Farmers Market Meal #5 – Apple Butter and Cream Cheese Pastry

This post is the fifth in a series on meals prepared from ingredients purchased from the farmers market (previous post: Farmers Market Meal #4 – Strawberry Shortcake). I’m fairly new to the farmers market scene. I’ve always had good intentions about purchasing local foods but never followed through because I felt lost walking through the stands wondering what to buy. I decided to combat this by coming up with a plan. Before going to the market, I research recipe ideas using seasonal ingredients with the objective of creating one easy meal with as many local ingredients as possible. This way, when I get to the market, I have focus. It definitely helps that my favorite market provides a sign up for weekly email updates about participating vendors and seasonal items.


I like to watch cooking shows. Recently, I saw a show on Mexican food, which introduced me to a puff pastry stuffed with quince paste and cheese. Prior to seeing this show, I never heard of quince paste. Apparently, it is a thick, sweet jelly made from the pulp of quince, which is a pome fruit similar in appearance to a pear.

Since seeing this show, I’ve had the idea that I could make a version of this with a filling made from local ingredients. Here in central Pennsylvania, we don’t have quince paste, but we have lots of apple butter. Since I knew I would miss my favorite farmers market this week because of a prior engagement, I thought this would be a good time to give this a try.

As my guide, I used the recipe Quince and Cream Cheese Pastry from Lola’s Cocina, but I substituted apple butter for the quince paste. I purchased the apple butter from Tait Farm in Centre Hall, PA and the cream cheese from the Penn State Berkey Creamery, which makes their cream cheese (along with their cheddar cheeses, dips, and spreads) using milk from their on-campus herd.

FarmMarketMeal05_BeforeFarmMarketMeal05_After

This made a great breakfast with coffee and was super easy – a layer of cream cheese topped with apple butter between puff pastry and baked. (I didn’t even bother with the simple syrup used in the recipe and just scored the top of the pastry instead of cutting it all the way through.)

Farmers Market Meal #4 – Strawberry Shortcake

This post is the fourth in a series on meals prepared from ingredients purchased from the farmers market (previous post: Farmers Market Meal #3 – Tomato Basil Pesto Pizza). I’m fairly new to the farmers market scene. I’ve always had good intentions about purchasing local foods but never followed through because I felt lost walking through the stands wondering what to buy. I decided to combat this by coming up with a plan. Before going to the market, I research recipe ideas using seasonal ingredients with the objective of creating one easy meal with as many local ingredients as possible. This way, when I get to the market, I have focus. It definitely helps that my favorite market provides a sign up for weekly email updates about participating vendors and seasonal items.


This week, I cheated in two ways.

First, I skipped the farmers market and headed straight to the local fruit farm to pick strawberries. Strawberries came into season here last weekend. The weather has been glorious – sunny days with clear blue skies and low humidity, but the word is it will be a short season this year. This must be motivating people to get them while they can. According to the farmer, hundreds of people came out the day before. Fortunately, they left some for me.

Second, instead of a meal, I made dessert – strawberry shortcake.

FarmMarketMeal04_BeforeFarmMarketMeal04_After

(Trust me. There is some cake under all that strawberries and cream.)

About the Farm: Way Fruit Farm in Port Matilda, PA started with 1,000 apple trees in 1872 and now produces apples, peaches, plums, pears, sweet corn, pumpkins, strawberries, cherries, blueberries and apricots. It’s a fun place to visit. In addition to U-pick strawberries and tart cherries, they have a farm cafe & shop and host a festival in the fall.

Farmers Market Meal #3 – Tomato Basil Pesto Pizza

This post is the third in a series on meals prepared from ingredients purchased from the farmers market (previous post: Farmers Market Meal #2 – Zippy Grilled Cheese). I’m fairly new to the farmers market scene. I’ve always had good intentions about purchasing local foods but never followed through because I felt lost walking through the stands wondering what to buy. I decided to combat this by coming up with a plan. Before going to the market, I research recipe ideas using seasonal ingredients with the objective of creating one easy meal with as many local ingredients as possible. This way, when I get to the market, I have focus. It definitely helps that my favorite market provides a sign up for weekly email updates about participating vendors and seasonal items.


I was uncertain what kind of meal I would create for this week, but then I thought of pizza. At the farmers market, I purchased a homemade pizza pie crust, tomato basil sauce from our local pasta maker, feta cheese, and pesto. To accompany the pizza, I also purchased bibb lettuce and strawberries, which just came into season this week. I enhanced the salad with mint from my garden and Newman’s balsamic vinaigrette from my fridge and topped it with a little extra feta.

FarmMarketMeal03_BeforeFarmMarketMeal03_After

The pizza with the tomato basil sauce and pesto was good, but the salad with the fresh mint and strawberries really made the meal for me.

