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Stinging Nettles

Category : About Food Sources, April, March, Wildcrafting

Photo of Stinging NettlesFor many people, stinging nettles (Urtica dioica and the closely related Urtica urens) conjure up images of nasty burning sensations caused by brushing against the nearly invisible spines on the leaves of an otherwise lovely green plant. Nettles grow wild in damp, shady woods, and can reach several feet high.

Nettles’ sting comes from sharp silicate-bearing, hair-like structures on the leaves that actually shoot irritating substances into your skin like a hypodermic needle. Unlike plants which cause reactions for only some people, nettle stings affect virtually everyone who touches them.

So why not just avoid nettles altogether? Continue Reading

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Fried Cabbage With Noodles

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Category : About Food Sources, April, Bellingham, Farmers' Markets, Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Fried Cabbage and NoodlesMost of the ingredients in this dish, except the butter, were items purchased at the Bellingham Farmers Market from Whatcom County farm vendors on opening day (April 7, 2012). Even this early in the spring, local farmers have an amazing array of vegetables and other foods from which to choose. Continue Reading

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Bellingham Farmers Market Opening Day

Category : About Food Sources, April, Bellingham, Farmers' Markets, Where to Buy Local Food

Farmers Market - Alm Hill GardensAs I walked toward the Bellingham Farmers Market last Saturday on opening day, the background music started to swell. Was this the climactic scene in my own in-my-head local foods movie? It felt like it, but then I caught sight of the band playing gypsy music and snapped back to reality. The music was real, lively, and fun, and a big circle of people had gathered in the middle of Railroad St. to listen. One wiggly, loose-limbed fellow was displaying his dance moves, and kids were watching with rapt (and painted) faces. Besides that, the sun was out! The Market was definitely off to a running start! Continue Reading

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Blueberry Refrigerator Jam

Category : April, Condiments, Recipes

Blueberry Refrigerator JamThis month (April 2012), the Whatcom Farm to School program’s featured ingredient is frozen blueberries. That means participating school districts in Whatcom County will be serving at least one meal highlighting frozen blueberries. Some will also be offering students some classroom time to learn about blueberries, how they are grown, etc.

This came at a perfect time for me. When the Bellingham Farmers Market opens for the season, I know it’s time to start cleaning out fruit and vegetables from my freezer and pantry jars. I had some blueberries left from last year, so decided to make refrigerator jam with them. Continue Reading

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2011 Farmers Market Opens!

Category : About Food Sources, April, Bellingham, Farmers' Markets, Menu Ideas

Rabbit Field Farms - Who Grows Your Food?Bellingham’s Saturday Farmers Market opened last Saturday (April 2)! The weather was daunting, but we here in Whatcom County rarely let that stop us, so there was an enthusiastic crowd. I arrived early in the afternoon, and most farmers I talked with had been doing a brisk business all day. Continue Reading

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Pasta and Cucumber Salad Menu

Category : April, Menu Ideas

Photo of Pasta and Cucumber Salad MenuHot new finds in the local foods department this week were beautiful fresh English cucumbers and fresh pasta made in Bellingham. I found both in Terra Organica at the Public Market on the corner of Flora and Cornwall in Bellingham.

The English cucumbers were so green and beautiful that I asked the produce person to make sure that these were in fact locally grown. She smiled and said indeed they were, grown in the greenhouse of Dominion Organics in Ferndale. She also pointed out that the individual wrappers around the cucumbers were biodegradable. Continue Reading

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Green Garlic Menu

Category : April, Menu Ideas

Photo of Green Garlic MenuI was really excited this week to find some local green garlic in Terra Organica (Flora & Cornwall, Bellingham). Green garlic (also called “garlic greens,” “spring garlic,” or “baby garlic”)  is a good example of a food item you don’t often see in grocery stores except when it’s locally produced.

Garlic is usually planted in the fall for harvest midsummer of the following year when the tops begin to turn brown and dry up. That’s a signal that the plant is sending all its energy into growing the bulb just below the ground. However, in early spring, before the garlic begins to form a bulb, it grows a stalk and leaves that look much like scallions, or green onions. If harvested then, it’s called green garlic. Continue Reading

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Sure Sign of Spring

Category : April, Menu Ideas, Vegetarian

Photo of Sure Sign of SpringHow can a locavore tell when it’s spring? The most sure sign is when the first batch of asparagus in the garden is tall enough to harvest. There is nothing that stimulates the appetite like the crispy snap of an early spring asparagus stalk when you pick it.

It takes several years for asparagus plants to grow large enough to produce edible stalks. Stalks start to appear as soon as the soil warms a little, but it takes several warmish days to grow enough for a meal. My friend Nancy has a well established asparagus patch, and I was delighted she was willing to share some of it with me this week. Continue Reading

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Light and Hearty Menu

Category : April, Menu Ideas, Vegetarian

Photo of Light and Hearty MenuHow can a menu be both light and hearty? When it includes a fluffy cheese soufflé!

I had hoped to have some fresh asparagus this week, but the weather was cold and the asparagus decided to wait a little longer. Instead, I decided to try to adapt a classic cheese soufflé recipe to see if I could make a locavore version.

Soufflés get a bad rap sometimes for being a difficult dish to prepare. In my experience it’s exactly the opposite. Soufflés can make a quick, easy and fun meal. There’s always a bit of drama when you take it out of the oven to see if it “poofed” over the top of the dish as it’s supposed to, but the reality is it tastes good no matter what. Continue Reading

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