Loopy for Fruit – Yakima’s Fruit Stands Delight the Senses

by on Aug 22, 2014

I can remember my first time.

I was in my mid-twenties and living in a cabin south of Mattawa…as a transplant from suburban Denver, I was valiantly trying to adjust to small-town life.

My former husband was working as a fieldman back then, and so he was always dragging home produce of some sort–either in his upturned ball cap or a spare plastic grocery bag. But this particular evening was the first time he’d brought home a bucket of fresh sweet corn.

My amazement lasted all the way through my first ear—and my second and most of a third. I couldn’t stop myself…I’m sure I looked something like a starved Tasmanian devil as I mowed my way through heaven. It was as if I’d never tasted real corn before…the stuff I’d grown up eating from the grocery store might as well have been tasteless yellow plastic compared to the ambrosia in front of me.

Living in Mattawa exposed me to a host of other delights, too: tree-ripened nectarines, Granny Smith apples left on the tree until November (best apple pie I’ve ever had), huge, perfect Rainier cherries.

Purple peppers from Jones

A peck of purple peppers from Jones Farm’s stand

My three boys all worked on an organic farm during the summer for years, and they brought home a procession of everything from ridiculously perfumed boutique melons to light-green Armenian cucumbers. We had green beans, heirloom tomatoes, baby squash, carrots, and fresh-dug potatoes.

But now I have a problem. Once you’ve tasted the good stuff, even the best grocery-store produce can’t measure up–my tastebuds have been spoiled for life. Nothing against supermarkets, but there is a price we pay when we demand out-of-season fruit and we breed our vegetables for ease of shipping and shelf life rather than for taste.

Onions from Jones

Onions from the Jones Farms stand

So I decided to drag my fiance R. (who can charitably be called a picky eater, particularly when it comes to vegetables) along on a trip to visit several different fruit stands in Yakima.

First we visited Jones Farm produce, which is located at the former Russell Nursery site at  6710  Tieton Drive.  There were about seven people there browsing when we pulled in–a fairly good crowd for about 2 p.m. on a workday. (They’re open Mon.-Sat. from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10-4.) The wonderful employees saw me taking pictures of peppers and ran to find me a basket of completely purple ones…we bought a couple to take home and try. (Just in case you’re wondering, they’re a beautiful lime green on the inside once you cut into them…and they taste great. R. made a  killer “Holy Trinity” type of reduction sauce with these peppers, garlic, onion, and bacon…that we then spread on top of oven-roasted fresh potatoes. OMG, was it good.

Plums from Residential

Plums from the Residential Fruit stand

For our next stop, we visited the Residential Fruit Stand (they have a Facebook page, but no website) on 3rd Street and Nob Hill. Residential had strawberries and blueberries, along with some mouth-watering looking plums. (I always love how plums look frosty even when they’re warm). I’d had no idea there is a little restaurant attached to the fruit stand called the Magic Kitchen…I vowed to come back and try it for lunch.  The Residential is open every day from 9-6:30 p.m.

Give us a rip-Fruit City

Sweet corn for sale at Fruit City. Give ‘em a rip indeed.

Then we hit Fruit City in Union Gap. The biggest of the stands in Yakima, we enjoyed their creative signage and the astonishing variety of stuff they carry…everything from elephant garlic to golden tomatoes. They’re open from 8:30-6, Mon.-Fri. R. They also carry a variety of honey and jams (R. bought a big jar of raspberry jam) and beautiful cantaloupes from Hermiston.

If you’re into pasture-fed meats and local dairy products, you owe it to yourself to go to Local Yokel downtown, which is located in the old depot (in the same building as the Northtown coffee shop). Owned by Baron Farms, they carry raw organic milk, and offer nitrate-free bacon and other locally-sourced products. (You can even pre-order flats of berries from them online.) The store downtown also carries a variety of local fruits and vegetables, and they’re open from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

Public Fruit Sales

If you’ve never been to Johnson Orchards, you’re missing out.

