By Kelley Coffeen

I am headed to the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market….one of my favorite places to gather and catch up while taking in the sights and sounds….Wonder through the Farmers Market and you will be struck by the colorful work of local artisans, photographers and gardeners. I am amazed at the collection of talent that gathers down on our newly opened Main Street. Meeting friends and taking a leisurely walk while enjoying the different sounds of folk music, entertaining trio’s and mariachi combos that roam through the market enticing. Local flavors are everywhere….Savor the scent of kettle corn, fresh coffee and you might even find some bizcochitos (New Mexico’s favorite cookie! I will share my recipe below.) The Las Cruces Farmers Market is a year-round attraction, originally established in 1971 by local growers. It is a pet friendly environment that lends itself to friendly conversation and simple retail transactions. The market offers the best in “field to table” produce such as chile, onions, and herbs along with seasonal berries and fruits.

Bakery2-BlogWhile you’re there stop by the Living Harvest Bakery, you will find a display of fresh baked artisan breads, muffins, pastries and cookies. Fresh ground peanut and almond butter and chia seeds, which they call AMAZING!  They offer a mix of old and new flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. I love the blueberry muffins!

The Coffey family, of the Mimbres Valley, takes great care in baking with the finest pure and natural ingredients. Their handmade bakery items are all made from scratch made from whole grains and golden spring wheat from Montana grown without chemicals and is higher in protein than most wheat.  They grind their wheat into flour then add water, yeast salt and a touch of Bakery-blogpure vegetable oil and a little honey. Their bread menu includes honey wheat bread, peasant bread, raisin bread, rye bread, spelt bread, Organic Multi-grain bread, and sprouted grain bread. They also offer specialty breads like green chile cheese bread, apple cinnamon pecan bread and cranberry walnut bread. The flavors of their muffins seem endless…lemon poppy seed, blueberry, cranberry walnut, pumpkin chocolate chip, chia berry blast (sugar free), and banana nut. How can you pick just one? I never do. I buy a few and stick them in my freezer; warming them and enjoying with a hot cup of coffee during the week. Soooo good! You can find them online at www.livingharvestbakery.com

So take in the sun, and enjoy the wonderful crisp, climate of Southern New Mexico while strolling down Main Street. Visit with the artisans and crafters, gardeners and bakers. Swing to the sound of your favorite musicians. The Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market in downtown is a treasure!

Bizcochitos (200 Easy Mexican Recipes, Robert Rose Publishing, 2013) In 1989, the Bizcochito became the official cookie for the state of New Mexico. This traditional holiday cookie is a combination of anise and cinnamon with a hint of brandy. Makes 36 cookies Preheat oven to 350°F 1-inch cookie cutters any shape Baking sheets, greased 3 cups all-purpose flour 1-1/2 tsp baking powder Pinch salt Pinch 1 cup lard 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided 1 tsp anise seeds 1 egg 1 2 tbsp brandy 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together lard, 3/4 cup of the sugar and anise until fluffy. Continue mixing and add egg. Beat until well blended, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides. 2. Reduce speed on mixer to low and beat in flour mixture and brandy until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours. 3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1-inch cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes, re-rolling scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven until firm and slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 to 4 minutes. Dip while warm into cinnamon mixture and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Tips: I like using a star- or flower-shaped cookie cutter. However, if you are pressed for time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheets and press to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake as directed.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Variations: For a buttery flavor, substitute 1 cup softened butter for the lard. You may also substitute sweet red wine for brandy.