Sunday, August 26th: Righteous Birds, Wild Huckleberries, Thai Basil, Gorgeous Garlic & Celery!

Have you ever eaten a really good chicken? I mean, a chicken that you not only talked about for days afterwards, but for years? Well, I have. I believe it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2000 when I drove out to Growing Things Farm in East King County to pick up a chicken from farmer Michaele Blakely for my family to enjoy for Thanksgiving dinner. It was big, beautiful, and it was the best chicken I had ever tasted. It was so good, my family has been eating them ever since for Thanksgiving when we are able to all get together. We don’t miss turkey at all. Well, lucky you. These chickens are available right here at your Ballard Farmers Market.

If you have only ever eaten those mass-produced chickens at the Big Box stores — even the so-called “free range” and “organic” chickens — you will be blown away by one of Michaele’s chickens, because for the first time in your life, you will actually taste what a chicken is supposed to taste like. It’s about the right breed, the right feed, and the right treatment of the chickens, and Growing Things Farm hits the mark on all three counts. Try one this week. You can thank me later! Oh, and you can thank us now by voting for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2012 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest! The deadline to vote is September 3rd, so please vote now! We need everyone to vote!

These beauties are wild mountain huckleberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. And they are the stuff of legend around here. A month ago, huckleberries briefly were in season over near Spokane, and the Spokane Farmers' Market posted about them on their Facebook page. I was astounded to see that that photo of huckleberries got something like 75 "likes." Mind you, them Spokanesters are a bit "like" happy over there. But then, last Sunday, I posted a photo of them on the Ballard Farmers Market Facebook page, and bam!, we got something like 60 "likes." Apparently, folks around here are a bit bonkers for huckleberries. Well, lucky you, Jeremy's got a bunch more this week for you at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Meet the Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. They grow... wait for it... garlic! They grow their garlic over on the North Olympic Peninsula, in the Dungeness River Valley, right near Nash's Organic Produce. And they grow some amazing garlic. From mild to wild, hardnecks and soft skins. Garlic for what ails you. Garlic that assails you. And I don't even know what that last one means! The most important thing to remember is, there's no such thing as too much garlic.

I know. You're thinking, "What? Just one pint of those grape tomatoes from Boistfort Valley Farm?" Hey, can't a guy get creative now and then? Besides, they're kinda purdy surrounded by those lovely, green herbs. And truth be told, these lovely little maters sell so fast, I was lucky to even get this shot! Boistfort's got all manner of spectacular deliciousness from Southwest Washington on their tables right now. Give them a visit!

These Ruble blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm are descendant from wild blueberries that grow in the mountains of Maine. They have a unique flavor and are packed with antioxidant goodness, and they’re certified organic! And when I first tasted them, they took me right back to my childhood, hiking up Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, eating my weight in wild blueberries as I went.

Celery. It may not be sexy, but it is a mainstay in most American kitchens. And it is the perfect vehicle for transporting peanut butter, hummus or onion dip from bowl to pie hole, am I right? It is also really good for you! And right now, Colinwood Farms has some of the sweetest celery I've ever tasted. Seriously. It's actually sweet! Look, you're going to need celery this week anyway, right? Why not get it from a great local farm?

This golden cauliflower from Alm Hill Gardens is so stunning, I just had to post it. And these suckers are huge with a capital huge. They dwarf the green beans in the background. And hey, cauliflower is also a great vehicle for onion dip and hummus transport, and it works well with cocktail sauce, too. Or make a nice summery salad with it, some heirloom maters, a little feta and some cukes, all from your Ballard Farmers Market. Woohoo!

This beautiful Thai basil from Children's Garden is full of tons of flavor. This is the stuff that dreams of the perfect bowl of pho are made of! This is the stuff you always want more of when you go out to any Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. So this is the time to enjoy playing with those flavors at home!

Nature's Last Stand is rocking the summer squash right now. Theirs is beautiful, perfect, sweet and delicious. Get your ratatouille on. Grill it. Roast it. Eat it raw in salads. Heck, make bread out of it, if you must. Look, folks, you may think you've seen plenty of this stuff this summer, but summer is running out. This is the last market of August, after all. Enjoy these jewels of summer while you can. You will miss them come January.

Let us end this week's epistle with some lovely, freshly harvested shallots from Summer Run Farm. They are big, beautiful and full of amazing flavor. Think of caramelizing some shallots and dressing green beans or some of that summer squash with them. Maybe add a little bacon to the mix. Oh, baby! That's what I'm talkin' about!

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more 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.