One Saturday morning at the beginning of the summer, I finally decided to make my maiden voyage to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market. 2016 marks my 15th year living in Hamilton, and until last month, I had never set foot in the Farmer’s Market.
And I love farmer’s markets! Whenever we’re in Belleville or Sarnia, I try to go with my mom or MIL to their farmer’s markets – I love the smaller town feel that they have. Belleville’s is outdoors, while Sarnia’s is indoors/outdoors, but both retain that ‘essence’ that could be found at these markets 25 years ago.
I’ve long been suspicious of Hamilton’s market, because it’s entirely indoors and in the same plaza as the downtown (dying) mall. My fear was that the Hamilton’s Farmer’s Market was nothing more than a glorified grocery store – where none of the sellers were actually farmers and all of the produce came from The Clock in downtown Toronto. Plus, it’s downtown Hamilton and parking is either hard to find or expensive.
However, now that I live a 15 minute walk away, I knew that I had to fight back my biases and check it out. So, with my husband still snoring in bed, I parked the kids in front of some Saturday Morning Netflix and I headed out with my reusable shopping bag. I ambled about for 10 minutes before I bumped into Jorge at Ercillia’s Fine Foods stall. I started chatting with him about his products, and he proceeded to give me a 30 minute lesson on the history of the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, which I thoroughly enjoyed!
I was disappointed to find that most of the stalls are restaurants, specialty foods, or arts & crafts, and that the few produce sellers there did indeed seem to be resellers rather than farmers. However, the produce stalls do have some beautiful looking fruit and veg, and I do like the fact that much of it is local-ish – because there’s nothing more contradictory than going to the Farmer’s Market and coming home with tomatoes fresh from Mexico!!
One of the most popular bakeries in town, Cake & Loaf, has a stall at the market and this was my first time encountering them in person. (I follow their mouth-watering stream on Instagram, however, and am quite a fan!) The first thing that caught my eye were these:
Yup. Those are “Rice Krispies Squares”…. but made with plain rippled potato chips. whaaat. At $4 a square, they were not cheap, but they were big, so I bought one and brought it home to share with the fam jam for a Saturday morning treat. It was just as tasty as I thought it would be.
Crunchy. Chewy. Sweet. Salty. Savoury. Perfect.
And guess what I have now made 4 times in the month between that fateful trip to the Farmer’s Market and today? That’s right. Ripple Chip Squares. They make the perfect treat to bring along to family gatherings or picnics. 1) No oven = cool kitchen. 2) They’re the first thing on the dessert table to disappear.
It’s the ease of the child-friendly Rice Krispies Treats with a dash of maturity – because, let’s be honest, everyone loves a good Rice Krispies square now and again, but they’re not the most sophisticated dish to bring along to a gathering. Swap the cereal with potato chips, however, and it’s all of a sudden a gourmet picnic dessert.
It might sound strange, and you might be resistant to dumping perfectly lovely chips into a bowl of melted marshmallows, but I promise that you’ll love it!
I have dreams of one day working up the energy to make some candied or chocolate dipped bacon and crumbling that on top of the squares, but as of today, I’m still to lazy to do so – it is summer vacation, after all! Why don’t you try it out and let me know how it goes??
- 1/4 cup butter
- 40 large marshmallows
- 12 cups of slightly crushed plain ripple chips (~ 1 Party Size bag, or 1.25 regular bags)
- Grease a 9x11 pan.
- In a large pot on the stove, melt the butter.
- Turn heat down to low / med low, and add the marshmallows, tossing to coat in the butter. Stir almost constantly until marshmallows are completely melted.
- Add chips, and stir until coated in the marshmallow mix.
- Empty pot into the prepared dish, and use a wet spatula or wet hands to press down the chip mixture and spread it evenly in the pan.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, then cut and serve!
- Store in an airtight container.
- These squares are much more rich than their Rice Krispies cousins - I usually cut the pan up into 20-25 squares.
- The brand of ripple chip that you use doesn't matter - most ripple chips are equal. However, the chips you'll find at Dollarama are more thickly cut, while Ruffles chips are much more delicate. The taste is the same, but the texture does change a bit.
These squares can get expensive if you prefer the premium brands and don’t buy them on sale. I’ve tried various brands, ranging from Dollar Store to Ruffles to No Name grocery store – they taste the same, but they all cut their chips a little differently – so the Dollar Store squares end up with a heavier texture than the Ruffles squares. My advice: find the chips that you like best in this recipe, then have some on hand in your pantry for when the mood strikes.