Happy Passover and Easter, fine people of Ballard! I'm getting a late start with this week's epistle, as I found myself absorbed, as I do every year at this time, by that Hollywood classic, The Ten Commandments, starring a cast of thousands, in which Charlton Heston frees the Hebrew slaves from bondage under the cruel rule of Egyptian pharaoh Telly Savalas. You know, I pick up something new each year during ABC's four-and-a-half hour presentation of this film. For instance, I had no idea that the Occupy Movement took its signature means of communicating through large crowds without an amplifier from Moses, who was the first to say, "Hear, O Israel, Repeat After Me..." But I regress. Something else that happens only once a year is that Grateful Bread Bakery makes hot cross buns and brings them to your Ballard Farmers Market. Luckily, I captured some in pixels (above) last year on Easter. I can almost smell them now. Mmm. Grab some for a true taste of the season.
You'll find plenty of fresh, local flowers throughout the Market today, like these from Pa Gardens. Grab a bouquet to brighten up your table for Easter supper, or to bring with you to grandma's house. It is finally spring. Let it show with fresh daffodils and tulips!
Pick up a bottle of Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery's award-winning wines to accompany your meal to celebrate ancient beliefs. After all, wine is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. Back in biblical times, they had no refrigerators or freezers to preserve fruit harvests year-round, but juice it and ferment it, and it kept for months and years! Few things truly make we humans feel like the really smart monkeys we are like wine.
Speaking of ancient forms of food preservation, blessed are the cheese makers! And one such cheese maker returns after their winter hiatus today: Port Madison Farms. The kidding season has passed, and all the little baby goats are now bouncing around the farm over on Bainbridge Island, and their moms are now producing some amazing milk that Port Madison turns into some delicious goat cheese. Another example of ancient human ingenuity, and another great addition to your feast!
Let's tawk spring greens, eh? After a very long, cold, dark winter -- and aren't they all -- it pleases me no end to now be adding stuff back into the "vegetables" page under "What's Fresh Now!" every week. Like this wonderful miners lettuce from Stoney Plains, for instance. It gets its name from the fact that miners used to live off the stuff. It grows wild all over the place here, but it is also cultivated. It is like watercress, crunchy yet tender, full of nutrients, with a slightly lemony flavor to it. And it makes for the most amazing spring salads, simply dressed with a few radishes, some pine nuts, some seasoning, olive oil and lemon juice.
This time of year, as the days grow longer, all the over-winter crops want to bolt. Yup, it's mating season for them, too, and the kales, chards, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and cabbages all just want to flower and spread their seed. But before they do, they have this wondering in-between period when their tender, budding tops, called raab, are just plain delicious and sweet as can be. Given the cold winter we've had, all the raabs, like this mixed kale raab from Colinwood Farms, are especially sweet. See, cold weather elicits a kind of defensive response in these leafy greens of sweetness -- nature's anti-freeze! Enjoy!
Your eyes do not deceive you, and neither do I. This really is lettuce! That's right. Children's Garden wins the award this spring for being the first farm to bring lettuce to your Ballard Farmers Market. In this photo, you see butterhead and green leaf lettuce. I've been enjoying some of the butterhead lettuce with lettuce wraps this past week. So step away from that Arizona lettuce from the Big Box store and start eating it local again!
Finally, for today anyway, some more raab -- red cabbage raab to be precise, from Nash's Organic Produce. Besides the fact that I just love the light in this photo, you should know that this is perhaps the sweetest form of cabbage you can eat. It truly is a completely different way to enjoy it. In the immortal words of John Lennon, give raab a chance!
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.