Thursday, October 24, 2013

Delicious Treats and Surprises at the HFM!

Hate ironing? I do, too, and so does Kay Johnson,  of Custom Made Ironing Board Covers, the lady smiling in the picture below. Yes, she's holding an ironing board and sells ironing board covers...but why is she SMILING? Because she has found a way to make ironing quicker and less of a chore. Seriously! Her story started in Traverse City some 10 years ago when she bought a ironing board cover touted to make ironing easy. Although skeptical, she tried it at home and loved it! The next summer she was back in Traverse City, wanting to buy another as a gift, but the vendor was gone. Since Kay has been sewing since childhood, she figured out a way to duplicate the pattern and started to make her own. The rest is history. She uses colorful fabric and her special design and the covers work wonders. "Once a customer buys one, they come back for more. The covers make wonderful gifts," Kay said. She also crochets unique, delicate necklaces. 

Here's another smiling vendor: Tom Sherwood is happy to be back at the HFM selling wonderful doughnuts and baked goods from Nana's Sweet Treats, Italian and American Bakery. Nana, Italian for Grandma, used to bake these goodies herself, but currently Nana's daughter, Roseanne, is the baker, while husband, Tom,  handles the selling. Their bakery is located at the corner of Cedar and Ash in Mason. Tom is smiling because of the delicious quality and popularity of his products. The first two Saturdays at the HFM this year, he sold out! So he brings more product now. His goal? "To have what the customers want," he told me. Nana's offers a full variety of baked goods: eight different breads and rolls; seven types of cake doughnuts as well as long-johns, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, as well as canolis, baklava and casata cake, "which is very rich." Nana's will take special orders, and does catering. Nana's will bake cakes and pies upon request, which is nice to know with Thanksgiving just around the corner. 
Both Tom and Kay are located in the smaller building. Stop by and chat. You'll leave with a smile on your face, too.
I left the HFM last Saturday just delighted with the fun I'd had. I sampled, and then bought, some honey fudge from Willow Blossom Farms. Delicious as it was, the best part for me was that Lorrie had put squash/pumpkin in the fudge!! This odd ingredient didn't affect the taste at all! It just made the fudge taste more substantial, more dense and less guilt-inducing for me, because now the treat was healthy! Okay, healthy-er, anyway.
Country Products was selling concord grapes; Anna, the jewelry lady, was selling scarves; Kay had necklaces she'd made; Carol, the card lady, had a fun Hallowe'en display with sticky notes in a seasonal wrapper, and small packages of Kleenex also in Hallowe'en wrap to put "your little 'boogies' in; Roots Farm (Lansing Food Bank) had lovely pumpkins and gourds and squash...some grown with seeds one of the refugees was able to bring even during their flight from Africa.
So the market is never the same from week to week. I find new, clever and fun things that the vendors have made each time I go. Which is one more reason I love the HFM!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Meet Cyle and Cyndi

Though totally unrelated, these two vendors work side by side at the Holt Farmers' Market, in the larger building. Coincidence that they both spell their names with a" C" ? Some people say there are no coincidences, but I'm not one of them. So, you decide! Cyle and his brothers bring their wonderful produce including the corn and tomatoes grown at  their home at Nightengale Family Farm. During the summer, the younger bro's are at the HFM while Cyle manages their farm-stand. He also manages their stand at the Charlotte farmer market. During the fall, the guys still in high school leave it up to Cyle to be at the everything else, I guess! He's been doing this for five years, and enjoys bringing quality produce to his customers at his various sites. Nightengale Family Farm will also sell items grown at other local farms, as do many of the vendors.
This year the blueberries and cherries were part of this arrangement, as are the apples currently in season. Nightengale FF may expand next year and offer more items. The photo shows Cyle holding a tray of peppers. Since I don't get to the market until 12:30, I didn't get a pic of the tray when it was full of the colorful veggies, because so many of them sold before I got there! 
   Cyndi Mendoza, owner of Cupcakes with Love, is a newcomer at the Holt Farmer's Market, and intends to keep coming back because she's "having such a great time!" While she's sold her delicious cupcakes at other venues, she likes the HFM the best (Yay! thanks, Cyndi!). She and her sister, Norma, love baking and have done this together for years, giving their goodies to family, friends and coworkers. They decided to become entrepreneurs and share their tasty product, hand- made with love, with customers at farmer's markets. They make two different cupcake flavors each week, alongside their standard ones. Last Saturday they featured pumpkin spice and cookies and cream.
Gosh, they looked so tempting, it made me regret that I have to eat gluten-free! Cyndi and Norma also make cookies and bars, with the lemon bars being a particular favorite with customers. They provide samples, so you can taste before you buy. They do cupcakes, etc. for baby and bridal showers, etc. and will do special orders on request. They also have a facebook page that is easily accessed from the Holt Farmer's Market web page, and can take orders/ answer questions from there. So stop by and enjoy. You'll be glad you did.
At tomorrow's market, look for: apples, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumbers, fresh herbs,  two kinds of kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, fall-pick raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb only if ordered ahead (then pick up at the market), summer squash and zucchini, winter squash, green, red and hot peppers, tomatoes incl.  cherry, roman and other varieties. Vendors will also be selling Michigan jams, maple syrup, fall décor incl. corn stalks, pumpkins, possibly some sunflowers and other fall décor items.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Photos from the Past

