Winter Farmers Market
After Thanksgiving, my supplies of local foods were depleted, so we made a family outing to the Bellingham Farmers Market last Saturday. The sun was out, the air was crisp, and we planned to make a quick trip of it.
Most of the north end of the market was vacant, since a lot of the summer produce stands and fast food stalls have shut down for the year. Most of the remaining vendors were under the shelter at the south end. However, there were still plenty of exciting local foods still available.
For example, Hopewell Farm (Everson) had a beautiful selection of potatoes, onions, beets, shallots, carrots, and other root vegetables displayed attractively in baskets. It was a delight to see their fresh, bright colors in the sunshine.
A little farther down was Alm Hill Gardens (Everson), where I picked up some fancy yellow carrots and crispy mixed braising greens. They also had some of the most photogenic squash varieties I’ve ever seen–perfect!
Just under the shelter, Rabbit Fields Farm (Everson) had some bags of brussels sprouts that lured us in their direction. Winter brussels sprouts–what a treat! A freeze sometimes sweetens them up on the stalk. Around the corner of their table they also had sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and some fresh sage leaves that I couldn’t resist.
Across the aisle, Osprey Hill Farm (Acme) had fresh frozen ducks, certified naturally grown. They also raise turkeys and chickens, but they were sold out of everything except the ducks. They looked delicious!
Grace Harbor Farms (Custer) had their yogurt, cheeses, and other goat and cow dairy products available for sale. They also make some wonderful skin care products from their natural, healthy ingredients. Today’s recipe uses some yogurt cheese made from Grace Harbor’s yogurt–simple to make and a good locavore substitute for cream cheese or sour cream. (See whatcomlocavore.com for instructions.)
A sign about natural pork drew us to the Nooksack Nine (Everson) stall like a magnet. I was excited to find all kinds of homegrown pork cuts, including ham and bacon, available from their farm at reasonable prices. They were running low on some cuts, but had an abundance of pork chops and stir fry strips (featured in this week’s recipe below).
Even more exciting, Nooksack Nine also had some bags of grains available–wheat, triticale*, and more. Farmers Joshua Craft and Michelle Zehr explained they had planted 8 acres of grains this year as a trial, testing four grain varieties. Despite the unusually damp and cold season this year, they were able to get a good dry crop, so they intend to plant more acres next year. Woohoo! Commercial grain grown in Whatcom County!
On that high point, we started to head home, but encountered one more delightful adventure. Jules the Juggler was just starting his busking show in the courtyard. Jules turned out to be quite a showman, and soon had a crowd shouting and laughing, including my one-year-old grandson who thought Jules was hysterically funny.
It was a perfect day at the Market!
December 18 will be the last Saturday market this year (2010)–bundle up and don’t miss this final opportunity until they reopen next April.
* Triticale is pronounced “trit-uh-KAY-lee” (and yes, I had to look it up). It’s a hybrid cross of wheat and rye.
Here’s the menu for a meal I made the following day:
- Spicy Pork Stir Fry
- Steamed Brussels Sprouts (remove outer leaves, cut an X across the stem end, and steam 10-15 minutes)