YLNI Farmers Market In Full Swing
Jun12

YLNI Farmers Market In Full Swing

Downtown Fort Wayne has the PERFECT place to grab a morning cup of coffee, a bite for breakfast, some groceries and a little something extra for yourself too! The YLNI Farmer’s Market on the corner of Berry and Barr is a HUGE gathering of local farmers, entrepreneurs, bakers and craftsmen that set up shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays in the summer. My best advice is to arrive right at 9. On my visit to the farmer’s market I left around 9:45 and the street was packed! Some vendors even had items crossed off their menus because they had ALREADY sold out. Like the saying goes, the early bird…well, you know…the early bird gets the last fresh snickerdoodle! Here are some finds from my most recent trip to the YLNI Farmer’s Market: I made off with a bath bomb from Redmaster Fusion that, no joke, smells like Fruit Loops . The owner, Kerry Redmaster, started her shop 8 years ago making soy candles and expanded from there. One of the coolest things I have seen is her creation of a bath bomb/soap bar. Just throw the whole thing in the tub and when the bath bomb fizzes out, you are left with soap- Genius! Visit her shop at https://www.redmasterfusionllc.com/ or in person at 537 W. Jefferson Blvd. Did I mention there is a surprise in the middle of her bath bombs? For my kitchen table I purchased some pea shoots and pine berries. Pea shoots taste just like peas, and are loaded with even more nutrition than the full grown plant. These and other “micro greens” are available at the market, and taste delicious on a salad or in a sandwich! I ate my pea shoots tossed with some mozzarella and parmesan cheese, served over lemon and herb spaghetti. Pineberries are white “strawberries” with red seeds and have the faint taste of pineapple in each bite.  Tea drinkers- visit Teajutsu. Actually, you non-tea drinkers go too, just to enjoy the catchy names! With teas called “I Am Froot” (Guardians of the Galaxy) and “Winter at Hogsmeade” (Harry Potter), it’s hard to resist geeking out with a cup. I purchased the Strawberry Shortcake tea, it tastes as bold as it smells and saves calories. This tea tastes just like the real thing! Your taste buds will thank you for visiting the online shop- http://www.teajutsu.net/. You can even place an order online and they will bring it to the market for you to pick up. (Editor’s note – the Teajutsu is a part of the nearby Fort Wayne Farmers Market, also on Barr Street). The YLNI Market is truly a...

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Barr Street Vendor Series: Master’s Hand BBQ
Aug22

Barr Street Vendor Series: Master’s Hand BBQ

I can’t decide if its a good or bad thing that the vendor highlight for Master’s Hand BBQ is coming out after Living Fort Wayne’s Cluck or Chuck competition.  But one thing is for sure, if the Wing Cup was still in play it is likely that our esteemed judges would have been sent to the kitchen to test their own fowl cooking skills with Master’s Hand BBQ sauces as the star flavor. All sauces are gluten free, all natural and contain no high fructose corn syrup or added preservatives.  But sauces aren’t the only specialty of Master’s Hand BBQ. Owner Steve Beers boasts, “We have three kinds of barbecue sauces and one sweet tangy honey mustard. (Also) an all purpose rub/seasoning, BBQ dip mix, BBQ flavored peanuts, cashews and almonds. All of our products are free of high fructose corn syrup, gluten, MSG, dairy, soy and smoke flavorings.” Steve runs the business with his family – his wife Julie, son Josh, and daughter and son-in-law Amanda and Jeremy Gordley.  The Beers family is strong in their Christian faith and this comes through in their business.  In fact, it is even behind the name itself. “We are a Christian company with a passion to share the great news of Jesus Christ and share His Love with as many as possible. Our name Master’s Hand BBQ refers to God, as we like to say God is the Master and we are His hands to help others as He enables us to. We also like to pray for other’s needs, you can go to our website and share your needs for us to pray for at http://www.mastershandbbq.com/About.html.” Master’s Hand BBQ started in 2010 at the suggestion of Steve’s daughter Amanda.  Steve had been making the same mild sauce for over 25 years and she thought it was time to share this great thing he had created.  The business spread from there and now you can find their sauces in stores all across our region including Indiana, Michigan and Ohio and spanning as far as New Hampshire. Store locations in our area include Pio Market II, Dave Hill’s Meat Market and Jamison’s. All of this information and more can be found on their website. You can even find great recipes for their rubs and sauces on the site.  And, if my word isn’t good enough, check out their comments section.  But it sounds to me like the proof is in the puddin…or should I say ‘sauce?’ Master’s Hand BBQ will be at the Barr Street Market every Saturday through September...

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Indulge in Delicious Baked Delights at Vanilla Bean
May20

