food, living well, travel
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Field Trip: Mennonite Country

It’s not often that I have a four-day weekend with no plans to travel ANYWHERE! I’m glad I’ve had a few days to relax and indulge in one of my favorite past times-food (shopping for it, eating it, baking it, reading about it, watching it, writing about it…you get the idea).  I’ve also been obsessively watching documentaries on artisan-ing (yes, artisaning should be a word), urban gardening and organic farming. As I try to focus on living simply and spending more time on what really matters, the idea of growing my own food and becoming less of a ‘consumer’ is appealing.  So naturally, a field trip was in order to a community of artisans and food growers that I’ve visited a million times over as a child.  This community of Mennonites is in Southern Kentucky, just 20 minutes from my home town north of Nashville.

What is a Mennonite? I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but Mennonites are a particular Christian group of the Anabaptist denomination.  This is the same group that the more well know Amish stem from.  The members of this community in Kentucky live ultra-simply, shun electricity, and travel by horse and buggy.  Driving through the area, it’s common to see men working the fields with horse-drawn plows, dressed more modestly than any Little House on the Prairie character you can imagine.  My mother even forced me to change out of the  ‘inappropriate’ work-out attire I was wearing before she would even allow me in the car, for fear they wouldn’t allow us to shop in their markets.

I’ve read that these folks are camera-shy, or just don’t enjoy being photographed, so I had to be sneaky and respectful at the same time.

My paparazzi skills are lacking, but you get the idea!

My paparazzi skills are lacking, but you get the idea!

Leading the horses from the stable near the Mennonite market.

Leading the horses from the stable near the Mennonite market.

The handmade goods and home-grown produce that are sold at the markets from early Spring thru October are fantastic! You can purchase quality furniture, fresh salsa and honey, homemade breads and nearly any type of vegetable or fruit that Kentucky soil will grow.  I picked up a few pumpkins, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes and these babies (for a delicious almond pear cake recipe which I’ll be sharing later):

Locally grown Bartlett pairs!

Locally grown Bartlett pears!

We enjoyed a nice end-of-summer drive through the gorgeous Mennonite country side. If your travels ever bring you through Southern Kentucky during the Spring or Summer-do visit one of these community markets for some true artisanal goods, fresh produce and a ride with a view!

Tending the garden!

Tending the garden!

Found a pasture with some cute babies!

Found a pasture with some cute babies!

And finally, the end result of my foodie field trip-Almond Cinnamon-dusted Pear Cake! I had extra batter that I used to make mini cakes for my colleagues and they were a hit today! Seriously delicious with a buttery, melt in your mouth texture-sans the butter!  I’ll share my recipe in another post, but for now here is a preview:

mini Almond Cinnamon-dusted Pear Cakes

mini Almond Cinnamon dusted Pear Cakes

Be prepared for more fall goodness and exciting adventures over the next few months! Until the next Best Bite! 🙂

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