Wednesday, July 31st: Melons, Tomatoes, Peaches, Eggplant & Other Racy Crops!

Chef Brad Inserra of Swingside Cafe at his Wallingford Farmers Market cooking demo in 2009. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons. Wow. July 31st. On the one hand, I am thinking it is already the end of July, and where has the time gone. On the other hand, I am blown away by all of the amazing produce already in the Market for weeks that we usually do not see until August. Seriously, what an extraordinary year this is, and I hope you are enjoying it to its fullest, which means first and foremost, enjoying the historic bounty from our local farmers -- earlier and more plentiful than even! You know, the last time we got a visit from Chef Brad Inserra of Swingside Cafe doing a cooking demonstration, it was 2009. You remember the last week of July 2009, right? The hottest week ever recorded in Seattle. Well, this week, we are actually getting a little break from this summer's heat, so stop by at 4 p.m. today, and learn from one of of Seattle's original locavore chefs. Brad was cooking with great local ingredients at his Swingside Cafe on Fremont Avenue when many of Seattle's hot, young chefs were still in diapers. Come learn from a local master how to make incredible deliciousness from amazing local produce today!

Cantaloupes & Yellow Doll watermelons from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lyall Farms has some of the first melons of the season today! They just started harvesting these cantaloupes and Yellow Doll watermelons last week. And yet again, their arrival is the earliest we’ve ever recorded. So dive in, folks! This summer is awesome, and who knows when we’ll get the next one like it.

Heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One Leaf Farm has been teasing us for the last couple of weeks with their first heirloom tomatoes of the season, and the early birds got them. Well, now, the teasing is over, and we all are in the tomatoes! This is the scene from their tables this past Wednesday. Oh, yeah, baby!

Carrots greens pesto potato salad from Knife For Hire Picnic Foods. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Even if you did get a chance to meet Chef Clara Moore and her Knife For Hire Picnic Foods last week at your Wallingford Farmers Market, you may not have gotten to meet this carrot greens pesto potato salad, made with Olsen Farms potatoes and carrot greens from Gaia's Harmony Farm. That's because it sold out really fast! Now, I can't guarantee that you'll get any today, either, cuz Clara is creating fresh, new menus every week using produce she is getting directly from the farmers at your Wallingford Farmers Market, so her menu will change with the season and her delicious whims. And a shout out to the Wallingford Senior Center for letting Clara use their commercial kitchen in the Good Shepherd Center. See, this really is local food! The only component missing is you. So when you plan your picnic in the park today, plan to get all of your food and beverage right here at the Market, and you will complete the full circle... and have a happy belly, too.

Donut peaches from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah. My favorites peaches. These are donut peaches from Collins Family Orchards. I remember when I first encountered these back in 1999. They were just then beginning to be grown significantly by orchardists here in Washington, and as such, they began making their first appearances in local farmers markets. I came across them when I was visiting the Yakima Farmers Market for the first time — it opened that year. I stayed at a B&B just up Highway 12 in Naches, and that B&B was surrounded by orchards, one of which was full of these funny looking fruits. My hosts offered me one, and I fell instantly in love. They are sweet, juicy, have a tiny, easily removed stone, and are nice and small, so I found them easier to eat, and a lot less messy. And they are delicious. My hosts sent me home with an entire box of them! If you haven’t tried them yet, today’s a great day for them. They are excellent picnic food, and they are great for hikes, too!

Japanese eggplant from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alvarez Organic Farms says they will have Japanese eggplant this week, and we are not quite sure if that means today or not. But let's hope so. You know, it's kinda funny, but some folks have been thinking that eggplant is late in arriving this year. In reality, it is right on schedule, and just everything else is early, making its arrival appear late by comparison. Go figure. I love grilling these beauties. I slice them down the middle and salt them about half an hour before I grill them to pull some of the bitterness out. And make sure to coat them well with olive oil. Mmm.

Carrots from City Grown Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One crop that was conspicuously late in a season of early crops is carrots, but they are here in abundance now! Just look at these gorgeous purple and orange carrots from City Grown Farm. They are grown here in Wallingford, or in Ballard, meaning they travel a maximum of four miles to get to you here at your Wallingford Farmers Market! You can't get fresher or more local than that.

Dill pickles from Purdy Pickle. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Look, kids! It is a fresh batch of whole dill pickles from Purdy Pickle! Woohoo! And lucky for them… and us… pickling cucumber season started waaay early this summer, which means so too does pickle season. Grab a jar and get your pickle on today!

Pickling dill from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Or, you could make your own dill pickles. Several farms have pickling cucumbers right now. And you'll need some of this dill is from Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington). I’ve been using it for years to do my pickling. The flowers are full of aromatic flavor to impart into your favorite vegetables. Yummers!

Pork-apple Breakfast links and bulk sweet Italian sausage from Sky Valley Family Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You know Sky Valley Family Farm for its great chicken and duck eggs, but did you know they raise pigs, too? And from those pigs, they make this great sausage. On the left is pork-apple breakfast sausage, perfect for pairing with some of those eggs, eh? On the right is bulk sweet Italian sausage, ready for you to make any number of delicious dishes. They have several other sausage varieties as well, and cuts of pork and bacon, too!

Focaccia rolls from Grateful Bread Baking. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for a quick snack at the Market, or for something to compliment your picnic? Grateful Bread Bakey has you covered. Check out these focaccia rolls loaded with fresh vegetabliciousness. Great on the go, or as a picnic addition. And they've got great breadscookies and bagels, too!

Your Knife Sharpening Guy, Andrew. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Your Knife Sharpening Guy has gotten seriously dialed in now, and he wants to show you. So he will sharpen any one knife of yours that is 6" or less now for just $1. So bring a knife to Market with you today, and see just how sharp and renewed it can be for just a buck. If you're psyched, bring the rest of your knifes next week! And remember, dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. They slip, bounce off food, and when they do cut you, the cut isn't so clean. Sharp knives save lives!

Of course, this is just a highlighting of what you will find today. There is still plenty of other stuff just waiting for you at your Wallingford Farmers Market this week. For a full accounting of what you will find, check out What’s Fresh Now!

Please remember to bring your own bags today, and every Wednesday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Wallingford Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.