Indulge in Delicious Baked Delights at Vanilla Bean

Looking for a sweet treat made from real, natural, and fresh ingredients that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face? Then put that package of Chips Ahoy back on the shelf, toss your Twinkies to the dog, and head over to Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies & Cupcakes at 3410 North Anthony; or give them a call, they deliver locally and ship nationwide. The first things you’ll notice as soon as you walk in are the mouthwatering aroma of fresh baked goodness and a smiling hello. It’s a quaint space, but there’s plenty of room for a few tables and chairs to sit down and savor your dessert. A chalkboard hanging behind the display case lists the options of the day, which while I was visiting included five varieties of cookies and six cupcake choices. They also have biscotti, along with gluten free cookies…I’m reassured by the proprietor they are every bit as good as the gluten-ful versions. I sat down with Co-owner and Marketing Chef, Sandra Wharton, who is as energetic and endearing as you would want in a store full of homemade goodness. Ms. Wharton took the time to walk me through their experience being on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, how their cookies were the talk of the Daytime Emmys gift baskets in Hollywood, and the extensive process they went through to get accepted into the prestigious Specialty Food Association. Those are all very fine accomplishments and points of recognition, putting Vanilla Bean in very rare company locally. However, it seems that while Vanilla Bean is renown regionally and even nationally, it is still a hidden gem in Fort Wayne. My co-workers and I tried a number of different cupcakes and cookies and not surprisingly, we were extremely impressed. After the first bite there’s no doubt that they use real butter and sugar, no artificial stuff or substitutes. Our consensus favorite was the Lemon Ricotta cookie, which was not overly sweet or tart, just a soft, tangy, tasty delight. Not many people have nearly the sweet tooth I do, but there was something for everyone to enjoy. Seriously, I loved everything, enough so that it doesn’t make sense for me to try and describe each one – check out their website and you can see that they’ve already done that for you. All I can say is you cannot go wrong with whatever you choose. Some of my other favorites were the Cinnamon Toast cupcake, the Chocolate Dream cupcake, the Simply Vanilla cupcake, the Cherry Chip Cordial cookie, the Funky Chocolate Chip, Toffee, & Pecan cookie, and the Margarita sandwich cookie – did I mention I have an insatiable sweet tooth? And don’t hesitate...

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Mocha Lounge is a Cozy Spot in Southwest Fort Wayne
Mar04

Mocha Lounge is a Cozy Spot in Southwest Fort Wayne

I, like many people, like coffee. And I like trying new coffee places to see the personal touches they’ve put on one of the most popular drinks. The Mocha Lounge looks fairly nondescript from the outside along Covington Road but from the inside it’s cozy, warm and a perfect place to set up shop for coffee, a lunch break or a meeting. Whether you’re getting coffee to go or staying to sit for a while, the Mocha Lounge is a great destination. There are cushy couches and chairs for those who want to visit, small tables and chairs for those by themselves working, bigger tables for those in a group, and a meeting room in the corner for those who want  privacy. For those trying to accomplish something during their visit, there is free wireless internet available, as well. I found the atmosphere to be similar to that of Firefly located on N. Anthony. It is slightly bigger and can accommodate more people, but the same casual, “local” atmosphere is the same. The menu consists of the typical house blends, mochas and lattes, but includes some varieties and combinations that aren’t always on the menu elsewhere.  I had a White Raspberry Mocha, and if it were warmer outside, I would have had a Cupcake Frappe, (but that will be for another time.) For the month of March, there are some St. Patrick’s Day themed drinks available, many including Irish Cream or mint (and you thought mint was gone with the holidays.) The food menu includes simple breakfast and lunch items. The lunch menu has sandwiches that are made to order and are served still warm from being toasted when they are served (or taken to go). There are gluten-free, paleo diet and dairy-free options available, as well. It’s no wonder why Mocha Lounge is one of the Summit City’s most popular local coffee shops! Mocha Lounge, 6312 Covington Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46804...

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In Search of the Holy Kale: Healthy Grocery Options in Fort Wayne
Jan23

In Search of the Holy Kale: Healthy Grocery Options in Fort Wayne

My road to going vegan has been a long one. Shortly after turning twenty-one, I became a vegetarian (eliminating meat, but keeping dairy and eggs).  Late last year, and over a decade after going vegetarian, I did a 3-week long detox and cleanse and discovered dairy was not doing my body any favors, either.  On a quest to ‘eat clean,’ I decided a vegan diet was the best option. I had two missions before I would commit: I had to be able to continue to bake delicious sweet treats in my own oven (I wasn’t giving cookies up for anyone) and I had to have some sort of acceptable cheese replacement.  Oh, and I preferred that my vegetables looked, well, good enough to eat. Like most folks, I wanted to do my research before I committed to the vegan life.  Giving up dairy and eggs is no simple task; they’re in pretty much everything. So, I bought books. A ton of books. And researched online, searching further and further into the depths of the internet. And it turns out, you can pretty much ‘vegan-ise’ anything (even cheese! Hallelujah!).   The challenge was how to find some of the less than mainstream ingredients needed to make all the vegan deliciousness I was looking to try. How was I going to accomplish such a task?  After all, we here in the Summit City are heavy on Wal-marts and light on Farmers Markets (especially in the cold dark days of January). Enter Fort Wayne’s two primary health food stores: Three Rivers Co-Op Natural Grocery (http://www.3riversfood.coop/) on Sherman Blvd. and the aptly named Health Food Shoppe (https://www.facebook.com/hfs.fw‎) on North Anthony. The Co-op is an easy place to wander about marveling at the sheer number of vegan (and gluten-free, and vegetarian, and organic, and all natural…) foods.  Their produce section offers an array of organic and colorful veggies and fruit.  They have a large section of bulk foods that will supplement anyone’s dietary needs as well as tons of convenience and pre-packaged foods.  I even spotted a box of vegan prawns (!) in the freezer section. The co-op also boasts a great deli with tons of homemade food that they make and you take home, along with a well-stocked vitamin and health & beauty section.  The staff are friendly and always ready to help when you’re in search of red lentils but have never actually seen one in your life (all you know is they’re supposed to make one heck of a soup…and they may or may not actually be red). The Health Food Shoppe is equally impressive.  I was especially awed with their gluten-free...

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