so we can eat: family dinner no. 1

Our two families, along with our parents, are living within five miles of each other for the first time in years. Recognizing how fortunate we are to be this close, how fleeting time is, and quickly things can change, we are making a concerted effort to purposefully spend more time together and create new traditions.

First on the list is a monthly family dinner, or as Wren calls it, our “Hunt & Gather” dinner. The day before the dinner, we see what looks good in the meat case at one of our favorite local grocer-butcher’s, Tacoma Boys, and then plan the rest of the meal around it using seasonal fruits and vegetables available there, or from other local grocers or farmers markets. In addition, we all usually end up bringing bunches of freshly picked herbs and various greens from our own or friends’ gardens.

Here is the menu for our first official family dinner, we adapted the oven-roasted clams and the salad from Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen:

Chardonnay

Oven-Roasted Manila Clams With Crimini Mushrooms, Bacon & Tomatoes

Spinach, Pear & Wild Arugula Salad With Smoked Bacon & Curried Cashews

Coffee

Creamy Stuffed Strawberries With Fresh Mint Syrup

so we can eat: alvarez farms & eric’s tomatillo salsa

Tiptoeing through the puddles to the end of November, we have reached the final posting of our “so we can eat” series for the 2012 season, saving our hottest find for this chilly month.

Family-run Alvarez Organic Farms is a welcome year-round presence at the farmers markets. A heavy hitter in the business for at least 20 years, their hard work, dedication and family support makes their delicious produce that much more desirable to their die-hard fans (like us!).

Some of our favorites this year were the feisty-colored Green Zebra tomatoes, and the beautiful array of eggplants, tomatillos and neon-hued hot peppers including Habanero, Jalapeno and Ghost Peppers. Walla Walla onions, garlic and peanuts (yes, peanuts!), are also special items that can be found at their stand at market.

A few weeks ago, we happened upon the last of their tomatillo harvest at Proctor Farmers Market. We were able to find all the ingredients we needed to make our family’s full-bodied tomatillo salsa. Simple and fresh, the following recipe is just right for topping a variety of dishes – from chicken burritos to fried eggs to a simple bowl of rice.

Eric’s Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

  • 4 Habanero peppers, seeded
  • 4 Serrano peppers, seeded
  • 8 Jalapeno peppers, whole
  • 6 Ancho peppers, whole
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 20 tomatillos, whole
  • 4 med Walla Walla onions, caramelized

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 425F. Dry roast all the peppers on a hot skillet, then let them cool slightly. Meanwhile, roast the garlic cloves and tomatillos in the oven at 425F. Blend the dry roasted peppers, oven-roasted garlic, tomatillos and caramelized onions together in a food processor until salsa reaches the desired balance between smooth and chunky.

Keeps fresh in the fridge up to 1 month. Store in an airtight container.

Who were your favorite producers and vendors this year? Would you like to see the “so we can eat” series return for the 2013 season? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy Noshing! -wild wren

so we can eat: seed jewelry by semilla designs

When indulging in pretty (non-edible) things in the Pacific Northwest, the unique and stylish jewelry crafted from seeds procured from South America by Carolina and Zena of  Semilla Designs are a fave treat of ours.

First loved from a distance through online shopping from the East Coast, now we have the convenience and hands-on browsing that one can only find at a neighborhood farmers market.

Even though Semilla Designs couldn’t finish out the market season to the final closing week, it is clear they do put their heart, soul and talented fingers into making our favorite color-saturated natural baubles.

Until next season, Broadway!–Wild Wren

so we can eat: zestful gardens

Dropping in at Tacoma’s Broadway Farmers Market has become a regular part of our monthly routine.

During our latest visit, the Zestful Gardens booth caught our eye, overflowing with bok choi, Napa cabbage, daikon radish, piles of heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers of all sorts, sweet corn, onions, carrots, and leeks, all stunningly arranged by Valerie, part of the mother and daughter team that farm their 35-acre property in the Puyallup Valley. After circling for a few minutes dazed by the beauty of the display, we loaded up a big bag of produce for stir fry dinners and a hearty pot of soup then headed over to the food court to share a spicy chicken tamal from Taste of Peru.

Though the weather is cooling down in the Pacific Northwest, we are in the thick of harvest season. This particular market ends in three weeks and there is so much more to sink our teeth into including pears, pluots, nectarines, peaches, apples, raspberries, blueberries, the ever present mini donuts, and freshly made ice cream, not to mention soap and jewelry vendors to visit. We will stop by again.