Collard Green Chips

I love farmer’s markets.
I try to unravel where exactly this comes from?

Does it come from my childhood and that roadside corn stand?

Do it come from being a Midwestern girl, surrounded by fields?

Was it that first trip to Seattle and the Pikes Place Market that sealed the torrid affair?

I don’t know. I think there are things we are inherently drawn to things. Things that attract us. Often things a part of our calling and a gateway to the talents we possess. Do you ever feel this way? Pulled or drawn into something or someone (I would say I felt that way about my husband too before he was even really a friend)? I feel this way about nature. About a hiking trail. That they seem to call my name. They beckon me to come play and explore.

And markets.

When I had a vision of my own baking business (while hiking a mountain), my immediate answer to merely starting was: a farmer’s market. I researched how to start. I applied. I got turned down. Once. Then once more. Then I got a surprise email in October that there was an opening for a baker at the market and I was hooked.

Even when my husband talks about future goals and suggests maybe transitioning out of markets, I shut that one down pretty quickly. Because it is more than the business, more than the money. I bake because I feel called to do so. Because I’m good at it. I’m creative. But also maybe most importantly it brings me joy, and I like to think that it brings others joy as well. And even though wholesale sounds exciting, selling to restaurants and grocery stores, being able to get my product to a larger audience (who I feel needs it), it’s missing something. I love markets because of the connection.

I thoroughly enjoy talking to the people eating my product, that truthfully I work really hard for (and also it is a little frightening because you feel vulnerable, your brand and product is an extension of you, which you honestly want people to like). Putting all your energy, your heart and soul, your creativity, all your love into a product is a blissful high, but also a little bit of a drain afterwards because you put so much into it. But it is so rewarding. It’s rewarding to be able to express fully as an artist and baker. It is rewarding to have someone stop at your booth (even if it’s just to talk). It is rewarding when someone lights up and is excited about you and your product. When someone needs what you have, and you can help them, wow, it’s amazing and humbling.

This last year I switched markets because we moved and it has been so amazing. This past couple of weeks have been amazing. And I am humbled and truthfully want to cry afterwards because I am so grateful. It is a bustling market. There are lots of vendors. BIG produce sections that take up 4 slots. There is variety. A variety of meat vendors, soaps, bakers, food trucks, arts, jewelry and more. There are musicians playing interspersed throughout. It’s lively. And beautiful and bustling.

Making a connection to my customer is essential and why I do markets. That’s why I want. To know the person either raising or creating my food. That a human is there, loving and nurturing, using their God-given talents. I love learning from other vendors (and customers).

You form a bond with your fellow vendors. I have friends from the Terre Haute market that I’ve been to their home, went kayaking together, and collaborated with. The people behind your food, are often beautiful and amazing people. So in a society with distractions and a skewed view of connection, because of modern technology and social media, actual human connection and conversation is relevant to me.

I have always found myself surrounded by wonderful neighbors at the market. Often times, produce vendors may have too much of something or they don’t want to take it home, so they’ll give it away. Over the years I’ve had lots of vegetables just given to me at the end of a market. For which I am extremely grateful. Continue reading “Collard Green Chips”

Raw Banana Cheesecake

IMAG4297Last week we had a friend coming over. If you know me, then, my mind was racing on some kind of fun little treat I could make. Zach had dinner planned out, but I wanted a nice little sweet at the end.

What could I make?

Most of my baking supplies are in the commercial kitchen. It was a little tricky. Plus I was thinking of things I already had on hand.

A bundle of  bananas. Some nuts.

Cheesecake. I could make cheesecake real fast.

And I know dairy is a hot topic and gray area. I will say, that I personally do not have a problem with it. My husband on the other hand can not, it tears his stomach up, so I generally use alternatives. But I will personally do dairy in moderation sometimes. I love the Weston A. Price for information on raw butter and milk.

So sometimes I include dairy. However, I could probably remake this recipe in the future soaking cashews or macadamia nuts and boom, you have a dairy-free option as well. I truly would have loved to make it with goat cheese, but my husband is not a fan (although I’ve made cheesecakes with goat cheese before and my taste-testers did not know any better). The choice is yours and fitting to what you can personally tolerate and your level of moderation.

On this night, we splurged and I made this lovely, light little cheesecake for our dinner party.

And it was really easy to assemble.

And really delicious.