And last, but definitely not least, I traveled to Johnson Orchards’ stand on 4906 Summitview. Eric Johnson, the owner, proudly showed me a river of peaches he had stacked on his cherry line machine…and showed me a sign posted on the front of the stand that reads “Family Owned and Operated since 1904.” “This is the real deal,” he said. The Johnsons’ stand mostly carries fruit, but they also had tomatoes, Selah Ridge lavender products, a variety of luscious baked goods (there is a commercial kitchen onsite), and Copper Pot Caramels. They’re open from Mon. -Fri., 8:30-5:30, Sat. from 8:30-5, and Sun. from 9-4.

So now my fridge is stuffed with the Valley’s freshest produce, and yours should be too. Prices are reasonable, the fruit is ripe, and nothing is a treat for the senses like a visit to a fruit stand.

Peach River

A river of peaches at Johnson Orchards.

Golden Boys - Fruit City

I brought a couple of these home from Fruit City. A little onion powder and salt…mmmm.


Blackberry pie

Fresh-made blackberry pie at Johnson’s. They’ve added extra baking days this summer…check their website for more information.

Old boxes

I loved these old fruit boxes at Johnson’s. They also have a collection of fruit labels hung on one wall.

Fruit - Local Yokel

Pears and apples at Local Yokel, which is located downtown in the old train depot.

Artisian tomatoes

Artisian tomatoes at Johnson Orchards



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Out to Lunch – Memorial Hospital’s Cafe

by on Aug 19, 2014

If you’re one of the folks who hasn’t discovered the cafe at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital yet, that’s just fine. Those of us who are in the know want to keep it a secret.

But…hospital food, you say? Doesn’t that mean cold toast and saran-wrapped bowls of Malt-O-Meal?

Not in Yakima.

Robert Ebberts of Imogene’s Catering is the engine behind the cafe–he’s the catering manager for Memorial. In 2012, Robert served an apprenticeship at Wylie Dufresne’s WD50 restaurant in New York, and last year he and his wife Wendy Steere started Imogene’s, a catering company named after Wendy’s grandmother.

Imogene’s has been making a mark on Fridays this summer at Bale Breaker Brewing Company concerts, as well as other events. Robert’s known for his innovative food combinations and attention to detail (if you really feel the need to salivate, you can check out our reviews of Imogene’s excellent lunches here and here.

YummersWe decided to have a business lunch at Memorial last week, and when I arrived I wasn’t surprised to see about ten people already waiting in line for the doors to open (the cafe opens at 11 for lunch). The menu was posted on a lighted display by the door (you can also check out a weekly menu here).

I had the oriental noodle salad and a homemade whole-grain roll–a satisfying, healthy, and amazingly reasonably-priced lunch for only about $6 (including my drink). I’m not usually a huge fan of salty-sweet salads, but this one hit the mark–crunchy, not-too-sweet, and an explosion of different tastes and textures. My fellow diners had ravioli with marinara sauce and a delicious cupcake (two words: chocolate curls). The cafe also boasts and excellent salad bar that’s sold by the pound…and, as if you need another reason to visit, you can grab an espresso at the Into the Brew stand that’s located next to the cafe doors.

MarinaraOur table looked out on a shady courtyard that’s absolutely gorgeous this time of year. Trumpet vines tumble over trellises, and more than a few diners elected to eat outside on the picnic tables. (If you’re feeling especially indulgent, you can stop by Memorial’s excellent gift shop after lunch.)


Any day with chocolate curls is a good day.

There is one drawback about eating at the cafe: it can be hard to find parking outside the hospital’s main entrance, so we’ll give you an insider’s tip…try the lot directly east of the main hospital complex that’s located in back of the Memorial Foundation building.

Breakfast is served from 7-10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 5-7:30 p.m. Soup, salad and the grill are available all day except for fifteen minutes prior to lunch and dinner services, and the kitchen is closed from 3-7 a.m.

And make sure to have a few chocolate curls for us!



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Dear Yakima: Fear No Art

by on Aug 14, 2014

I saw a bumper sticker recently in downtown Yakima that read: FEAR NO ART.

