Farmers Market – Winter

Schenectady greenmarket sign

Schenectady greenmarket sign

On any given Sunday, between 10am-2pm, hubby and I can usually be found in one place, an independent coffee shop/theater alley.  Drinking fair trade coffee?  Lining up to see the latest show?  Hardly.  While we both love the arts and our caffeine, we’re there for something else – our local farmer’s market.

Since November, we’ve been thrilled to say we actually can go to one in our own town.  Well, apparently they have one every Thursday by City Hall between 11am and 1pm, but some of us actually do work and are unable to get there during those hours.  I’m not sure how great it is anyway.  But for the last few years, K and I had been making a weekly drive of about 30 minutes every SATURDAY to a pretty fantastic farmer’s market one county away.  It was kind of tiresome, and sometimes we thought about the impact of our cars on our environment in our attempt to buy local foods, feeling a bit hypocritical.

And then it happened.  Driving down one of the most busy streets in our county, we saw a banner overhead heralding the beginning of a new farmers market nearby.  And strangely enough, it was beginning in November.


Patrons on the lower level of the greenmarket

Now, November is not the most ideal time to start a farmers market. All of the summer markets in the area (the three county-wide area to be exact) have shut down by then.  But root veggies and cold crops like broccoli and cauliflower are still hanging around, and there’s a few other things that can be purchased.

Obviously, in the days of yore, wintertime was the time when much of the farm work came to an end for some months, and everyone lived off the bounty of the harvest hopefully, or starved if they didn’t.  Whatever could be preserved was tucked away to be eaten during this time, whether it was dried or smoked, salted, or canned.  Trying to eat locally becomes a bit more difficult than at a summer farmers market.

Which is why I was so surprised to see that one was getting started at that point in the year.  And the story of it founding made it even more unique.  Apparently, our farmers market was started by the customers, people like you and me who were also tired of driving a distance each week and went in search of farmers who would be willing to come to us to sell.

So they spent this summer driving down dirt roads in search of the sorts of farmers who never come to the average city-dweller’s mind. Forget rows of corn and climbing beans — that won’t sustain a market when the snow starts to fall.


Grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken

City residents sought out butchers, bakers, dairy farmers and beekeepers. They looked for maple sugarers, wine-makers and apple growers.


Organic bread from one of the three local bakers

By the time vegetable farmers began their last harvests of the season, this grass-roots committee had found and persuaded nearly a dozen winter farmers to drive to Schenectady, come snow or ice, and sell their goods. Not all are selling raw foods — there will also be stews and soups, soaps and lotions, pottery and wool. –(From the article – Farmers market to be open year-round in Schenectady, Schenectady Daily Gazette, Sunday, October 12, 2008)

Apples and cider

Apples and cider

We’ve loved having a farmer’s market so close to us.  Weekly, we enjoy buying bread, eggs, meat, veggies (all root veggies at this time of year, obviously) and honey.  We also look forward to buying our weekly quart of apple cider and will be sad when the apple harvest has been consumed.

But in only a few short months, the abundance of the land will be upon us again and we can’t wait for the sun to be beating upon our shoulders as we bike to the open-air summer market!

For now, though, we’ll just enjoy being nice and warm through the winter.

Local farms that we go to pictured above:

Homemade bread

I’ve been hearing from friends lately about the wonderful benefits of having a breadmaker. Until this past year, when K and I started buying loaves of bread from the farmer’s market instead of the preservative-laden bread at the supermarket (come on, there’s just something unnatural about bread that doesn’t get moldy even after 2 months!), the thought had never really occurred to me. But after seeing and tasting the dense honey wheat loaves of bread there, it recently occurred to me that there is no need to spend $5 per a loaf, even if it lasts for 2 weeks. (We cut a loaf in half and freeze it to use the following week after purchasing.)

So, gosh darn it, today I decided to try my hand at making my own whole wheat bread. So I took the whole wheat bread flour I bought at the co-op recently and got ready!

Along with many other wonderful items, and of course, attributes 🙂 K came into our marriage with this cookbook:

It has hundreds of recipes for different types of breads, but as I read through them to K, my ambitions getting higher and higher with each recipe name I read aloud, K kindly suggested I should try my hand at the Basic Whole Wheat Bread recipe first before trying anything seemingly more complicated like Vollkornbrot and Yeasted Sprout Bread. “Darn,” I thought to myself, but I knew he was right. Breadbaking entrepreneurship would come later.

The ingredients for basic whole wheat bread are, well, basic.

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 F)
  • 6 cups who wheat bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp honey or other sweetener
  • 2 Tbsp oil or butter (optional)

Here are all the ingredients at hand, including my handy dandy Kitchen Aid mixer. Man, I love that thing. 1869 wasn’t good for everything (although imagine the biceps I would have!).

So I took out the whole wheat bread flour I had purchased and then compared it to the white whole wheat flour we had in the house. There was a noticeable difference, though I’m not sure you can tell as well in the picture below.

(Left: Whole Wheat Bread Flour, Right: White Whole Wheat Flour)

According to King Arthur Flours, this flour is “milled from white whole wheat, rather than red, unbleached King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour has all the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat, with milder flavor and lighter color.”

I don’t know which one overall is healthier for you, but I’ve learned that the more processed a whole grain is the less nutrients it keeps and the less it fills you. The whole wheat bread flour looks less fine-grained than the other, plus it was specifically called for in the recipe.

Because I didn’t have 6 cups of flour, nor 2 loaf pans, nor the need for two loaves of bread this week, I decided to only make half the recipe, or enough for one loaf. So I mixed together 3 cups of flour and the salt in a separate glass bowl before realizing I had mixed the entire amount of salt in the recipe into half the flour – yikes! Oh well, nothing I could do now except make salty bread.

I mixed everything together and poured it into the Kitchen Aid Mixing Bowl. Attached the dough hook – and voila! It kneaded my dough for a good 15 minutes until it was very elastic. The book called for 600 strokes – this is where huge biceps would come in handy.

After kneading, I gathered the dough and put it into a bowl to rise. I clearly had too ambitious thoughts on how much it would rise though, given the size of the bowl I chose. The dough was set to rise for 2 hours.

Before rising

After rising

After the first rise, I had to do it again, this time for about an hour. Afterwards I took it out of the bowl, deflated it and let it rest for another 10 min. Then I placed it into my big loaf pan and let it sit for a final rise of 45 min.

Sheesh, by this time the day was mostly over! And I still had no bread. But finally it was time to bake and I did. But because the loaf pan was so big, the bread didn’t get much bigger and it didn’t come out tall enough for “real” slices. I was disappointed
Alas, I do not see Vollkornbrot and Yeasted Sprout Bread in my future after all. Still, some warm, homemade bread is nothing to turn your nose up at, but after this process, I think we will continue to buy our bread from the farmer’s market – at least until we get a breadmaker!

Hmm, I just saw one on Craigslist for $15…

P.S. – Yes, the bread is salty.