Wrapping Up the Great American Bake Sale


I had a month to plan.

I signed up as a team captain, without first asking if anyone else was interested in helping.

I reached out to the farmer’s market near my home to hold it there (and after a week of “pestering” got a firm yes).

I asked my foodie friends if anyone would be willing to bake for the sale.

And, on Saturday, WE raised $216 for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

Great American Bake Sale table

Of the 4 folks who offered to bake, 3 came through. Several friends came out on Sunday to help man the table/keep us company. We had 110 “units” when we started and only brought 19 home. My fears of what to do with the leftovers were greatly unneeded.

(Especially since most of the leftovers were my double chocolate muffins–they’re great with vanilla ice cream!)

What shocked me, though, was how much use the Donations jar got!

We put out a mason jar with a simple sitcker-dot label on it and Todd “primed” it with $1. Before long it was half full, and not just with singles. I don’t know that we ever really mentioned it by name, it just sat in the middle of the table and people fed it! A third of the funds came directly from that jar.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Great American Bake Sale donation

One of the surprise hits of the day were my Spinach Puffs. True, I figured with a venue like the farmer’s market, something savory might have a better chance than not, but people really responded well to them in general. Because they are so super simple and so wonderful for parties, here’s the recipe:

Spinach Puffs

10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup diced onion
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup blue cheese salad dressing
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 package corn bread mix

Squeeze the liquid out of the spinach and combine it with the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Chill the batter at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350° F and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Drop by rounded spoonful (I like to use a cookie scoop) onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between each. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges of each puff are golden brown.

They’re great room temperature or warmed, can be frozen for long storage. And a even more delicious dipped in a bit of spicy brown mustard.

Loving Fall at the Farmers’ Market!


What’s your favorite season?

Mine has always been fall. It’s cool without being cold, the air is crisp, it’s the season of football (and marching bands!) and Halloween and Thanksgiving.

And with yesterday’s trip to the farmers’ market, after a month or so absence due to schedule conflicts, I’ve got another reason to love fall:

Fall Farmers' Market Haul

It was so many of my veggie favorites all wrapped up in one shopping trip: Brussels sprouts (still on the stalk!), turnips, beets, squash, massive sweet potatoes, daikon radishes and wonderful kale. And that’s just what I brought home this week.

I’m so looking forward to hearty stews  and soups, roasted vegetables and stuffed anything else. Tis the season for some very good eatin’!

What are you excited about, be it from your local farmers’ market or you corner store?

Tallahassee, FL: Sustainable Food Petition


During my trip to the farmers’ market, this past weekend, I was asked to sign an atta-boy petition to the Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam. Commissioner Putnam is small-farm friendly and the goal is to let him know that we appreciate those considerations–as customers of local farms–and encourage more of these sorts of changes to make it easier for small farms to sell directly to consumers while keeping everyone safe.

Some examples of the initiatives that the organizer of the petition, Malini Ramanarayanan of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, Inc., was able to provide me with were reducing the restrictions school systems were under so that they would be able to purchase from local farmers as well as looking at safe alternatives for small farms to sell eggs at farmers’ markets (the current regulations require a washing station far beyond the needs and budgets of small producers).

The market was absolutely bursting, Saturday, with plenty of farmers and shoppers milling around under the pavilion. As I’ve said before, I love finding new-to-me vegetables and having more variety than the local chain groceries carry–without the farmers market I wouldn’t have that access! I was happy to sign the petition and encourage my local readers to do the same.

Thank You for Supporting Small Farms – Keep it up!

Dear Commissioner Putnam

I applaud your administration for paying attention to small farms. Fresh, local food is important to me, so I urge you to implement changes that will minimize costs for small farms while ensuring food safety.

By driving Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives and continuing the work of the Food Safety and Food Defense Advisory Council Small Farm Subcommittee, your administration has shown critical support for small farm enterprises. This will ensure that hard working small farmers not only provide safe healthy food to their communities, but also make a healthy profit and sustainable living.

Keep up the good work! Please continue to support opportunities and “right-size” regulations that impact small farm enterprises in our great state.

Click here to Sign at Change.org

Not in Florida? How about finding your own Commissioner of Agriculture and letting them know your thoughts on small farms?

Farmers’ Market Follow-Up

Farmers' Market Haul

Farmer's Market Haul

If there’s one thing I retained from 3 years as a Brownie it’s “Be Prepared.” In fact, I might be a smidgen compulsive on the research front, wanting to know as much as possible about a situation before heading into it. So it was that I asked for helpful hints in advance of my first trip to the local farmers’ market this past weekend.

Armed with my new-found knowledge I approached Saturday’s blustery market with my own shopping bag, plenty of 5s and 1s and a fresh dose of optimism. I started with a circuit around the pavilion to get an idea what all was available then went back to where I started and began to buy. Unlike the accidental reconnaissance of last month most tables featured well-identified price lists or tags, sparing me having to ask about more than a couple of prices.

Cash-wise I erred on the side of caution and brought double what I ended up spending (just as well–now I won’t) have to go back to the bank in 2 weeks when it’s my turn to make the menu again. If farmers’ markets gave receipts, here’s what mine would have looked like:

$9 for 4 petite acorn squash (1.50 each) and 2# of red potatoes ($3)
$2.50 for a basket of 6 sweet potatoes
$3 for Vidalia onions ($1 each)
$1.20 for a small rhizome of fresh turmeric
$10 for butter crunch lettuce, Swiss chard and arugula
$1.25 for a small rosemary plant

Since local shops take up most of the slots in the shopping center that hosts the farmers’ market, I also stopped into the seafood shop for some tilapia fillets and shucked oysters and into the patisserie for a round loaf of fresh-baked bread and a couple of pain au chocolats for Todd and I. (Future trips may start in Au Peche Mignon rather than than end there, especially if it stays this chilly–they serve coffee, too!)

Now, what to do with this bounty?

The oysters will be made into oyster stew served with the hearty bread from the bakery for a nice, light but warming supper. The acorn squash are the perfect size to steam, hollow, fill and bake with chicken, zucchini and hominy–a deconstructed take on my favorite Spanish Fork Chicken Stew). An onion tart seems very likely with the vidalias and Swiss chard with a salad of butter crunch and arugula on the side and the tilapia will be simply pan-fried and served with the roasted red potatoes. That just leaves the sweet potatoes to be scalloped alongside some chicken-fried steak.

To be honest, I’ve got no idea (yet) what I’ll do with the turmeric, I was just so stoked to see it in it’s natural state (to hear that it grows so well down here and actually likes partial shade was a bonus–I may try planting a part of mine just to see what happens!) that I had to buy some just to play with. The same stand sold ginger and baby lettuces and was one of the few seen using a scale as opposed to pricing per piece or bunch.

My knitted bag (made before every grocery store and it’s cousin started selling their own reusable shopping bags and based on the Itsybitsy bag at Knitty.com) was soon stretched to it’s limits and I felt positively giddy at buying fresh and local ingredients so near my home for, in many cases, less than I was used to seeing in the store. With that and the purchases from the other locally owned shops, my list for the supermarket is fairly short.

I can hardly wait until spring when the rest of the market is full and the new produce starts appearing!