Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale. Each week during market season, we'll run a poem from a local poet who's found inspiration in the region's bounty. And should you find yourself feeling similarly inspired after reading their odes to romaine lettuce, nectarines, pea vines and gooseberries, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with recipes featuring each of the edible muses.
Ann Spiers, Vashon Island's poet laureate, spend plenty of time outdoors. The program chair of Vashon Audubon, Spiers is an accomplished hiker and co-author of Hikes, Walks, and Parks of Vashon Island. She sees a fair amount of green.
Yet it's greens to which Spiers is often drawn when shopping the farmers market. Here, she writes about the difficulties of resisting fresh greens that are just a splash of oil and vinegar short of becoming a salad. Or perhaps a shopper might braise them, according to the recipe provides by the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance. You'll find it on the last page of the post. For more greens ideas, check out the Glorious Greens festival at Lake City Farmers Market on June 28, and Phinney Farmers Market on July 6.
Finally, a quick side note for Seattle eaters: Spiers' son, Wiley Frank, runs the Thai take-out window Little Uncle with his wife, PK. Before the kitchen had a permanent home in Capitol Hill, it was a fixture at the Columbia City Farmers Market.
The field greens,
encased in plastic, vacuum packed,
each leaf pre-washed, debugged,
cost me six dollars,
price of two lattes, skinny, extra hot.
Why am I buying this?
I own an acre, and rain falls on me too.
My push mower cuts through
sun-dappled green, its dandelions,
free salad, each leaf worth ten cents.
My ditch is full of water,
still running with winter flow.
Tat soi and watercress
emerge like a thousand bitter angels.
From the wood's confused edge:
sorrel, miners' lettuce, lambs quarters.
Everywhere, mint bullies wild mustard;
oregano self seeds among mystery grass.
But here at the farmer's stall
my hunger is sharp,
the greens so prepared
to be slicked with oil and vinegar.
The work is done;
I hand her my money, crisp from the ATM.
She gives me back four dollars,
wet, handled, also green.
Braised Kale with Leeks and Apples
from The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook by Debra Daniels-Zeller
Note: Kale, leeks, cider and apples are all available now at the farmers markets. To make this dish even more seasonal/local, use garlic chives instead of garlic (chives are in season locally at the markets, but mature garlic is not yet), and local hazelnut oil instead of olive. If you choose curly kale, you may want to blanch it briefly first if you don't like bitter. Serves 4.
1 to 2 TBL extra virgin olive oil or hazelnut oil
2 leeks, white part only, sliced thin and washed thoroughly
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Dash of bottled sauce
1 bunch kale, any kind, washed and cut (see below)
1/4 cup apple cider
one small sweet-tart apple, cored and diced
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBL fresh lemon juice, optional
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and leeks, stir, cover, reduce the heat, and cook until soft. Remove the lid and continue to cook until slightly browned. Stir in garlic and hot sauce. Cook for a few minutes.
Strictly kale leaves from the stands with a knife or your hand. Roll and thinly slice. Add to the skillet and stir in the cider and apples. Add about ½ c water and braise, covered, until the kale and apples are tender. Season with salt and add lemon juice if desired.