Sunday, July 17th: Tomatoes, Boistfort Valley Farm Returns... Finally, Tomatoes, So Other Stuff & More Tomatoes. Oh, And Tomatoes, Too!

Hey, Ballard Farmers Market faithful! Venerable Market vendor, Boistfort Valley Farm, returns to your Ballard Farmers Market today, marking their latest reappearance ever. (Not like everything else has been late or anything this year, right?) Heidi tells me they'll have, um, well, lettuce. Okay, she kids. Yes, they will have spectacular lettuce. They always do. But, as we have come to expect from Boistfort Valley over the years, they will show up with an amazing variety of fabulous produce the likes of which one rarely sees. So welcome them back today, and if you aren't familiar with them, stop by to see why Boistfort Valley Farm is one of those farms to which many other farms aspire to be.

Look, ma! Maters! Seems a bunch of our dear farmers got this crazy idea to plant tomatoes in greenhouses and hoop houses this year. Seems they figured they'd have maters in June, and everyone would rejoice. Whoops! They didn't count on such a flippin' cold, wet year. But then again, if they hadn't planted them to arrive early, we'd be waiting until August for them, if we were lucky! So let's celebrate! These cherry toms are from our buddies at Oxbow Farms. Enjoy!

Care for some humanely, pasture-raised, six-month-old veal? This stuff is so tender, so delicious, and so not politically incorrect. You see, many people have a hangup about veal, because they learned once that it is raised inhumanely. Well, like anything else, this is not a universal truth. Yes, factor-farmed veal is raised in confined spaces and fed all manner of garbage -- literally -- including sawdust and stuff, to force it to keep its white color even after it has been weened from its mother's milk. So yes, do avoid that kind of veal at the Big Box Store or at many restaurants. But this veal is from Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island, and this calf enjoyed six beautiful, happy months hanging out with his mom, drinking her natural milk, and then eating natural grasses and forage in a lush pasture. It only had one bad day. In other words, if you ever wanted to find out what veal really tastes like -- natural veal -- and you want to be sure it was raised humanely, this is the veal to try.

Oh, and did I mention there are maters? Seriously. All of these tomato photos were taken in the last seven days, except the one of Colinwood, below, which was taken in mid-June. These are not stock photos, folks. It really is tomato season! And these beefsteak tomatoes are from our good friends at Alm Hill Gardens.

It's new potato season, too! And you know what they means? Yup, Olsen Farms has spud nuts!!! Woohoodillydoo! They bad boys are little spudlicious nuggets of heaven. I'm thinking I will toss some in a foil pouch with some butter and toss 'em on the Weber with my salmon. Oh, life is good.

No, really. It is tomato season. I know, I know. Everything else is like three months behind schedule. How could we possibly have all of these maters in the Market already? Well, we do. Don't fight it. Embrace it! Sing of it! And eat it up! Oh, sweet, juicy, heirloom Paul Robeson tomatoes from Billy's Gardens, how we have missed you.

Think cauliflower is a boring vegetable? Think again! I mean, just look at this incredible collection of cauliflowers from Growing Things Farm. They got your white, your purple confetti, your yellow cheese, and some green cauliflower, just to round things out. Dip it. Salad it. Steam it. Roast it. Soup it. Enjoy it!

Here are the aforementioned June tomatoes from Colinwood Farms. Colinwood won the "first to have tomatoes" sweepstakes this year with these assorted cherry tomatoes out of their greenhouses in Port Townsend.

Few take as good care of their apricots like Jerry Pipitone of Pipitone Farms does. He cares for them with great delicacy, making sure they are picked at the peak of ripeness, packaged by hand, and delivered to you at the Market unblemished, so that you can enjoy every bite of their sweet, juicy deliciousness. He's got these rival apricots in season right now. Gorgeous, aren't they?

Did someone say tomatoes? Seriously, we've got tomatoes, people! These beautiful specimens are vine-ripened hot house tomatoes from Magana Farms. They have these big hoop houses over in Toppenish, in the Yakima Valley, that just soak up the sun and warm their tomato plants into giving up their prized fruit nice and early for us.

And I finish this week's epistle with this short-lived summer treat -- fresh garbanzo beans from Alvarez Organic Farms. Most of us are used to garbanzos dried or canned. But nothing beats 'em, or any shelling beans for that matter, fresh! Put in the effort, and you will be rewarded.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. And please remember to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest!