How Does Your Garden Grow?

We’re celebrating the growing season on Sundays in June.  For a limited time we will have vendors who will help you start, maintain or enhance your garden:

  • Cascadian Edibles or Eat Your Yard will be offering vegetable & herb starts, raised in a eatyardbackyard acre or two in Seattle.
  • Everblooming Glass Flowers will bring glass flowers to sparkle in your garden..
  • Greenbranch Studios offers garden ceramics, birdbaths and etc. to add charm to your garden. greenbranch
  • Spahrzart will offer outdoor metal designs to class up your garden.
  • Durcanne Nixon, joining us on June 16 and 23 only, will offer charming container gardens, ready to perk up your front porch or deck.
  • Master Gardeners! Come ready with pictures, plant samples and questions to help your garden flourish.  Gordon Polson of the King County Master Gardeners answering a gardening question from a Mercer Islander at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on June 12, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)Masters Gardeners come for the entire market season.
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Market Bags, Cider Press and Bluegrass!

This week at the market we have another shopping bag giveaway.  Please click on Tote Bag Coupon to print out the attached coupon and bring it with you.  As you shop the market, ask each vendor you purchase from to validate your coupon, then stop by the information table for your free red market bag.

Children’s Table:  It is time to bring out the apple cider press. Judy Witmer will, once again, teach kids how to operate this important piece of our Washington State heritage.

Judy Witmer, Mercer Island pre-school teacher and MIFM volunteer, helping a young boy press apples at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Judy Witmer, Mercer Island pre-school teacher and MIFM volunteer, helping a young boy press apples at the children’s table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)
Music: Down the Road – traditional bluegrass http://www.downtheroadband.com/

As our summer winds down and the evenings cool off, Mercer Island Farmers Market wishes our Jewish friends L’Shana Tova’, a very happy new year. We have what you need for your holiday recipes: apples and honey, smoked salmon, chicken for roasting, beautiful beets and greens, and even gluten free challah bread. The L.A. Times has a dozen beautiful recipes, including this one for Cilantro-Tomato soup with Syrian meatballs:

Recipe: Kibbeh bi’kizabrath (cilantro-tomato soup with Syrian meatballs) – latimes.com

Finally, if you have purchased a $5 coupon book (thank you!) please be sure to use your coupons.  Our neighborhood sponsors would love to see you!

Floating 101

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Ever wondered what it would be like to volunteer at a farmers market?  Mercer Island Farmers Market only happens because of volunteers like YOU who donate a few hours of their time to set up, take down, and take on all sorts of other jobs, like floating, counting, flagging and controlling.

I used to be a flag girl in high school (officially known as color guard, which is the only thing that could possibly improve the Mercer Island High School Marching Band, but I digress), and I can count, and my children will attest to my controlling nature.  I bet I’d be a swell market volunteer! But I don’t know how to float, so I guess I’ll need to go the training. Come join me!

Volunteer Training and Information meetings are next week at the Mercer Island Library, conveniently scheduled for next Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m.

Market experts will teach you what is required to act as a floater, a flagger, a street controller, a counter and a general booth volunteer.  (Flagging and street control need to be at least 18 years old.)  Bring your calendar, so that you can see the available openings, and sign up.  Special tasting treats for all who attend!

Questions? Contact Tanya Bednarski, tanyambednarski@gmail.com

Island Apiaries Featured in an Article in Today’s Mercer Island Patch

David Neel, owner of Island Apiaries, Whidbey Island, WA, talking with a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

David Neel, owner of Island Apiaries, Whidbey Island, WA, talking with a customer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

There’s a great article in today’s Mercer Island Patch about the Mercer Island Farmers Market’s very own David Neel and Island Apiaries.

In just his first year at the MIFM, David has become one of the most popular farmers at the market with his distinctive yellow-and-black canopy, deep knowledge of bees and beekeeping, and delicious varieties of honey.

Probably though what attracts most people to his booth initially is the plexiglass-enclosed beehive that he brings each week with him. This hive gives our community a chance to observe bees up close as well as providing David a chance to teach us all about bees and their behavior. As he says in the article:

“Getting bees out where people can see them is…a valuable tool in educating people about bees and destroying the myths that people have about them…For example, honeybees will leave most people alone; people who have been stung are almost always stung by wasps (yellow jackets), because honeybees know that if they sting you, they’ll die, whereas wasps can sting you over and over.”

