I’ve written about fun things we’ve cooked with fenugreek leaves before, but always using dried, which is all we’d been able to find at our usual haunts. On a recent foray to the Lynnwood H-Mart for kimchi supplies, while hunting through the vast produce area for scallions and ginger, Jon spied pre-packaged bunches of fresh fenugreek. We bought a pack (only 99 cents!), immediately searched through our cookbooks to find an appropriate recipe, and the following evening we made a curry of cubed lamb simmered with warm spices and the fresh fenugreek, served with rice and fried red onion slices. It was SO GOOD.
The lamb, simmering in its gravy, was one of the best-smelling things we’ve ever had in our kitchen, and that’s saying something. Fenugreek is one of those things that makes curry taste like curry, and the overall effect was of wonderful savoriness. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I went to visit some pigs out at Well Fed Farms. They were happy, handsome pigs, rooting up grasses on the fertile Skagit flats and being fed with apple pressings.
A couple of weeks later we got the call from Silvana Meats, and we picked up half a pig’s worth of fresh pork, neatly packed for the freezer. The smoked meats will be ready later (we’re very excited about bacon).
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Back in October I went out to interview the Jensen family at Golden Glen Creamery for the Nov/Dec issue of Grow Northwest magazine. You can read the original article here, but I thought it would be fun to post some of the other photos I took.
The Jensens don’t actually own the creamery any more, but the family is still very much involved in running the place. All the folks I talked to were exceedingly proud of their milk, the quality of their cheese, and their rather snazzy cheese room. When Vic opened the door and let me peek in, a vast waft of garlic hit me in the face from the fresh wheels of dill-garlic cheese resting on the racks. If you’ve ever had that stuff as fresh cheese curds, you may agree with me that it’s one of the more addictive dairy products out there. I also got a glimpse of the aging room, which happened to be a trailer parked behind the farm store.
I did not get to meet any cows. I was informed that they were off being milked (something they spend quite a bit of their day at). No cheese samples, either. But I got to have a large dog lean against my legs while I took notes, and the view from the farm was nice.
I used my trip out to the dairy as an excuse to drive around on the Skagit flats at dawn and take pictures of the autumn fields in the morning mist.
(There are, by the way, calendars of my photographs for sale over at Qoop. Just thought I’d mention it.)
We recently indulged ourselves in a Big City hunting and gathering trip, stocking up on supplies not commonly found in our neck of the woods. Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry from the Spanish Table, Sichuan preserved vegetable from Ping’s (finally identified by learning the Chinese words for it, cha choy), gochujang, curry leaves, Indian bitter melon, sea beans (also called samphire or glasswort) and noodles from Uwajimaya, and Toulouse sausage from the Paris Grocery. The bitter melon molded within a day and had to be composted (darn it), so the night which had been slated for curry suddenly had to be re-planned.
The main dish I came up with was simple – farfalle pasta tossed with garlic, chile, white beans and the sausage, which I seared in a skillet and cut into rounds. For the sea beans I took a flavor concept from the Zuni Cookbook, sauteeing them in butter and finishing them with a splash of sherry vinegar. Sea beans are so salty no other seasoning was needed, and the vinegar was a perfect complement. I think this was my favorite way of eating sea beans so far.
We went to the farmer’s market last Saturday without much of a shopping list. We started out with a plate of Swedish pancakes and sausage, then began picking up a few vegetables – some leeks here, a bunch of carrots there. Then we were undone by Frog’s Song Farm and their offer of a large box stuffed full for $20. We went a tad overboard. On the plus side, we now have winter squash, potatoes and onions to last us quite some time, assuming we remember to use them.
Whenever this sort of thing happens, I have to make a list of all the perishable items we have on hand so I won’t forget about them. And we put together a meal plan for the week that will use as much as possible. So far we’ve eaten the bok choi, the cauliflower, some of the braising greens, one onion, and part of the cilantro. Tonight I’ll melt the leeks for a quiche, and make a Caesar salad. Tomorrow will be a soup to use up the braising greens and some carrots and celery. The squash and beets will keep, so we’ll get to them later.
There’s only one market weekend left, so hopefully we won’t have this problem again for a while. If you’d like to share our difficulties, Frog’s Song should be doing the box deal again next Saturday. Knock yourself out!
This week has been crazy busy, but we did make time to get down to opening day of our local farmer’s market. It was a classic Pacific Northwest Memorial Day weekend, which is to say it rained every. single. day.
Fortunately there were plenty of vendors and customers, and the hardy Prozac Mountain Boys managed to keep the music playing without floating away.
We bought leeks, fingerling potatoes, asparagus, hothouse peppers, and butter, which seemed like a pretty good haul for the season (thank goodness for Hedlin Farms’ greenhouses). Then we checked out Gothberg Farms’ stand. A local goat dairy, they’re newcomers to the Mount Vernon market, and we’re really excited to have them here. I expect we’ll be eating a lot of their cheese in the months to come, but for now we limited ourselves to a tub of fresh ricotta and a block of Queso Blanco.
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Since our local farmer’s market doesn’t start for another month, we drove up to Bellingham last week to see how their market was doing. Man! I have serious market envy. Not that I don’t love ours, of course, but wow.
Covering a large parking lot as well as filling the big permanent covered area the city built, the market is thriving, not just with local fresh vegetables and crafts, but food carts, plants, bread, meat, clothing and henna tattoo artists. Instead of a main stage, they have the old-fashioned approach of letting acoustic musicians set up in the intersections. A hula-hoop area is set up on one side for the amusement of limber youth, and the goat-with-a-cart sculpture on the corner is constantly beset by children. People are everywhere, shopping and visiting and hula-hooping and eating.
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One day is hardly enough time to spend in San Francisco, but it’s better than nothing.
I particularly wanted to visit the famed Ferry Plaza farmer’s market on this trip, after reading other people’s accounts. My main destination was Rancho Gordo, Steve Sando’s heirloom bean company I’ve heard so much about. I have eaten their beans once, actually – Steve donated beans to Duckfest for our cassoulet, and they were, indeed, wonderful. I’ve been considering ordering some, but I hate paying for shipping, so this was a golden opportunity.
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Last weekend we were delighted to have the chance to visit Martiny Suffolks, the farm from whence comes the lamb we’ve been eating all summer. As part of the Skagit Festival of Family Farms, many small farms up and down the valley opened to the public for the day, including great places like Taylor Shellfish, Golden Glen Creamery, and Gordon Skagit Farm (to see the festivities at Gordon’s, check out this post at Willow Basketmaker). There were all sorts of activities, but we were there for the free samples and to give a few sheep noses some scritches.
We probably would never have ended up as customers if Linda Martiny (who owns the farm along with Mike Donnelly) hadn’t decided to try running a booth at the Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market this year. We saw the sign for local lamb on the first day and made a beeline, immediately buying a selection of chops and ground meat. We ended up buying half a lamb, and I suspect it will only be the first of many.
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Just a reminder to anyone in the general neighborhood: this weekend is the Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms, when many of the local small farms open their gates to visitors and feature tours, activities and goodies for the general public. If you want to visit a working farm or see where your food is coming from, now’s your chance. There will be hayrides and corn mazes and all kinds of fun stuff. Make a day of it!
The list of participating farms can be found here.