apples

Five Reasons to Hit the Market Before It's Over for the Season

Only two Markets left for the 2016 season, and they'll be held, rain or shine. In fact, the only time I can remember the Market being cancelled was that one Saturday Market with the huge gusty winds which blew canopies away, turning them into projectile missiles... As the sun and pleasant temperatures give way to that monoseason which lasts from October to July, I thought you might need a little motivating to get out there two more times:

ONE: The apple pie contest was moved to this week, October 20! It's not too late to turn out and have your mouth water while you look on.

apple_pie

TWO: It's time to stock up. Last year I experimented with "cold storage" for apples. I put a cooler outside and put a couple bags in and then just ate them at a regular rate. Worked just fine. This frees up refrigerator space for the bags of pears and Asian pears! Potatoes also keep fine in the fridge, and we let squash go all winter just sitting on the floor in the pantry.

THREE: Disaster preparedness! In our home I've been assigned gathering canned/boxed food in case of The Big One. Clearly last Saturday's storm was not The Big One, which means it's still out there. If this nameless disaster were to hit today, based on the current pantry ingredients, my family would be thrown back on lots of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tuna, a can of coconut milk, and some strange parsley sauce that was on clearance at QFC. Our Market offers tuna, of course, in more flavors and varieties than the grocery store, as well as pickled foods in jars, beef and tuna jerky, jams and honey, and beverages. Because if the power is going to be out or you've been pinned under a fallen bookcase, you might as well live a little.

preparedness

FOUR and FIVE and FIVE-POINT-FIVE: Because walking and vegetables and wine will improve your health. Read a great book this week, which I'll write more about later, but the author's main point was that "healthy habits matter more than weight." And, according to author Sandra Aamodt, "four health habits predict much of the risk of dying over the next fourteen years, regardless of weight." These silver bullets are: (1) not smoking; (2) exercising at least twelve times a month; (3) eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; and (4) light to moderate drinking. The Market can't help you with your smoking habit, but walking the stalls can be part of your exercising, and there are fruits, vegetables, and wine bottles galore. (FYI, "light to moderate drinking" was defined as a glass of wine per day for women and two glasses for men.)

So you see, I've turned the last couple weeks of the Market into a life-or-death situation for you. So please--choose life!

Honey, I'm Home

I have a sinking feeling the world with end, not with a whimper, as T.S. Eliot says, but with a silence. Because all the bees will be gone, and we'll be desperately trying to hand-pollinate things or to train bats to do more of it. Or else we'll have to rely on killer bees to do it, which is a deal with the devil, for obvious reasons.

But for this season, at least, we still have bees. We still have easy pollination. We still have honey.

Yellow Belly Honey of Rainier, Washington!

Let's all of us keep those beekeepers happy and going strong. Because I tried to keep a batch of Mason bees going one winter and failed through utter laziness. So I'll have to do my part by eating and promoting honey.

Last Saturday I found Clover and Blackberry honey varieties, and though the plastic honey bears were adorable,

Look at this little army!

I opted for a 12-oz glass jar so I could microwave it when needed and recycle the jar. Yellow Belly Honey also sold lip balm and even big jars of bee pollen for the homeopathically-minded allergy sufferers.

Jars o' pollen

While honey in our house is usually reserved for tea and granola-making, I couldn't resist making this cake because of all the gorgeous apples in season.

Honey-Apple Cake

You start with premium Market ingredients:

Do a little slicing and simmering:

Mix up a quick batter and bake. Couldn't be easier. Or tastier. Warning: it's impossible to eat just one slice. Every last person in our house had two slices and still wished for another. Therefore, make this at your own risk.

Honeyed Apple Torte (adapted from Cooking Light)
1/3 cup honey*
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 apples of your choice*, peeled, cut in thickish slices
2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs*

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp granulated sugar or demerara sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine honey and lemon juice in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add apples and cook 14 minutes or until almost tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Cream sugars, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add gradually to butter mixture on low speed.

Spread batter in a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Drain apples and arrange in a spoke batter atop the batter. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over.

Bake one hour and cool on rack.

Five Reasons to Hit the Saturday Market This Week

At book club last night, a friend mentioned dropping by Trader Joe's and finding that just about everything seemed to be Pumpkin Spice. There were the snack bars, the coffee (blergh!), the chai, the pumpkin spice cakes and pies and frozen things. There was actual Pumpkin Pie Spice. Pumpkin dog biscuits.