If you haven’t had a chance to talk with David or to see the beehive, be sure to stop by this Sunday, talk with him, and check out the bees. Also remember that each Sunday at the start of the market, David posts a question; the first person to correctly answer it wins a free eight-ounce jar of honey. So there is another incentive to get to the MIFM—and Island Apiaries booth—early.

October 2nd Mercer Island Farmers Market Event Highlights

The Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The Mercer Island Farmers Market had the perfect autumn weather for its October 2nd market: 60s and sunny. Our community turned out for our local farmers and for several fun and educational activities: a Power Hour with free coffee; a chef demonstration by chefs from Stopsky’s Delicatessen; the master gardeners; pressing apples at the children’s table; music; and tree distribution by the City.

Power Hour

Helen Martin (left) and Julie Sarkasian, MI Farmers Market board member and treasurer, during the Power Hour at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Helen Martin (left) and Julie Sarkasian, MI Farmers Market board member and treasurer, during the Power Hour at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

We started off the MIFM with free coffee thanks to one of our Power Hours.  These Power Hours are a reward—and a caffeine boost—for the early birds who show up for the first hour of the farmers market.

The October 2nd Power Hour was sponsored by Helen Martin, who many know through her extensive volunteering for various organizations including the Rotary and the Mercer Island Arts Council.

Thank you Helen for sponsoring the event and supporting the Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Chef Demonstration: Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Olive Tapenade by Stopsky’s Delicatessen

Stopsky’s Delicatessen returned to the Mercer Island Farmers Market to do their second chef demo of the 2011 market season. Back in June, executive chef Shane Robinson came to the market to prepare salmon. This time chefs Austin and Michael came to the market to prepare Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Olive Tapenade, which is Stopsky’s take on Israeli salad, a mixture of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley.

Austin, sous chef at Stopsky's Delicatessen, demonstrating how to use a mandoline to slice shallots during a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Austin, sous chef at Stopsky's Delicatessen, demonstrating how to use a mandoline to slice shallots during a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Austin did a wonderful job not only explaining and showing how to make the dish, but also discussing basic kitchen techniques and terms. He taught our community about:

  • the importance of keeping your working area and cutting board clean and organized;
  • the pitting of olives using the flat of a chef’s knife;
  • the meaning and value of mis en place—a French culinary term to describe preparing and organizing all of the ingredients for a recipe before beginning to cook; and
  • maybe most importantly, safely using a mandoline, a slicing tool.
The finished Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad and Olive Tapenade by Austin, sous chef at Stopsky's Delicatessen, at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The finished Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad and Olive Tapenade by Austin, sous chef at Stopsky's Delicatessen, at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Thank you to everyone at Stopsky’s Delicatessen, especially Shane, Kelly, Austin, and Michael, for coming to the MI Farmers Market for the chef demonstration. We hope that you had a great time and that you will come back for a few chef demos next market season.

Children’s Table: Apple Press

Judy Witmer, Mercer Island pre-school teacher and MIFM volunteer, helping a young boy press apples at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Judy Witmer, Mercer Island pre-school teacher and MIFM volunteer, helping a young boy press apples at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Judy Witmer did it again; she came up with another fun, educational activity for our community’s children. This past Sunday she brought an apple press to the MIFM in order to show how apple cider is made.

Our community’s kids had a great time turning the wheel and pressing the apples as well as tasting the fresh apple cider by Rockridge Orchards, whose booth is just across from the Children’s Table.

Thank you to Judy for doing what seems impossible: week after week coming up with something educational and exciting for our children to do. Thank you as well as Rockridge Orchards for helping make the activity so special.

Master Gardeners

The Master Gardeners answering questions at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The Master Gardeners answering questions at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The Master Gardeners were back at the MI Farmers Market for another Sunday of answering our community’s questions about gardening and lawn care. This is a great time to head over to their booth to ask about the best practices for the fall and winter.

We really appreciate the volunteers at the Master Gardeners coming each Sunday to help teach our community.

Music

Jazz Connection playing at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Jazz Connection playing at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The musical entertainment for the MIFM’s farmers, volunteers, and community was by Jazz Connection.

What really impressed us was how versatile the group was, almost like the Swiss Army knife of sextets. They seemed like a dozen groups in one: sometimes a set was just a duo with a vocalist and a guitar; other sets they were a jazz trio; yet other sets a sextet… At a certain point we just stopped keeping track of the different combinations and just enjoyed the group’s music.

A big “thank you” to the members of Jazz Connection for coming down to the MI Farmers Market on Sunday.

