The Juice Box

Welcome, October

Just two more Thursday Markets left! October 4 and October 11. If you have favorite farmers and vendors that you hit up on Thursdays, be sure to stock up and ask about alternatives: will they be moving to Saturday? Do they offer places to buy their products in the off-season (buyers' clubs or CSAs)? Do they offer bulk deals?

The sun keeps on shining, but the calendar moves on. We're seeing sure signs of fall:

  

Goose Neck Gourds, people!

And how about these beauties?

As you probably know, you don't just pay those squash to look good. If they're uncut, you can just roast those puppies up anytime this fall or winter. Our family is still eating butternut squash from last fall, if you can believe it! So grab a few to decorate your house and eat them whenever you please. You can cut in half and roast in the oven or halve them and let them go in the crock-pot for several hours. Mash up the pulp, add butter, brown sugar, salt, and a little ginger, and you're good to go!

I tried two new pepper varieties this week:

Aren't they cute?

Darling "blueberry peppers" at Alvarez went in a salad, and the ones below were suggested to me as an alternative to jalapenos. Although they didn't have the slight kick of jalapeno peppers, they had flavor and crunch and worked just fine in my pico de gallo.

And then I saw these stripe-y wonders:

If anyone out there has an easy home recipe for Baingan Bharta (forgive my spelling), the yummy Indian preparation for eggplant, I would sure love to have it. It's the Asian subcontinent's answer to Eggplant Parmesan, and so far those are the only two ways I've enjoyed the beautiful vegetable. Err--fruit.

We aren't the only ones eating well this fall. When the nine-year-old sidekick and I hit up Juice Box for an "RPP" (red pepper, pineapple, and uh--something else that starts with a 'p'), we checked out the bin catching all those leftover peels and cores and such:

Food confetti

I commented on how awesome their yard waste must be, and they told me they actually hand the stuff over to Millingwood Eggs! Dave feeds it to his chickens who--to mix my farm animals--go absolutely hog-wild over it. All the beets in the pulp have actually tinted the eggshells faintly pink, I guess to go with Millingwood's lovely pink egg cartons. So if I drink the RPP from the Juice Box, and the chickens eat the leftovers from my RPP, and I eat the eggs from the chickens--mind-blowing. Some kind of semi-closed ecosystem going on.

Anyhow, there is all kinds of food excitement happening at the Market, and I hope you get over there! Remember Saturdays go until right before Thanksgiving.

And now, I leave you with a bouquet:

Because you're worth it.

Beat the Heat at the Bellevue Farmers Market

The dog days of summer are upon us. Witness this little fellow I saw at last Saturday's Market:

Meet Sawyer, Market afficionado and recipient of a complimentary dog treat

Yes, the weatherman promises, the heat is here--at least through the end of the week. As if the blessed 80s weren't warm enough, my family is headed over the mountains to "enjoy" mid- to high 90s, coming back next Friday when the Tri-Cities will supposedly zoom over 100F. The downside: I'll miss Thursday's Market. The upside: as we leave Richland, I hope to check out their farmers market, The Market at the Parkway.

But since, for most Western Washington folk, a couple days in the 80s are enough to provoke whining and rain dances, I leave you with a few beat-the-heat tips, Market-style.

Tip #1: Grab an ice cream. From Molly Moon on Thursdays or these guys on Saturday:

Parfait is parfait--perfect for a summer day

Tip #2: Treat yourself to an apple granita (slushy) at Rockridge or a mojito-like lemonade at Crepes on Thursdays or a fresh-blended fruit-and-veggie concoction at The Juice Box on Saturday.

The unslushy version ain't bad either

Tip #3: Stay out of the kitchen and fire up the grill. A couple days ago we grilled rib-eye steak from Skagit River Ranch that had been soaked in a little lime juice and rubbed with chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Alongside the steak we grilled Market sweet onions and red and green bell pepper strips. Then we served it up as fajitas, on homemade tortillas (not that hard to make) and topped with sour cream and the awesome fresh Green salsa from Saturday's Seattle Salsa Guy.

John, serving samples

 John makes his salsas weekly, usually not more than a day ahead of each market. They feature freshly-squeezed organic lemon and lime juice, sea salt, Walla Walla onions, local cilantro, and, of course, plenty of tomatoes! There are Red and Green blends, in Hot and Medium levels of heat, as well as a chunkier Pico de Gallo which John labels the "Coarse Blend." His recommendation, if you don't try my fajitas? Fish tacos. Grill up some salmon or rockfish, sprinkle with garlic or sea salt, squirt with lemon. Wrap it in a corn tortilla and top with fresh salsa and sliced avocado. Mmmm... Unfortunately, we couldn't try the fish taco option because we'd already hogged down our entire container of green salsa with the fajitas. Maybe next week...

