By Kelli Billstein
When you visit Zoie Glass of Lucille’s Kitchen Garden at the Mill City Farmers Market, she’s eager to share her best dessert tips. Try her strawberry rhubarb basil jam over a couple scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, she says. If you add a handful of Bliss Granola (a neighboring vendor at the market), the dish tastes just like a rhubarb bar. In between the savory recipe banter, you’ll see that Zoie is not just in the business of postprandial delicacies; for the most part, she’s known for her artisan jams and chutneys.
Every Saturday for the past three years, she’s been selling at Mill City. Inventive combinations of preserves like green pepper jam, garlic pepper jam, cranberry white balsamic chutney, and the ever-popular raspberry pepper jam have made her a valued addition to the market. The jam, named after Zoie’s 8-year-old daughter, Lucille, does one better: it helps to sell other products at the market. When Zoie combines her strawberry jam with Bliss Granola, or passes a jar to her friends at the Bramblewood Cottage stand to pair with their shortbread cookies, she’s working with her fellow sellers to expose customers to the possibilities of combining local products.
“I love the market,” says Zoie. “There’s just great energy. And it’s nice to work together for exposure at more than one booth. The cheese stand serves my jam with their cheese, and sometimes Star Prairie Trout will be sampled with my garlic pepper jam.”
Working with the other vendors and staying in communication during the growing season is what makes the market function as well as it does. Creative collaboration between the stands inspires us, too, to experiment in our own kitchens with local products, and we’re all the happier for it.
Lucille’s Kitchen has new fruit spreads with less sugar content (Little Lucy’s Strawberry Vanilla and Old-Fashioned Raspberry Lime) as well as fresh apple butter for the fall. Check out their website for more information: www.lucilleskitchengarden.com.