Cooking Classes


Farmers' Market Vendor Trivia by the Numbers

For anyone who watches Dragon's Den or Shark Tank you know how obsessed Kevin O'Leary is with SKU's, Stock Keeping Unit numbers. If you have only one SKU to sell you are less likely to have your product placed in a big store chain.

Today out of interest I thought I would count how many SKU's I purchase to fit out my farmers' market menu.

Keep in mind that these numbers DO NOT include such items as my printer and ink cartridges, housecleaning, travel to purchase ingredients and arrive at the market, my cooking utensils and baking sheets, my bread oven and commercial mixer, the tubs to hold bread dough or all my measuring utensils and spatulas. This does not include any display items and tablecloths, paper and signage. No handwipes. No miscellaneous baking ingredients. This is my basic 'go to' that I need week in and week out.

And by the way, our market this season is a total of 16 weeks.

Here it is.

Packaging - 21
This includes all final packaging, labelling, securing, coverings and support for the food.

Flavours - 18
Here I have to list them. I am so thrilled to have such diversity and most are natural, organic and local. Saffron, rose petals, almond, vanilla, saskatoon, peach, BC and sour cherry, white chocolate, cinnamon, rhubarb, strawberry, honey, herbs & spices, garlic, tomato, raspberry and passion fruit.

Flours and baking -31
This includes my 10 varieties of flours, mostly organic and local. It includes additions to my breads such as local organic lentils, cracked grains and Canadian sea salt.

If my adding is correct that amounts to 70 SKU's or ordering and purchasing 70 unique products for my one little market table. Maintaining my stock and not over purchasing is integral. Failure in both reduces my profit.

So perhaps now you understand better why, although I do appreciate and consider all suggestions, there are very few I can act upon. Changes to my menu, such as adding gluten-free selections, creates a proportionate number of new products that I must keep in stock. Maintaining stock impacts my bottom line.


Preserving the Harvest for a Brighter Winter Season

I have been eating pretty high on the hog since I picked up my CSA box from Meadowlark Farms and a CSF (Community Supported Foraging) box from Prairie Infusions.

A rainbow of beets, carrots and beans deserve more than to be devoured hungrily. As much as I know I would enjoy that I want to partake of their beauty for a bit longer. Preserving the bounty has been my agenda these past few days.

I have been learning how to use fermentation as a preservation method. My lovely red, yellow and orange carrots are in a sea salt brine. I have added fresh ginger to one jar and a Thai chili in the other. Did you know that you can add carrot tops for added complexity and flavour?

Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gatherer Cook fame is my reliable source of recipes using wild and foraged foods. I made his pickled chanterelles. I can hardly wait to open this jar. I look forward to fishing out the mushrooms and anointing them with camelina oil to serve with a charcuterie platter or salad.

Once you have a brine figured out you can pretty well ferment any vegetable. I have a giardiniera going in my gallon crock. I put together a medley of yellow beans, onions, zucchini, green tomatoes, carrots and hot and sweet peppers.

Pickled Chanterelle Mushrooms   from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

I followed this recipe to a T. Dry saute chanterelles first. Clean and put them into a hot dry frying pan. Small mushrooms whole and larger ones cut into large pieces.

1 lb. chanterelles
2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
2 tbsp. sea salt
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns

Clean mushrooms and cut into pieces, if necessary.

Dry saute in a large pan. When they give up their water sprinkle with one tablespoon of salt and the thyme. Add remainder of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat.

Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and pack into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Be sure each jar has a bay leaf and some peppercorns.

Add cooking liquid to cover the mushrooms. Wipe rims of jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 20 minute

Fermented Giardiniera

2 c. thinly sliced carrots
2 c. sliced red bell peppers
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced onions
3 c. coarsely chopped zucchini
a few thickly sliced green roma tomatoes
3 peeled and sliced garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
sprig of fresh thyme
3 tbsp. unrefined salt such as kosher or sea salt
6 c. filtered water

Prepare brine by dissolving the salt in water.
Mix all the ingredients except the brine in a large crock or jar.
Fill jar with the brine, leaving 1½ -2 inches of headroom—the space at the top, between the rim of the jar and the top of the vegetables. Weight the vegetables so they are completely submerged in the brine.
Cover the top of the vessel with a lid, coffee filter, paper towel, cheese cloth, or tea towel to keep bugs out.
Be sure to secure towels with a very tight rubber band or the ring from the canning jars. 
Place the jar out of direct light.
Ferment at room temperature 4 days before checking the flavor. If you prefer the flavor more sour, continue fermenting. Any foam that accumulates on the top of the brine can be skimmed off.
Transfer the jars to the refrigerator when the flavour is to your taste.