Yakima might take that aphorism to heart, considering the brouhaha over the proposed downtown art installation for the Lincoln Street overpass.

This is an interesting story that’s been seven years in the making. Apparently some of the state and federal money the city received for the double-overpass project for Martin Luther King and Lincoln Streets included built-in funds for public art. (It’s important to remember here that funds for public art have traditionally been built into large projects: for example, school districts also receive money for art whenever a new school is constructed.)

So back in 2007, when it was clear the city would receive federal funding that included a percentage earmarked for a public arts project, Yakima’s city council asked interested local residents to study proposals and make a recommendation for an arts project that would accompany the overpass construction.

The residents on the committee went through a lengthy selection process and debated several viable options. Several hundred people helped vote on the design of the current project, which was inspired by stacked fruit bins–a vision that pays homage to the hard work and resourcefulness that turned this desert community into an internationally-renowned fruit basket.

The  selection committee eventually presented the winning option to the city council. Everyone understood that the caveat was that the overpasses would be completed first; if there was any money left over afterward, then the art project would be built.

Bins of Light

Here’s a representation of what the installation will look like at night. The sculpture is designed to be kinetic…when trains go through on the overpass, the bins will “stack” and unstack.

So the council approved the design and authorized the expenditure of $100,000 for the final design and engineering specifications from the Haddad-Drugan company in Seattle in 2010. The city even installed the necessary infrastructure on the Lincoln overpass needed to attach the lighted display.

But now that both overpasses are completed, some of Yakima’s elected officials are backpedaling on the art installation–even though the money is there. The city has enough money, in fact, to build the installation as well as an elevated sidewalk underneath the installation. There’s talk about how Yakima should spend the money on more practical things.

Comments on a recent Yakima Herald Republic article about the controversy range from sentiments like “the art will all get ruined by taggers anyway” (not true, say the folks from the selection committee: the installation was specifically designed to discourage tagging) to comments like how art is a waste of money,  given Yakima’s more pressing concerns.

During a meeting held Tuesday night at the Light Project gallery, about 30 concerned arts advocates met to discuss how to best voice support for the project in front of city council on Tuesday, Aug. 19th.  Yakima resident Lynne Kittelson noted the momentum Yakima’s gained in nationwide press as a “destination city” recently.

“Art is an economic driver,” Kittelson said, noting that Yakima’s central location and good weather make the area an ideal one for a thriving arts community. “But we’re not capitalizing on it,” she added.

The fact is that we human beings are absolutely obsessed with art—and we have been for millenia.

Oh? You disagree with the word “obsession?” Then consider the following: Ever listen to music on your car radio? That’s art. Have a flower garden? Art. Read a novel recently? Art. Those strange chants (“Cinderella/dressed in yellow/went upstairs to kiss a fellow…”) you remember from grade school? Art. Watch sitcoms on TV? Art. Seen a movie? Art. Ever had your picture taken, or taken pictures of a sunset? Art. Read the funnypages? Art. Built a model, danced at a wedding, played an instrument, arranged a bouquet, dressed up for Halloween, pruned a shrub, colored with crayons, mowed a cool pattern into the grass in your front yard?

All art.

Here’s the thing: art has never “made sense” from a purely practical point of view. A classic novel isn’t going to keep a house warm in the winter, or feed your kids. And music—probably the grandest and most pervasive of all human obsessions—isn’t going to cure cancer, fix a broken sewer main, or build a skyscraper.

But art is still clearly something that we want all around us. It seems to be something we actually need. After all, we’ve been drawing on cave walls and making music lot longer than we’ve been setting aside federal and state funds for public art and going to free concerts downtown.

We find that art inspires. We know it bridges impossible rifts between people and cultures. Art honors our history, mends broken hearts, fills us with all kinds of emotions, helps us pass the time, and reminds us that we aren’t alone. Why, art can even do things like increase tourism and make people feel safer. It can make people feel proud of all the hard work they’ve done to help feed the world.

And those things happen to make a lot of sense.


