Trying New Local Ingredients
As we begin to approach the peak harvest season in Whatcom County, I enjoy going to the Farmers Market to look for different or unusual varieties of vegetables I haven’t tried before. Instead of sticking to a shopping list, sometimes I like to let the vegetables themselves inspire my menus.
Zucchini is a familiar ingredient, of course, but this week Hillcrest Farm (Lummi Island) had a variety that was new to me. “Eight Ball” zucchini is almost perfectly round, and each was about the size of a grapefruit. They practically begged to be roasted and stuffed.
After shopping at the Market (and checking out the non-food booths, too), I stopped by the Islander grocery next door and was delighted to see they were selling Boxx Berry Farm (Ferndale) corn on the cob. I’m ecstatic when the first fresh local corn becomes available. My grandparents were Indiana corn and dairy farmers. I have happy memories of my grandmother sending us kids climbing through the wire fence to harvest some fresh ears from the field for dinner. (U-picking fruits and vegetables as a family can provide kids with memorable food experiences, too, if you aren’t related to farmers.)
To round out the meal, I used another new find provided this week by my friend Nancy at Gude Erth Farm (Lummi Island). She gave me some delectable “Methley” plums, a Japanese variety she grows. They were so perfectly sweet and delectable that we ate them just as they were for dessert. I’m talking about juice-running-down-your-chin good! Cooking them or mixing them with other ingredients would have been a taste travesty for which I was not willing to be held responsible. If you’d like to grow your own, you can get a Methley plum tree at Cloud Mountain Farm’s nursery store (6906 Goodwin Rd., Everson–call 360 966-5859 for availability).
Now is also time to start setting aside winter locavore ingredients. Some Whatcom-grown vegetables are available nearly year round–potatoes, onions, kale, and a few others. However, to have some options during the cold months, it’s a good idea to take advantage of lower peak season prices and stock up on foods to can, freeze, dry, ferment, smoke, or otherwise preserve for later use. I’m starting to make lists of what I want and collect preserving ideas and recipes. I just found a recipe for mint jelly, for example, which uses only apples, fresh mint leaves, and honey–all of which are produced in abundance here in Whatcom County. Even the pectin (a common jelly ingredient) comes from the apples themselves. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
Here’s this week’s menu:
- Stuffed Zucchini (Eight Ball variety)
- Steamed corn on the cob (from Boxx Berry Farm via the Islander grocery store)
- Fresh ripe plums (Methley variety)
A small summer feast! I savored every bite!