This is the photo I wanted to include in last week's post. It's the photo of the Country Products stand. Cheryl is standing with her niece, Samantha, in the smaller building. They were featured last week because they are one of the two vendors who sell meat. Check last week's post for details.
Also featured last week was Dave, from Piedmontese Grass-fed Beef. He's in the larger building , near the corner flower shop. Check them both out.
Selling meat that is ready to eat, and  new in the last couple weeks, Big Daddies Big Dawgs. You'll find him in the front of the HFM, cooking up his tasty hot dogs, next to the carmel corn vendor. Both are delicious! Other ready-to-eat food vendors are Ming Dynasty, the Golumbki Gal, the Salsa Lady, Lu's Dessert Breads, and many more. My personal favorite, since I have to eat gluten free, is the French pastry shop. While not at HFM every Saturday, every once in a while they'll have a gf item. So I can have a delicate, crispy pastry/cookie with a delicious filling just as gluten people can. Desserts are a challenge to find gluten free, so it's a real treat when I find one. You'll find them in the larger building.
I bought zucchini last Saturday, stuffed it and cooked it last night. WOW! It was so yummy! I used the recipe in the Lansing State Journal, September 30, Zucchini Stuffed with Italian Sausage...for which I substituted ham, for lack of sausage in the house. Ham was good, but it was the rest of the ingredients that made it wonderful: onion, wine (I subbed red wine vinegar for lack of wine in the house) Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, fresh bread crumbs, garlic, tomatoes and capers. All of which sounds ho-hum, but trust me, the results were delicious. While not a quick recipe that I prefer, once in a while I don't mind fussing, especially when the results are so good. My husband loved it! I just didn't mention the word zucchini!
This Saturday, look for the following at the HFM (while looking for surprises as well, of course!)
Green beans are looking great and plentiful; it's a new picking, and as long as the frost holds off, they'll keep coming. Apples are plentiful, and lots of varieties, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, several varieties of kale, chard, lots of peppers, leeks, scallions, onions, pears, some raspberries (fall-picked variety), zucchini, both summer and winter squash, fresh herbs (no basil; it's done for the season)fall décor: pumpkins, (also pie pumpkins), corn stalks, probably sunflowers, gourds and probably some tomatoes.. Several vendors also sell locally produced, real maple syrup, Michigan jams, locally produced honey, all of which will be available during the winter market days as well (yes, this year we'll be open one Sat/month in winter. More on that later.).


Friday, October 4, 2013

Meat at the Market? Who knew??

(Apologies for the lack of photos; something's not working right. I will try to post them later today. Wish me luck!)
 While the Holt Farmers' Market is not a meat market, you can buy your meat there. If you are interested in grass fed beef, range-free chicken and eggs from those chickens, the HFM has what you want. Both vendors usually sell frozen products, but ask if you can order fresh items if that's what you prefer.
Country Products, one of the original vendors at HFM, while selling lots of produce, also carries wonderful, hormone-free chickens, eggs, beef and pork. And I'm told  the prices are not out of line with Kroger's beef stew meat, chuck roast etc. Their pork is nitrate-free! Even including their bacon! You can order fresh chicken, and Wilbur, the Amish farmer who runs the stand, usually takes orders for freshThanksgiving turkeys as well, so watch for that. You'll find Country Products in the smaller building.
Olmsted Farms sells Piedmontese Beef, a breed that originated in  Italy but now raised in Charlotte, Michigan. It's selling points are that it claims to be the leanest beef you could find anywhere. It has one-third the chloresterol, one-third the calories, is lower fat and "the highest protein of any beef you can buy," said Dave, vendor. "It is fast cooking and only needs to reach 120 degrees due to being so low fat,"  he added. Dave's friend, who raises the beef, uses no chemicals on his farm, and uses a select feed that contains no man-made chemicals either, so the beef is chemical-free. Dave also has  healthy pork  and will take orders for any of his products if he's out of what you want.
Interested? Visit the web-site: You'll find Dave in the larger building, near the flower shop...where you can get your free coffee...and sign up for free Wi-Fi. (but you knew that already, right? :)

New this week: Dicon radishes, a large white radish with a bit of a kick. Used in many Asian dishes and at restaurants. Also blue and red kale and  Stanley plums.
Bountiful and in season: winter squash of all varieties, apples (Ida Reds, wonderful in pies and snacking; Honey Crisp, Jonathons, MacIntosh, my personal favorite, plus more)corn stalks, mums, pumpkins and gourds for fall décor.
Get'em now, because they may be gone next week: Basil still available, but once the temp hits 30s, will be gone. Can be bought in quantity by calling Dennis Greenman, 204-4827. Oregano, sage are still available. Some tomatoes this week, lettuce, beets.

Last week I bought eggplant and zucchini (among many other items), some of which I grilled...delicious! and the rest I'm planning to make into vegetable crisps today. If they turn out, I'll post the recipe on the HFM bulletin board. Remember I get there at 12:30 :). I'm SO not an early bird.