Tiny's Organic

One Perfect Market Meal

Those of you who come from families of more than one person know, it can be a difficult thing to prepare a meal that everyone enjoys. In my house we shoot for four out of five--if only one kid thinks it's kind of sick, we are in business.

Therefore, when I whipped up this meal last week and everyone ate it, my first thought was that I needed to share it with you. The meal also fit other important criteria:

1. It was a piece of cake to make.

2. It used mostly fresh, local, Market ingredients.

Drumroll, please... I give you Slow-Cooker Beef Vegetable Soup and Corn-Tomato Salad. (You can also throw in a loaf of Market artisan bread or make your own at home.)

Slow-Cooker Beef Vegetable Soup
1 lb beef stew chunks (available from any of our meat vendors)
1 cup of beef or chicken broth
1-1/2 to 2 cups sliced cabbage
3 big tomatoes, chopped in chunks
2 carrots, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything in the cooker and cook on Low 6-8 hours, or High 4 hours. Just before serving, add:

1 cup frozen peas (just before serving)
1/4 to 1/2 cup orzo, cooked (see note on pots below)
The broth is nummy--perfect to blot up with good bread, and the meat just melts.

Of course I forgot to take a picture until I'd eaten the last of it the next day.

I did remember, however, to photograph the salad:

Pretty, and tastes even better!

Corn-Tomato Salad (my variation on this Food Network salad)

2 ears of fresh Market corn (DO NOT use storebought or frozen! Everything depends on the corn.)
2 big tomatoes, chopped
2 cups of green beans, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, slivered (DO NOT use dried)
1/4 to 1/2 cup mild cheese, cubed (I was out of Market cheese and had to use shredded mozzarella)

1-1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Now here's the trick with the pots: bring one big pot of water to a boil. Throw in the two ears of corn and cook for ONLY TWO MINUTES. Take them out with tongs and throw in the green beans. Cook the green beans until crisp-tender, anywhere from 4-6 minutes, and fish them out with a slotted spoon. In the still-boiling water, pour in your orzo for the Beef Vegetable Soup and cook according to package directions.

One pot of water, three things cooked, minimal clean-up!

After the vegetables are cooked, combine all ingredients and toss.

This is the only salad my girls have ever asked for seconds of, and I plan on buying more corn so we can have it again before the season ends. Everything has to be fresh, fresh, fresh for the full effect. Fresh mozzarella from Samish Bay would be delicious in this, or their Queso Fresco. Tieton's feta could also work, if you wanted a tangy contrast to the sweet corn.

And finally, on an unrelated note, I have two P.S.es:
1. For fans of the crinkly variety of spinach, I found it at Hedlin! More crunch, less furry-teeth-sensation.

2. And, if you've missed the usual Asian pear harvest from Rockridge Orchards, I stumbled upon some at Tiny's Organic.

There you have it! See you all at the Market this week.

EATING Lots of Different ANIMALS, Part II

Possum. It's What's for Dinner.

As promised, I've finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. If you missed the first post on it, it's a thoughtful, well-written account of Foer's personal struggle with deciding whether or not to go vegetarian. (I didn't.) The discussions of factory farming were revolting enough--despite being familiar from Food, Inc. and The Omnivore's Dilemma--to reinforce my personal bias toward seafood and proteins from our Bellevue Farmers Market suppliers, but not repellent enough to make me a pain at dinner parties. Just make sure your host cooked that meat or chicken really, really, really well.

