Sunday, November 10th: Giant Heirloom Pears, Rovery Rutabagas, Terrific Turnips, Suh-weeh Potatoes & Purdy Pickles!

Concorde pears from Jerzy Boyz Farm. Photo courtesy Jerzy Boyz Farm. Wow. We've blown right past Halloween, Daylight Savings Time and one testy election and rolled right into the Holiday season. Yes, that's right. It is time to start planning that Eat Local For Thanksgiving feast with which you will be impressing your loved ones come November 28th, or thereabouts. See, everything you need for the perfect feast is right here at your Ballard Farmers Market. Starting with these ginormous heirloom Concorde Pears from Jerzy Boyz Farm. Now, here's a fun fact! An artist went to Jerzy Boyz Farm to look at their Concorde pears to get a model for a statue they wished to make for the pear's namesake city of Concord, MA, and here is a photo of that statue!

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I heart rutabagas. They seem foreign to many folks, but I grew up with them. Guess my Irish ancestors never forgot them, even after over 300 years in the New World. In Ireland, they call them "turnips" or "Swedes". Viking Norseman may have brought them to the Emerald Isle over 1,000 years ago. I enjoy rutabagas anytime, but I must have them on two different holidays: St. Patrick's Day (which needs no explanation now), and Thanksgiving, perhaps because my ancestors incorporated them into their tradition after coming over to Upstate New York in the  1690s. At Thanksgiving, I just to simply steam them and mash them with a good butter, like from Golden Glen Creamery. Oh, and these beautiful rutabagas are from Boistfort Valley Farm.

Hard ciders from Eaglemount Wine & Cider. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is a tasting day for Eaglemount Wine & Cider, and today is a great day to identify your favorite hard cider, and then stock up for Thanksgiving. Eaglemount makes a wonderful variety of ciders from pears, apples, quince and more. Stop by their stall, sample their ciders, and find the flavor (or flavors) you enjoy most.

Red Delicious apples from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I talk a lot about heirloom apples with all kinds of funky names and intriguing stories, but there is one apple that is sort of iconic -- the poster child, as it were, for apples, or at least it used to be. That is the Red Delicious apple. It dates back to 1880 in Iowa, and it has been commercially developed for looks and shelf life over the years, but you can still find some good ones out there. For starters, the good ones are a lighter red and more round, like these from Martin Family Orchards. See, some have been developed to the point of being almost black and very elongated. Avoid those at the Big Box stores. Instead, try one of these from Martin today. Reacquaint yourself with an old friend!

Japanese Wax turnips from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm has a new harvest of these lovely Japanese Wax turnips this week at your Ballard Farmers Market. They have been even more amazing than usual lately, which a rich, sweet flavor and a nicely radishy bite. In fact, I like them best simply sliced like a radish and tossed into a nice salad. But you can also sauté them, again like a radish. Cut the greens off, cut the turnips in half, and then cook them in some butter. As they get tender and a little browned, you can even add the greens back into the pan with them just to wilt them, and then serve them together as a beautifully delicious side dish.

Fresh cranberries from Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm. Photo courtesy Bloom Creek.

It is week three of the return of fresh cranberries from Bloom Creek Cranberry Farm, and that usually means that they are about done for the year. Don't be that person who waits too long, and then ends up missing out on them altogether. Make this the year that you ditch that gelatinous canned "cranberry sauce" and make your own!

Sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Another mainstay of any Thanksgiving feast is sweet potatoes, and there is only one place you will find locally-grown sweet potatoes around here -- from Lyall Farms right here at your Ballard Farmers Market! They are amazing, and naturally sweet, so there is no need to candy them or smother them in marshmallows. They are perfect on their own, though I do like roasting them with some parsnips. Mmm.

Spicy pickled garlic and Northwest Country vinegar from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know, there is no such thing as too much garlic. And pickles make every holiday feast special. So spicy pickled garlic from Purdy Pickle would seem to be the ultimate, would it not? They also have some wonderful cider vinegar they call Northwest Country Vinegar that is made with local, organic apples. You can now add that, too, to your list of things you'll be getting from now on at your Ballard Farmers Market, instead of the heavily refined stuff from who knows where at the Big Box stores.

Yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Few things feel more like fall than wild yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Sure, they have many amazing varieties of wild mushrooms right now, but there is just something about these babies that is just so comforting, so soul-warming, so... so fall! Simply sauté them in butter, perhaps with a little garlic, and then serve them over a steak or tossed with pasta. Incorporate them into your favorite stuffing mix. Add them to a nice fall chowder or bisque. You really can't go wrong with them.

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

Ah, I did mention parsnips, didn't I? Besides roasting them with sweet potatoes, or any other root roast for that matter, you can also puree them with celery root and potatoes for soup, or mash the three together for a delicious spin on mashed potatoes. Parsnips are wonderfully sweet, and they cook quickly, so be careful not to overcook them. If you are roasting other roots, like rutabagas, which are very dense and slow-cooking, either add the parsnips after cooking the others for a while or be sure to cut the bagas into smaller pieces than the parsnips, so the bagas will cook quicker, and the parsnips slower. These lovely parsnips are from Nash's Organic Produce.

Artisan bread loaves from Grateful Bread Bakery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let's finish off this week's epistle with some gorgeous loaves of artisan breads from Grateful Bread Baking from up in Wedgewood. These loaves are the perfect compliment to any holiday feast, and, of course, they also make many special holiday breads and cookies this time of year, too, as well as bags of croutons perfect for making stuffing.

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.

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.