Saturday, July 29, 2006

Farmers' Market, Take Two

Many of you have been very kind and supportive about my fledgling efforts to offer my wares at my local farmers' market, so I thought I'd give a report on my second appearance there today. In short, it was FABULOUS, and way beyond my expectations, thanks in large part to my colleagues at work who came down to patronize me (no, no, I mean to buy stuff from me!). And I think it also went better this time--actually doubling profits from my first attempt (whoo-hoo!)--because I am a wee bit farther along the learning curve. Last time, if you'll recall, I learned to make fewer large (bundt-sized) pound cakes, to consider repricing the smaller loaves, and, most of all, to make more pie for the people! So I did all of those things. I only took two large bundts, and I dropped the price of the loaves by a dollar (from $7 to $6 on the advice of my roommate who said that, psychologically, $7 gets rounded up to ten bucks in the customer's mind, while $6 is still close to five bucks...and I believe her wacky logic might have been correct). And I made twice as many pies this time, which nearly killed me, and yet, I do believe that the people would buy as many pies as I could crank out!

This week's selection included the beloved jumbleberry-peach along with cherry-red raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb crumble, and for the non-fruit crowd, a couple of truly sinful Toll House pies. This was also on the recommendation of my roomie, who I almost had to take to task when the fruit pies sold within the first hour or so (the first two were gone before I even had all of my stuff unloaded and my table set up!), but the Toll House pies sat there, looking very neglected and lonely, until the afternoon. I wasn't too distressed about it, because it was my intention to eat one of them myself this evening if it didn't sell (Cyd was banking on this, too, which may have been the ulterior motive behind her suggestion in the first place), and the other one would be filed in the "Freezes Beautifully" section of the cookbook. And let me assure you, I know in my heart that these were some DELICIOUS pies! I followed the classic Toll House pie recipe, but in an homage to my blogger pal and fellow pecan pie enthusiast, Anna, I browned the butter a bit, toasted the walnuts, and though the recipe did not call for vanilla (WHY??), I added a good glug to gild the lily. Of course, as I was making the filling, I snuck a taste of the batter, and BOY HOWDY, was it good! But late in the day, two young men talked themselves into buying one, providing that I could guarantee that it would be luscious and gooey. I assured them that it was. That left one for me and Cyd, and I was secretly thrilled. But then, wouldn't you know, another couple wandered by eventually, and even though I said it wasn't for sale, that I wanted to keep it for myself (you should have seen their faces until I said I was kidding!), they bought the last pie. Still, it is CLEARLY all about summer fruit pies. I even got my first two special orders! And since I just received the most glorious, 640-page tome written by my new pie hero and personal guru, Ken Haedrich, simply and perfectly titled, Pie, there will be much more pie to follow...oh yes, there shall!

But the most surprising and exciting development of the day, and my newest farmers' market lesson learned is that THE PEOPLE WANT JAM! I took 36 jars with me to sell, and I returned with only eight jars, I think. I sold most of the lovely strawberry-rhubarb which you may recall from a post last month, most of my signature blueberry-lime that I made last weekend (though the people were a bit nervous about the lime factor, to be sure), and every single jar of the garlic-onion-pepper jelly that I made last fall from about two dozen kinds of peppers in my garden. The folks were a little frightened initially, but it was all about offering free samples. Nearly everyone who dipped their Cheez-It into the spicy goo coughed up four bucks for a jar immediately after tasting it (reading that back, it sounds wrong, doesn't it?). And to think, I threw a box of the pepper jelly in the car on a whim, thinking that not many people would dig it as much as we do around here. It also helped when I explained that we mainly use it to glaze roasted chicken (but don't put it on until halfway through the baking time, or all that sugar will make a burned bird). So now, I guess I need to bust out the canner again, and make more jam. Perhaps another savory flavor, like the blueberry chutney? Hmm...we must ponder this further. We must also try to figure out why some members of the public (excluding small children, naturally) feel that it is appropriate to grab a handful of your sampling crackers to munch on as they pass by your table. Do they think that I am hawking product for Nabisco? ("That caviar is a garnish!" Name the film...)

Anyway, long story short (too late!), it was a very successful Saturday at the market, and it made me feel like all the work over the past two weeks was worth it! The problem is, I'm due back there next Saturday, so now I have only one week to prepare. UGH! The no sleep rule will, no doubt, be in effect, but not tonight. I'm beat! But before I bid you all adieu, I must show you some of the treasures of the season acquired today from my fellow vendors...

Behold the tomato that I paid $1.75 for, and I was happy to do it. An organic, heirloom Purple Cherokee that is miraculously ready a month before my own heirloom varietals (ok, they have greenhouses!). Unfortunately, I think the farm stand down the road that we bought from last week was peddling grocery store tomatoes. :-( So this taste of things to come must serve to tide us over a bit.

And this was THE find of the day. Absolutely GORGEOUS sweet, fragrant plums that looked like a sunset and smelled like summer itself. And no, I will not be making these into a pie! These are to be snacked on and savored fresh.

I also bartered jam for a loaf of walnut chive bread from the marvelous bread vendor (who, by the way, informed me that the lady that bought my tragic cherry pie last time was looking for me last week--she wanted to buy another one! LOL!), and some lettuces and corn from another nice fellow. Happy, happy girl! I hope everyone out there is enjoying the summer season and regularly visiting your local farmstands and markets.

P.S. I must give a shout-out to my dear friends, Tom and June, on their 29th wedding anniversary today! Anyone who knows them envies their relationship which is still full of great love, deep friendship, good humor, and mutual respect even after all these years. And although June got to the market too late for the coveted cherry-red raspberry pie, I hope they enjoyed the strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie that she did manage to procure for their special evening together. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Tom and June! :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats on taking the market by storm. I'm so excited for you. Keith and I had been in eager anticipation of your report. I'm being called for ramekins-gone-wild so I must go, but YOU GO GIRL!

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