Farmer turned baker sells vegan goods

By Deanna B Narveson
The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — The owner of Blue Skye Farms didn’t mean to start baking vegan treats.

But now Lisa Phillips has added a wholesale baking license to her credentials and another task to the workweek.

Blue Skye Farms in Good Thunder is a community supported agriculture program Phillips launched three years ago with her husband. Subscribers get a box of fresh produce weekly through the summer. The business uses a commercial kitchen in North Mankato as one of its distribution centers.

“I just have baked for family and friends pretty much, and then when I opened this incubator kitchen, vegan caterer Bea’s Kitchen came to me,” Phillips said. “They came to me when they were looking at the kitchen, and they were like, ‘You bake?'”

She started experimenting, trying out recipes and figuring out what can substitute for animal products without sacrificing taste. For example, applesauce can stand for eggs and the applesauce is tasteless.

Phillips said she never expected to take on a baking business, but now she’s baking for Bea’s Kitchen regularly.

Not every new recipe attempt comes out good enough to eat because baking is a precise science, she said.

“I try it first and if it doesn’t pass me or my family, it’s a no-go,” Phillips said. “It’s a customer service thing. We wouldn’t box up produce if it wasn’t good enough.”

She tried to make a peanut butter fudge that didn’t quite come out perfect a few weeks ago.

“It didn’t set up well, so it was kind of like if we’d had ice cream we could have had a nice peanut butter drizzle,” Phillips said.

Bea’s Kitchen sent her some recipes and Phillips’ cookies and bread became a part of the company’s lunch boxes they sell in St. Peter and Mankato.

“And people started asking us where they could get more of the cookies,” said Bea’s Kitchen owner Gretchen Adolphson.

Adolphson and her sister Bea’s Kitchen head chef Kristie Berg said they liked to have as much locally produced food as possible in their salads and lunches. They said it’s great that the baking is transforming into a small business for Phillips.

Right now Phillips is primarily baking for family and Bea’s Kitchen. Blue Skye Farms baked bread and cookies are on sale at the St. Peter Co-op, Ruf Acres Market in Faribault and sometimes CuriosiTea House in Mankato.

Recently she pulled out some old recipes to “veganize” them. She plans to keep adding recipes to her repertoire, including an animal-product-free version of a chocolate zucchini cake that her mom makes and waffle cookies.

“So, I was playing around and I took my grandma’s recipes for these waffle cookies,” Phillips said, she swapped milk for almond milk, eggs for applesauce and butter for coconut oil. “My family was like, ‘Oh you haven’t made these in so long,” and I didn’t tell them that I had changed anything.”