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How Sweet it Is–Local Baker Finds Success Without Sugar or Wheat

by on Aug 8, 2014

If there is one thing Yakima resident Ana Bazadoni knows, it’s how to overcome a challenge.

The dynamic, dark-eyed South American native moved to the United States thirteen years ago after she fell in love with a man she met in America while she was here visiting. The couple’s initial happiness—they have twin sons that were born in 2003—was overshadowed by an accident Ana had while on the job as a dishwasher at an assisted living facility. She had received damage to her spine, and she found herself wheelchair-bound for a while. So she decided to go back to school to Yakima Valley Community College to start work on an accounting degree, and with her husband’s constant help and encouragement, she overcame her injuries, learned how to speak English, and earned her degree from CWU. She even won an adult literacy champion award from YVCC in 2010, and she started work here in Yakima as a CPA.


Ana in the Light Delight kitchen

Then, in late 2011, Ana’s husband experienced a severe stroke that left him in a coma for four months. Ana lost her job, and she found herself trying to raise their then-nine-year-old twin sons on her own–without an income.

“I was in a panic,” she admitted. Doctors had told her not to expect her husband to recover, and she didn’t know where to turn. “I didn’t want to lose my home,” she said.

Then one day, as she was in the hospital visiting her husband, she noticed all the people in line for coffee at an espresso stand. “I could see the snacks there that people were buying, and then I thought, ‘I need to find something to make that nobody else will do.’” Since she’d worked in the bakery field for 20 years in South America, she decided to draw on her skills for a new business.

That started a two-year journey into experimenting with gluten-free, sugar-free recipes and getting the necessary permitting to bake products for retail sale. Once her husband came out of the coma in March of 2012, he spent two months in a nursing home. “He had to start over,” Ana said. “He couldn’t speak or walk…he had to learn everything again. And he had always been so supportive of me and pushed me,” she said. “So when I went to visit him in the hospital and saw him in that bed, it was like I was seeing myself.”

While her husband was trying to recover, Ana continued to experiment with specialized recipes. She decided to start eating gluten and sugar-free herself, and lost a hundred pounds over the course of a single year. She was able to stop taking insulin for her diabetes, and has seen positive changes in other family members since sticking to a sugar and wheat-free diet (her husband’s cholesterol levels have dropped, for one thing). “Doctors sometimes see sick people and just want to give them a pill,” she said. “But I think a lot of problems can be solved with education and eating healthy.”

Ana still had a host of issues to deal with, however (she calls her weight loss “extra credit”). Although her husband had made progress recovering, he was still disabled and needed routine care at home. She had two young sons who had suffered a great deal due to their father’s illness. And her husband’s numerous doctors’ appointment meant that Ana had to find work that would allow her to work flexible hours.

So she took $150 and bought “a little bit of everything” to start her business. She made some of her gluten-free, sugar-free cookies, and took samples around to Yakima’s coffee stands. “A couple of hours later, the orders started coming in,” she said. She recalls not being able to make a mortgage payment that first month because she’d bought baking materials, but she pressed on.

Back then, Ana was using a friend’s commercial kitchen in Toppenish to make the cookies, and she realized that wasn’t going to be a permanent solution—it was too far away from home, and she needed better, bigger ovens and a dedicated gluten-free, sugar-free facility.

So Ana built a gleaming commercial kitchen in her garage, and set about getting that permitted this year. She’s pestered everyone from local health department staff to the Food and Drug Administration in Seattle trying to figure out the best way to get her kitchen set up and have her products certified gluten and sugar-free (her baked goods and mixes have both been lab tested, and she’s happy to show people the certificates). The only sugar in the cookies is the sugar that occurs naturally, like the sugar in almonds and coconut, she explained. “I did a lot of research,” she says proudly. “I’m improving all the time.” Wrapped goodies

But isn’t baking gluten and sugar-free a challenge for a baker used to working with wheat flour and sugar? Not since she’s developed the recipes, she said. “I threw a lot of things in the garbage,” she admitted about her early experiments, but now she doesn’t even need to look at a recipe book. “I want the food to look good and taste good, because that’s my reputation on the line.”

