Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fiddlehead Ferns, Handmade Lemon Pasta, Baby Shallots, and Cubed Chicken Breasts: Sunday Dinner @ Zzyzx Road Kitchen

Fiddlehead ferns?  I'd never heard of these snail-esque morsels until Lou (my husband) brought them up last week, so we were on a mission at the University District Farmers' Market on Saturday (yesterday).  Surprisingly, only one vendor, Pipitone Farms, had them.  Jerry Pipitone told me that their farm had been strictly organic since 1978, long before organic farming came into fashion in central Washington.  Their farm is organic certified by Tilth Producers and the WA State Department of Agriculture.

I also grabbed a few handfuls of tiny French shallots from his stand, and some fresh lemon and pepper linguini from the stand directly across from his, La Pasta (who appear to have no website, with only a mailing address listed on their packaging - odd in this day and age).  Along with some pastured chicken breasts (cubed and marinated in my own recipe, with herbs from my garden), steaming then sauteeing the fiddlehead ferns in butter and wine, we had an excellent dinner tonight that was chock-full of ingredients that none of us have had.  I made sorbet from some strawberries and raspberries that were on their way out for dessert, and I can whip up some fresh cream.  Maybe when we've had a chance to digest, we'll have something sweet.

I was completely underwhelmed by the fiddlehead ferns.  Lou made such a big deal about them (FYI, he loves ferns in general).  They were better raw than cooked.  The texture of green beans, but just uninteresting.  I made a glaze of red wine, a touch of sugar, garlic, and Herbs de Provence, and dressed them as well as I could, but we all felt the same way about them: shrug.  Well, we tried something new.  And, the chicken, carrots, and pasta were all excellent, and I always have fun when Lou and I are in the kitchen together.

Oh, back at the Market...
We were supposed to go farm-hopping yesterday, but there was a flood warning on the Snohomish River, so the farmers were all busy moving their livestock to higher ground, so that's how we ended up at the Farmers' Market in the U-District.

Still at the market, at Growing Things Farm, I picked up three starter plants: savory, a six-pack of fava beans, and, amusingly, an epazote plant.  It's amusing because none of us had ever heard of epazote before we watched this week's episode of Bitchin' Kitchen, when the Spice Agent described a plant with a light anise scent.  Not being much of an anise fan, the "light" part of the description appealed to me.  Sometimes, you just need to add it, so light and gentle works best for me.  Also, the addition of the Savory plant completes the ingredients needed for making our own Herbs de Provence.

Alex at Growing Things Farm is the next farmer that I'm interviewing, but I'll give him a few days to deal with the flood hazard.  They just built a chicken tunnel that's fascinating, so I'll talk to him about that.  They have the most pampered chickens in the state.

Oddly, I did not find fresh fava bean pods anywhere in the market.  When inquiring, each farmer told me that it would be at least a month, which was too long for my hankering for my Creamy Fava Bean Spread.  One stall had them shelled and dried, but I need fresh.  After getting lemonade for Bev, a mocha for Lou, and iced ginger-mint green tea for me, we left the market with very little booty.  Eh, it's still early in the PNW growing season, but I left the year-round market feeling... underwhelmed.  Considering the U-District parking issues, I doubt we'll head back very often.  We love the West Seattle, Georgetown, and Capital Hill markets far more, and the Columbia City and Renton markets are each ten minutes from our house,  in different directions.  Very convenient.

We planned out the rest of the day on the freeway, on the fly: We hit Central Market in Shoreline, a huge, locally-owned specialty grocery store, to look for fava beans (which I found, although I have no idea where they came from - bad me), and get some LOCAL organic milk and cream. (Warning to anyone who buys Organic Valley dairy products: they come from Wisconsin - they are NOT local, unless you're a Cheesehead).  We didn't get raw milk at the famers' market because we knew that we wouldn't be heading straight home to refrigerate it.  We ended up getting a half dozen heads of garlic, a Gold Nugget mandarine organge, which we'd never seen (was excellent and a zip to peel, red potatoes, milk and cream that came from Lynden, Western Washington's dairy country, about 50 miles north, fresh flour tortillas, made in front of us by the Tortilla Fairies), a few packages of garlic naan for our Indian meal Monday night, and more fleur de sel and saffron rice from the bulk foods section (my favorite spot in the store).

Next stop: Diamond Knot Brewery in Mukilteo.  Great beer, and awesome pizza. Strike that: Fantastic pizza!  It's right at the dock of the Mukilteo-to-Whidbey Island Ferry.  We sat outside at a picnic table and played two of our favorite bar and restaurant games, Zombie Dice and Quiddler, while Bevvie sipped lemonade and Lou and I had a few pints of Possession Porter.  They have fantastic beer, and Mom, Shannon, and I used to eat there all the time when Shan lived on Whidbey Island, before she moved to the other side of the water and got married.  Lou had never been before, but we talked about their pizza and beer all the time, so he had a huge hankering.

Bevvie and I both fell alseep on the way home, which Lou's been pouting about all day, because Bev requested "no music," and he had to drive an hour through traffic alone and tuneless.

Today was mellow.  Mom, Uncle Bill, and Bev went to breakfast, while Lou snored me (and Howie, who is feeling better) out of bed and down to make tea.  I watered the plants, amazed at the speed of my sweet corn and Kentucky pole bean germination project under the new plant light.  It's nearly time to plant this batch already.

Encouraged by this, Mom and I hit McClendon Hardware for some new seeds for mammoth sunflowers (at Bev's request), zucchini (all we have now are a few zucchino plants - small, crunchy, round zucchinis), a mix of colorful heirloom tomatoes (we already have 40 tomato plants), rainbow carrots, and a mixed bag of sweet peppers.  I got a few more of those germination trays - they break apart so easily, and can be carried around on a tray, so with 72 wells in each, I got three.  They cost $1.79, I think.  I also had to get two bags of potting soil.  Mom and I go through it so fast these days.

That's about it.  After dinner, we watched Firefly, like the good little geeks we are, and I think we're going to sit through a Numb3rs rerun when Lou finishes putting away my Operation Game (a gift from friends for my 30th birthday - long and sordid story).  He and Bev were playing while I cooked, until I kicked them out of the kitchen for taking up space.

Oh!  I just remember that I have banana pecan bread in the bread maker!  I made it to send to work/school with the troops tomorrow.  It's not a quick bread, it's a yeast bread, which isn't the norm when it comes to banana bread.

I have to get up with them in the morning, because Bev wants me to give her lime green highlights (it's a temporary spray).  It's fun - she's 11, and she's a smart kid with a good head on her shoulders, so if she asks me for green streaks, I'll give them to her.

I guess that's it for now.

Ess, bench, sei a mensch!


1 comment:

  1. It was a very good weekend. I have better memories of the fiddleheads, but then when I think about it I haf them on Kodiak, Alaska, so they may have been in an entirely different league. The chicken really was great. Getting out and specifically getting to Diamond Knot at last were really, really nice.


Scram, bitch, I'm on a break.

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