Sunday, April 28th: Pasture-Raised Chicken, Organic Asparagus, Cardoons & Adorable Little Lettuces!

I remember my first Growing Things Farm chicken way back in 1999. I drove out to the farm in East King County on a rainy, muddy November day and picked it up, fresh, to bring up to my family in Bellingham for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first time my family had ever had chicken instead of turkey on that holiday. And boy, howdy, were we thankful! My dad, who grew up on a farm, was thrilled to eat a chicken that tasted like, well, a chicken! And I, for the first time, learned what a chicken was supposed to taste like. We've been eating chickens at Thanksgiving ever since! Well, Michaele has a fresh harvest of chickens today at your Ballard Farmers Market, so head on up to the 22nd Avenue end of the Market an grab one or three, and enjoy real chicken! You can thank me later. (Oh, BTW, there is a difference between "pasture-raised" and pasteurized.")

Organic asparagus from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Been looking for certified organic asparagus? ACMA Mission Orchard has it! In fact, did you know that all of ACMA's crops are now certified organic? Yup! So stop by and get your asparagus on today, and grab some apples, while you're at it. Oh, asparagus, we love you so! Especially roasted in a hot oven with morel mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles and some green sweet onions, or grilled on the barby.

Tom Thumb lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Under the heading of, "those are friggin' adorable," come these little heads of Tom Thumb lettuce from One Leaf Farm today at your Ballard Farmers Market. One Leaf loves growing all manner of lovely lettuce varieties, and this early spring lettuce is so sweet and crunchy --  you know you've missed it all winter long. Look also for Little Gem lettuce, as well radishes!

Stokesberry Sustainable Farm sausages by Link Lab. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you met the new lineup of link sausages from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm? They are made using Stokesberry's wonderful forrest-raised pork by Link Lab Artisan Meats in Wallingford. They come in three varieties, from left to right above -- Shiitake & Sage, Fremont Beer Bratwurst and Chipotle Tequila. Link Lab's Fremont Beer Brats recipe is perhaps the best bratwurst recipe in Seattle, I dare say. So get thee to Stokesberry, and get your sausage on! Just save me a package of brats!

Cardoon from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

No, this is not rhubarb. It is cardoon. A member of the artichoke family (not to be confused with Jerusalem artichokes, which are not related to artichokes at all, but are in the sunflower family), they grow tall and put out big, brilliant artichoke flowers that are edible. However, cardoon is most commonly harvested for the long stalks of its leaves, which are cooked by braising them in liquid. Like all things artichoke-y, cardoon is favored in Italy and throughout Southern Europe. Pick some up from Oxbow Farm today and experiment with it!

Rhubarb from Sidhu Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is rhubarb! This rhubarb is grown by Sidhu Farms in Orting, along the Puyallup River -- the most prolific rhubarb growing region in the United States. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, though it seems most commonly used as an ingredient for desserts, which may explain why the State of New York reclassified it as a fruit in 1947. Of course, it makes for great sauces for savory dishes, too, as well as fabulous cocktails. But let's face it -- rhubarb crisp is a reason unto itself to live!

Carrots from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, carrots, how we have missed you! But carrots are slowly returning to your Ballard Farmers Market. Colinwood Farms was the first this spring with these lovely specimens (above). and while more and more are coming each week, they are still in limited supply, so get here early, if you want any. Otherwise, when you show up at the Market Information Desk at 2 p.m. asking about carrots, we may have to tease you. Consider yourself warned.

Tacos from Los Chilangos. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you visited the newest prepared food vendor at your Ballard Farmers Market yet? Los Chilangos cooks up brilliant Mexican street food for breakfast and lunch every Sunday, using many ingredients from Market vendors. Their fish tacos are made with rockfish from Wilson Fish. Their pork comes from Olsen Farms. Their eggs are from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. And they source cheese from both Samish Bay Cheese and Twin Oaks Creamery. Try finding another taqueria around here doing that!

Growlers and growler coolers from Soda Jerk Fresh Soda. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Right next door to Los Chilangos, you will find fresh sodas from Soda Jerk Fresh Soda to quench your salsa-induced thirst. Like their newest flavor, Lime-Cilantro-Jalapeno. You can get a cup of soda to go, or you can get a growler to take home and enjoy. Growlers are a half-gallon, and Soda Jerk now has these nifty new reusable growler cozies, to keep your soda cool and well-carbonated until you get it back to your fridge. Plus, growlers are refillable! Bring it back next week and exchange it for a fresh bottle.

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.