Can you feel it? That autumn crispness in the air has returned to the Puget Sound. And after a brief bout of unseasonably warm early October sun, the clouds and rain have returned to cover us in that gray blanket we know and love (or at least that’s what I’m told. I’m from Montana — Big Sky Country — and we like our sunshine.)
Organic Leeks are Peaking – Soup is Calling
I love to grill as much as the next guy but when the mercury starts to drop, I can’t wait to pull out the big pots from the cupboard — or pry them from my 1-year-old’s steely grip — and drown my taste buds in some homemade soups. There’s just something so comforting about watching my kitchen windows steam up while I’m simmering diced veggies and sprinkling in fresh herbs for a new batch of soup.
My favorite by far is Potato Leek. It’s so creamy, smooth, and peppery and really gets me in the mood to dust off my favorite sweater from the closet and get cozy. Plus “leek” is just really fun to say!
My go-to leeks come from Ralph’s Greenhouse in Mount Vernon. They provide us with some of the best organic cold-weather crops, such as beets and leafy greens. Their current owner, Ray, is the son of the original Ralph, who founded his organic farm in the Skagit Valley back in the ‘50s after emigrating from the Netherlands.
They never use pesticides or fertilizers because, as Ralph said, “We didn’t use them in the old country!”
Try some today in Our Own Leek and Potato Soup recipe and keep an eye out for Ralph’s amazing leeks to show up on sale all month long.
I know I’ll be neck-deep in potatoes and leeks, stirring a pot of puréed soup and sipping a glass of Italian Soave.
Foraging for Wild Chanterelles
No other state in the country does fresh chanterelle mushrooms better than Washington and October is the BEST month to enjoy them.
The rain returns with a vengeance to help their growth explode and they thrive in the temperate weather still present in the mountains. Their bright golden color is eye-catching and unmistakably signals the arrival of fall. We have several varieties of mushrooms this time of year — shiitake, oyster, matsutake pine, porcini, and many, many more — but our heart belongs to the chanterelle.
Every year, we source our chanterelles by the pound from several of our most trusted licensed foragers who swarm into the Douglas fir forests of northwest Washington in search of those golden clusters of earthy goodness. “They all have their secrets spots,” says Jim Foley, our Produce Specialist. “We’ve been doing business with some of them for years, but they never tell.”
Fresh chanterelles are fleshy, aromatic and accent many flavors. They’re high in fiber, too, with protein, B vitamins and antioxidants. Some people even believe they help take the edge off aching hands and knees. But if you’re intimidated by their woodsy look and feel and not sure what to do with them, keep it simple. Just fry them up in butter and garlic for an earthy burst of flavor. Or try our Mushrooms in Red Wine-Cambozola Sauce for a delicious way to accent your favorite autumn foods.
Pumpkin Carving and Harvest Decorating Arrive
This year, we’ll have even more varieties of pumpkins from Sterino Farms in Puyallup than last year and we’re slashing the price, too! Our Jack-o-Lantern carvers are $2 a pound cheaper than last year, making it even easier for your little ghouls ‘n’ goblins to get their claws on a fun carving pumpkin.
Definitely give Joe Pulicicchio’s blog a gander for more about our cornucopia of pumpkin varieties in our markets, but suffice it to say we’ve got it all: Your traditional Jack-O-Lantern, Warty Goblins for spooky decorating, and Sugar Pie for all you dedicated bakers out there. We even have decorative corn stalks and ornamental corn to really let the feeling of harvest season shine whether it’s on your porch or the Thanksgiving table.
Let the harvest season begin!
Our very own cheese whiz, Shauna Howell, offers up a cheese worth discovering.
Taleggio, an Italian classic. This semi-soft, washed rind cheese from Lombardy is a real stinker but it’s an amazing, mild, fruity, melting cheese and will make you a grilled cheese sandwich to be remembered by.
Try it on pizza or just let it set out until it’s room temperature and enjoy with a glass of Italian Nebbiolo. The rind is fully edible and every square is branded with a mark known as Consorzio Tutela Taleggio, guaranteeing its quality and origin.
Chris Allen is a copywriter and assistant marketer with Town & Country Markets. He’s a former contributing editor, radio anchor and producer, and an Air Force veteran. He’s also mastered the art of chopping red onions with one hand while sipping a dry Tempranillo in the other.