Cast and Crew

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bellingham Farmers Market

Welcome to the Bellingham Farmers Market! I've been looking forward to visiting this bustling market for a while, and we finally went a couple of weekends ago. It was insanely hot out, but there were plenty of shady stalls and frosty beverages to keep us going on a sunny Saturday.

Bellingham actually has two markets during the week. One is on Wednesday afternoons in Fairhaven, and the other is the main market on Saturdays in the Depot Market Square.

It's finally tomato season! We're still waiting to stock up on tomatoes for sauce, but the big slicers are ready for sandwiches. My coworkers are always jealous of the fresh things I bring for lunch, and ripe tomatoes make it easy to pass up fast food and unhealthy items near the office.

Ah, the bounty of summer.

One of these grilled up nicely for dinner the other night. Slice up a fresh onion and some sweet pepper, skewer them, then place them on a hot grill next to bratwurst or sausages. Yum!

Did someone say onion?

I always wait until September, but the corn is in! Hopewell Farm is one of the many small farms that produces fruits and veggies for farmers markets and co-ops in Whatcom County.

Birchwood Botanicals sells lots of starts for your garden. It may be summertime, but it's not too late to plan for fall. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, growing plants year round is pretty easy.

I have yet to taste the beets we pickled from our own garden, but I do so love the sight of brightly colored vegetables.

Daikon radishes are a Japanese favorite.

I am a mushroom lover. How could I pass up such lovely oyster mushrooms?

From baskets of fresh mushrooms to plug spawn and sawdust, Cascadia Mushrooms has what you need. Not sure what to do with the basket I picked out, Alex, the fungi himself, gave me several recipe ideas. Maybe I'll go back and get a kit to grow my own!

I am a sucker for tea.

But soap never tastes quite as good...

Pasta for dinner? Try fresh! Check out all the varieties the Bellingham Pasta Company has to offer! Just boil for three minutes and add a sauce made with fresh tomatoes.

I bought a pound of spinach fettuccinne, and I think I fell in love.

Bellingham may be pretty far north, but it's worth the trip to visit this fantastic farmers market. Bring the family along and make a day of it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Brekky To Remember

Have you ever had a breakfast that stuck with you until dinner? If not, the kind folks at Farm Kitchen can help you out. We took some friends there a few weekends ago.

What's for breakfast?

Seriously? Thick. Cut. Bacon. I had been dreaming about that all week long. It was well worth the wait. The five of us did not hesitate to order nearly everything on the menu. This place serves food in an a la cart style. Menus get passed around while you stand in (the long) line to get in, you tell the nice lady what you want, she rings you up, you sit and wait for the feast to begin.

We're so hungry we're all looking at pictures of thick cut bacon on iPhones.

And then you get inside and they tempt you with more baked goodies! Honestly, resistance was futile.

After breakfast, the misty farm grounds beckoned. We went for a stroll through the garden.

Farm Kitchen mostly does catering and events, but once a month they open their doors for a Saturday breakfast. Ordering is simple; there's really only one thing on the menu. Come hungry. The portions are generous, and the food is divine.

After you're done, smell the lavender, take pictures of the baby lettuce and spinach plants, and wander down to find the horses.

The acreage Farm Kitchen sits on is leased to a local farmer, and everything they serve is locally sourced or made by hand in their own kitchen.

The next Saturday Breakfast will be on September 4th. The menu is as follows...

Fresh Basil & Tomato Egg Scramble, Roasted Potatoes & Bakers Choice Pastry

Pastries of the Day
Yummy Orange Rolls
Marionberry Kuchen
Hollis's Original 8-Grain Pullaparts
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Cookies
Banana Walnut Bread

It's difficult to drive back to the city after seeing something so beautiful as Farm Kitchen. If you're out on the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas anytime soon, look them up. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Walkies at Work

What exactly does a city farmer do when she can't farm? I'm sure you've all wondered this from time to time, but it's clear that our little urban acreage can't be sustained without the day job. When I'm away from the chickens and the veggies, I spend my time in a fancy office building in downtown Seattle. I won't bore you with the details (plus we currently have a policy against blogging about work), but the highlights of my day are fair game!

