It's here, folks! The first really big holiday of the holiday season: Thanksgiving! Or as we call it in my family, "Thanks For The Land Day!" Whatever you and yours call it, this coming Thursday is a day to take a break, take stock, and express our thanks for what we have, and especially for the bounty that reaches our tables. For Thanksgiving, the first American holiday, ultimately commemorates when mighty, advanced indigenous peoples welcomed undocumented foreigners with open arms and saved them from starvation at Plimouth, so that they might make better lives for themselves in a new world.
We in the farmers market community encourage you to Eat Local For Thanksgiving this coming Thursday, and we have pretty much everything you'll need to do so right here. We then ask you to give thanks for the many local farmers, fishers, ranchers and food artisans who bring you the best food on earth right here at your Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday, year round. This year, the best way you can do that is to make a public comment in opposition to unreasonably high permit fee increases on farmers markets and their vendors proposed for 2015 by Public Health - Seattle & King County. For a great discussion of the issues at hand, and what is at stake, check out this week's Ballard News-Tribune article, and for more details on how to comment, please see this blog post from last week. And in return, we thank you!
One of my favorite dishes for Thanksgiving is Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots. There are plenty of Brussels in your Ballard Farmers Market right now, including those beauties up above from Nash's Organic Produce. And several farms will have shallots, including this from Alvarez Organic Farms. I caramelize my shallots while browning and rendering out my chunked up bacon in a hot skillet. When the bacon begins to get browned, and the shallots caramelized, I drop in the Brussels, cut in half, and sauté them in the bacon grease until they get bright green and just beginning to get tender. At that point, I deglaze the pan with some white wine. The wine combines with the tasty browned pits, or fond, on the bottom of your skillet, reincorporating them back into the Brussels with delicious results. The Brussels finish cooking in this yummy wine sauce and the wine cooks down. The result is that your Brussels sprouts hating kin will ask for seconds!
And speaking of cooking tips, celebrated James Beard Award winning local chef, Ethan Stowell of Ethan Stowell Restaurants (including Ballard Ave's Ballard Pizza Company, Chippy's and Staple & Fancy) will preform an Eat Local For Thanksgiving cooking demonstration at 11 a.m. today.
You'll need some of this amazing bacon from Skagit River Ranch to complete your Brussels sprouts masterpiece this week, but get here early, as it's sure to sell out. And speaking of things selling out, here are some shopping strategy tips for today's Market:
- Get here early, if you can.
- Pack patience with you, as crowds will be big.
- Maybe pack a cooler, too.
- Purchase things like eggs, bacon, cranberries and other items likely to sell out early first.
- If you don't plan on watching any sporting matches today, you may prefer to shop after 1 p.m., when big games will thin out our crowds, though keep in mind that some prime items may be sold out by then.
- If you do plan to watch either the Seahawks or Sounders games, do your shopping first, or during halftime, and watch the games on one of the many TV screens in bars and eateries up and down Ballard Avenue. It will likely be cool enough that, even without a cooler, your Market goodies will keep just fine in your trunk until after the big game!
Here is a list of where you may be able to watch the Sounders playoff game in the neighborhood at 2 p.m. today:
- Bad Albert's
- Ballard Smoke Shop
- Billy Beach Sushi & Bar
- El Borracho (on Leary)
- Kangaroo & Kiwi (on Market, soccer only)
- Kickin' Boot
- Lock & Keel
- Market Arms (on Market, soccer only)
- Moshi Moshi
- The Gerald
- The Noble Fir
Here is a list of where you will be able to watch the Seahawks, in addition to all of the places above:
- Bastille (at the bar)
- Bitterroot (in the bar)
- Hattie's Hat (at the bar)
- Matador (at the bar)
- Stoneburner (in the bar)
And that's how you can have your game, and Eat Local For Thanksgiving, too!
Now, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you use a bottle of Siegerrebe from LIV (Lopez Island Vineyards) to deglaze your pan whilst cooking up those Brussels, but it would be a nice accompaniment to your meal. It, or any of the many other award-winning wines from LIV. And try out their new raspberry dessert wine, too!
