At any given moment at Linda’s Country Kitchen’s tables at Saratoga Farmers’ Market, the odds are high that a few young children will be peering into the display case, selecting their favorite cookies. From peanut butter to chocolate chip to sugar cookies with brightly colored decorations, the generously sized sweets are a beloved treat for young market shoppers.
“My best-selling products with the children are the cookies, of course,” comments baker Linda Kerber. “With adults, the blueberry muffins and the pies have a huge following.”
“Friday is pie day,” says Kerber. “On Fridays, we bake pies and tea breads all day long, so our weekend market customers are assured of a very fresh product.”
Kerber’s fruit pies come in a variety of flavors, from strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry to a mixed-variety called brumbleberry. She also occasionally sells savory items, including chicken pot pies and Southern-style tomato pies, as well as large bacon-cheddar cheese biscuits.
Kerber’s daughter, Chris, is a huge help to her, lending some extra assistance in the past year since Kerber’s husband, George, passed away. “We worked together for 33 years in my baking business, and were married for 53 years,” says Linda Kerber, recalling her husband’s steady presence. “I consider myself very blessed.”
From her kitchen in Johnsonville, near Schaghticoke, Linda Kerber transforms flour, sugar, and other ingredients—including 36 pounds of butter every week—into her fresh-baked goods that she sells at area farmers’ markets and to a few wholesale accounts.
“There are no preservatives or additives in anything we make,” she says proudly. Whenever possible, the bakery uses locally grown ingredients, including local carrots for carrot cakes, and local fruit for the pies.
“I’d also like people to know that when we have leftover baked goods, we freeze them to preserve freshness and then donate them to food pantries, so they can share the products with their clients.”
“I’ve been baking since I was 10 years old. I was one of eleven children. My mother was terrific, letting me bake on Sunday afternoons, sometimes until I had created a huge mound of donuts on the kitchen table.” As she got older, Linda became a caterer before beginning her baking business.
All year round, the changing seasons and upcoming holidays help Kerber determine her specials. Recently popular at Saratoga Farmers’ Market have been the Autumn Scones, featuring dried cranberries, white chocolate, and milk chocolate chips.
Approaching Christmas, Kerber will regularly feature decorated sugar cookies and other holiday-themed baked goods. She recommends using her cookies in these homemade ice cream sandwiches for a festive dessert that’s fun to assemble at this time of year.
Holiday Ice Cream Sandwiches
The arrival of winter weather and the Christmas season bring many images to mind, from snowflakes to wreaths to Santa Claus. Linda’s Country Kitchen stocks its tables with holiday cookies in a variety of shapes that are delicious to use in these ice cream sandwiches, made at home.
Seasonal flavor(s) of ice cream (such as pumpkin, egg nog, peppermint stick, gingersnap, or any flavor you like)
Assorted sugar cookies, matched into pairs by shape
Let ice cream sit out on counter until somewhat soft (but not dripping or melted).
Using a large spoon, scoop a small amount of ice cream in between a pair of similarly shaped cookies. Gently squeeze the cookies so that ice cream fills the gap in between, and scrape off any ice cream that is squeezed out from between the cookies.
Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap, and put back into freezer for a few hours or more. As the sandwich re-freezes, the cookies will soften a bit, making the ice cream sandwich easier to bite through.
Unwrap sandwiches and allow to sit out for 5-10 minutes before serving, to allow the sandwiches to soften a bit.