And taste and look good it does. We sampled several of Ana’s products, and our favorites include the snowballs (at 100 calories per cup, they’re also a low-calorie treat). We also loved the almond and lemon cookies, and the alfahores (a traditional South American cookie with caramel in the middle) are especially intriguing.

Currently, Ana’s working 2-3 days a week filling orders for everyone from the Yakima Convention Center to private buyers across the country. Her website is up (you can order Light Delight products online), and more local businesses are starting to sell her products—you can now find them at Wray’s, Corvid Coffee, and MoJos (to name a few). She makes muffins, brownies, crackers, and cookies…and always has plans for expanding her offerings, she says.

“I think the biggest thing is making sure that people can trust what they buy,” Ana said, noting that some clients have life-threatening gluten allergies. “Even though this is my home, I’m fine with people coming over if they want to see the certificates or see the kitchen,” she said.

Light Delight Treats

Just try not to salivate while looking at this picture.

Ana is Light Delight’s only employee (her 11-year-old twin sons earn spending money by helping her put labels on the products, she says). But Ana is responsible for everything from printing the product labels to tracking deliveries.

“I don’t want to be rich—I just want to provide for my family,” she said. Although she has dreams about Light Delight becoming a family business, she says she’s careful to keep room in her life for the things that are important to her. “I don’t want my life to become all about business,” she said. And she credits her strong faith for bringing her through the tough times.

“Everything I have today is because of God,” she says. “And the support from a lot of people.”

You can visit the Light Delight website here.

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Take Me Out to the Pippins Game

by on Aug 4, 2014

Some folks who work for the Yakima Herald-Republic enjoyed a night out at the Pippins game last Friday, and for at least some of us it was an education. It was a beautiful evening—although it was still warm, clouds and a light breeze made it as pleasant an evening as we’ve had in a couple of weeks.

My problem is that I never watched much baseball growing up, probably because in Denver all the emphasis was on our beloved Broncos. I also never played much baseball, so many of the rules of the game (and a lot of game slang) are completely lost on me.

My fiancé R. has tried to get me interested in Mariners’ games, but the one thing I’ve noticed about baseball is that the exciting stuff always seems to happen right after I’ve stopped paying attention. One of our seat mates at the game was Karl Martinson from Naches, and he was really getting into the game. He performed a singsong “swuh-wing batter” catcall at one point, and was uttering phrases like “can of corn” after a hit (I had to privately ask R. for an explanation of what that mystifying phrase meant).  During a break in the action, I managed to crack everyone up when I innocently asked, “Is it halftime?”

Karl and Donna

I also didn’t know the Pippins team has a slightly scary-looking smiling mascot—but he didn’t scare Naches residents Karl Martinson or his friend Donna Jorgenson.

The annoying Twins fan

The annoying Twins fan

R. of course had to wear his Minnesota Twins garb to the game, since they’re his favorite team…just a little out of place here in central Washington. Then again, he sort of thrives on irritating people. I also saw a lot of people wearing Seahawks garb as well, however, which I also thought was interesting. I suppose the Hawks are so hallowed at this point after their Superbowl win that wearing their team jerseys is sort of an endorsement of sports in general.

And although a lot of us were there because we had free tickets, here’s proof that photojournalists never get time off. Herald photographer Kaitlyn Bernauer was at the game to take pictures for the paper—and just a few minutes later, she found herself at a structure fire on Garfield Avenue (we could all see the smoke from the field).


Kaitlyn Bernauer on assignment

There are only a handful of home games left this year, and it’s a great way to spend a Friday evening with your family (even if you don’t know much about baseball). I do know that the Pippins won the game….once halftime was over, anyway.

Beautiful sunset

The perfect summer evening–check out the sunset in the background.

Young fans

Young fans enjoying the action

Cumulus mammatus

Here are some sunset-kissed cumulus mammatus clouds to prove what a lovely evening it was.

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