By Vicky Babcock
Anyone who’s ever had a garden—even a small one—knows how much more flavorful fresh produce is. There is something about a fresh picked tomato warmed by the sun that satisfies the senses. The flavor, the texture, the scent—fresh picked produce is simply better all-around. Longer shelf-life; less spoilage; better flavor; more nutrition—all good reasons to try out your local farmers market.
Farm fresh eggs—often from free-range hens—provide better nutrition, taste better and are more humane than factory eggs produced by caged hens.
Grocery chains do a phenomenal job these days and the focus is more on buying local, but even so, the time between harvested crops to grocery shelves is much greater than what you will find from local (farm) markets. “Local” to a grocery chain usually encompasses the entire state in which the store resides whereas farm markets cater to the surrounding area.
Many local markets offer events for the community, providing entertainment as well as educational opportunities—some markets may charge a small fee—others provide these at no charge.
Buying local strengthens the community. It provides jobs to farmers and farm laborers as well as local mills and farm supply stores. Locals tend to spend locally, so the money stays in the community working for the community. Farmers markets provide a venue for the community to meet and visit with their friends and neighbors as well as a healthy open-air feel. Prices are often competitive as markets tend to be cheaper for the local farmer and there is no middleman to satisfy. With the relatively new cottage laws, small business start-ups are able to provide fresh home-baked breads, baked goods and jams, as well as a host of other products at low cost because overhead is kept to a minimum.
Browse the markets and you can often find a variety of mouthwatering delights, especially in well-established markets where vendor participation is high as competition for Market space boosts creativity. You may even find craft beers and wines at select markets as new laws apply. You’ll find potted perennials and even a few crafts. Or you might just find the following herbed breads. See you at Market!
Herbed Sourdough English Muffin Loaves
Makes 2 loaves
5-1/2 to 6 cups flour
2 pkgs Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sour milk*
1/2 cup water
1-2 T. fresh herbs**
Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, soda and fresh herbs. Heat liquids until very warm (120ºF.-130ºF.). Add to dry mixture; beat well. Stir in enough more flour to make a stiff batter. Spoon into two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm place for 45 min. Bake at 400ºF. for 25 min. Remove from pans immediately and cool.
These are best sliced and toasted and served warm. They’re wonderful with cream cheese, butter, specialty jams or flavored butters. Use your imagination!
*Sour milk can be made by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to each cup of milk. Or use fresh milk for a slightly different flavor
**I usually use rosemary, as it is a favorite of mine. I’ve also had luck with sage. Basil is another favorite, but use your imagination. The possibilities are endless—you can also combine compatible herbs for a savory loaf. Bon appétit!
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like us on facebook for updates.