Bouquets and Back-to-School Bruschetta

Despite having hands crippled by a half-hour of repeated middle-school-locker-opening (and the 6th grader only managed to get the thing opened a handful of times), I sit faithfully at my keyboard to bring you good news.

Firstly, congratulations. The kids are back in school and you deserve a bouquet:


(Gorgeous dahlias at Saturday's Market)

If you, like me, had one complaining of headaches and stomachaches that were really just nerves, take a second bouquet:

No idea what these are (!) but saw them Saturday, too

Secondly, in the Good News department--school may be in, but we have more summer to enjoy! The Market is overwhelmed by beautiful, vine-ripened tomatoes, and, if you're looking for an appetizer or even light meal that will wow everyone, it's time to make Tomato-Basil Bruschetta.

Everything you need (besides olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper) you can get at this Thursday's or this Saturday's Market. So that you can properly announce it to your family, just a quick note that it's pronounced "Bruce-sketta." Hard "ch," like in "chianti." Never mind about those ridiculous "Freschetta"-brand pizzas that are leading millions of Americans astray in their Italian pronunciation!

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

Chop up 6 medium-sized tomatoes

I know this is seven, but some were small

Then combine:
2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp slivered fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground pepper

Add the tomatoes. Stir, and let sit.

Slice up however much of a baguette you can fit on a cookie sheet:

Toast under the broiler until the tops are browned. You may need to remove toasts that get too brown if your oven, like mine, broils unevenly.
Rub the toasts with whole garlic cloves, peeled and cut in halves around the waist.

Right before serving, top with fresh tomato mixture.

We plan on having this again soon, since everyone--even the locker-impaired 6th-grade boy--enjoyed them! So delicious and couldn't be easier!

See you at the Market. We've been so spoiled this year. Cherries might be over, but the berries keep on coming, along with peaches and nectarines. Even the first apples, pears, and Asian pears of fall are making an appearance! Fruit crossover season is as good as it gets--don't miss a minute of it.

Whether You're a Mother or Whether You're a Brother

You could use some handy tips for staying alive this week, all involving our own Bellevue Farmers Market.

1. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables. According to Consumer Reports, local produce is higher in nutrients than long-distance goods.

2. Try a vegetable you've never had before. Yeah, we all get stuck in ruts. In our family it's green beans one night, broccoli another, spinach salad every other night. Our creative farmers not only grow familiar favorites, but things you didn't know you could eat! Take, for example, the squash blossoms and vines I saw at one booth. It turns out that tender young squash shoots and tendrils taste a little like peas. As always, if you don't know what it is or how to prepare it, ask the farmer.

3. Stock up on salmon and tuna. Especially if you've been feeling dumb lately. Because, as the NY Times concurred, "Fish is brain food." I even have anecdotal proof for you, from which I wildly extrapolate: when I was prepping to go on Jeopardy!, I studied and downed fish/fish oil like there was no tomorrow. I still got totally creamed, but I did manage to beat my young son at the card game Concentration for the only times ever.

4. Get some grass-fed beef and dairy products. The BFM has beef, eggs, cheese, butter, milk--the works! Red meat and dairy get bad press occasionally, but keep in mind they are always referring to your standard, agro-industrial, feedlot products. Pastured products are leaner, higher in Omega-3s and Vitamin E, and contain magical CLA, a cancer-fighter. Check this site for the gory details.

5. Get something for nothing. By which I mean, grab some free samples (though you'll most likely be wowed into buying) and sit in on the week's chef demo, Bradley Dickinson of Bellevue's Pearl. Dickinson thinks local, delicious and creative, as he explains in my interview with him on

6. And finally, show a little gratitude and buy someone some flowers. A couple Thanksgivings ago I read a handy little book on the health benefits of gratitude. Forgot the title of course, but I remember that studies have shown people who practice gratitude have measurably higher levels of well-being and fewer symptoms of physical illness. So think of someone you appreciate and pick up a bouquet for them this week. Not only will you help your health and your relationship, you'll also be giving our flower farmers a hand. It's been a tough weather year, as the Seattle Times pointed out, and we marketgoers are grateful for the bright spots of joy their flowers provide.