Sea Breeze Farm

Do You See What I See?

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Wow! What a great start to our new Bellevue Farmers Market season! Hope you all signed up for the Frequent Shopper Program mentioned here. One down, seventeen to go. I've heard they're making a movie version of Where's Waldo? because--er--well, I actually have no idea why someone thought this would be a good idea. But, if we're to get in the spirit of spotting things, how many of these goodies did you spot last week on Opening Day?

(Note: if the danged pictures appear sideways on your screen, I want you to know I've tried everything in draft format --where they look perfect, of course-- and the tech gods have it out for me today.)

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I saw thin asparagus, I saw fat asparagus. I debated with another Marketgoer over whether thin or fat was to be preferred. We agreed to differ, but the main point is that asparagus is here! (As a bonus "Do You See What I See?" point, did you notice Samantha has migrated from Collins Family Orchard to Alvarez? That shirt with her name embroidered on it proved too hard to resist, I guess!)

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I saw the beginnings of a garden! After reading an interesting book on produce grown in public spaces, I'm all for trying it out in ye old parking lot.

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It seems the little garden is the "Pop Plot." Further investigation is required... But before I could get cracking, I got distracted by the refrigerator of raw milk at Sea Breeze Farm. I've had a few ventures into raw milk and learned two things: (1) you want to know and trust your farmer, and (2) it's delicious.

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If raw dairy isn't your style, maybe you'd be more interested in Firefly Kitchen's tonics. These beverages are the leftover brine from fermenting their products, and they promise a probiotic shot in the arm with each sip. Not that you'll be sipping necessarily--you may want to ease into it by using it in a cocktail or salad dressing.

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I'm going to chat up the Firefly Kitchen folks at some point and report back...

Meanwhile, on with our search.

DSCN2284Welcome to Skylight Farms! These ladies had fresh artichokes, among other items. Or, I should say, they had "artichoke," since they were down to their last one pretty quickly. If you're a fan of steamed artichokes, better get there early.

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If only beans stayed as beautiful after you cooked them. Growing Washington had these beauties, along with the first strawberries of the season!

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I'll round off this post with a long-distance picture of the new smoothie vendor PureJoy Juicing. Clearly they should have printed everything in a bigger font, if the crowd was going to keep passersby at such a distance. I hope to get a closer look next week--that is, this Thursday!

Food Closures Lead to Pantry Raid

So this closed our beloved farmers market last Saturday:

Thanks for the graphic, Cliff Mass!

I shouldn't complain, really. That nice load of wind and rain recharged our reservoirs and brought the first snow of the season to the Cascades. Cliff Mass reports that reservoir levels added enough to supply the Greater Puget Sound for more than three months! Not bad, for a weekend's work. I'm only sorry that I had to go buy meat and eggs and carrots and apples at the grocery store, and I was amazed by the number of mushy apples Whole Foods had out. It's apple season, people! Where are those mushy things coming from? 2013?

To add insult to injury, Chipotle decided to start giving select customers E. coli, and has closed area restaurants while the matter gets sorted. Eek! I have to confess, at least one family member eats a Chipotle burrito or burrito bowl at least twice a month, so, between the Market and Chipotle, this is adding up to a real first-world crisis, here.

Tough times call for pantry raids. This week it was bean and bacon soup. Dried beans from the pantry and bacon from Sea Breeze Farm out of the freezer. Chicken broth from my last Skagit River Ranch chicken. I served it up with homemade bread and a truly disgusting salad composed of whatever I found in the "crisper" that wasn't wilted into molten goo. I'll spare you that recipe...

Here's to hard times, and hoping our Market returns this weekend!

Bean and Bacon Soup (adapted from Taste of Home)
2 quarts of chicken broth
1 lb of white beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
2 Tbsp chopped parsley*
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 onion, chopped*
2 large carrots, chopped*
2 stalks celery, chopped*
6 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled*

Combine broth through pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add salt through celery. Cover and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes, or until beans are tender. Stir in crumbled, cooked bacon. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Last Thursday Market of the Season!

