Sunday, June 17th: Happy Father's Day, Dad!

I must admit to a bit of excitement today, as I get to spend Father's Day with my dad for the first time in many years. Living on opposite coasts for a long time, I appreciate being able to hang with him for dinner this Father's Day. So, what are you making for your dad for dinner tonight? Whatever it is, we've got it fresh and local for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today! In fact, as a special treat just for dads everywhere, we've got the first raspberries of the 2012 season from Sidhu Farms today. Woohoo! But get here early, before they sell out, because they will sell out!

Yes, I know this is the third week in a row I've featured broccoli, but it's just that it is soooo good this time of year! This gorgeous broccoli is from Summer Run Farm, one of the finest growers and purveyors of broccoli this side of the Rockies, for my money. I enjoyed some for dinner last night, lightly steamed and then sautéed with some Sea Breeze bacon, some Colinwood green garlic, and a little Pipitone crushed red pepper flakes for good measure. Yeah, baby! And hey, broccoli grills nicely, too -- perfect for Dad's Day dinner.

Speaking of grilling for dad, how's about some delicious sausages from Skagit River Ranch? I mean, what dad wouldn't be happy being treated to fresh, hot sausages right off the grill? Simple, delicious, and because it's Father's Day, doctors be damned! Being an ex-pat New Yorker myself, I am particularly fond of their sweet Italian sausages. They are as close to what I grew up with back East as any I've found here. But truth be told, I have yet to have any sausage from Skagit River Ranch I haven't enjoyed.

You know, you can take kale, like this red Russian kale from Growing Things Farm, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill it, too. It gives it a nice smoky flavor, and it makes cooking and cleanup easy. It's been pretty gosh-darned wet over at Growing Things this spring, so their first crop harvest has been a while in coming, but here it is -- dino kalecollard greenscurly kale and more!

Say what?!? Apriums? Already? Cereal. I mean, how crazy a spring is this that the Westside greens are slow in coming, but the Eastside cherries and apriums are early? Go figure. But why spend a lot of time pondering this. Instead, let's just enjoy an early start to what by all accounts is going to be a record year for stone fruit in Washington. Oh, and apriums are one more thing you can grill for dad! Just cut 'em in half and on the grill they go! These apriums from Tiny's Organic Produce are genetically about 70% apricot and 30% plum, thus favoring apricots in flavor and appearance. Enjoy!

I love the fact that our farmers have figured out how to have each of their green garlic harvests come in at different times this spring. The result is that we get to enjoy this true spring treat for many more weeks. I forego cured garlic cloves this time of year for  green garlic, like this from Children's Garden. I use the whole thing, including the greens. It is milder than mature garlic, and sweeter, with a bit of grassiness, and it cooks up tender and full of wonderful garlic flavor. Just cut it up like you would a scallion and toss it in with your greens, asparagus, broccoli, what have you!

Jessie's Berries in the house! Yes, today marks the triumphant return for the 2012 berry season of Jessie's Berries from Fir Island. They will have a healthy supply of their famous strawberries for your enjoyment. Time to load up on shortcake and cream and eat strawberries until you pop, yo!

Hey, that lettuce is sticking its tongue out at you! And that's because it is deer tongue lettuce from Full Circle Farm. We missed Full Circle for several weeks as they shifted from their winter to their spring crop rotations, but they are back with a vengeance now, with heirloom lettucesJapanese wax turnipsmizunaradishes and more!

It's cherry season at Collins Family Orchards in Selah. They've got lots of these beautiful Rainier cherries, as well as some nice Chelan cherries, available right now, as well as the last of their 2011 harvest of pink lady apples. Won't be long until they've got every kind of stone fruit imaginable, and a few you've never even dreamt of!

Alvarez Organic Farms is rocking the peas right now. They've got sugar snap peassnow peas and these first-of-the-season English shelling peas. Grab a bag for dad to shell and eat on the deck this afternoon while he watches you mow the lawn and cook him dinner!

Let's end this week's epistle on a slightly bitter note with some lovely frisee from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Want a nice, simple, elegant salad? Put some frisee in a bowl and toss it with some fresh crumbled bleu cheese. Chunk up some thick bacon and render it out in a hot skillet. Pour the bacon and some of its fat while still hot over the frisee and bleu cheese and toss to coat. The frisee will wilt and the cheese will break down into a nice, pungent dressing with the bacon grease. You can thank me later!

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.