Because dogs like food trends, too

Pumpkins are hot. And if you like pumpkins, this would be the year to take advantage of their trendiness, because in a year or two pumpkins will probably go the way of sun-dried tomatoes and chia seeds. (Chia seeds, at least, are just over the trend crest, so there are still plenty of the little fellas to be found, gracing random food products.)

But Trader Joe's isn't the only one riding the pumpkin wave. Our Market farmers are as well. Have you noticed all the pumpkins we've got?

1. PUMPKINS

These would be Burpee Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Think of these sweet, smooth darlings as the high-maintenance cousins of butternut squash. But the same principles apply: hack the thing in two, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in the oven. Then just dish out the tender flesh. Years ago, the Seattle Times ran this article on sugar pie pumpkins, with handling and recipe ideas. You, too, can experiment with pumpkin-flavored everything in your house!

Because our book club was reading Out of the Dust, a young-adult prose-poetry tale of the Dust Bowl during the Depression, our themed food included a homemade apple pie, which really can't be beat as a fall favorite. The Market has several varieties of...

2. APPLES

Sweet ones, sweet-tart ones, you name it. Just ask your farmer which variety you should try for eating out of hand or making into applesauce or slicing into pie filling. They're at their crisp and delicious best.

3. ASIAN PEARS


I bet I'm not the only one who has missed Rockridge Orchards and all the scads of Asian pear varieties Wade(?) used to bring. But I've noticed we still have a couple types at Collins Family Orchard. Sam recommends you let them sit out until most of the greeniness is gone, replaced by golden dots. She also says these are fabulous dehydrated like apple chips!

4. POKE TO THE MAX


My daughter and I have grabbed plenty of Saturday lunches at this truck. I go for the Loco Moco bowl, while she prefers a Shaka Sandwich Wrap. Whatever you choose, it's sure to be fresh and flavorful. Plus it's always delightful to hear someone speak to you with a Hawaiian accent...

5. FRESH-BAKED BREAD


Those of you who haunt the Woodinville warehouse district might already know Proven Bread, where Alexis Carson provides rambling winetasters with picnic fixings like sandwiches and charcuterie and fresh-baked goodies. Well, we at the Saturday Market also get to enjoy her James-Beard-Award-Nominee baked offerings. What better to pair with a hearty fall soup, or some Tieton Farms cheese and a salad?

Okay--this is not a post to write before breakfast. I'm off for now, but hope to see you all this Saturday.

Fall's Apples and Pears

It's officially fall. Which means I can now serve chili and soup without apologies, even if it hits 70F outside. And, while we have to bid a tearful farewell to peaches and nectarines, the apples and pears are in, and boy are they yummy!

We tried this new variety at Collins Family Orchards called "Candy Time," a marketing brainstorm if I ever heard of one. Who could resist?

This apple gets high marks for its size and lovely coloring, and if you're one of those families which grew up on Red Delicious and other not-tart apples, this could be one to try. Personally I'm not a Red Delicious fan, and I love apples to be sweet-tart, but Candy Time would work well for caramel apples and apples that get dipped.

At a kids' swim team potluck the other day, a family brought a wonderful apple tart featuring apples they'd picked themselves, and the baker gave credit to Ina Garten for the recipe, which I'm betting was this one. It reminded me very much of the recipe it's based on, the French Tarte Tatin, for which I've always used this recipe I got long ago in a cooking class:

Tarte Tatin (from the HomeChef Cooking School)

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp butter
6 small, tart apples, cored, peeled, and cut into eighths
dough for single-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a golden caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, tilting the pan so that the caramel coats the bottom.

Lay the apple slices over the caramel in spokes like a wheel. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dot with the butter.

Roll out the pastry until about 1/4" thick and 2 inches larger than the cake pan. Lay it over the top of the apples, tucking it in around the edges. Poke 4-5 air holes in the pastry with a fork.

Bake about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least thirty minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter, so that the crust forms the base. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Unlike the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, there's no jam required and a lot less butter!

Don't miss the Bartlett pears appearing, either. I'm always tearing out pear recipes, too, except I never can bear to cook pears because I love them so much raw. If I can resist, however, I want to try this one that appeared in my latest Penzey's catalog. They call it "Pear Mad Almond Tart," which made no sense to me because of its (lack of) punctuation. I think they meant "Pear-Mad Almond Tart." It calls for a tube of almond paste, which is crazy-expensive, and seven pears, so I probably will never make it. If you do happen to try it, please let me know, and I'll be right over to taste-test!

Thanks for the pic and the recipe, Penzey's!

We have four more weeks of our Thursday Market, so be sure to come out and collect your goodies, including these tomatillos, which make great salsa!