The mournful day is upon us this week--our last Thursday Market of 2015. Thankfully we still have the Saturday Market until Thanksgiving, but you've probably noticed several vendors are unique to our weekday Market.

One prominent one is Vashon Island's famous Sea Breeze Farm. Foodies have long known these producers of dairy and meats of all sorts, and some of you might even have enjoyed dinner at the Farm on the Island. Sea Breeze raises cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, and even sometimes geese, rotating their stock on green, green grass. They're your go-to for raw-milk dairy products and specialty sausages, as well as old standbys like bacon.

Those square little suckers piled up are duck breasts!

(I apologize for the terrible pictures, a combination of their glass display case and my phone camera.)

For the folks who've eaten everything

It was the "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes" which first drew my eye, since I'd never heard of such a thing. It turns out this creation is spiced lamb sausage wrapped in caul fat. Who knew? If you Google "Lamb Merguez Crepinettes," it turns out there's a whole subculture well-versed in their crepinettes of all sorts.

Being less daring last week, I chose the more familiar Chorizo, to use at some point in a recipe for Chorizo and White Bean Ragu.

When I do make the recipe, I'll be sure to pair it with my new favorite vegetable, the "Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower" from Good and Cheap, which I mentioned last week.

To this point we haven't had any cauliflower fans in our household, but this one won over the adults. Grab a head of cauliflower this week and give it a go. And enjoy this last Thursday!

Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower (from Good and Cheap)

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread cauliflower and garlic in roasting pan and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle on the spices and toss. Bake 45-60 minutes till nicely (and even darkly) browned. Squeeze garlic out over cauliflower and serve.

Not to Be Overlooked

I once wrote a book in which a younger sister, lovely in her own right, was frequently overlooked because of her older sister's raging beauty. It wasn't the main plot, but it was a factor.

That story came to mind last Thursday because I got to the Market by 3:40, ready to buy my first Rainier cherries of the season. You know Rainiers: those blushing beauties with their sweet flavor and extra-dollar-per-pound premium. (They're the gorgeous, high-maintenance girlfriend of the cherry world.) What did I discover, but that some of you other Market customers had the exact same idea about picking up some Rainier cherries, and one family in particular came in right after the Market opened and cleaned out the inventory. Bought every...last...one! It was no use whatsoever to rain down curses. The Rainiers were gone. Leaving "only" the Chelans.

Always a bridesmaid?

In the absence of Rainier cherries, however, Chelans would get their due. With their rich glow and delightful sweet-with-a-hint-of-tart flavor, they're pure awesomeness in cherry form. Only no one notices when the darned Rainiers are around. See what I mean? It's that more beautiful, older sister thing. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Let this be your advisory: learn to appreciate and love all cherries because, while the season started earlier, supplies may be shorter. Sam at Collins Family Orchard reports that a giant hailstorm took out a lot of cherries and apricots in their area. They didn't lose as many, but their neighbors lost plenty.
The Rainiers were back for the Saturday Market, but again, they were going fast.
The more beautiful sister - but what'd I say about the price tag?
While I'm on the subject of overlookedness, did you see we had raw milk at the Thursday Market? You might have dashed right past it, but if you've ever wanted to try it, look for this fridge:

Raw milk proponents say the awesome bacteria present (that usually gets killed off by the pasteurization process) can boost gut function and the immune system. Raw milk opponents say you take your chances and might get a lovely case of GI unhappiness. Having had both raw milk and raw milk cheese, I've not yet had a bad experience, but ask our friends at Sea Breeze Farm if you want to learn more.

Note the fridge location

And finally, those of us who don't know much about wine may have breezed past Wilridge Winery at the Saturday Market.

They've got whites, reds, and even dessert offerings, and you can even buy a refillable(!) "growler." As Wilridge points out on their site,

60% of the carbon footprint for a wine comes from the bottle...It takes only 5% of the energy necessary to melt a bottle for recycling as it does to wash a bottle for refilling.

