Sunday, February 10th: Sweets for the Sweet, And Then Some!

Red and berry wines from Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons. Hey, kids! It is time for the greatest of all Hallmark holidays, but don't think that using the fact that a greeting card company created it is going to get you off the hook if you fail to be at your charming best this coming Thursday. I recommend that you go simple, yet go large, and by all means, go local! Here's a recipe for a perfect Valentine's Day dinner for two you can make at home, courtesy of your Ballard Farmers Market. Start out with a nice bottle wine or two from Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery. They have a great selection of award winning white, red and berry dessert wines.

Beautiful, non-toxic candles from Ascents Candles. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Next step: light some of these beautiful, non-toxic candles from Ascents Candles. Made right here in Ballard, they are made using ingredients that will not, well, kill you. And they come in a wonderful variety of scents made from natural essential oils. Find the one that will set the mood you are aiming for!

Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.

Next, break out that oyster knife and get shucking! Yes, you need some of Hama Hama Oyster Company's live, wild-crafted oysters. They are delicious. They are an aphrodisiac. And they contain lots of zinc, so they will help you fend off the various plagues circulating around here right now!

Fresh tulips from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oh, and you'd better have a stunning bouquet of fresh-cut tulips from Alm Hill Gardens, or all bets are off! I know. You're thinking, if I get them Sunday, they'll be done by Thursday. Nope. Alm Hill cut them late Saturday, when they were still a day or so out from blooming. That means that come Thursday, they will be in full, spectacular bloom! As will you... And what the heck. Stack the deck a little. Get two bouquets. One for tonight, and one for Thursday. See, now you're a genius! (You can thank me later.)

Fresh goat cheese from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, it's time for a little fresh goat cheese from our newest farm, Twin Oaks Creamery. They have it plain or in any number of delicious flavors you will love. And what is sexier than fresh goat cheese, eh? Well, aside from those oyster, that is.

Baguettes from Tall Grass Bakery. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Don't forget a nice loaf of artisan bread from Tall Grass Bakery on which to spread that fresh goat cheese. I think these amazing baguettes are the best vehicle for delivering said cheese to your kisser. That said, it probably won't last until Thursday, for one of two reasons. You'll either eat it too fast, or it'll dry out. Solution? Eat one with some cheese tonight, and get another one fresh on Thursday straight from the bakery on 24th. They bake them all day long!

Beef steaks from Skagit River Ranch. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now that you've got things warmed up, how about a delicious steak dinner, featuring steaks from Skagit River Ranch. They've got all different delicious cuts of grass-finished, pasture-raised beef, from New Yorks to fillets to ribeyes, and more. And since Thursday's forecast looks lovely, you can dust off the grill and cook 'em up right -- over fire!

Sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

A perfect accompaniment to your perfectly grilled steaks will be some of these sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. Sweets for the sweet, as it were. And these sweets are awesome! Roast them whole in the oven, or cut them up and roast them under high heat with olive oil and salt, and they will soften and crisp up and be, well, awesome-er. Or you could go Oaxacan on them, and steam them, then mash them with garlic, chipotles and adobe sauce.

Brussels sprouts from Nash's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

As your other accompaniment, I recommend these Brussels sprouts from Nash's Organic Produce. Cut them in half, and then pan-roast them with bacon and shallots. Start with the bacon and shallots, rendering out and browning the former while you sweat and brown the latter. Then toss in your sprouts, letting them get browned in all that bacon-shallot deliciousness. When the sprouts get bright green and just start to get a bit tender, deglaze the pan with some white wine. As the wine cooks down, it also will loosen all the tasty brown bits stuck to the pan, and they will soak into and coat your sprouts. Salt and pepper to taste, and BOOM! You have just blown your sweetie away.

Bacon from Crazy Farmer George at Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Of course, that means you will need bacon. To the end, head on over to Sea Breeze Farm and load up on some of their amazing, freshly-smoked bacon from their own forest-raised pigs out on Vashon Island. And don't fear Farmer George while you are there. His bark is worse than his bite... most of the time!

D'Anjou Pears from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For a sexy dessert, how about something with these D'Anjou pears from Martin Family Orchards? You could wine-poach them, or you could bake them. Hmm. You could stuff them with some goat cheese, I suppose. Get creative. The fact that you tried something different will make as big an impression as anything else during your romantic dinner. Besides, you will have a backup plan, right?

Chocolates from Trevani Truffles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in case... or just because, you should load up on these stunningly decadent confections from Trevani Truffles. Made by hand using many local ingredients, these artisan chocolates are truly spectacular, and if you don't hit a home run with these, that nut was not for cracking! So have fun with it, and here's hoping you have a lovely evening.

Please remember bring your own bags 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.