Another favorite of mine this week is steamed rutabagas mashed with lots of good butter. You'll find these lovely little bagas at Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington), right at the bottom of the Market. Nummers!
Winter squash from Boistfort Valley Farm will help sweeten up your holiday feast. They have many different varieties from which to choose, in many flavors, textures, colors, shapes and sizes. Ask for cooking tips. Roast your seeds. And remember, you can eat the skins on many squash varieties!
Looking to add a little taste of spring to your fall feast? How about some of these beautiful Japanese wax turnips from One Leaf Farm? They come complete with greens, meaning you get two dishes for the price of one! Or, better yet, cook them together! Cut the turnips in half, sauté them in butter or olive oil until tender and a bit browned. Then add the greens and some crushed garlic and toss together until the greens wilt. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
And don't forget the spuds! Olsen Farms has a couple dozen varieties of potatoes from which to choose, with one perfect for your needs. Some or white, others golden, and others red or blue. Some are waxy and others starchy. Some are better suited to baking, while others like roasting, and still others steaming or frying. Ask questions. Read tags. Have fun with your potatoes.
One thing you can do with your potatoes is mash them with some celery root and parsnips from Oxbow Farm. Talk about an elegant mash! You'll want equal amounts of all three. I also like to cut up my parsnips into small chunks and roast them in a hot oven with some sweet potatoes from Lyall Farms cut into similar-sized pieces. When they're tender, they're done... in about 15-20 minutes. Toss them once, midday.
With all the meat, potatoes, sugary things, roots and such, you'll want some roughage. Lucky for us, in spite of the recent cold weather, Colinwood Farm's greenhouses are still cranking out some righteous spicy salad mix just for you! Slice up some of those turnips like radishes and add them to it.
Oh, and add some superfood to your salad, too! This week, we welcome Farmbox Greens to your Ballard Farmers Market with these Seattle-grown microgreens. In their seedling form, they are little nutrient bombs, and they are packed with flavor, too. Garnish your soups, mashes, meats and more with them.
Apples are good for all sorts of dishes, from salads to sauces to pies, during the holidays. I chose this particular photo of Arkansas Black apples from Tiny's Organic because I recently returned from a trip to Arkansas, and I am here to testify that this apple is, in fact, the apple of Arkansas!
Cirrus cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery is what they, and I, call a "Northwest camembert." It is the perfect cheese for any occasion, great on a nice slice of local bread and topped with some ikura from Loki Fish. You'll need some for your holiday festivities!
And here is a perfect local bread for that pairing: kalamata olive bread from Snohomish Bakery. It is all chewy and salty and delicious, and it keeps fairly well, so fear not picking it up today for later in the week. And if you are simply a worrier by nature, then pop it in the freezer today, then pop it in the oven around 300 degrees on Thursday for about 20-30 minutes. It'll be like it just came out of the bakery's oven!
Loki Fish will have just a little bit more fresh Puget Sound Keta salmon today in fillet form before the Puget Sound season closes for 2014. They had one more brief opening on Thursday night, so this is super fresh. If you're just not a turkey eater, or you are looking for something distinctly different for your other meals this week, here you go! But it will sell out early. However, they will have plenty of that aforementioned ikura, freshly cured and ready to pep up that cheese and bread, or your soup or salad.
Why spend the entire day in your kitchen on Thursday? Give yourself a bit of a break and get one of these amazing pumpkin pies from Deborah's Homemade Pies, or apple or pecan. Not only will it lower your stress level, it will likely be better than anything anyone you know can bake! And if you are attending a feast at someone else's house, and you're supposed to bring dessert... here you go! Just grab a pinch of AP flour out of the cupboard before you leave home and dust yourself a bit. Everyone will believe you baked it yourself.
Finally, we'd like to give one last shout out to Adam and House of the Sun Raw & Vegan Foods. Adam is retiring his company as of today's Market, and he is moving to Portland. Stop by, wish him well, and grab yourself one last container of his awesome Green Dragon hummus for old times' sake. Thanks, Adam! We'll miss you!
Don’t forget to check out this week’s midweek blog posts (Tuesday & Thursday) for more information on what you’ll find today at you Ballard Farmers Market. And 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.