Thursday, September 11, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-12-14

Fall is in the air and fall crops are pouring into the market. We still have plenty of summer crops, but now we have winter squash like spaghetti, acorn and butternut, the lettuces are reappearing, as is the boc choy and other greens, and the pumpkins and decorative gourds are wonderful. 

You’ve probably noticed Owen Detweiler at E & O Produce in the north part of the pavilion. He and his wife Edith are new growers with us this year, though they’re not new growers. Previously they had only sold through the Lamar Farmers Market and the Lamar Produce Auction. Owen, as I have mentioned before, loves growing melons. I think he must just love growing big round produce because he is bringing a wonderful collection of pumpkins, large and small, and decorative gourds of all shapes and colors. You will not want to miss his stand on Saturday. (Owen normally comes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.)  

Saturday is also the day to load up on sweet potatoes and jams and jellies because that’s when Fairhaven will be at the market this week.

Which is not to say that we won’t have plenty of choices today as well. We’ll have at least eight farms at the market today and probably ten tomorrow.

For years Friday was our biggest market of the week and the market vendors most sought to attend. When we started the Saturday market some seven years ago, it was a mighty small market, both in terms of customers and vendors and in produce. One Saturday that first year we closed with about two turnips in the place!

My, how the times have changed. I knew that Saturdays would grow. Saturday is, after all, the most popular market day nationwide. Last year Friday and Saturday ran about even in terms of sales and customers. This year, Saturday has taken the lead, a substantial lead.

We always drop a market day during October, and then go to one day a week starting in November. Last year we dropped Tuesday in October and, for the first time, dropped Friday in November. This year the farmers said that Saturday has become such a big day that they cannot supply enough produce on Saturday if they sell on Friday. So come October, we are dropping Friday and keeping Tuesday and Saturday. That schedule should be much, much better for the farmers who need to space their two harvests out during the week rather than trying to harvest two days in a row. We hope our Friday customers will join us either on Saturday or Tuesday, or both. The October schedule should result in two markets a week loaded with produce.

The Kids Community Garden is pretty much finished for the year. We still have sweet potatoes to dig and cover crops to sow but there is not nearly enough to keep 30 children busy for an hour, so during the fall we focus on fresh produce, what it is, how to prepare it, what it tastes like. This week, it was boc choy and butternut squash, but we started out with Orange Crisp watermelon. Each child received a slice and instructions to close their eyes when they tried the first bite. “It tastes like watermelon!!”  That’s because it IS watermelon, orange watermelon. 

I went through the motions of preparing the boc choy but it was too windy to actually cook it. Hopefully that, and the recipe, was enough for the kids to take home the very ample supply provided by market gardeners and try it with their families. I also went through the motions of preparing the butternut squash, but since that can be baked ahead of time, they did get to sample it. There was a very eager cluster of students around the box of butternut when it was time to divide up the produce. The recipe for both the boc choy and the butternut squash are available at the information table at the market.

Today at the market the Plainsfolk are playing and M & M Bistro will serve beef/lamb pita wraps, as well as chicken pita wraps.
Tomorrow we celebrate Arts in the Park. There will be children’s arts activities from 9 to noon courtesy of the Spiva Art Center and Wildcat Glades. WildHeart, emmy-award-winning musicians - they focus on kids, the environment and animals -  performs at 9, 10, and 11 (right). Drew Pommert plays at 9:30 and 10:30 and the cast of JLT in Concert perform at 11:30.

Cooking for a Cause supports Lafayette House, our regional domestic violence shelter. Volunteers will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs cooked to order and coffee and juice until 11.
Tuesday, Rob Pommert plays. Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza makes pizza to order.

I want to close with a conversation I overheard at the garden Wednesday. A young man called his mother to say he was ready to be picked up and to say “Let’s have stuffed peppers for dinner – I have five bell peppers!  And let’s try boc choy, too. I have boc choy and I know how to cook it!” 
There’s plenty of boc choy at the market and we can show you how to cook it, too!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 9-5-14

Don’t you just love it when things fall into place?  Tuesday I was preparing to rush over to Cutting Loose to have our Arts in the Park banner changed to this year’s date so I could put it up at the entrance to the park. Date change – easy. Oh, what’s that?  The banner lists various things going on – children’s activities, music, food, DRAMA. Oh no, I have no drama and if I take that off the banner it will leave a big gap – not only on the banner wording but also in the event. So on my way to Cutting Loose, I stopped in at the Unity Building to see if Carolyn McGowan had any ideas. I walked in and before I opened my mouth, Carolyn said “I need to get some songs from JLT’s anniversary show scheduled at the market!”  How about three 20 minute slots on Saturday, September 13, I said. Drama done!

It’s a match made in heaven – well, actually in downtown Webb City. Joplin Little Theatre is
celebrating their 75th anniversary with “JLT in Concert”. It will have medleys from some of the 90 different musicals that JLT has staged over the years. The show runs from September 24 to 28. You can get a preview of the music (and dance) at the market during Arts in the Park on Saturday, September 13. It’s going to be a lovely day of celebrating the arts, including drama.
September means the seasons are changing. The mums and pumpkins are coming into the market, as are sweet potatoes and winter squash. Green beans are becoming plentiful again. Susie and Sammy Scarecrow will soon be making an appearance for photos.