City of Mercer Island Native Tree Distribution Program

City of Mercer Island employees distributing native trees to Mercer Islanders at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

City of Mercer Island employees distributing native trees to Mercer Islanders at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on October 2, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Thanks to a grant from the King Conversation District, the City of Mercer Island has been distributing native tree varieties to Mercer Island residents at the MI Farmers Market. These trees are available to any Mercer Island resident for $5.00 per tree. The types of trees that have been available are Vine mapleWestern red cedar (two-gallon size), and Mountain hemlock.

This coming Sunday, October 9th will be the final day of this program. So this Sunday, be sure to head down to the MIFM to pick up some native trees for your yard.

September 18th Mercer Island Farmers Market Event Highlights: Market Totes, Music, Kids Table

Besides the great chef demo by Tracy Green and her students from the Newport High School Culinary Arts program at last Sunday’s Mercer Island Farmers Market, the day was filled with fun and educational events.

2011 Mercer Island Farmers Market Reusable Bags Are Here!

Susan Kleiner, nutritionist and Mercer Island Farmers Market supporter, with three of the four Mercer Island Farmers Market totes on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Susan Kleiner, nutritionist and Mercer Island Farmers Market supporter, with three of the four Mercer Island Farmers Market totes on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

At last Sunday’s MI Farmers Market, we began to give away the 2011 market season reusable bags. As in previous years, the bag has a new color, which is blue this year.

After picking up her 2011 Mercer Island Farmers Market tote at the information booth, Susan Kleiner posed for a photo with it along with market totes from 2009 (green) and 2010 (orange). Dr. Kleiner is a Mercer Islander, huge support of the MIFM, and a nutritionist, who conducted two tours of the MIFM for our community earlier this year.

While picking up this year’s market bag, she explained to the volunteers that the only market tote that she is missing is the one from our first season in 2008, which is tan.

Do you have all four season’s totes? If you, please let us know.

To get a 2011 market tote, come down to the farmers market on Sunday, pick up a coupon from one of the vendors or from the information booth, and shop the MIFM. The farmers will mark on the coupon the amount of your purchases. Once you have bought $30 of local, fresh produce, bring your filled out coupon to the information booth and exchange it for a reusable bag.

We gave out nearly 200 bags on Sunday and supplies are limited.  So be sure to get to the MIFM this Sunday to get your 2011 market tote.

Children’s Table: Spiders

Judy Witmer and three children learning about spiders at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Judy Witmer and three children learning about spiders at the children's table at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Judy Witmer developed yet another fun and educational activity for the children’s table at this past Sunday’s MIFM.

The theme was “Amazing Spiders in Your Garden.” Judy had live spiders in sealed plastic tubes for the children to examine and reference books with plenty of photos and drawings for the children to read and browse so that they would have a better understanding of the role that spiders play in our gardens.

In addition, Judy brought string and other materials so that the kids could build their own “spider web.”

Community-Service/Non-Profit Booths: Mercer Island Boy Scouts and Mercer Island Sister City Association

The Mercer Island Boy Scouts' and Mercer Island Sister City Association's booths at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The Mercer Island Boy Scouts' and Mercer Island Sister City Association's booths at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

The MIFM hosted two important Mercer Island organizations—Mercer Island Boy Scout Troop 624 and the Mercer Island Sister City Association—in our community-service/non-profit booths.

Both organizations used the opportunity to teach to the our community about their mission and activities.

Music: Yaamba Marimba Band

Children dancing to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Children dancing to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

As they did earlier this season, the Yaamba Marimba Band were a huge hit with our farmers, volunteers and shoppers.

Throughout the market day, their infectious music got people, particularly children, dancing, spinning, jumping, kicking and…well..just plain moving. At one point, the volunteers saw one little girl doing handstands to their music.

Children dancing to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Children dancing to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Another demonstration of their popularity was the produce donations by our farmers.

One of the ways that the MIFM compensates musicians for playing the market is through these donations. The market’s farmers always give generously to thank the musicians for entertaining them and the customers throughout the market day. But this past Sunday they really showed their appreciation in a way that was unprecedented with several shopping bags and two boxes of produce for the members of Yaamba to divide among themselves.

Teenagers dancing in a circle to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Teenagers dancing in a circle to music by the Yaamba Marimba Band at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Perhaps the strangest moment demonstrating just how appreciated the band’s performance was just before the close of the farmers market. At this time, over a dozen teenage girls formed a circle in front of the music booth and began dance. It was all so spontaneous and unexpected.

