I am constantly bragging about my Farmer's Market and showing you produce I have bought from there, not to mention using it in recipes. I thought you might like a peek at some of the people who make up my market. I go to the Lake Forest Park Commons market on Sundays. It's not the biggest market, but it is wholly dedicated to fresh, local produce without any "frills." I was recently disappointed by another local market that was almost entirely made up of crafts vendors. Nothing against craft vendors, my Dad made a living doing shows when I was growing up and I've even done a show myself. But when I go to a market, I want kolaches, not tchotchkes, if you get my drift. LFP market has one craft day a year. It's awesome. There are a lot of talented people in this area. And this year, as part of the city's anniversary celebration they even had a carnival. Including a "clean up after your dog" booth that involved throwing felt "poo" in a trash bin. o.O
None of that takes away from how awesome this market is.
Let's start where I always start, Blue Cottage Jams. Now, let me just say, these ladies have some fine jam. Including tayberry, which I am going to hook my little self up with next week. But the reason I hit them first every week is because they sell Biocento eggs. Biocento treats their animals right. I met them at a market in Bellevue a few years ago and when I found out LFP had a market I was so excited to find these guys carried their eggs. They actually let their chickens eat grass and bugs! Who'da thunk it? Healthy chickens make healthy eggs. And everybody knows it, you gotta get there pretty early to get your hands on a dozen of these babies!
Another one of the first places I hit is Garden Treasures. Suji, here, puts up with a lot of my craziness. 20 pounds of cucumbers? OK. 40 pounds of tomatoes? Sure. Baby corn? I'll check. Picture for the blog? No problem! *sigh...* I like people who put up with my crazy... These guys have everything. On this visit, I bought turnips, a cucumber, tomatoes, a huge shallot and my beloved purslane. They are one of the many stands that offer a CSA. I am seriously considering this next year.
Five Acre Farm is another of the produce stands I visit regularly. I just love the heck out of this lady. Isn't she the cutest thing? They've got really great salad mixes that the boys love because there are flowers in it! Super high quality, and it's not easy on hot days to keep lettuce from looking like it's been run over. I got some rockin' cauliflower here last week. I roasted it in the oven last night with some Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, and some potatoes I actually managed to grow myself. Talk about yum!
One of the boy's favorite new stands is Aldrich Farm. Because they stand there and hand out samples like it's going out of style. And you bet these boys can eat jam samples like it's going out of style, too! We bought some great mustard from them a couple of weeks ago, and this time I bought Apple Pie flavored jam. Thumbprint cookies, here we come... Plus, look at this:
You know I'm a sucker for sprinkles. Isn't that gorgeous?!
Maharlika Farm is great. They carry a lot of Asian specialties like bitter melon and my new obsession:
Chinese Okra. Holy nom, Batman. This kind lady taught me how to eat it. Trim off the ribs, cube it, sauté it with onions and garlic and stir in an egg. Sometimes I add some mushrooms, too. Dude. Flavor wise, it's a lot like zucchini, but it retains a crunch like peppers do. It's not slimy at all. Great, light start to the day. Tonight we tried it on the grill. The inside was wonderful, sweet and juicy. The outside kinda tasted like dirt. Next time, maybe we'll peel it and put it in some sort of veggie mix... And I never would have known, if it weren't for this sweet lady from Wapato, WA!
I visit Alvarez Farms because they have dried beans. I love dried beans. No greater way to get protein into a vegetarian. And they always have a few interesting varieties. They also sell peanuts. You know this Southern girl loves her some peanuts! This family has been at it a long time. You can read more of their inspiring story here.
My eldest son loves the soup booth. During the early parts of the season, Got Soup? offers warm, rich soups and during the dog days they serve up cold soup samples like Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, and Potato Vichysoisse. They even have dessert soup like White Peach and Apricot Gazpacho. C'mon now! You know you want to eat that! And quite frankly, their Wild Mushroom Soup may be the best thing I've ever put in my mouth, and I told Jerry Baxter (the owner) that once in an e-mail. He said he had one in the freezer if I wanted it. That baby was all mine the next week. Nobody got a bite. Mine, I tell you! My precious! Sssssoooup!!
