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Maryland’s Best – Fresh Local

This post was originally posted on John's previous blog site on on October 25th, 2016.

For years the Maryland Department of Agriculture has been hosting an awesome annual Buyers-Growers event in Annapolis. It is a fantastic way for restaurant folk to meet producers, farmers, and artisan food crafters that could be potential matches for a restaurant’s buying programs. The Department of Ag also developed a brilliant website,, which is the premiere portal for consumers to find out about everything local. It has a comprehensive list of farmers markets, CSA’s, and a great chart of what is in season locally, month by month.

Now, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture has launched a new initiative, “Maryland’s Best Restaurants”, which encourages restaurants to source, purchase and promote local Maryland specialty crops on their menus and in their kitchens.

Secretary of Agriculture, Joe Bartenfelder, says, “We’re encouraging restaurants to buy from and promote their support of local farmers who are now offering specialty crops. Restaurants participating in this campaign will not only appeal to customers who want to eat local, but also contribute to the economic growth of Maryland.” That’s a win-win.

The program officially runs August through October and during that time the Department of Ag provides window decals, stickers, and check inserts to help promote the effort. Lots of social media is involved to get the ball rolling and connect restaurants, consumers, and farmers.

At Gertrude’s we’ve been buying from local farmers and local artisan food makers for nearly two decades and wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re proud to join the effort with Maryland’s Best Restaurants to help get the word out there and encourage other restaurateurs to join in. It’s fun, it’s delicious, and it’s the right thing to do. We’re rebuilding our local food economy one bite at a time.

For more information check out:

The winds are picking up and bringing in the cooler weather now after a very late warm spell this fall. So bundle up and get to the farmers market. And one of the stars of the Fall market are the apples. It’s apples galore at every market I’ve visited as late. And the 32nd Street/Waverly’s Farmers Market iin Baltimore City is no exception. Time for pies, crisps, applesauce, apple chutney, warmed baked apples with ice cream or lightly whipped cream. The list could go on and on. But for my money the best eating is an apple pie. It’s great for dessert, but I love starting my day with a big slice and a cup of coffee. And all of this can be done the Maryland Best “local” way. So check out this delicious Apple Slab Pie recipe from my friends at Black Rock Orchard and get your Fall started on the right foot.

Black Rock Orchard APPLE SLAB PIE

This recipe is from Emily Haas, who with her husband, David Hochheimer, owns and operates Black Rock Orchard in Lineboro, Maryland. Dave has been selling his apples at the 32nd Street/Waverly Farmers market, each and every Saturday morning, since it’s founding. Emily is an amazing cook (I can attest to that firsthand) and this unique pie pays delectable homage to the fruits of their labor.

Double recipe pie dough. (You may not need all of it but its easier to have more than enough

  • 12 large apple ( Any tart pie apple: I prefer Ida Red or Red Winesap or Stayman Winesap or a mix)

  • ¼ cup butter in small pieces

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup – 1 ½ cups cereal flakes crushed (wheat flakes, corn flakes, etc.)

  • 1/4 cup milk (to brush on pie before baking)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Set aside a 15½-inch jelly roll pan or 13 x 9 inch cake pan. If your pan is larger, the pie will be flatter but that’s good.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples into a bowl. My recipe calls for 12 apples, but I have used as many as 18 in this same recipe. The apples will cook down either way. Mix with 1 cup sugar and toss in the cinnamon. Add the small pieces of butter to the apple mixture.

Roll out half the dough (or less if your pan is smaller) to fit the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with the crushed cereal flakes to within ½ inch of the edge. Spoon the apple mixture on top of the flakes.

Roll out the remaining dough (as needed – you may not need all of it) and place over the apples. Seal the edges by pinching together. Brush the pastry with a little milk. Bake for 20 minutes at 450 and lower oven to 350. Bake for 50 minutes more until very brown.

Serve warm or cold. Use more or fewer apples. Add more or less sugar. Use more or less cereal. Mix cereal types. It always seems to work! My friend from market calls this a Slab Pie.

- John

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