Cast and Crew

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Gem of the University District

This is the first in a series of posts about the Puget Sound farmers markets. We visit a few different ones each week depending on what we need, which market has something unique, which day we can scamper off with canvas bags in hand, and where we plan on being that day. You never know which market you'll find us at, but keep your eyes open and say hello if you spot us! To find the farmers market closest to you, or to go on adventures like we do, check out Puget Sound Fresh, Seattle's Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, or Snohomish County Farmers Markets.

The University District Farmers Market is a great chance for people in the city to get to know their growers up close and personal. Located in the parking lot of the University Heights Center for the Community, at the corner of University Way and NE 50th Street, the U District market keeps going year round.The following shots were taken about two weeks ago on a cloudy, very typical Seattle day. That didn't deter the crowds one bit. For anyone concerned about the popularity of farmers markets, look no further!
Tomatoes are finally coming in, so salads don't have to be boring anymore.
Brightly colored swiss chard seems to make everyone smile.
Hothouse cucumbers are likely to jump into your bag before you realize it. They're worth stopping for.
Who doesn't love a towering pyramid of baby carrots? The big carrots won't be in until much later, but these tiny spears of orange brighten up salads and cole slaw with crunch and mild flavor. Have you ever thought about how cheap carrots are in the grocery store? Try growing them at home and you'll quickly see that the effort they require should generate a little more income.
Rainier cherries are everywhere this time of year. Lighter and easier to eat by the dozen, these pacific northwest classics belong in your lunch bag for as long as you can keep them.
While we're not big fans of bing cherries, they sure do add a punch of color you can't ignore.
Tumbling peas and perky broccoli provide plenty of ideas for summer salads, lunches, dinners, and creative quiches. Don't be afraid to try something new. You may just decide you like kohlrabi, celeriac, or rutabagas. If you're wrong, your chickens, compost bin, or worm compsters will help you move on.

Toboton Creek Farm is a great source of boer goat, and their eggs are HUGE!
If you have yet to try goat, stick to something safe and easy. We tried goat bratwurst first, and we fell in love. Four in a pack will set you back $16, but they're absolutely worth every penny. Ask for them early before they sell out.
Berries are everywhere. If you can't make it out to a u-pick farm, be sure to buy them by the half or whole flat at the farmers market. Rinse, slice, add plain yogurt (from a local dairy, of course), sprinkle with granola, and make all your co-workers jealous as you feast after staff meetings. We go through a full flat of berries every week, topped with Grace Harbor Farms' plain yogurt. Our local co-op even stocks some locally produced granolas. Could everyone stop including coconut though? Some of us are allergic.

After watching Aimee drool over those raspberries, I knew they wouldn't last long on the car ride home.
If you haven't started making batches of jams and preserves, the time is ripe! Always be sure to ask local berry farmers if they'll give you a discount for buying lots and lots (like the three half flats we brought home yesterday), or if they have any slightly squished fruit which is still perfect for jam.
We've been blown away by the juices, ciders, wines, and vinegars available from Rockridge Orchards, and you'll be a convert, too. They provide sips of all the juices they sell, and those gorgeous bottles are good for a deposit on your return visit. We're never going back to the soulless vinegars sold in commercial grocery stores now that we've tried their apple cider vinegar.
Have you ordered your heritage turkey for Thanksgiving yet? Jerry and Janelle at Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia are happy to take your order now. We have a turkey reserved (which requires a small deposit and a smidge of reliability), and we're hoping to convince our extended family to go local for our feast this year.
Olsen Farms is a great place to pick up grass-fed meats. They're extremely helpful and willing to talk about their products, so don't be shy!
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Grass-fed meat is pricey stuff. Before you turn up your nose at a $15 per pound top sirloin, think about what goes into the beef you consume. Grass-fed animals are happier, healthier, and their meat is better for you. Not only does grass-fed meat provide you with a great supply of omega 3 fatty acids, it also leaves your full belly with that warm, satisfied feeling of doing something right for cows, farmers, and the environment.

3 comments:

  1. OH. MY. WORD!!! I am SO hungry after reading this post. What a fab market you have. I have never ever seen a tower of carrots like that outside of France. It is nothing like that at my market. Might explain my lack of attendance, in addition to the fact that it's a 40 minute drive and so insanely busy I usually can't see what's available anyway. Thankfully I do get some yummies from my own garden, but wow, you are spoiled rotten! Lucky you!

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  2. Very cool! I love our local farmers market.

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  3. That is an awesome Farmers Market!!!

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