Do you get to ride a train or bus to your destinations? Five days a week I roll down the hill to the Everett Station to catch the Sounder train into town. The route follows the coastline of Puget Sound, one of the largest etuaries in North America. Mornings are a great time to spot wildlife. Common sights are great blue herons, bald eagles, and frolicking harbor seals. From my cozy seat by the window, I can watch the clouds drift over the Olympic mountain range, ferries trekking between islands and peninsulas, and the occasional nude body on the beach... The ride home isn't nearly as entertaining, but it's a great time to study, read, or nap. And, as far as carbon footprints go, trains give you the most bang for your diesel buck.

(If you squint, you can see a bald eagle flying in the left side of this photo.)

(Yes indeed. Shipwrecks. There are at least five wrecked ships all in this one little area. Private property. No trespassing.)

Once I'm at work, I look for any excuse to get up and away from my desk. Morning and afternoon walkies are just the thing!

I head down to the waterfront first. This is one of the great perks of working in Seattle. Ferries from Coleman Dock depart to Vashon Island, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, and Victoria, BC. This place is busy all day long.

The viaduct, a massive structure of concrete built on (you guessed it) sand, is on its last legs. It'll soon be torn down to make way for a chunnel *under* the waterfront. Highway 99 carries heavy loads of commuting traffic, so this city will be thrown into chaos once the final stage of demolition and construction begins. Until then, this famous icon of Seattle provides one of the best views of the downtown waterfront that you can get at 50 mph.

Behind and underneath the viaduct is the edge of Pioneer Square, one of Seattle's oldest neighborhoods. Brick and ivy are tangled as far as the eye can see. This is a great place to find a pint of beer, shop for retro toys, get a tattoo, see the Underground Tour, or buy a Utilikilt. I love old architecture.

Occidental Park is paved in a latticework of old and new brick, and it sports totem poles and other art throughout the year. In the summer, there are lunchtime concerts here and elsewhere in the city. Art shops abound, as do coffee shops. Could it be Seattle without?

Working under flourescent lights is a tough job, but escaping for a few minutes helps me relax and focus on the things that really matter: fresh air, a little exercise, and city views that make me smile to call this place a part of my home.

Do you go for walkies when you're at work?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dust Bathing to Beat the Heat

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We really do have some hot chicks. Temps have been in the eighties for quite a few days in a row, the AC is on in the bedroom, the dogs are panting, and the chickens are open-beak breathing. Summer has finally arrived. It's time for a cool bath!

Chickens love to dust themselves. If you raise hens, you know exactly what I mean. Our neighbor across the street worried that his three girls didn't have a dusty spot to use, but I warned him that they would make their own if he let them out.

Just look what ours have done! Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a row of cedar trees in this spot. We cut them down about two years ago, and, while we were taking care of the douglas fir in the front yard, we had the stump grinder guy remove the cedar stumps in the backyard, too.

The girls are delighted. The dry, crumbly earth is easy to scratch, fun to peck at, and it makes the BEST dirt bath EVER. The other chickens took off when I came outside with the camera, but Raquel has no shame. She continued to kick up the dirt and made quite a show of herself.

Shake your groove thing, Raquel!

Chickens don't have sweat glands like mammals do. Even dogs and cats can sweat through their paws. When the temperatures climb, chickens breathe through their beaks (a sign of heat stress), frolic in the shade, and take dust baths to cool off.

Doesn't she look refreshed? Dust baths also help keep the bugs away. They're fun to eat, but not so much fun to wear. Dust is a natural flea and mite repellant.

One final fluff to get the dirt out...

The hollows left behind demonstrate just how much fun our girls have in the dirt. And, like our neighbor quickly learned, if you don't give them a dusting spot, they'll make their own.


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