You Got Problems? We Got Answers.

Happy July 4th, foodies! This week, let us celebrate our right to pursue happiness with some creative problem-solving.

Don't these baby radishes look a little like fireworks?

PROBLEM: No Bellevue Farmers Market on Thursday, so no last-minute pre-fireworks snacks or barbecue and picnic fixings. (I "planned ahead" last Saturday and loaded up on cherries and strawberries and such, but, strangely, they all got eaten.)

SOLUTION: Uh--actually you're out of luck and have to buy your 4th food from the store. But more on that later.The Market is open for business as usual on Saturday in its downtown location.

PROBLEM: You did plan ahead last week and bought a half-flat of berries, and now it's too late to freeze them and they're going to pot.

SOLUTION: When in doubt, puree it! We've made a tasty smoothie at the house, inspired by a Deborah Madison recipe.

Overripe Berry Smoothie
About 1 cup any kind of berries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup yogurt (I used Samish Bay's)
1 tsp - 1 Tbsp honey or sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Puree and you're done! This makes one big serving or several small servings.

PROBLEM: You bought a crap-o watermelon for the 4th. Call me crazy, but I crave watermelon in hot weather, and Washington watermelons have yet to appear at the Market. So I got a couple at the store. The first was just fine for eating out of hand, but the second was awful.

SOLUTION: Puree it! Before kissing the $5 good-bye, I looked up recipes for watermelon agua fresca (because less-than-ideal fruit can often be salvaged in purees and recipes). This recipe is delicious!

And here's the photo from the Food Network. Mine looked almost EXACTLY like this.

Do puree that watermelon well, though. Drinkers of my agua fresca had to do a fair amount of chewing. I found this concoction also tastes wonderful when diluted with some ginger iced tea, which I suppose, made it some strange variation of an Arnold Palmer.

PROBLEM: Your teenager keeps asking when mangoes are in season. (Okay, you may not have this problem, but I certainly do.)

SOLUTION: Our Washington climate may not allow us to grow mangoes or pineapples or, heck, even table grapes, but I'm happy to report the first peaches of the season are luscious (we've enjoyed "Sugar Time"), and the apricots not bad. Buy them, let them sit a couple days, and then enjoy.

PROBLEM: It's too hot to cook.

SOLUTION: If it's Thursday, fire up the barbecue and throw on those new all-beef franks you bought at Skagit. (We ate our pack already, but that's another issue.) If it's Saturday, you can figure out this solution yourself--come on out to the Market, where everyone can find a tasty something to satisfy.

Pig in a blanket? Nope--it's a sausage, mushroom, goat cheese hand pie!

Hope these helped! Happy 4th to all. Recite that Declaration of Independence, and here's wishing no one blows off a finger!