Gradwhol's Farm. What can I say? I'm a vegetarian. And this is where I buy my beef. They are very local, Covington, WA, they treat their animals properly, and my husband says you can tell. I usually buy ground beef when it's time for a burger and all my boys love them! Plus, look at these guys. Don't they just look like the nicest people on the planet? She's a blogger and I forgot to write down the name of her blog so I can't post it here (duh) but if she contacts me I will share it! *UPDATE!* It's called The Little Road Said Go! and it's super cute.
Another ingredient that features heavily into my recipes here is hazelnuts. Specifically, DuChilly hazelnuts. Specifically, DuChilly hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards. We met the owner last year peddling his wares and he talked us into trying some of the raw nuts. I have never looked back. And I've never bought another store-bought hazelnut. These things are fantastic. They sell some coated in candy flavorings like "Lemon Honey" and "Orange Honey", some with salty flavors like "Ranch Dressing" and, well, "Salt" and while my kids are partial to the candy ones (of course) hubby and I far prefer the plain ol' "Natural" nuts. I bought a bag of their gluten free hazelnut flour a few weeks ago, but haven't worked up the courage to use it yet. But I do have a certain chocolate pie recipe ruminating... (Hi, Chinmayie!)
Another booth new to our market this year, is Lilli Pilli. Rhiannon, the owner/baker/macaron maker extraordinaire is constantly trying out new flavors made with in-season, local ingredients. I think my favorite one is the Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache, though she did have a lavender one a few weeks ago that was beyond the pale.
She says she's not photogenic. Whatever, lady. =)
When the boys are not scarfing down Lilli Pilli cookies, they are begging me for Whidbey Island Ice Cream. Can I just say hand-dipped and hand-made? No dies, no artificial flavors, no rBST? I'm all over that. Youngest always gets "Vanilla from the inside, and chocolate from the outside," Oldest likes chocolate with chocolate, and Me? I like Raspberry. Hello. They sell it by the pint, too, but I just can't do that to myself! I'd have ice cream headache for a week!
Speed Racer super-loves Vanilla from the Inside, too.
Sidhu Farms has berries. Lots, and lots of berries. I don't buy here every week, but when I do, I am never disappointed. These berries went into a no-sugar jam recipe this week. I have made so much jam this summer and I don't care! I had to have these babies!
There are so many other wonderful farms and products at my market. But I thought these guys deserved a special introduction since their produce has formed many of the recipes on this blog. And the desserts have helped to "form" me! The only vendor I haven't mentioned here that I have in the past, is my forager Pacific Crest Foraging. He hasn't been at the market for a couple of weeks, so he's either on vacation or having a slow period. But he normally supplies us with a steady diet of morels, sea beans, tea and later on in the year, chanterelles. Maybe one of these days, I'll get his photo up here, too.
I hope this post has encouraged you to scope out your local farmer's market if you haven't already. And if you live near Lake Forest Park, you gotta check out this market! Did I mention they have cheese? Um... yeah... and fish, and dip, and pickles, and lavender, and plants, and once a month you can adopt a cat. And they have barbecue sauce, and live musicians, and ooh! Patty Pan Grill! Changed the way I make quesadillas... And roses, and people bring their dogs, and you can use food stamps... and... and... and... just come already! And if you simply can't bring yourself to schlep all the way to Lake Forest Park on Sundays, a lot of these guys are at the Bellevue Farmer's Market on Thursday and/or Saturday. I used to go to this market before the traffic got to me and I had a meltdown... My head went all 'splody. It wasn't pretty. Go to your markets, people. Support your local farmers. You'll get fed, they'll live to farm another day. It's a win/win!
Try not to let your head get all 'splody, though. People will look at you like you're crazy...