Sunday, November 13th: Chef Jason Stoneburner of Bastille Helps Us Eat Local For Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is just 11 days away, and it is time to think about how we can all Eat Local For Thanksgiving, with the help of your Ballard Farmers Market, of course. To that end, our annual Eat Local For Thanksgiving cooking demonstration series returns this week and next. Today at noon we welcome Ballard Avenue's own Chef Jason Stoneburner of Bastille Café & Bar. Jason is no stranger to working with the bounty of your Ballard Farmers Markets. His menu incorporates ingredients from many Market farmers, fishers and ranchers. Today, he will give us some simple, delicious ideas for preparing Thanksgiving side-dishes without all the stress.

Oysters enhance many a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, not to mention oyster stew. Hama Hama Oyster Company offers fresh, shucked jar oysters in various oyster and jar sizes, as well as smoked and pickled oysters to help you liven up your holiday meal or party, or just to enjoy as comfort food on a cool, dark, wet November night.

You'll want some winter squash as part of your holiday meal, and talk about a simple, low-stress side dish. Just take a few of these beautiful delicata squash from Oxbow Farm, cut them in half, lengthwise, scoop the seeds out, then just slather them in olive oil and place them face down in a glass baking dish and roast them in a 375 degree oven until tender -- 20-30 minutes. Its deep sweetness will concentrate wonderfully. You can even eat the skins! And toss the seeds with some olive oil and salt in a pie tin and roast them right alongside the squash for a crunchy, salty snack. The seeds take only about 10 minutes to roast at most. Just stir them once, mid-roast.

If you are like me (as terrifying a thought as that may be), you probably think of cranberry sauce as something tin can-shaped, complete with the ridges, and horribly sweet. But cranberry sauce need not be so repulsive. Washington is one of the nation's top cranberry producing states, so there is no excuse not to get fresh cranberries to make fresh cranberry sauce. Just stop by Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm today at your Ballard Farmers Market and grab some of their fresh cranberries, and you, too, can be liberated from the dreaded canned cranberry sauce forever!

Red Barn Farm from Enumclaw returned just last week to your Ballard Farmers Market for the fall harvest season. Julie's got this beautiful cabbage right now, which I am certain you can use to warm up your kitchen and your belly now that the cold, wet November we know and love has finally come back to us in ernest.

It's pumpkin season, and that means Pasteria Lucchese is making lots of pumpkin ravioli with pumpkins from Oxbow Farm. And where there's pumpkins, there's pumpkin seeds. Sam and Sarah finally decided, and bless them for this, to roast the many pumpkin seeds they have been amassing lately, and the result is these yummy bags of the crunchy squash spawn. Mmm.

Wait, what?!? Are those, um, blackberries? In November? Yup. In this, the screwiest weather year in memory, the harvest schedule has been turned on its head. That means, among other things, that Hayton Berry Farms still has blackberries a good month after they should. So why not make some last-minute jam, or some berry cobbler. And have fun explaining it to your friends and family.

Hey, kids! A second farm has local sweet potatoes now at your Ballard Farmers Market. Alm Hill Gardens has found a variety of beauregard sweet potatoes that has been bred to grow in their cool climate just south of the Canadian border in Whatcom County. They don't grow as big as other sweet potatoes, but they still eat plenty good!

Booth Canyon Orchard grows an extraordinary variety of heirloom tree fruit in the Methow Valley over in Okanogan County. Among their many apples are these prized Macoun apples. You have no idea just how hard it was to capture this photo last Sunday, because so many people kept shoving me out of the way so they could buy these.

The fresh coastal salmon season for Wilson Fish has now passed, but they still have plenty of the best smoked king salmon you will find anywhere. Add it to your holiday table, or just keep it to yourself! I recommend tossing it with some Pasteria Lucchese pappardelle, some peas, and a little olive oil. Yeah, baby!

Chocolates By George has also recently returned to your Ballard Farmers Market with its many award-winning confections. George Brunjes -- that's the "George" behind Chocolates By George -- has concocted a delicious array of chocolate treats in his mad scientist laboratory up on Whidbey Island. He even has a special flavor this month that incorporates wasabi. Bam! Stop by, say hi to George, and satisfy that sweet tooth today.

For a refreshing drink that'll cure what ails you, grab a bottle of kombucha from CommuniTea. They call their brew, "Kombucha without Compromise!" See, the feds have been forcing most kombucha off store shelves because it contains a small amount of alcohol as a byproduct of the natural fermentation process -- small, but enough for the feds to regulate. Well, Chris from CommuniTea decided to let them regulate him, and he went and got himself a brewery license. That means you now can enjoy the real deal from him. It also means you need to be 21 to buy it.

Hey, there is plenty of local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

p.s., it's just not the same writing this blog in the wee hours of Sunday morning with my dear feline friend, Polly, on the couch behind me, rousing with every curse I blurt out when I screw something up. She passed away on Friday, November 4, 2011 at the ripe old age of 19 -- or about 130 for you and me. We should all live so long. Polly, you are missed.