February 15, 2012

Winter Markets...Farm to Table

Buy Fresh.....Buy Local.....Support Your Farmers
The Winter Farmers Markets

Who doesn't love a Farmers Market? Did you think they existed only during Summer months? I have posted before on our summer weekly visits to the Mississippi Farmers Market in Jackson, so it was a rather pleasant surprise to realize how prevalent these were around Maine during winter. In fact, there are nearly 30 indoor winter markets in the state of Maine.

Most are more representative of a co-op, featuring local fresh produce, locally raised beef, pork, lobster, fish, and dairy products...like bottled milk, yogurt, and organic cheese selections. And oh my, the jams, jellies, pickles, salsa's, fresh pasta and Italian sauces.....what a cook's dream this can be! These markets are a perfect place to buy a special gift for your family and friends, as you can find local artists displaying their handmade crafts of pottery, beadworks and hand-dyed wools. How about filling your pantry with the Greek Olive Oils, packaged herbs, dips and seasoning blends. Yum...smell the warm baked biscotti and kettle corn!  There are also handmade goodies of chocolates and granolas! After full tummies of sampling the products, you can browse among the soft clean scents of herbal soaps and candles.

We discovered, Mi Mexico….Here at last is real Mexican cooking prepared by Debra Rodriguez Gaspardi, a Freeport caterer and cooking teacher who specializes in her native cuisine. Her taco chips are incredible — salty, spicy, crisp, with a nice lime finish. Her prepared dishes like tamales, enchiladas, frijoles, and more are like none you’ve had anywhere in Maine!

 Other favorite stops include Judy’s Kitchen, whose old-fashioned pies like coconut custard and various berry pies are wonderful. Another baking vendor to visit is the Farmer’s Daughter who makes wonderful fruit-spiked English muffins and mile-high popovers. Bowdoin Baking Company is another baker with some tempting sweets. We took home some of her melting moments cookies — utterly sweetly superb. I used to make these at Ole Miss, in fact!

Once you spend a day at a Winter Market, you will be hooked!

These are a nice buttery oatmeal cookie with a pumpkin pie or apple pie taste, crunchy and slightly chewy all in one--simply perfect!

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups quick oats
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice

Heat oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter, brown and granulated sugars, corn syrup, and vanilla for 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Form the dough into heaping tablespoon-size mounds. Place on the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the still warm baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks. Cool completely.

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