Foer raises the topic of antibiotic overuse in agro-industry and its connection to antibiotic-resistant bugs. Which made this recent claim in Wired disconcerting: roughly one in four packages of meat and poultry from across the United States contained multidrug resistant staph. That is, MRSA. Ick. And bummer about these bugs responding less and less to antibiotics because a Seattle microbiologist from the Institute of Environmental Health took 100 samples of raw poultry from Seattle-area grocery stores (including Whole Foods and PCC) and "found the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus on nearly half, and Campylobacter on more than half...The contaminated poultry included organic as well as conventionally grown chickens." Double ick. But, as Foer points out, "free-range" and "cage-free" and "natural" mean next to nothing. Industrially-raised chicken is industrially raised. I wish they had included chickens from Skagit River Ranch or Tiny's Organic in their study to represent alternatives for consumers. A study done by three universities found that, yes, organic chickens were also infected with nastiness, but at a lesser rate. These people claimed, "[t]he overall prevalence of Salmonella across all farms, sample types, and age group was 4.3% (13/300) in organic broiler farms compared to 28.8% (115/400) in conventional broiler farms."

Beyond health and infection reasons, Foer builds a case for respecting animal pain and intelligence. Animals we think of as dumb as doorknockers (cows, fish, birds) each have their particular species' intelligence, and each is capable of registering and wanting to avoid pain. While I found his arguments compelling, doggone if I still didn't want to eat them. I think I must fall in the Temple Grandin camp. In the excellent biopic, Claire Danes delivers a version of Grandin's philosophy: ""I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect." (Hence her experience in more humane slaughterhouse design. Read the fascinating Animals in Translation for her thought process.)

If, dear meat-lover, after reading Eating Animals, you find yourself swearing off any protein that has to be killed, there's still a ray of hope for you. Food Safety News ran a recent article on the advisability of eating roadkill. Yes! Moose, deer, elk--heck--anything anyone can hit with a car and leave for dead can become guilt-free dinner. (Unless you were the one who hit it.) Just be sure to really, really, really cook it because even those wild animals have their share of undesirable bacteria. Combine a little roadkill with The Road Kill Cookbook or Manifold Destiny and you've got your Easter potluck dish while you drive to Grandma's. Talk about reduce, re-use, recycle.

Speaking of Easter, I leave you with this last enviro- and kid-friendly link. Forget poisoning your children with violently- and artificially-colored dyed Easter eggs. Make your own natural dyes, if you've got time on your hands. And you should now, since I've given you the roadkill idea. Bon appetit!

Last Market of the Season!

Stolen from someone's blog because they have better presentation

It's that time, folks. Time not only to pull out all the food stops for Thanksgiving, but also to stock up for the long, Market-less winter. Tiny's Organic had a helpful retweet this week on market produce that will keep and how to keep it, from old standbys like squash and potatoes to cabbage and cauliflower!

On my to-do list this week: make homemade rolls to stick in the freezer and fresh cranberry sauce. (Have to--ick!--buy a can as well, for my stepfather, 'cause it ain't cranberry sauce unless it has rings in the side and can be sliced.) Other than those items, I hope to eat local this Thanksgiving. Have you taken the Pledge yet? Puget Sound Fresh has aimed really low, and only asks that you purchase one teensy item locally, so with my Skagit River Ranch turkey, I'm already good to go. The brussels sprouts and potatoes I buy this Saturday are pure frosting. As are any pie pumpkins from Hedlin Farms.

Stumbled upon two luscious things this week that I want to share with you, as well. The first was the Braeburn caramel apples at Jonboy. You have not had a caramel apple until you've had one of these suckers. I had to share it with my daughters (the boy, thankfully, didn't want any), and the 7-yr-old even caught me later in the kitchen sucking every last milligram of caramel off the eaten-down core. Sigh. I can only hope there'll be more this Saturday...

My other tidbit was an appetizer I invented. Usually I'm a recipe modifier, but this one is my own brainstorm: Ladysmith Cheese with Slivered Prunes. Uh huh. Take one slice of Samish Bay's Ladysmith cheese (plain or flavored) and top it with a sliver of those canned pitted prunes. Mmmmm...Getting your fiber never tasted so good. Cracker optional.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Starting next week, the UrbanFarmJunkie goes into off-season mode, meaning I'll be bringing you the latest nutrition and food news I've garnered from trolling cyberspace. Stay tuned.

