Summer is (Un)officially Here!

No 2013 blueberries yet? No problem!

It's the last day of school in the Bellevue School District, a day greeted with equal parts relief and dismay. Relief: no more having to get anyone up and out the door. Dismay: yes, you really did forget to buy the teacher an end-of-the-year gift, and you already opened (and ate half) of the packaged goodies you bought at the Bellevue Farmers Market last week. Thank heavens for that one jar of Camp Robber Jams Cherries with Kirsch you've been saving...

Summer is (un)officially here! Until mid-July, we're still living off last year's frozen blueberries, like Whitehorse Meadows Farm's Rubels and Jerseys. I bought a bag of Rubels to make blueberry muffins, since they are smaller and tangier than Jerseys--closer to huckleberries, in fact--and the kids approve. If you don't want the frozen berries, they also offer several preserves and chutneys and a blueberry compote perfect for dishing over waffles, ice cream, or straight into your gaping mouth.

Lovers of fresh fruit need not despair, of course.

'Cuz strawberries are in. Multiple varieties at multiple farmers. Best to try them all. My ten-year-old favors the big berries (all that brainwashing from what she sees in the clamshell containers at the grocery store), while I like them tiny.

Strawberries with a smile.

And the cherries continue.

Even on days too cloudy to see Mt Rainier, we still have the eponymous cherries

You know, don't you, that soft fruits and berries regularly make the list of produce that you want to buy organic? If you're not sure how our farmers grow their fruit, just ask! Some are certified organic; others don't bother with the (very expensive) certification, but their fruit is still "spray-free."

Our (un)official summer Market isn't just about fruit, you know. Did you see this colorful sign last week?

If you followed the arrow, it led you to these puppies...

No, those are not carved wooden beads

Raise your hand if you've never cooked with Morel mushrooms! Well, my hand went up, too. I can't even get my kids to eat the cutesy button mushrooms that make it into cartoons, so I confess I didn't buy any of these. But after a little research, I'm thinking I want to saute some for the next hamburger cookout or to add to scrambled eggs. It looks like once you've gone Morel, you'll never go back.

And finally, having just read Michael Pollan's Cooked, which I will talk about at some later date, I have to put a word in for bread and cheese.

I was at book club last night, to which I brought a quarter wheel of one of these:

and talk turned to our farmers market. One friend said she tried the Saturday Market's Midori Bakery on my suggestion, and she and her husband went back four times. It was that good. The traditional croissant and "Sugar Brioche" came in for special mention, and everyone's mouth got to watering. And I've got to put a word in for Tall Grass Bakery's Sourdough Rye, which I bought after reading how Pollan extols the wonders of sourdough in Cooked. My attempts at homemade bread are well enough, in their way, but they do not begin to approach this loaf!

So happy kind-of summer to you! Hope you celebrate lighter traffic and lazier mornings with a visit to our wonderful markets.