Sunday, January 24th: More Greens, Field Peas, Paprika, Caramels & Hot Dogs

Your eyes do not deceive you. Those are salad greens. Colinwood Farms from Port Townsend returns to your Ballard Farmers Market today with this lovely salad mix, spuds, onions, kale and more. Normally, we'd see them by late December, but a wind storm took out one of their greenhouses, and they are just now getting back up to speed. Good for them. Great for us!  Green things!!! Woo-hoo!!!!

These are dried green field peas from Nash's Organic Produce. You probably encounter them most often in the form of split pea soup, and these would make some great soup, but they are a quite versatile and nutrient dense legume -- a staple in the diets of cultures all over the world. The good folks at Nash's will be happy to give you some ideas, and even some recipes, for preparing them.

As you can see from the photo above, the tiny Olympia oyster is not much larger than a quarter. But this little oyster more than makes up for its size with its big flavor. 'Tis the season for Washington's only native oyster, and Taylor Shellfish will be offering them for the next several weeks -- just in time to build up your immune system and lebido for Valentine's Day.

Saffron will be back next Sunday, but today we are pleased as punch to introduce yet another new farm with paprika to our diverse Ballard Farmers Market -- Some Like It Hott! Charles Bodony's family hails from Transylvania, where they know a thing or two about paprika, and he has put that genetic heritage to good work in Port Townsend, rounding up and growing the best peppers in the world, and drying and grinding them for fresh paprika. Yup. Yet another spice you no longer have to get from an importer. You can get it direct from a local farmer. How cool is that?

Oh, happy day! Arugula is back. A-friggin-men. Full Circle Farm has glorious, and a bit spicy, baby arugula that will smack the winter blues right off of your sour puss. Just get there early enough to get some, as it sold out quickly last week, and the rest of us couldn't stand another week of you being a sour puss. Really. Trust me.

You may not have noticed it tucked away in the back of this little lot between King's Hardware and Bop Street Records, by our favorite hot dog cart guy, Dante, has opened Snacks Ballard Bodego, a great place to get your favorite dog seven days a week, until late at night, and a great place to get lots of your other favorite farmers market goodies, from Rockridge cider to Pete's toffee to St. Jude's tuna to a Caveman Bar.

Ballard Farmers Market has a long history of incubating local businesses. From Tall Grass Bakery to Anita's Crepes to Veraci Pizza and more, many of the local storefront businesses you see around Ballard got their start at the Ballard Farmers Market and our sister market in Fremont. It makes us very proud to see Dante's Inferno Dogs spawn its own storefront, right here on Ballard Avenue. But more than that, Dante, out of appreciation and respect for his Ballard Farmers Market roots, is selling many of the wonderful products from his fellow Ballard Farmers Market vendors in his store, so we can enjoy access to them all week long. Wander down to his little hideaway shop and support a local business that is itself dedicated to supporting local businesses. And check out Snacks' Facebook page for more info.

You know Stokesberry Sustainable Farm from Olympia for their great organic eggs (above), chicken and beef. Now they are offering organic chicken sausage in four varieties: maple breakfast patties (above), sage & garlic patties and hot and sweet Italian in bulk. They are all yummy. So give those eggs some company, eh? You'll thank me later.

Let's talk about sweet things for a bit now, like these incredibly sweet baby carrots from Stoney Plains Farm in Tenino. If there is one thing carrots, and most other roots and hearty greens, like, it's a good freeze. As a defense to the cold, they actually produce more sugar, and the result is a sweeter carrot -- much sweeter. If you haven't enjoyed some over-winter carrots lately, well, plain and simple, you're nuts! They are like candy.

Seems the longer into the winter we get, the bigger the sweet potatoes get from Lyall Farms. Hmm. Think there's a connection? (Yes, I know. You're thinking I am going to leave this gig to become a rocket scientist, aren't you?) In any case, they ain't gonna last forever, so get 'em while you can.

Jonboy Caramels makes delicious, handmade caramels using butter and heavy cream from a Skagit Valley dairy. They make small batches of their fleur de sel and molasses ginger caramels, and hand-wrap them in parchment paper. It seemed fitting to round out my little trip down sweet tooth lane by visiting them. And you should visit them, too, for sample, and, of course, then a box full.

Let's wrap up this week's epistle on all things (well, many things at least) Ballard Farmers Market with talk of pie. Not the sweet kind of pie, though Deborah's Homemade Pies certainly has many great varieties of those. But I already finished my sweets talking for the week, so now I want to talk about savory meat pies. Oh, yeah, baby. Chicken pie. Deborah uses local and Market ingredients in her chicken pies, just like she does with her sweet pies. And, as you can see above, she makes them in two sizes, so whether you are feeding the whole fam-damily or just feeding yourself, she's got you covered. So if you need the night off from cooking from scratch, grab a chicken pie from Deborah. Just get there early, as they always sell out. Oh, and don't forget to grab some pie for dessert, too.

Remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen and beyond. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.