Raw Banana Cheesecake Continue reading “Raw Banana Cheesecake”

A Polifroni Dinner: Apple Chicken, Collard Greens & Sweet Potato/Parsnip Hash

IMAG4294.jpgI will confess, I love baking. It fuels my creativity. It’s my art. Food is one of the ways I express myself. And I enjoy thinking of new recipes and baking/making delicious new things.

However, this isn’t very representative of real life. I like to post options for treats and desserts (and to make them for the market), but it’s not something I eat or make at home very often. I typically will make bake goods for blogs and give them away or I make them for my husband.

Why?

Because the everyday foods I eat are not nearly as pretty as my baked goods. They are less awe-inspiring. A little less pizzazz. They seem so simple. They’re not as sexy. But they are delicious. They’re what I enjoy eating.

In real life I could eat cabbage everyday. It doesn’t smell good. It doesn’t necessarily look good either. But I love the taste.

I wanted to start this week off with something that my husband and I typically eat for dinner.

It has flavor. This dish had color. It has variety. And it is filling.

It’s not complicated. It’s super easy to make. And it doesn’t take long to make.

Polifroni Dinner Night

(this served 3 people, plus leftovers)

Apple Chicken

  • 1 lbs. chicken breast
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • sea salt and pepper

Collard Greens

  • 1/2 bunch collard greens
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat, ghee, or coconut oil

Sweet Potato & Parsnip Hash

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 parsnip
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp bacon fat, ghee, or coconut oil

Let’s Make it Happen:

Peel the sweet potato and parsnip. Dice into cubes (I usually like to cube mine pretty small). Heat your fat in a skillet with the garlic on a medium heat. Add the sweet potato and parsnip. Season to taste. Allow them to cook, keep stirring them as prepare the other food. Cook them until they are tender (soft and a fork goes through the center, we put ours in a baking pan to keep warm while we made the other sides and so we could use the skillet).

Cut chicken into strips. Season with sea salt, pepper, and basil. Cook in a skillet on medium heat in another skillet. While it is cooking, dice the apples (we left the skin on). When it is almost done cooking (no longer pink in the center), drain it, and add the apples. Drizzle honey over the top. Turn to low, until the collard greens are done.

For the collard greens, remove the veins. Roll up the leaves. Thinly slice. Dice the onion. Saute the onion in a skillet with the fat until translucent. Add the collard greens. Salt. Cook until soft.

Serve it all up on a plate (props to my husband for plating this beautifully for me), eat and enjoy!

Mango Lemonade Kombucha Gummies

IMAG4285A few weeks ago I shared a blog about my adventures into kombucha making. I will note that I have been intrigued by kombucha for about 8 + years now, but I had a dear friend who made wonderful kombucha. When we moved, though, I had to be a big girl and learn to make my own though.

Always putting a twist on things, I started thinking of how I could use kombucha, beyond the realm of merely sipping on it.

In the past I have made some ice cream (which now I would probably consider it more sorbet-like) with it.

But I had seen some gummies floating around on my pinterest.

Hmmm….

My husband is a fan of gummy bears. He, however, hates kombucha. I can’t even drink it around it, he doesn’t like the smell and frequently makes fun of me for it.

But, what if I flavored the kombucha nicely and paired it with a flavorful, delicious fruit?

Even if he doesn’t like (or even tastes it), it sounded good to me. So I began envision myself snacking on mango kombucha gummies. And my mind began reeling with loads of ideas for flavors.

Cherry because they’re my favorite food. But what if I added vanilla bean? Or lime zest or juice?

What about Pina Colada flavored? Let’s throw in some coconut and pineapple.

What about a strawberry banana.

Ooh or a mixed berry?

Or a strawberry mint?

Or a lemon blueberry?

Do you see how my brain works? Once an idea starts, it just rolls and rolls with more. Sometimes I suffer from too much creativity or ideas. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I do have to really practice editing (especially for my markets, otherwise I would show up with tons of different stuff and the selection would probably be overwhelming for many shoppers).

Anyways, my first adventure into gummies was a mango lemonade. The juice I added to my kombucha was a mango lemonade, which I did a second ferment on for three days. Add some fresh mangoes and lemon juice to the gummy mix and you have a great flavor-packed little bite. Continue reading “Mango Lemonade Kombucha Gummies”

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Tortillas

IMAG4156.jpgWho doesn’t like tacos?

I’ve played with different tortillas in the past. My first experiment was shaping bacon into the shape of a taco shell. But I’ve also used cauliflower and zucchini. A few years ago I made ones plantains and ones with sweet potatoes. I’ve made spinach ones for wraps. And a month ago I made kale ones (again for BLT wraps).

