LINCOLN — When walking into “Mary’s Kitchen” one feels at home with the scent of banana bread and cookies wafting in the air.

Mary Schrock, a vendor at the Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market, of rural Lincoln rises at 4:30 a.m. on market days to begin the baking process. Schrock has been a vendor at the market since 2015, when she and her husband Willis moved to the area from Wisconsin. The couple has eight children — five girls and three boys.

On Thursday, Schrock was busy not only baking sweet breads but making six fruit crumbles that included gooseberry, blackberry, mixed berry and cherry. Her oven was already full of banana bread and her cabinet tops filled with chocolate chips, cowboy and snickerdoodle cookies.

“Her baking is all methodical, and thought out,” Brenda Raetz, SAFM market master said while watching Schrock mix and bake.

Schrock noted she grew up baking in Kalona, Iowa with her mother Salina Bontrager, now 86.

“My mother cooked for tour groups of 20 to 30 people,” she said. “She still cooks for groups when she can and she makes bread by hand.”

When Schrock bakes, she only uses real butter. When asked why she said because it’s a “real food.” During her baking week she uses close to a case of butter.

“Baking has been part of my life for years, and years,” she explained. “And I love to sell it, and I love the challenge of cleaning the kitchen before I leave for market and selling at the market.”

She added customer favorites include her blackberry, peach and gooseberry crumbles.

When making a crumble she uses frozen berries and a batter topping. Along with the batter, she sprinkles a sugar and cornstarch mixture around the edges and on top, then adds a dash of water.

“Often, I have my recipes laying on the counter, so I can glance over at them,” she explained.

She also makes yeast and cinnamon rolls for market days and added her husband loves sweets, but she loves bread best.

She noted what she enjoys about baking is the challenge, although her passion runs deeper. The reason she bakes, she explained, is because it is a “gift from God,” and it’s a “way He has given her to connect with people.”

On Thursday, she was connecting again with others at her home as she served Raetz and SAFM interns mint tea, made with fresh mint from her garden, and cookies. While the market members enjoyed the snack and chatted with her, Schrock prepared party bread for market on Friday. 

Round loaves of sourdough party bread are sliced horizontally and vertically, but not all the way through. Schrock then adds real bacon bits, cheese and green onions and one stick of melted butter on each loaf.

“It’s a meal in itself,” Schrock said smiling.

Both Schrock and Raetz said the bread is great with soup or a side salad.

At the SAFM Schrock sells bread such as cinnamon swirl, white, honey oatmeal, light wheat, 100% whole wheat, Italian cheese, jalapeno cheese and cheesy party bread. Her rolls take in oatmeal and white, while sweet breads are zucchini, banana (with and without nuts) lemon blueberry, apple, white chocolate raspberry, poppy seed and pumpkin.

Schrock makes a variety of crumbles such as gooseberry, strawberry rhubarb, peach, mixed berry, cherry and apple. Cookies cover a wide variety and include, snickerdoodle, cowboy, chocolate chip, and gooey peanut butter bars. She also offers cakes, oatmeal, German chocolate, carrot, red velvet, and lemon bars.

Schrock, known as Mary’s Kitchen, is at the Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Friday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the market is a modified walk-thru market located at the Missouri State Fair Old Main Gate (Disabled Parking Lot) off 16th Street across from Pummill’s Sporting Goods.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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