Two Farmers Markets Left!

The good news is we aren't going anywhere for Thanksgiving because the parents are coming this direction. The bad news is we aren't going anywhere for Thanksgiving because the parents are coming this direction. Meaning, I don't have to be organized when it comes to luggage and the kids' schoolwork, but I do have to get my act in gear about Thanksgiving dinner. Especially since there are only two Saturday markets left!

When you're thinking about eating local for Thanksgiving, don't forget the following goodies on the shopping list:

  1. The perfect hostess gift. Caramels? Toffee? Smoked Salmon? A jar of jam? Fancy cheese? Flowers, naturally.
  2. Appetizers. Assemble a cheese tray with Golden Glen's Cheddar with Red Pepper and Samish Bay's Ladysmith (Jalapeno, if you feel adventurous). Or whip up some cream cheese and serve it alongside Handmade in Seattle's Ginger Pear Butter. Or stop at Hama Hama for some smoked oysters.

  3. Potatoes. Whether chopped and roasted or mashed with tons of butter, the Market carries every variety. And I've said this before, but after you read Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, you will never want to eat a non-organic potato again.
  4. If you aren't making rolls, grab some tasty bread at Ble. Slice it and throw it in the freezer until you need it.
  5. Don't forget that Samish Bay carries sausage, if you prefer sausage-and-cornbread stuffing. Not to mention, onions and celery can also be found at several stalls. If you like oyster stuffing, hit Hama Hama.
  6. Having a pescatorian Thanksgiving? Treat your guests to Food Magazine's Thanksgiving Salmon recipe, complete with cranberry sauce. Loki Salmon tastes wonderful cooked any which way, and the diehards might not miss the turkey.
  7. And finally, for dessert, there are plenty of apples for homemade apple pie, and I've even spotted a few pie pumpkins. Tiny's Organic had a new apple--the Golden Russet. Not as dramatic to look at as their Arkansas Blacks, but very tasty and crisp.

Get cracking, and we'll see you on Saturday!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Celery

Lemony Snicket

This picture reminds me of the About the Author photos in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events books--elusive, mysterious. These girls have nothing to hide, but when a stalk of celery is this huge, it has a way of taking over the frame. I found this puppy at Hedlin Farms. And let me tell you--celery this big makes a lot of Ants on a Log. Not to mention soup base, which is more what I had in mind.

All of which is to say, there's still plenty of good food to be found at our Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market, and lots of it. Last weekend I picked up Asian pears, apples, salmon jerky, eggs, green beans, apple cider, danishes, and--yes--giant mutant celery. For a birthday party on Friday I'm coming prepared with my Jonboy caramels, loath as I am to part with them.

Keep the Market in mind for any Halloween parties. I've seen pumpkins--both for carving and for cooking into pies--caramel sauce, and even some bitty-sized apples from Tiny's Organic for you old-fashioned types that still remember how to bob for them.

And for the night when you're not cooking, don't forget it's Seattle Restaurant Week! If you've been a fan of chef demos at the Market, you'll be glad to know several of their restaurants are participating in the fixed-price extravaganza. Check out emmer&rye or Monsoon East or Seastar and let them know you appreciate them supporting local farmers!

Season of Mellow Fruitfulness

Check out these beautiful pears I got at the Bellevue Farmers Market on Saturday--the baby ones from Johnson Orchards were too adorable to pass up, and  we almost can't bear to eat them because they're too cute. Apparently there are some folks out there who buy the itty bitty ones and use them in handmade wreaths, but since I can hardly use a glue stick without adhering every stray piece of paper and lint in arm's reach to my "artwork," these pears are in no danger of being merely decorative.

Ah, yes, all that pear and apple abundance at the Market means fall is upon us. Which means the Thursday market has only two more weeks to go. If you've been a Thursday goer, remember that several of our farmers offer CSAs in the off-season (Tiny's and Alm Hill come to mind) and Skagit River Ranch runs a Bellevue Buyers Club for monthly delivery November through April. And, of course, the Saturday market continues through November 20 in its location by Top Pot Donuts.

