Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chasing away the winter blues at the farmer's market

Most people don't think to go to the farmer's market in MI in the winter. However, I go every Saturday and it is something I look forward to. This time of year there aren't really any vegetables, but there are other vendors (lately more garage sale/antique stuff than anything else). However, I go to pick up my raw milk. My dairy farmer's daughter comes every weekend to the market to sell cheese and other goodies, so she delivers our milk to us. I pick up my cooler full of wonderful real milk and drop off a cooler with empty bottles. We have a cow-share with the dairy farmer, so it isn't buying our milk, it is just picking it up. We bought 1/10th of a cow 3 years ago and pay weekly boarding fees. This entitles us to 2.5 gallons of real milk a week from our share of the cow. Our cow's name is Laura. We do have to go to the farm to pick up our milk sometimes too (we used to go all the time, but this delivery has been a wonderful time saver). The kids love to go to the farm and see the pigs and the cows and the cute puppies and kittens that are usually around.

Today I purchased some tasty fresh raw milk cheese curds from my dairy farmer. They are so good, as soon as I got home Rachel tore open the bag and had a few for a snack. In the stall next door to my dairy farmer is the owner of Westwind Milling. This is the old-fashioned stone mill where we purchase all our Organic flours, cornmeal, oats and more. They recently put in a commercial kitchen and are now baking fabulous organic, artisan breads. I sometimes buy a wonderful loaf of bread, but not today, because I still have a lot of sourdough bread I made this week leftover. However, as much as we love going to the mill and visiting the used bookstore in the back, it is convenient to have them come to our area too. The mill is in Argentine, MI so it is a good 45 minutes or more each way to go there. I ran out of whole wheat flour this week, so we just called and they brought some to the market for me to pick up. So convenient.

The fun part of the visit is seeing these people that have become my friends. I met another lady who has a cow-share that was picking up her milk. She knew the lady who owns our CSA, so she had heard my name before. I also ran into an old friend who we used to be in a milk group with. We chatted for a few minutes. I got the chance to meet a lady who I had previously talked to on the phone. She is friends with my Pampered Chef consultant, but she lives near me and recently started getting milk via a cow-share with our dairy farmer. She just had a baby 2 weeks ago, so I got the pleasure of meeting little Levi (so, so cute). We talked about her joining our milk group for the next 2 months as our farmer will not be at the market in March and April (the stalls are all taken, until May when they will move to Thursdays). Toni (the daughter of our dairy farmer) said hi and asked how I was doing. She gave me a hug and a taste of delicious beef jerky. I also spent a lot of time talking to Linda Purdy who owns Westwind Mill with her husband Lee. We talked about the current situation with the impending animal tagging program in MI and we talked about bread. They are experimenting with things to add to their line. They recently developed a pizza crust dough they are selling frozen and also possibly supplying a party store across from the Mill. She and I share a love of bread baking and we use the same book as a main reference, The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. We discussed the breads we have made from the book. I told her of my success with the Italian Bread I made a couple of weeks ago. The bread was time consuming because you have to first make a Biga pre-ferment, but the taste was wonderful. I also told her of our favorite from that book, the swirled rye bread. We talked about muffins, as they sell a variety of Bran muffin mixes that are wonderful and they are planning on branching out. I told her of the yummy carrot muffins I have been making (hence the reason I ran out of whole wheat flour) this week and the kids are inhaling!!! They are a carrot spice muffin with currants and soaked flour. I'll post the recipe soon!

It is so nice to know and have wonderful friendships with the people who provide our foods. I came home just so happy about the fun community I visited at my local farmer's market on a cold Michigan morning!!

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