September 6th: Tuna, Rutabagas, Collard Greens, Chicken Hearts & Mushrooms

Cans of albacore tuna from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. Yeah, I know. That is one of the more random post titles I've rattled off recently. I think you can look at it two ways. Either I'm losing my creative edge, or I am trying to make the point that, in addition to all the wonderful, ongoing bounty of summer we have been enjoying for these many weeks, we are starting to get a taste of some great fall stuff reappearing at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Okay, maybe tuna isn't so fall-like, but we've been celebrating all the fresh salmon and halibut coming into the Market all summer, and it is time to do a little celebrating of tuna again. In fact, the Malleys, who own Fishing Vessel St. Jude, report that they just brought 73 tons of coastal albacore into port in Vancouver, apparently on somewhat of a wing and a prayer, too, since the boat was taking on water the whole trip in. The faulty fitting was repaired, and the boat made it back down to Ballard, where it refueled and headed back out to sea for more tuna Saturday. What they caught, though, will be available at the Market today, and every other Sunday here on out, in the form of frozen loins, canned, jerkied, smoked and loxed tuna that is sustainably caught, low in mercury and high in omega fatty acids... and it's the best darned tuna I've ever eaten.

Fresh rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know what the Irish call rutabagas? They call them "turnips." I've also heard them called "Swedish turnips," which probably means it was the Vikings who brought them to Ireland, along with the funny language and the red hair. I just call them delicious. In my family, it just isn't Thanksgiving without rutabagas mashed with lots of butter, and we also throw them in the pot with the corned beef on St. Patrick's Day. Rutabagas are a very sturdy root with lots of flavor. With cool, damp nights approaching (heck, tonight will likely be one), they are great in a root roast with whatever other roots you have at the ready. They are also good raw, and I even encountered one chef who made chips out of them. Boistfort Valley is one of only a handful of local farms that grow them, and they are the first to bring them to the Market this year.

Concord grapes from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Grapes are another sure sign of fall. Alm Hill grows these beautiful, sweet, juicy concord grapes, though not too many of them, so look for them early today.

Collard greens from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I always used to think of collard greens as those over-cooked, over-salted mushy greens I get with barbecue -- a staple side dish of the South. Mind you, I liked them, but it wasn't until I tried some of Oxbow's collard greens, simply sautéed with bacon and garlic in olive oil until tender, that I truly appreciated these magical, and highly nutritious greens. What our farmers grow here in the Pacific Northwet is a much more tender collard green than in the South, which is why we don't have to cook them to death like they do. Collard greens availability has been spotty all summer do to heat and insects, but it has returned now with a vengeance. Enjoy!

5-pound bags of Nash's Best Carrots. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Five-pound bags of Nash's Best Carrots are back. These puppies are super sweet, and they make for a great addition to salads, a root roast, soup, juice or just crunched upon straight out of the bag.

Vegetarian lasagna from Pasteria Lucchese. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Evenings are cool enough now that we can risk heating up our ovens to cook this vegetarian lasagna from Pasteria Lucchese. Of course, that also means it is safe to steam up the kitchen with any of their many extraordinary, fresh, handmade pastas and raviolis. And they make a killer rice pudding, too.

Frozen chicken hearts from Stokesberry. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

What's that famous movie line? "Hearts is hearts?" Or was that "parts is parts?" I suppose when its chicken hearts your talking about, you could say, "hearts is parts." In any case, did you know that besides selling eggs and whole chickens, Stokesberry sells chicken parts, from legs and wings to hearts and livers? They do. That oughta really warm the hearts (uh, sorry) of the folks who thought, "Vegetarian lasagna? What, no chicken liver?"

Skagit Valley Gold potatoes from Nature's Last Stand. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There's this guy named Tom who is a mad scientist of vegetable hybriding here in Western Washington, and we can thank him for all sorts of great crops we know and love. One of them is these Skagit Valley Gold potatoes from Nature's Last Stand. We're talking one terrific potato here that will make you say toodlie pipski to Yukon Golds. Give 'em a try this week.

Rubs and spices from Seattle Rhythm & Spice Company. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Don't forget to rub you meat... with rubs from Seattle Rhythm & Spice Company, that is. We've got so much delicious food at the Market, and much of it can be enhanced by a little seasoning. These folks have got you (and your food) covered with a wide variety of rubs and spice blends just waiting to be unleashed in your kitchen.

Summer squash from Growing Things Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

While this squash from Growing Things is delicious prepared simply with Après Vin grapeseed oil, salt and pepper, I bet it would also enjoy preparation with some of those spices above, don't you think?

Sequim Prairie Star worm tea concentrate. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the return of shorter days and rain, now is a great time to feed those plants some of Sequim Prairie Star's worm tea concentrate. It'll help them strengthen up their roots and leaves as the seasons change, so your plants will keep on producing well into the fall, and even the winter.

Fresh lobster mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another sure sign of the changing seasons is the return of all sorts of wild forest mushrooms, brought to us by our friends at Foraged & Found Edibles. Just look at these magnificent lobster mushrooms. So many preparation possibilities come to mind looking at these beauties. They are packed with flavor and easy to work with, so have at 'em while you can.

Dante's Inferno hot dogs at Ballard Farmers Market. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And while you're at the Market, maybe all that food gets the best of you, and you just need to eat something now. That's where the boys from Dante's Inferno come in. They've got great dogs and local sausages just waiting for you buns, with plenty of mustard, relish, the works.

Be sure to check "What's Fresh Now!" in the upper right-hand corner to see a full accounting of what is available now at your Ballard Farmers Market.