In June of 2012, Anne McCormack invited local farmers, artisans, craftsmen and other vendors to join her in selling their wares at a farmers’ market in New Gloucester. When the weather turned too cold for even the hardiest of Maine’s farmers and producers of homespun wares to stand outside for hours at a time, McCormack moved her market indoors and her plan for a Winter Farmers’ Market at Connemara Farm came to fruition.
In McCormack’s rustic and colorful kitchen at her Connemara Farm, she produces some of the finest breads around. Her Celtic Farmhouse bread is a large and light loaf made with seven organic grains and seeds. It’s fat free, sugar free, delightfully crusty on the outside and soft in the middle, vegan and delicious. McCormack’s healthy Shaker Wheat Bread — made with milk, honey, butter, molasses and yeast — is similar in weight and texture.
McCormack’s repertoire also includes a handmade fresh-dough-and-veggie-topped pizza (sold in square, meal-size slices) and dips, such as her fragrant and delicious Greek Island Herb dip made with cream cheese, feta, lemon, garlic, oregano, thyme and parsley, which she sets out for folks to sample.
Because McCormack's Winter Farmers' Market is in her home, her racks and tables for the once-a-week market are in her own kitchen, next to the fieldstone hearth and the oven where she bakes her breads.
Also in the kitchen, near the big windows on the other side of the fireplace, Debora Thurlow of Debbie’s Pies LLC peddles a different kind of deliciousness. In addition to her homemade pies, Thurlow makes “cookies, cakes and cupcakes,” including decadent chocolate cupcakes with a rich butter cream frosting, especially for the Winter Farmers’ Market at Connemara Farm.
Thurlow, who lives about two miles up the road from Connemara Farm, is well known for the pies she sells at Pineland Farms and Hannaford Supermarkets in Yarmouth, Gray and Oxford, but she enjoys selling her sweets at the farmers’ market, where she can offer a bigger variety of products. Thurlow joined the market at Connemara Farm in June of last year, and it is the only one at which she vends her sweet products.
In the next room, Kathy Shaw and Joe Gray of Valley View Farm in Auburn stock their area of the farmers’ market with pasture raised meats and eggs, as well as winter greens, kale and mescaline, root vegetables, Swiss chard and other seasonal vegetables.
Though not present at the market, information on Fogg’s Hill Farm — a farm offering “humanely raised and healthy” products including beef, lamb, pork, goat, chicken, turkey, goose and duck — is available at Connemara Farm.
Nancy Dimauro has eight daughters and no sons, and at her aptly named “Farmers’ Eight” booth, Dimauro’s diverse offerings include organic granolas (made by one of the eight), as well as dog biscuits, baked goods, herbal teas, fresh homegrown herbs and fragrant homemade soaps cut into generous blocks.
Shady Mountain Farm offers Maine maple syrup "made the old-fashioned way in a wood-fired evaporator,” according to Dana Masse. Masse, who hails from Parsonsfield, Maine, stocks more than just maple syrup though. He “has an old friend who makes wooden toys . . . tractors, trucks, skidders and even a car carrier with four smaller cars.” The wooden toys are rugged and beautiful heirloom-quality toys made by Willis Merrill of Willow Wooden Toys in Kennebunk. Masse also stocks an appealing variety of preserves made by the Bunting family at Doles Orchard, including cherry, raspberry and hot pepper, to name just a few.
In addition to edibles, the Winter Farmers’ Market at Connemara Farm includes vendors such as Jennifer Hawkins of Simply Home. Hawkins' wares include all-natural cleaning products and balsam sachets, as well as rustic chalkboards and handmade pillows with lovely country accents.
Also, Stacy Dexter of From the Country Farm makes goat milk soap from her herd of nine, as well as yarn from her alpacas, llamas and goats, and handmade mittens, sweaters, hats, scarves and socks, all made with Dexter’s soft homespun yarn.
Anne McCormack has baked her bread and raised her children at Connemara Farm for many years. When the children grew up and left the farm, she kept making bread. For a period of time, “this was the village bake house . . . in the old cattle barn,” she says.
These days, McCormack is not just a baker, but also the market manager. Her plan is to host dinners or “epicurean evenings” at Connemara Farm, at which she and her fellow vendors will prepare hearty feasts for patrons.
The Winter Farmers’ Market at Connemara Farm, located at 37 Peacock Hill Road in New Gloucester, is open for business every Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m.
Shaker Wheat bread
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 & 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages yeast
2 & 1/2 cups flour
5 cups whole wheat flour
Gently heat until warm, not hot, the milk, honey, butter, molasses and water. Pour into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over. Measure flours then add white flour and half of the wheat flour into bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and gradually add the remaining flour, turning out dough to finish kneading on counter. Knead 8 minutes, or until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough with hands, turn out onto lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and shape each into a smooth ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and shape dough into loaves.
Cover, and let rise until nearly double in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until browned and hollow sounding when rapped with knuckles.
Remove from bread pans and let cool thoroughly before bagging.
This recipe can be made in a food processor using a plastic blade or in a mixer with a dough hook.