Or, Tip #4: Don't cook at all! Come down and grab a pizza or tamales or crepes or hum baos. Soup or a burger. Chase your main course with a slice of pie or the last cherries of the season, an apricot or two. Whatever you do, come hungry!

Stay cool, fellow food lovers.

Bellevue Farmers Market: Bad News, Good News Edition

If you're like me, you always want to get the bad news over with first. But, take heart, in the instances I am about to share with you, the good news almost always outweighs the bad.

THE BAD NEWS: First off, there is a terrible drought crippling the Midwest that promises higher food and fuel prices. We had some friends visiting from Indiana, and they reported on the endless heat and wilted fields of corn. If you want to lay eyes on some pictures, Forbes ran this photo essay recently. So if you love your frozen and canned corn, your high fructose corn syrup, your ethanol, and your countless other corn products, there are rough times ahead.

Our apologies to the Midwest

THE GOOD NEWS: Washington corn is looking and tasting great! My in-laws brought us a dozen ears from around the Tri-Cities area, and they were beauties. Full-grown ears with sweet, crisp kernels. Not unlike the ones I saw for sale at Alvarez Organic Farm (Thurs and Sat). Get your hands on about 3-4 ears and try the following recipe. You will not be sorry.

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder (modified from a recipe found in Not Your Mother's Slow-Cooker Cookbook--Market ingredients marked with an "*.")

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 of a large Walla Walla Sweet onion, chopped*
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped*
2 cups chicken broth
1 small bay leaf
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
about 3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut off the cobs*
1-2 cups diced cooked Polish Sausage from Skagit River Ranch* (ours was leftover from a barbecue, so it imparted a lovely smoky flavor)

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over med-hi. Add onions, celery and carrot and cook until the onion is transparent and browning. I dislike crunchy onions in soup, so I do this about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and add all ingredients EXCEPT milk, corn, and sausage. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

Add the milk, corn and sausage. Stir. Cover and cook on HIGH another hour. Adjust seasonings.

THE BAD NEWS: No sampling of alcoholic products at our Market.

(L to R) Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Red Table Wine, & Red Dessert Wine

THE GOOD NEWS: You won't be sorry if you give those products a try! I've posted before about my deep, deep love of Rockridge Orchards' Quarry Stone Hard (Apple) Cider, and at the Saturday Market we now welcome Wilridge Winery. Wilridge is a family-owned operation with organic grapes grown outsideYakima and a tasting room at the Pike Place Market. While the selection may vary from week to week, Megan chose her recent favorites this time out. For your next meal on the patio, check out the Pinot Grigio and Viognier, two crisp whites with green apple notes and a hint of pear. If you're grilling steak, try the award-winning Red Table Wine. Or the Dessert Wine with some dark chocolate.

THE BAD NEWS: Razey's Orchard reports that Bing cherry season is drawing to a close.

THE GOOD NEWS: We still have another couple weeks of Rainiers and still longer of such varieties as Lamberts and Sweetheart. Binge while you can!

THE BAD NEWS: I locked my keys in the car at the Saturday Market and had to borrow a Market volunteer's cell phone to summon my understandably irked husband.

THE GOOD NEWS: Before I could get a hold of him, I thought I would have to walk home, bag of iced Loki Salmon, hunk of Samish Bay Ladysmith with Chives, and all. It was very hot on Saturday, if you recall, so to prevent possible heatstroke I stopped at The Juice Box and ordered their "most fruity" option, the RPP. This freshly prepared juice concoction featured sweet red bell pepper, pineapple, key lime, and coconut water. Delicious and refreshing. Next up I want to try their "Julius," which I heard them recommend to a mom as something her kids would like. Before I could even finish my treat, my hub called, and I was spared the long trek.

THE BAD NEWS: Economic times are tough (duh).

Lori, naming names

THE GOOD NEWS: Farmers markets march onward, growing in number by nearly 10% last year, according to Reuters. This is made possible by eaters like you, committed to good food and community, and wonderful folks like the Bellevue Farmers Market sponsors, which Director Lori Taylor spent time calling out and thanking last Thursday. Thank you again, sponsors and Marketgoers, for making our wonderful Market possible!