And as the season changes, preparing for winter comes to mind. We have a wonderful quantity and variety of peppers right now, both sweet and hot. Now’s the time to freeze (or dry) them to add zest to your winter meals. It’s also a great time to can tomatoes or green beans. And we’ve had a pretty good supply of sweet corn lately so you might even be able to snag some for freezing. But buy it soon. Sweet corn will soon be a sweet memory.

Today we enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean for lunch. M & M Bistro serves pita wraps with chicken or beef and lamb. Sonny Lau Certified Bluegrass makes his solo debut at the market.

Cottage Small Coffee Roasters can’t make the market today but will be there on Saturday. We should have a good supply of eggs today. Fanning Egg Farm’s second flock of hens are laying well, doubling the farm’s production, so we’re not running out in an hour like we were earlier this year. Harmony Hill usually has eggs as well on both Friday and Saturday.

Patrick Byers and Shon Bishop with University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Co-operative Extension respectively will be at the market today offering advice related to plants in the garden or landscape. This may be their last visit this year, so take advantage of it if you’re having problems or making plans.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the Tri-County Cerebral Palsy Center. Volunteers will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage and eggs cooked to order, plus juice or coffee until 11. No Apparent Reason from Carthage brings us some of the best bluegrass in the region.

Sunny Lane Farm is coming to the market on Saturdays only for the rest of the year. M & M Bistro is coming on Fridays only. Oakwood Farms is continuing to bring the pepper roaster on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

On Tuesday we’ll have Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza making pizza to order. Hawthorne is playing. See you at the market!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 8/29/14

Hard to believe that fall is just around the corner, unless you saw the mums at the market Tuesday. Two farms will have mums today and tomorrow, primarily yellows and reds. September is upon us and the first of September is what our mum growers aim for when they plant. So let’s start thinking fall. And while you’re thinking fall, put Saturday, September 13, on your calendar. We’ll celebrate Arts in the Park that day. We are delighted that WildHeart is returning this year. They are a duo from central Missouri who do original kids songs related to the environment and animals. The market makes this an extra special occasion by booking WildHeart for our Saturday market and for a performance at the kindergarten the day before. The Missouri Arts Council helps with the cost but we’re looking for a few more sponsors, so if you’d like to be a help, stop by the information table at the market. You’d be supporting the special music and the kids art activity tables at the market that Saturday.

You may remember that last week I wrote about the kids garden and tomatillos. Well, here’s the next installment. We had 39 kids this Wednesday. Once again we split them into different projects, harvesting, raking, and tasting. And they were enthusiastic about all of the tasks. In fact, I had to call several times to get them to leave their work in the garden at quitting time.

My station was the cooking table. In groups of about 12, we gathered around a card table. I showed them how to prepare a sweet pepper for eating raw and then of course we ate the pepper slices up. Then we examined the tomatillo. We talked about “tomatillo” being a Spanish word and several kids connected the “ll” being pronounced like a “y” in Spanish to the more familiar  “tortilla”. These are smart kids. We were surprised how tasty the tomatillo was raw. Somehow we had associated it with tomatoes even though the plants are not related. The raw tomatillo almost has an apple taste. Then, I donned gloves and showed them how to prepare a jalapeno, warning them that the seeds and the membranes were the hottest part. Finally, we tasted Salsa Verde, which is made with tomatillos and jalapenos. It was a big hit. Luckily I’d brought plenty of recipes to share. 

Next week, we explore the wonderful world of squash.

Today at the market, M & M Bistro is serving chicken and lamb/beef wraps. The Granny Chicks are playing so bring your dancing shoes. E & O Produce will be at the market but they have to miss tomorrow, so if you want their lovely melons, today’s the day to come.

Tomorrow, JR Sampson and Friends are playing. The Webb City Band Boosters are serving breakfast from 9 to 11 and a few members of the band will perform during our regular band’s breaks. As is the case with all Saturday breakfast, the volunteer group serves the meal from 9 to 11 and keeps the profits.
Oakwood Farm will have the pepper roaster at the market tomorrow. Oakwood grows many varieties of peppers, but if you find what you like at a different stand, they’ll roast those peppers for $2 a pound. They roast their own for free.

This weekend is our last time for the Ball Jar drawings. We’ll draw five names on Friday and five on Saturday. The winners have to be present to win so keep your ears perked for the megaphone announcements.

On both days, we’ll have lots of produce (though the peaches may be done for the season). Cottage Small Coffee Roasters is back after a break. It was just too hot to roast coffee last week. In fact, I think we can all agree, it was just too hot. Too bad we couldn’t hold some of that dreadful winter cold over for these hot days.

In September we’ll continue to be open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Next Tuesday, we expect Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza and Dog on a Roll to serve dinner. Rob Pommert will play.