You can even bring back the cork!

Growler on left
And on right

Wine is big business in Washington, and with the drought spreading, it promises to get even bigger in future years, per this New York Times article. I do wonder if table grapes are similarly drought-friendly because I sure would love to find those at the Market. I've seen some Concord grapes in Eastern Washington farmers markets, but none over here.

I've got more finds for you--the Market is bursting with them--but they'll have to wait for later posts. Go enjoy that sunshine!

Dang-I-Forgot-the-Briquets Meals

Not just the Fall Guy anymore

Our house has no air-conditioning, unless you count the constant chill provided by La Nina and the Summer of 2011. We did, however, hit a stuffy 78F inside yesterday--perfect weather to grill out. In preparation, I had bought a monster bag of charcoal briquets (my husband is a purist) and then left them in that very bottom rack of the grocery cart and driven home. Grrr...

If this ever happens to you on what promises to be a hot day, consider some summer slow-cooker meals. Just like the barbecue, the slow-cooker doesn't heat up your house. No slaving over a hot stove! Here are three I've made this summer, using Market ingredients and pantry staples:

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork (this one requires planning!)
1 pork roast from Skagit River Ranch or Sea Breeze Farm or Samish Bay
1 bottle BBQ sauce of your choice OR
1 c ketchup
1 c chili sauce or salsa or taco sauce or even pizza sauce
1/4 c mustard
a few Tbsp soy sauce or teriyaki sauce or Worcestershire
a couple Tbsp honey (we have the big jar of Daniel's Honey)
minced garlic, to taste (we like a few good-sized cloves)
dash of hot sauce or Cayenne or red pepper flakes

Mix sauce ingredients and marinate roast the night before. Then dump everything in the slow-cooker, add another 1/2c-3/4 c water, depending on how "saucy" you like things, and cook on low 8-10 hours. Shred meat and serve over rolls. (I bought a baguette from Snohomish Bakery and just cut it in several pieces.)

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Black-Bean Burritos
1 lb dried black beans from Alvarez Organic Farm
2 tsp chili powder
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (several farmers have jalapenos at different times)
6 c water OR, even better, 5 c water and 1 c leftover red wine

Throw it all in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Check the beans at 4 hours. Alvarez beans are fresher, so they will take less time to cook. If you can't be bothered to watch the beans, set the cooker on low and let it go for longer.
Serve with tortillas and desired condiments. I usually scramble some Skagit River Ranch eggs and make them "breakfast" burritos.

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Thai-Style Peanut Pork (adapted from Not-Your-Mother's-Slow-Cooker Cookbook)
1 pkg Skagit River Ranch Pork Stir-Fry, thawed. (I've also thrown it in totally frozen and cooked a little longer)
2 bell peppers of any color, cut in big chunks. The farmers have lots of them now!
1/3 c teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes

Throw it all in and cook on low for about 3-4 hours. Then stir in 1/4 c peanut butter. Serve over rice, passing chopped scallions or crushed peanuts for garnish.

Needless to say, the perfect side to any of these would be a fresh salad, leaf or chopped. With the Thai Pork, I often steam some broccoli or green beans or peas and just add them to the finished dish because the sauce is so luscious. Couldn't be simpler, so hit the Market this week and don't despair if the charcoal or propane runs out.

News from Over the Mountains

Gloriously Sunny Richland, Washington

Like many of you, I spent the 4th gadding about--in this case, east over the mountains to the Tri-Cities. Sadly, I missed our Bellevue Farmers Market but was thrilled to see plenty of fresh produce that will make its way to our Thursday market this week. Cherries abounded, both Rainier and Bing. More strawberries (my mother-in-law bought a flat for Independence Day strawberry shortcake). Blueberries. Green beans and snow peas from Yakima.

