Soulever Chocolates

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...

In Heaven There Will Be Tacos and Chocolate

Recently a friend had surgery, so I signed up on Meal Train to bring her some food. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I would be bringing, so I had to enter "No Idea Yet!" as the mouth-watering name of my entree. "No Idea Yet!" sandwiched between Chicken Enchiladas and Spinach Lasagna! Which meal would you be excited about?

All I knew was that, if you need to make multiple meals, a whole chicken is the best way to do it. One meal for us, and plenty of leftover cooked chicken to go into...No Idea Yet!

Therefore I plunked my Skagit River Ranch farmers market chicken into the crock-pot with some salt and pepper, sprigs of cilantro and a cut-up and squeezed lemon, and let it cook a few hours:

The Beginnings of No Idea Yet!

When it was done, I'd at least thought up what my own family would eat that very night, based on what was in the fridge and pantry: Chicken Soft Tacos.

First I sauteed up some Walla Walla onion slices.

I added shredded chicken and about 3/4 cup canned salsa and let the liquid simmer away.

Prior to that, I'd taken a whack at making homemade flour tortillas:

How's that for an appetizing picture?

They came out thick and more flat and tostada-like, but no one seemed to mind.

Then I chopped up ripe tomatoes and some Napa cabbage (because I forgot to buy lettuce at the Market), shredded some Cheddar, and voila!

Chicken Soft Tacos/Tostadas! Tacodas? Tostacos? Whatever you want too call them, they were nothing short of heavenly, and we scarfed them down with beans and some homemade pico de gallo.

One meal down, one to go.

I'm thinking of taking that leftover chicken and making a chicken pot pie. You know: chicken and little cut-up cooked vegetables in a thickened chicken-stock sauce, covered with a crust. It's possible her kids won't eat it, but I know she'll appreciate it, and--heck--the kids didn't just have surgery, so they can fend for themselves and have a bowl of cereal.

Alongside the pot pie, how about a Caprese Salad? Here was our recent one (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil are all at the Market this week!):

Too bad I'm delivering the meal tomorrow. Otherwise I'd be tempted to throw in some chocolates from Soulever. Proprietor and chocolate-teer Aimee Morrow keeps sending me pictures of her luscious creations. If you haven't had any, treat yourself this Thursday.

These babies would be Kaffir Lime Truffles

Aimee promises--brace yourself--Vegan Caramels this Thursday, which she describes as "soft coconut sugar caramel hugged by Peruvian dark chocolate ganache, double dipped in Peruvian dark chocolate." Control yourself, salivary glands!

What can I say? With the possibility of such farm-fresh meals and hand-crafted treats out there, it's almost worth a little surgery. But spare yourself, and get out to the Market while the getting's good. Next week the grind starts up again, but in the meantime, have a great long weekend!

Somewhat Hidden Gems at the Bellevue Farmers Market

As the Thursday Market falls on the same afternoon as summer swim meets for my kids, sometimes my visits have been speedier than I would like. Yes, I volunteered to set up the pool deck, but don't we all have to take time to smell the roses (or rose-like lettuces)?

Lettuces so beautiful you can't bear to pull any leaves off!
Or maybe you prefer darker "petals"

Those lettuces aren't the only somewhat-hidden gems. Have you found these?

(1) The chocolates at Soulever Chocolates. Most of us have been lobbying for chocolate to be elevated to one of the four food groups, and Soulever is squarely on board, offering "chocolate that is health conscious, and tastes good, for you." Meaning, high quality chocolate, low-glycemic sweeteners, and no soy or wheat. (Did not know wheat in chocolate was a problem, but there ya go, if that matters to you.) Having only tried Theo's Chocolate because it was soy-free, I expected Soulever to be in the same ballpark--not the case! Soulever is creamy and just the right amount of sweetness. My husband ate the Dark Chocolate candy I got him with audible groans.

A flavor for everyone!

Now that we ate dessert first, it's on to...
(2) The main course. Chicken or Salmon or Beef or Pork or--heck--baked potatoes slathered in special sauce and thrown on the grill.

The marketing half of Seven Red Tagines

On Saturday I had time to stop and sample the authentic, Moroccan-inspired "elemental sauces" at Seven Red Tagines. If you like fresh, complex flavors, pick any one of these and you won't go wrong. I loved the Cilantro flavor, but as cilantro can be controversial in some families, I went with the also-delicious Basil. The sauces taste awesome right out of the jar (see the dipping hand in the picture), and I could picture even stirring in some yogurt and sour cream to make them into dips, but I hope to buy a nice piece of salmon and lay it on the grill. The sauces would be perfect when you have no idea what to make with the chicken you have in the fridge, or when you've been invited to someone's house and they already have a wine-cellar full of wines more expensive than the one you were going to give them.

(3) Speaking of wine, sometimes you're packing for a picnic or backpacking or boating, and the thought of toting a heavy, fragile glass bottle sounds like a drag. One of our vintners has thought of that!

Wine bags!

Piccola Wine Company has these 750mL wine totes they call bolsitas, after the bags carried by farmworkers in the vineyards. 750mL equals two bottles of wine, and they offer whites and reds in this eco-friendly packaging. The wine stays good up to a month after the bolsita is opened (in case you don't actually drink much and tend to go on loner picnics).

(4) A new meat farmer on Saturdays!

Some of the ranch hands

Windy N Ranch of Ellensburg is a full-service meat provider, offering "beef, pig, lamb, goat, fryer chickens, stewing hens, free range chicken eggs and free range duck eggs all on [their] Certified Organic pastures." Yowza! If you've been wondering where you were going to get your next grassfed goat fix, look no further. Seriously though, I still remember my college geography professor telling us we should all switch to goats because they're one-stop shopping (milk, meat, hide) in the most environmentally-friendly package (i.e., they even eat weeds and thorns and what-have-you, so you don't need miles of prime grazing land).

And finally, now that we've had our main courses of lettuce, chocolate, all-purposes sauces, and meat, it's time for another dessert. Did you see these?

That's genuine baklava, baby!

(5) That's right--at the place that makes falafel and kebab plates, you can also find homemade baklava (not to be confused with homemade balaclavas, which are useful if you want to rob banks).

You'll have to look elsewhere for these...

If you've never tried baklava, one of my favorite Maud Hart Lovelace books (Winona's Pony Cart) describes it as "a delicious-looking cake, criss-crossed like a checkerboard and oozing honey."

So no matter how little time you have to speed through the Market this week, be sure to find some of our hidden gems and suggest a few of your own!