Sweetening Your Morning Meal
Local farms bring a variety of natural sweeteners to the market: jams, honey, and maple syrup. Try them with your baked goods, breakfast menus, and snacks.
Maple Cream is a new product that Salem-based Sheldon Farms recently started offering at the market. Despite the “cream” in the name, it doesn’t have any dairy in it: just pure maple syrup, which is heated to a high temperature similar to candy preparations, and then cooled until the syrup thickens to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Try it on toast or as a quick frosting or sweet spread for baked goods. Sheldon Farms also brings a variety of sizes of pure maple syrup, both Grade A and Grade B (darker color, more robust flavor).
Kokinda Farm puts fruity summer sweetness within reach during the winter, with its wide selection of jam flavors, including favorites such as Peach, Strawberry Nectarine, Blueberry Rhubarb, and Pineapple Orange.
Laurie Kokinda uses as much local fruit as possible in her jams. In the growing season, she cultivates about one acre of fruit and berry bushes, including gooseberries, currants, blackberries, peaches, plums, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries at her farm in Mechanicville.
From tiny “honey bears” to large multi-pound jars, beekeeper Rick Green brings honey in containers of all sizes to the market each Saturday. Most of his Ballston Lake Apiaries honey is clover with a mix of wildflower, but Green also knows where some farmers plant buckwheat, and he moves a few hives there in summertime. A few years ago he introduced honey concentrates for salad dressings, marinades and for stir frying, and earlier this year he introduced cyser, a honey and apple cider wine.
These natural sweeteners come together in this baked oatmeal dish that leaves plenty of room for your creativity: add fresh fruit, substitute almond extract for vanilla, top with cream or yogurt if you like.
NATURALLY SWEET BAKED OATMEAL
2 cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp honey* or maple syrup*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 cups milk*
1 large egg*
3 Tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup jam* (any flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan.
In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Combine oat mixture with liquids and stir.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Drop the jam by small spoonfuls into the oatmeal. Use a knife to gently swirl it, but do not thoroughly mix. (The swirls add a nice color contrast.)
Bake until the edges are golden brown and mixture bubbles, about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat later.