Everyone at the Mercer Island Farmers Market hopes that the members of Yaamba had as much fun playing at the market as we did listening and dancing to their music.

We also want to extend an invitation to Yaamba to come back next year.

September 18th Mercer Island Farmers Market Event Highlights: Chef Demo by Newport High School Students

Newport High School students rolling out pie crust for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Newport High School students rolling out pie crust for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Tracy Green, a teacher at the Newport High School Culinary Arts program, and four of her students came to the Mercer Island Farmers Market this past Sunday to show our community how to make a pear cream tart (see recipe below).

Before the students began the chef demo, Tracy provided an introduction to the NHS Culinary Arts curriculum. Tracy explained that it is actually a joint program of eight public school districts on the Eastside, including the Mercer Island public schools, not just that of the Bellevue School District. Most of the audience hadn’t realized that our community’s public schools and Mercer Islanders participated in the program.

Newport High School students preparing cream sauce for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Newport High School students preparing cream sauce for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

For the chef demo, the NHS Culinary Arts students each demonstrated a different aspect to the making of the pear cream tart. One rolled out the pie crust, another made the cream sauce, and yet another sliced the pears and carefully arranged them in the tart tin. Finally, two of the students working together poured the cooled cream sauce into the tart tin.

Each of the students taught those in the audience new skills specific to pear cream tarts—working with pastry, cooking cream sauce, slicing and arranging pears to create an attractive dessert…

Newport High School students carefully arranging sliced pears in a pastry-filled tart tin for a pear cream tart at the chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Newport High School students carefully arranging sliced pears in a pastry-filled tart tin for a pear cream tart at the chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

In addition to these skills, the students also taught the audience more general cooking skills and knowledge:

  • the importance of using a non-reactive sauce pan, such as stainless steel, when making cream sauces;
  • the meaning of the cooking term nappé (when a sauce in the process of being cooked becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon);
  • the name of a specialized type of strainer—a chinoise, its uses, and the importance using a rounded whisk inside of it, so as not to damage its mesh…
Newport High School students pouring cream sauce through a chinois into the tart tin for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Newport High School students pouring cream sauce through a chinois into the tart tin for a pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

At the end of the chef demo, the students handed out to audience members samples of pear cream tart that they had prepared earlier at the NHS kitchen. The audience quickly gobbled up the slices and went home with the skills and the strong desire to make a pear cream tart themselves.

The Mercer Island Farmers Market would like to thank Tracy Green, her students, and the Newport High School Culinary Arts program for taking the time on Sunday to come out to the Mercer Island Farmers Market to teach and feed us all.

We hope that you had as good of a time at the MI Farmers Market as we had watching you cook and eating your delicious pear cream tart.

Please come back next farmers market season.

A Newport High School student displaying a finished pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

A Newport High School student displaying a finished pear cream tart at a chef demo at the Mercer Island Farmers Market on September 18, 2011. (Photo by Joel Wachs)

Recipe:

Biretaertel (Pear Cream Tart)

Preheat oven to 375°F

Pie dough for one pie crust

Three (3) pears, peeled, halved, de-stemmed, and cored, hold in salted cold water (1-quart cold water with 1 T salt) while preparing cream mixture and pie crust.

Prepare pastry by rolling it out so that it is a ¼-inch thick and one inch larger than tart tin. Trim off crust overage with scissors leaving ½ inch of dough above the sides of the tart tin. Fold the overage inside the tart tin.

Cream Sauce

Heat ingredients together in a non-reactive sauce pan

½ c sugar
½ t salt
2 c heavy cream
2 T pear liqueur
½ t vanilla

Once the mixture is hot and bubbling through the center, whisk in 2 T flour.

Cook until it coats the back of a spoon or is nappé. Remove from heat

Rinse pears and slice horizontally into ¼-inch slices, keeping the slices together to keep the pear shape. Arrange pears in tart tin in a spoke formation.

Pass the cream sauce through a fine mesh sieve (chinoise), hold spoon underneath cream to diffuse it and pour over pears. Do not over fill tart pan with cream mixture (approximately 2/3 of the way from the top of the crust).

Place a drip pan in the bottom of the oven in case of overflow. Bake on bottom rack at 375°F for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F, raise to top rack and bake another 20-25 minutes or until gold brown.

Refrigerate to allow tart to set.

Serves six to eight.

Source: Newport High School Culinary Arts