Sunday, September 4th: Celery, Beef Tamales, Bartlett Pears, Local King Salmon & Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Yes, I am leading with celery from Growing Things Farm. Why celery? I mean, it's not exactly the sexiest vegetable. But it is a staple in most kitchens. It is a nutritional powerhouse. It is the ultimate vehicle for hummus and peanut butter. It is the base of most stews, roasts, soups, stocks... It is way better fresh from the farm, only hours, not days or weeks, since harvest. And it is celery season! So stop by Growing Things, at the top of the Market, for some awesome, farm-fresh celery today! Oh, they have plenty of eggs right now, too!

BTW, thank you to everyone who vote for your Ballard Farmers Market in this year's America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. We came in 8th this year nationally, and 1st on the entire West Coast. We didn't reach the 4th nationally we achieved last year, but a last-minute surge in voting actually pushed us past three other markets, moving us from 11th with three days to go to a convincing 8th in the end. The winning market got just over 5,000 votes. We know that about 3,000 of you visit this blog every week, another 2,100+ follow us on Facebook, and another 1,600+ follow us on Twitter. So, for those of you who voted for us this year, again, thank you, and if you can get one other person to vote for us next year, we'll finish in 4th again. And if the rest of you vote, we'll win! So let's celebrate a strong showing, especially considering we are the only market to repeat in the Top 10 this year, but let's commit now to voting as soon as the polls open again next June!

Striped German tomatoes from Summer Run Farm are one of those heirloom tomatoes that I've heard referred to as tie-dyed tomatoes. But hey, they're not just another pretty face, you know. These are some spectabulous maters, folks. But you 2 p.m. Market stragglers will likely miss out on them, as they go quickly. Get here early!

I am absolutely loving this year's cauliflower crop. It is so amazingly sweet roasted or grilled. This really is the best cauliflower crop in years, folks -- a silver lining to our up-until-now weather woes of 2011. So swing by Nash's Organic Produce and pick some up today!

Beef tamales! Get 'em while they're hot! (You see what I did there? Hot tamales. Get it? Okay, now that you've stopped laughing hysterically...) Yes, Patty Pan Grill has beef tamales, made from beef from Growing Things Farm, no less! Of course, I can hear some of you asking right now, "Isn't Patty Pan Grill vegetarian?" Well, not exactly. What it is, ultimately, is dedicated to using the freshest local ingredients direct from local farms to make great, affordable food. So, if local beef tamales fits those parameters, why the heck not, right? And if you need more convincing, see how owner Devra Gartenstein explained it to the Seattle Times recently.

Onions can be beautiful, even if they render you blind with tears every time you cut them up, such that you cannot appreciate their beauty. But looking at them, in all different colors, adorning the tables at Nature's Last Stand, you cannot help but admire them. Then again, I think those red ones would look best on a bagel from Grateful Bread Baking with some fromage blanc from Mt. Townsend Creamery and some salmon lox from Loki Fish.

If this week's weather forecast holds true, it is not quite fall yet. But some of our favorite fall crops are beginning to come into season anyway. Like these rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm. Oh, the mighty rutabaga, known to the Irish as "turnip", and to many as "Swedes", owing, I believe, to introduction to many cultures by Vikings, or something like that. Whatever the case, this mightiest of the turnip clan must be celebrated! Let the party begin!

Here come the pears! Just in time to pack them in your kids' lunch boxes. These gorgeous bartlett pears are from Collins Family Orchards, from over in Selah, next to Yakima. Enjoy!

Being the slacker that I am, I appreciate the many salad mixes that our farmers bring to your Ballard Farmers Market. Add some maters, radishes, onions and carrots, and dress appropriately, and you've got a quick and delicious salad! This one, from Colinwood Farm, is loaded with edible flowers and lots of spicy greens, and it is as good a mix as any you'll find.

It's September, folks, and believe it or not, salmon season on the Washington Coast is almost over. So enjoy all the fresh, local king salmon you can from Wilson Fish right now, while you can, before it is gone until next May. I had an amazing piece grilled alongside a variety of Market veggies tonight. It never ceases to astound me how much it remains one of most incredible foods on earth.

Look, kids. It's westside sweet corn from Stoney Plains. These guys grow some wonderful corn, and it is so fresh. Hey, they also have late-season crops of fava beans and shelling peas right now, and the year's first cranberry beans, too. Woohoo!

And let's finish this weeks epistle with an explosion of color, and fire! It's the red hot chili peppers! Fresh from Alvarez Organic Farms at your Ballard Farmers Market. Yep, them's Fresno chili peppers right there. They'll kick up the heat a bit in your salsa, and you won't have to wear a sock just to be decent in public, either. (If you don't get that reference, look up the band of the same name.)

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.