Farmers market vendors provide delicious inspiration

Homemade preserves make ordinary toast gourmet. Seasonal bounty at it’s best.  |  Jodie Mirosovsky photo

In my travels this summer, I encountered numerous farmers markets. There were so many amazing products, the result of talented people sharing their passion and skills.

My purchases include jams, jelly, pies, cheese, baked goods, fresh honey, cut flower bundles from Boondock Flower Farm and even a refreshing alcoholic beverage from a company called Hudson Bay Distillers, made in Saskatchewan.

Here are my versions of market favourites.

First, we’ll visit the farmers market baking vendors.

Sugar and spice plum muffins

  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar 175 mL, 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon divided 5 mL
  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg .5 mL
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 3/4 c. milk 175 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter melted and cooled 125 mL
  • 3-5 ripe plums depending on their size, pitted and cut into small chunks

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

Prepare 12 muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, milk and melted butter that has been cooled.

Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Divide the batter in half.

Divide one half of the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Add a layer of plum pieces to each.

Layer the remaining batter over the layer of plums.

Combine the remaining two tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the muffins. Source: www.amandascookin.com.

Lemon blueberry zucchini loaf

Lemon and blueberries put a twist of flavour into this zucchini loaf.

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour 500 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. oil 125 mL
  • 2/3 c. sugar 160 mL
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk(or milk with a splashof lemon) 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice about one large lemon 30 mL
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 c. zucchini shredded and drained 250 mL
  • 3/4 c. blueberriesfresh or frozen,not thawed 175 mL

Lemon glaze

  • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juiceor milk 30 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare a loaf pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Beat eggs, then with the mixer on low-medium speed, add oil and sugar, then buttermilk, lemon juice and zest. Fold in zucchini, then add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Gently fold in blueberries.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare glaze.

When the bread is completely cool, drizzle with glaze.

Note: this loaf is delicious with or without the glaze.

Source: www.amandascookin.com.

Chewy ginger molasses cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (not melted) 375 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 c. packed brownsugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. molasses 125 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/2 c. flour 1.05 L
  • 4 tsp. baking soda 20 mL
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugars on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, for about two minutes.

Mix in the eggs (one at a time) and molasses, and beat on medium-low speed until each is combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until it is evenly combined.

Transfer the dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least two hours, or until the dough is completely chilled.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare a cookie sheet.

Roll the dough into small balls, about one-inch in diameter. Fill a separate small bowl with sugar and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place dough balls on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for eight to 10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool for four to five minutes. Then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 42 cookies.

Serve warm and enjoy, or store in a sealed container for up to four days, or freeze for up to three months. Source: www.gimmesomeoven.com.

Superb banana bread

This version of banana bread is similar to the bread that sells in a flash at a market that I attended. It’s so moist and comforting. Add butter and a slice of cheese and you have perfection.

  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. flour (preferably unbleached) 300 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 1 c. mashed very ripe bananas 250 mL
  • 2 eggs

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in centre of oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Beat in the butter. Then add mashed bananas and well beaten eggs. Fold banana mixture into flour mixture with minimal mixing. Pour into the loaf pan.

Bake loaf for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.

Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack.

Cool completely, about two hours, before slicing.

Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to four days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Next stop: the honey stand.

I have always loved honey, especially fresh. Plain honey on toast with cheese is delightful, but now I have experimented with new flavours.

Recently I have tried adding some cinnamon to my honey with success and also have tried some chai spice, just a sprinkle. Chai spice is cinnamon with the addition of a dash of nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

Third stop: the jam and jelly stand.

I always gravitate to the crabapple jelly at markets. I love making it myself when time permits but buying it sure is easy.

When I was a child I remember making jelly with my Grandma Foster. I loved the whole process, from gently picking the apples to placing the clove on top of the jelly.

Delicious nostalgia

  • 1 large bowl or pail of crabapples
  • cheesecloth muslin or old (clean) cotton pillowcase, for draining fruit
  • 2 – 3 c. white sugar 500 -750 mL
  • clean prepared jars

Prepare your apples by washing, removing the stems and cutting off the blossom ends. You can leave whole or cut in half.

You can even core if you desire, this will make straining easier. Place prepared apples into a large stock pot and add water, just until it just peeks through the top of the apples (if any of your apples are floating, you’ve got too much). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, without stirring, until apples are softened, 10-15 minutes.

While fruit is simmering, place a large colander over a large bowl or pot and line with tripled-up cheesecloth, a piece of muslin or a cotton pillowcase.

When fruit is tender, pour into prepared colander and leave to drain for two to three hours without touching. Do not poke or disturb because you want clear juice.

Measure out the amount of juice and make note of how many cups of juice you have. Add the juice to a large pot and 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of juice.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil to the jelly test, that is when the juice sheets down off of a spoon; about seven minutes.

Remove from the heat and skim off foam, as necessary.

Ladle jelly into clean jars and leave with lids off until almost cool (without moving jars around). When jelly is almost cool, place a whole clove on top of each jar and seal with lids.

If you have left your jelly out for 24 hours and it didn’t set, simply dump the contents back into your pot and re-boil it until it sets (use a thermometer to cook to 220 F, or until it passes the cold plate test, as above).

If you want to be super sure it’s going to set the second time, you could also consider adding a bit of commercial pectin.

Sunset jam

This is also a family favourite. The jam in the jar is like art, thus its name — Sunset. It’s a beautiful yellow, blended with red.

  • 2 lb. or 4 c. pears,chopped fine 1 kg or 1 L
  • 1 c. crushed pineapple, drained 250 mL
  • 3/4 c. maraschino cherries, drained andchopped 175 mL
  • juice of one fresh lemon
  • 7 1/2 c. sugar 1.75 L

Mix all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, over high heat stirring constantly.

Once bubbling, boil hard for one minute then remove from heat.

Stir in two packs of Certo.

Skim for five minutes and place into sterilized jars. Makes about 6 c. /1.5 L.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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