Farmers Market Meal #2 – Zippy Grilled Cheese

This post is the second in a series on meals prepared from ingredients purchased from the farmers market (previous post: Farmers Market Meal #1 – Pasta and Asparagus in Butter and Cheese Sauce). I’m fairly new to the farmers market scene. I’ve always had good intentions about purchasing local foods but never followed through because I felt lost walking through the stands wondering what to buy. I decided to combat this by coming up with a plan. Before going to the market, I research recipe ideas using seasonal ingredients with the objective of creating one easy meal with as many local ingredients as possible. This way, when I get to the market, I have focus. It definitely helps that my favorite market provides a sign up for weekly email updates about participating vendors and seasonal items.


Last week, I created a meal around asparagus. Another spring vegetable is the green onion. For this week’s meal, I took my inspiration from a grilled cheese recipe posted by Genius Kitchen. This recipe combines shredded cheese, chopped green onions, and little bit of mayo and mustard to create a sandwich which is zippier and creamier than the traditional grilled cheese.

At the farmers market, I picked up homemade bread, cheese, and green onions for the sandwich as well as homemade potato chips and mint tea to round out the meal. For grilling, I already had butter, purchased from the market last week. (The mayo and mustard came from my fridge by way of the grocery store.)

FarmMarketMeal02_BeforeFarmMarketMeal02_After

Genius Kitchen was right about this recipe. It is a delicious take on grilled cheese.

Farmers Market Meal #1 – Pasta and Asparagus in Butter and Cheese Sauce

Finally, it’s here. Today is the opening day of my favorite farmers market. My goal this growing season is to prepare a meal each week comprised almost solely of ingredients from the market.

The farmers market where I shop is a producer-only market. This means two things. First, it requires vendors sell only what they produce, grow, or make. However, it also means that, in addition to produce, I can get other items too, such as locally produced bread, beer, and even pasta.

Being spring, I wanted to make something using asparagus, so I purchased asparagus, butter, cheese, and pasta to make a meal of pasta and asparagus in butter and cheese sauce.

FarmMarketMeal01_BeforeFarmMarketMeal01_After

It was so easy no recipe was required. I cut the asparagus into bite size pieces. Since the pasta was fresh and needed only a minute or two to cook, I added the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta. I grated some of the cheese and melted it with some of the butter in a sauce pan. I realized too late that I probably should have purchased fresh garlic, but since I didn’t, I seasoned the sauce with a little bit of garlic powder, black pepper, and a few hot pepper flakes. I drained the pasta and asparagus and tossed with the sauce.

Simplicity and a Book about Hiking the AT

Over the years, I’ve read a number of books on long-distance hiking. I’ve gravitated towards this subject, not because I’m interested in doing a long-distance hike myself, but because I’m interested in simple living. If you think about it, an endeavor like thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is the ultimate exercise in self-imposed simplicity. Everything one has is in a 50 pound pack.

Of the books I’ve read on this subject, my favorite to date is A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt. In 1998, Jeff Alt set out to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as a fundraiser for Sunshine Home in Maumee, Ohio. Sunshine Home supports developmentally disabled residents, such as the author’s brother who was born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

What do I like about this book? It comes down to three things.  1) The book is laid out in easy to read chapters with each dedicated to a section of the trail hiked and a map showing the author’s progress. 2) The author does a great job of matter-of-factly describing the mental and physical challenges of the trail. His purpose in writing is motivational rather than humor or drama. Yet, there are instances of both during his hike. 3) The author reminded me of a few important lessons about simplicity, as well as success.  First, life is like hiking in that it is easier with a lighter load. Second, simplicity, when taken to an extreme, doesn’t necessarily mean less stress. On a long distance hike, the stresses of modern life are replaced by the stresses of basic survival: food, water, shelter, safety, weather, and distance walked. Lastly, involving others in a goal increases one’s chance of success. The author not only had a worthwhile cause, but family, friends, his hometown, other hikers, and “trail angels” supported him and motivated him along the way.

Although the author hiked the trail 20 years ago (I imagine some of the descriptions of the shelters and towns are now out-of-date), I think the lessons learned from his book are still relevant. I definitely recommend it as a good simplicity read.

Six Simplicity Reads for Summer

Summer is approaching. Do you need a good book to read for summer vacation? Here are six of my favorite books about simplicity (in no particular order).

Note: Don’t be put off by the long titles. I am not sure why books about simplicity have such long names. It’s a bit of a contradiction, but trust me the books are good reads.

  1. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process – The author (Colin Beavan) plans to live one year of his life with as little impact to the environment as possible while living in New York City with his wife and daughter.
  2. The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir – After experiencing a near-fatal heart episode, the author (Dee Williams) decides to build a tiny house.
  3. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer – The author (Novella Carpenter) starts an urban farm on a vacant lot in Oakland, California.
  4. The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love – The author (Kristin Kimball), who is a city girl, falls in love with a farmer and writes about her experiences farming. (See my previous post Two Back-to-the-Land Memoirs.)
  5. This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak – A heartbreaker about growing up during the 1970s back-to-the-land movement by Melissa Coleman. (See my previous post Two Back-to-the-Land Memoirs.)
  6. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste – The author (Bea Johnson) writes a how-to-manual about reducing waste in the home. (See my previous post Zero Waste.)

Happy reading.