Since the Salsa Verde was such a hit at the garden, I thought I’d share it with you. You can find lots of tomatillos at Fredrickson Farms stand. Hot peppers are at almost every growers table.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Makes about 3 cups

You can cook the tomatillos several ways. I roasted them. Don’t worry about chopping the ingredients finely. You’re going to mince them in the food processor or blender anyway.
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (don’t know how much a box weighs?  Just come to the information table and weigh them on our scale donated by Cardinal Scales.)

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeno peppers or 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use them whole if you want really hot salsa – but WEAR GLOVES!)

Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse the fruit well.

Cook the tomatillos using one of the following methods:

Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5 – 7 minutes until the skin is lightly blackened.


Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil and heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.


Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Put the cooked tomatillos and other ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in the fridge and serve with chips or as a topping or side in Mexican dishes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-22-14

Dale Mermoud, our master gardener, and I thought the fall season for the Kids Community Garden was a bust. Garden time is from 3 to 4 on Wednesdays, right after school. At 3:10, not a child had appeared though the buses were gone and the line of cars picking up kids had vanished. Then I looked up to see school counselor Karen Brownfield leading a troupe of children from the middle school. Twenty-five of them! 

Luckily we had plenty to do and just enough tools and work gloves. I had them partner up. Five teams were assigned to Dale to rake the straw mulch off the potato field in preparation for tilling and seeding of cover crop. To another eight I gave bags and set them loose harvesting the tomatoes. And the last seven started breaking off and tearing out the giant sunflower plants that had grown throughout the garden. We’re getting the garden ready for winter.

Halfway through we took a water break, a new group took on the mulch and I took the rest of the children through the garden, exploring what was still in season, telling them about the different varieties of tomatoes and finishing up the sunflowers.

For our final task we split up the harvest with every child taking home a few tomatoes, five won the guessing game that awarded them a mess of fingerling potatoes and a few brave souls took home hot peppers – after a thorough warning to wear plastic gloves when cutting them.

They were a great bunch of kids to work with and Ms. Brownfield tells me we’ll have even more next week when we’ll have more mulch to move and more tomatoes to harvest. We won’t be planting a fall crop like many of our farmers. Instead we’ll work for the next month or so getting the garden in shape for winter and then call it quits until next spring. All of which means that we’ll be doing more than gardening since a 50’ x 50’ garden doesn’t really need 25 kids to put it to bed. 

So for the next month, the kids will put in about half an hour gardening, then we’ll have a lesson – about bees or compost or some other aspect of gardening or a cooking lesson. Next Wednesday we’ll be exploring tomatillos, a vegetable used in Mexican cooking. We have two plants in the garden and the kids were fascinated by them with their papery shells. We’ll sample Tomatillo Salsa Verde. Fredrickson Farms usually has tomatillos at the market. I’ll put the recipe at the Fredrickson’s table so you can give it a try.

Since the Kids Garden is winding down our quantity of produce is waning. And with 25 children that takes quite a bit of produce to make sure everyone gets enough to serve something to their family. Never fear, our farmers are here. Our market farmers are donating produce to share at the garden. It’s perfect. During the summer the kids had more produce than they could use so surplus was sent over to the CP Center or the Senior Center. While generosity is its own reward, it’s nice to see some of it returning to the children.

You’ll still find very generous tables at the market. I stopped by the Lee Family Farm today and was amazed at the quantity of produce, bushel baskets of peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, rows of Swiss chard and eggplant. The Lees sure know how to farm. And they’ve got the fall crop planted so we should be seeing the cool weather crops soon – and hopefully we’ll get weather to match.

Today we have special guests. University of Missouri Extension food safety and nutrition experts will be here to teach us about food safety and nutrition. Londa Vanderwal Nwadike, PhD, State Extension Food Safety Specialist, and Lydia Kaume, Nutrition and Health Specialist from Barton County, will have an activity for all ages showing how easily germs can spread, as well as handouts with food safety and nutrition information. 

The Sours will play traditional music. M & M Bistro will served chicken and beef/lamb pita wraps, as well as taboulleh, hummus and baklava. We welcome a new egg farm, One Tree Farm of Seneca. That means we’ll have LOTS of eggs on Fridays, the best supply we’ve had in years. 

Tomorrow, Market Dude Frank Reiter will wow us with his food demonstration – Cherry Tomato and Bacon Jam on a Crostini schmeared with Chevre. I think we’re going to have to start calling him the Market Gentleman, he’s so fancy. He’ll have samples too!

William Adkins will be singing popular tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. The Civil Air Patrol will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. This is a club of high school kids who hope to join the Air Force. We love working with them. They know how to follow orders and are extremely polite. It bodes well for our country’s future.

On Tuesday, Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate making stew and sealing it in the Food Saver. She can also teach you about canning.

The Pommerts are playing. Dogs on the Roll and Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza will have supper ready.
There’s a tremendous selection at the market these days so come on out and load up!  Time to get that canning done.