Speaking of sweets, let me put in a plug for Little Prague Bakery's pinwheel-shaped danishes. I don't actually remember what they were called, but I picked up blueberry-custard and apricot-custard ones before my son's soccer game, and my youngest daughter and I wolfed them both down on the sidelines, while he ran around like a madman and received only a couple orange slices. Good teaching moment about how life is not fair.

While Little Prague danishes and Jonboy caramels might not always be on the menu, our farmers have plenty of nature's guilt-free sweets available. Try the gorgeous and amazing yellow watermelon at Billy's--this variety still has seeds, and I had to explain to my children what to do with them, for Pete's sake. And there were even still raspberries at Canales Produce. Not to mention all those apples, pears, Asian pears, and pluots coming into their own.

Hope to see you these last couple Thursdays!

P.S. For you literary types, the post title is from Keats' "To Autumn." Not my favoritest poet, but I did get a chance to hang out in the house where he died this June, and that kind of thing creates a lasting bond.

Chickening Out

Finally the books I put on hold through the King County Library System came in: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens and The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Lynn Megyesi. But there they sat on the hold shelf all week before a poor librarian had to reshelve them, probably muttering under his (or, more likely, her) breath. But what can I say? After talking chickens, researching chickens, visiting chickens, and whipping my children into a let's-get-chickens frenzy, my zeal has since evaporated. For two main reasons, really: (1) who is gonna build/buy the darned coop; and (2) chickens poop. I might have gotten over the former if everyone who had chickens or knew about chickens didn't feel compelled to warn me about the latter. My sister warned me. A friend's father who still suffers from chicken lung (!) warned me. A friend who currently has teenage chickens in her garage marveled at their output. Even Mr. Jay McPherson (see picture) of Tiny's Organic told me he moves his mobile chicken coops twice a day because "they make a real mess." And Tiny's has acres and acres to pasture those chickens out in East Wenatchee.

So no more chicken dreams for me. I'll continue getting my eggs at the Market, and I was always going to continue getting my chicken-for-consumption there, since, if I couldn't handle loads of chicken poop, I certainly wasn't going to try slaughtering and plucking some Buff Orpington my children had named.

Both the Thursday and Saturday markets will have frozen chicken available. Having visited Skagit River Ranch, I've personally seen their chickens and turkeys happily ranging and foraging, and I'm getting better at cutting up a whole chicken into parts. In addition to Skagit, Tiny's Organic is now offering their own free range organic chicken and turkeys, and their chicken is available whole or in packages of certain parts. While Skagit raises chickens in "classes," all one breed per class, so they can keep track of age, Tiny's offers your basic Cornish Cross. Jay reports that chicken sales have been so brisk that his brother is encouraging him to double the size of the operation, which sounds like a good idea to him, since Jay finds poultry more exciting than his father and sister's fruit-growing operation. As with Skagit, buyers can pre-order Thanksgiving turkeys when the season rolls around. Tiny's raises six heritage breeds which require six months to mature, rather than the typical three-month breed found in the supermarket. If you're interested in signing up for a Tiny's CSA, the deadline is approaching. The mid-season CSA in August will offer both produce and chicken. On the website you can also pre-order your chicken for pick-up at the Market. Easy peasy. No coop, no poop!

If any vegetarians are still reading this post, I do have some news tidbits that may be of greater interest:

  • Honeyoe strawberries are in at Hayton Farms. This early variety really does have a honey flavor. Leslie's personal favorites will be in in about three weeks.
  • Autumn Martin's Hot Cakes now offer some vegan options: a caramel sauce with coconut milk and a chocolate done with coconut and hemp milk! While I can't resist butter, I sampled the vegan options and found them very tasty.

That's it for this week! See you all again at the Thursday Market. As always, feel free to comment with news and tidbits.