilled to see this article in their Tri-City Herald about Washington asparagus farmers.The very first Washington asparagus is being harvested as we speak, people! The paper reports about 100 asparagus growers in our state, with 70% of them in Benton and Franklin Counties (where Richland and my in-laws can be found). The article's worth a read. As a non-farmer, I had no idea that asparagus is the most labor-intensive crop to harvest. It must be done by hand, as the worker with a pack strapped on him stoops over to whack each stalk with a knife. (My father-in-law confirmed this, having grown up in Dayton, Washington, which used to be Ground Zero for Green Giant Asparagus.) Not only is the work hard, but the same field can be cut up to 65 times in a season! Bring it on, I say. Love the stuff.

Happy 2nd half of April to you all.