So I set out to revisit the sweet potato tortilla. Something super simple.

It was pretty mush mashed sweet potatoes and tapioca flour. My husband (the chef) did an awesome job helping me cook and flip them.

My own personal verdict is that I liked them MORE than the ones I’ve made in the past. The tapioca added a nice little stretchiness to the tortilla, so I could pulls and wrap it up nice and tight.

And I liked the flavor. Continue reading “Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Tortillas”

Gluten-Free Asparagus + Goat Cheese Tart

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Sometimes the hardest part of the market is talking about food all day………

This is true. Five in the morning is too early to eat for me. By noon, when the market ends, however, I cannot seem to get food fast enough. The struggle is real to be surrounded by food. All morning I’ll eye people carrying a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Add to that, that my neighbor has gorgeous asparagus. And you know it’s good because he sells out by 10:30 every weekend.

All morning my brain races with dishes I want to make. I am constantly conceptualizing. And talking with people who stop by my booth, typically leads to more food conversations (I am a baker, this should be expected). I am talking and creating at the same time. My excitement for a new recipe grows as the day goes.

When I was brainstorming Easter recipes I had thought asparagus tart.

And every Saturday as I sit next to my neighbor I think: asparagus tart.

Finally we bought some asparagus. And finally I have made a tart.

There are some vegetables, which are so good, I could eat them all the time. One woman claimed that by the end of asparagus season, she is over asparagus. Blasphemous.

I could eat asparagus every day.

I could eat cabbage every day. Continue reading “Gluten-Free Asparagus + Goat Cheese Tart”

Adventures in Kombucha

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Sometimes I think it is essential to look the part, to play the part. No?

My rad friends got me this, “But First Kombucha” shirt for Christmas. They’re awesome and totally get me.

So when I wanted to learn the ropes of kombucha, I had to wear the shirt.

This post is about human connection and community as much as it is about kombucha.

I remember when I first met my friend Kate at the market. She had on this cool hat, awesome socks, she was pretty much cool. I could tell right away she was like an earthy soul sister and all around good person. I came to her booth and we went to compliment each other at the same time (me on her general look, and her about my baby pink hair). She was there selling cheese for a farmer, but some how we got talking about kombucha. This was a while ago. Fast forward to me joining the market and Kate carrying kombucha at the market. It was sooooo good. Cherry was favorite because that’s my favorite food. But the market let me not only interact with Kate on a regular basis, but I got to try loads of different flavors. There was strawberry mint and one with turmeric and so many more, I can’t think of all the kinds I’ve tried over the years.

I’ll note that this was before kombucha was easy to find at the store.

But Kate stopped doing the market at the end of the summer………………..

And I moved to Champaign……………………

I didn’t want to pay a small fortune for a bottle of kombucha at the store. Plus I am very much one of those self-sufficient types and I have wanted (even before my first encounter with Kate) to make kombucha.

I was intimidated to make it, though, because reading on the internet makes it scary, I feel, and there can be a lot of horror stories.

And I always had Kate, but then I was on my own, and the time was right to learn for myself. Because why not learn from someone who’s been doing it for a long time, with no troubles? So I messaged Kate and scheduled something. I also invited my girl Crystal from church, because we talked about kombucha, farming and more the first time we met. I knew she would love it.

So we set off with our glass jars, ready to learn and see for ourselves.

I cannot even put into words our little adventures. It is more than kombucha. There is a reason I love farmer’s markets. Why I’ve visited farms in the past. Why it’s an integral part of the future I see myself in.

Kate and Jason live on a little slice of heaven. We pull up and they have grass-fed dairy cows chilling in their front yard. You can see all of Jason’s hives in the back yard. Further away their are chickens. And in the woods are hundreds of logs ready to grow mushroom. We drove for miles surrounded by traditional corn and wheat fields to this oasis of life. There are gardens. There are trees. It’s quiet and peaceful and perfect.

Besides this, however, are the people. I love markets because of the connection factor. Not just making a connection to my food (okay this is the person growing, baking, making, etc. my food), but the person behind it. That is something in this society. In a society, where frankly I think we are distracted and numb to our own lives, I think this matters. In a time of technology, where you see sad photos of us stooped over our phones. Of a family or friends sitting in the same room, utterly engrossed in another reality.

So true human connection matters to me. It should matter to us all. Having conversations, real ones with eye contact, interaction, listening, engagement, is beautiful. I get a high leaving the markets in the summer after meeting and interacting with new people all morning. Continue reading “Adventures in Kombucha”