Purple mashed potatoes make me giggle! Last weekend I went to thePoulsbo Farmer’s Market and saw lots of our friends! Paul Gregory, our main farmer, now has a booth at the market, alongside Jared and Sarah Hankins of Hand Sown Home Grown. Across the way are Mike and Dee from Hummingbird Hills Sodas and just a booth away is Nikki Johanson from Pheasant Fields Farm. There are many other vendors, of course, those are just the ones we work with the most. It was fun to say hello to everyone and see all their gorgeous produce proudly displayed.

Jared and Sarah don’t just have the heirloom tomatoes we so love! No one-trick pony, they also do heirloom potatoes, among other things. When I asked Jared why heirloom is important he smiled, clearly enjoying the opportunity to talk about his passion. I thought I knew that heirloom meant the seed lines were ‘original’ or at least quite old, but that is all I knew. He told me that the seeds come from before 1940 and that the plants are ‘open pollinated’, which means the farmer can collect the seeds and maintain the lines every season. The farming is done organically (otherwise why bother, really!) and so when I said in an earlier blog that their tomatoes taste like my childhood; like tomatoes are SUPPOSED to taste, I hit the nail on the head without really knowing it. Of course the fruit tastes like the truest version of itself: IT IS! And it is the most sustainable way to farm. I knew we loved them!

I bought a bunch of blue (seriously!) potatoes from Jared. They are called ‘All Blues”, because they are blue inside and out! This are cool to look at and actually, more purple than blue. I made mashed potatoes with them and every single time I look at them I giggle! We had salmon and mashed potatoes for dinner 3 nights in a row and this morning I finished the purple mash in the form of a potato pancake and eggs. They taste just like potatoes; the texture was a bit ‘more’ than the yukon golds I normally mash. Not gritty, but more ‘textural’ if that makes any sense. Keep in mind that I roast my mashed potatoes and that gives them a drier texture to begin with. These spuds are so fun and beautiful; you really should go pick some up!

I asked Paul to bring us green beans, since they are in full bloom now (better late than never) and boy are they good!!! Be watching for green bean salad and beans in the soups cuz he brought lots. We roast our green beans (I roast every vegetable I can; it is SO much better than boiling!) and drizzle a bit of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. That’s all it takes when the beans are this good. His carrots are coming in too, but they are small this year. It has been such a strange produce year!!

Another fun market, although further for most of you to go, is the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market. My favorite market day is the Chowder Cook-off and this year is the 8th annual. They have an amateur cook-off where several judges choose the best Clam Chowders and the best “Other” Chowders. There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes awarded for each category. There is also a restaurant competition for both types of chowder, and the public gets to vote on those. Since they are prepared ‘commercially’ anyone can go and taste all or any of the chowders, and then cast your vote. It’s a very fun day at the market!

In 2005, much to my shock and to the screams of my mom, I won the amateur contest for Clam Chowder. The recipe we make in the cafe is very close to the winning recipe, with a couple of minor differences. If you cannot make it to the market contest, ask Lori to make our chowder at the cafe and you can taste an award winning chowder any time! That was the first and last cooking contest that I have entered. In October Mark and I are going to Las Vegas to help a friend celebrate her birthday and there just so happens to be a chili cook-off. We will definitely be checking that out and will let you know which one we liked the best!

Have you entered any cooking or baking contests? What was it like? Tell us about it!