On the Day of Days, we grilled up hamburger patties of grass-fed beef hailing from the Dudley ancestral hometown of Dayton, Washington. As tasty as you might imagine, and leaps and bounds more flavorful than the Costco patties I've been downing at the weekly swim meets. If you haven't tried the pastured beef and hamburger patties available to us through Skagit or Samish or Sea Breeze, this is the week! Fire up the grill and give it a go.

My in-laws treated me to dinner at the Apollo Greek Restaurant in Richland, where I was pleased to see our own Tefft Cellars Winery on the wine list. With such agricultural and viticultural bounty, "eating local" has experienced a resurgence east of the Cascades as well. We had two lunches at Frost Me Sweet, a bistro that began as a cupcake business and now encompasses lunch and dinner. Local food where possible, soups and salads to die for, and--of course--cupcakes! I tried the "Elvis"--chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and an injection of carmelized banana. Wow.

Even the chats at the church potluck yielded interesting nuggets. I happened to meet Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's head of environmental research. He mentioned having been over in Sequim to check on a project measuring the impact of electromagnetic forces underwater on marine life. (People think of everything!) They wanted to see if all the human activity, and the possibility of using the ocean to generate power, bugged the clams and oysters and fish and crabs. Well, it turns out the crabs were bothered. You might ask, as I did, how they knew? The answer: they moved funny. Crabs move oddly to begin with, but I didn't have a chance to follow up on this point. The second nugget I learned was that they're studying three local dams to see the pass-through rate of salmon. They surgically implanted transmitters in tens of thousands of salmon and then monitored them as they negotiated the ladders. I was thrilled to learn that the pass-through rate is in the mid-90s, percentage-wise, and that the study will soon be expanded to include seven dams. Next time you want to complain about your job, just think--you could be performing tens of thousands of surgeries on salmon.

And one final vacation thought: Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm is a great read. Not only does it recount the rough lives and riveting deaths of several Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman, Junger also covers the area's commercial-fishing history and how technological advances and governmental oversights led to industry collapse. Fascinating. Read it and you'll know why getting your fish from Two If By Seafoods and Loki Fish is the way to go.

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Thou

That's amore. (Photo courtesy Sea Breeze website)

More new discoveries last week at the Bellevue Farmers Market! You and your true love (or devoted foodie friend) can put together the most delightful gourmet picnic with the help of Vashon Island's Sea Breeze Farm and Tefft Cellars.

Cody and I at Sea Breeze Farm had a great discussion and tasting session. First I sampled their Head Cheese, an item I remember from reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods:

Ma scraped and cleaned the head carefully, and then she boiled it until all the meat fell off the bones. She chopped the meat fine with her chopping knife in the wooden bowl, she seasoned it with pepper and salt and spices. Then she mixed the pot-liquor with it, and set it away in a pan to cool. When it was cool it would cut in slices, and that was head-cheese (p. 17).

Similarly, Sea Breeze braises and brines the pig's head for a day. Cody laughed about people hearing the name "Head Cheese" and being horrified of getting an eyeball or something, "but most of the meat is from the cheeks."  After tasting a slice, I could see why Wilder remembered it well enough to write about it fifty years later!

Also delicious was their classic French Country Pate with pistachios and onions and the soft, brie-like, raw-milk cheese they age sixty days and call "Vachonbert." I bought a hunk of each and served them the next day on slices of bread from Tall Grass Bakery. Had it not been midday and the kids coming home, our picnic would have been enhanced with a glass of wine from new vendor Tefft Cellars of the Yakima Valley! Paul Tollner and Rhonda Taylor grow many varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Chenin Blanc, and, in 2009, they opened a tasting room this side of the mountains in Woodinville. Their motto is "il suo stile de vita"--"it's a lifestyle!"

So even though I bought cauliflower and asparagus last week, the Market is clearly about more than the vegetables! New up this week: Rome Doherty will be there this Thursday with his luscious jams, including Pear with Creme de Cassis and Rhubarb with Lavendar. Say the password "Megan's Visit" and receive $1 off your purchase!

See everyone Thursday.