Thursday, March 23, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-14-17



The Kids Garden Club is back this week! In fact, it will be at the market both tomorrow and next Saturday. Tomorrow is Butterfly Day. The children will make a butterfly craft and plant “Butterfly Weed”. It’s really milk weed but gets a fancy name to remind us that it is the only plant that the monarch butterfly can lay eggs on. Nationwide there is an effort to plant milk weed along the monarch’s migration path because its numbers have been decimated primarily because of loss of habitat, in order words, loss of milk weed plants. And as always there’s learning for adults at the Kids Garden Club – you’ll be learning how to plant a butterfly garden at your home.

Our Market Lady Carolyn Smith is back tomorrow as well. She will demonstrate Asian Kale Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing.

And The Includers are back too! This folksy eclectic band featuring Jeremy Moss and Jason Brown was a real crowd-pleaser when they were at the market a few weeks ago. We’ve added some benches so more folks can join the fun tomorrow.


And Redings Mill Bread Co.is back after a long absence. Artisan bread baked in a wood-fired brick oven. We’ve missed you Jamie and Kris. And Red Tamale is back too.

It’s that time of year when absent friends start to return. Misty Morning Farms, the Lee Family Farm, Nature Valley Farm all returned to the market this month. 

In fact, we’re gearing up for the regular season which begins on Saturday, April 22. Cooking for a Causes are being scheduled as are musicians – and recruiting volunteers. Stop by the information table to sign up to help.

The days and hours will be the same this year:  Tuesdays from 4 to 7 pm, Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm, and Saturdays from 9 to noon

Stewart’s Bakery will serve meals on the Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays breakfast will be Cooking for a Cause and that wonderful Linda Stewart decided that this year she’s going to volunteer in the kitchen to help prepare it. Phil, who ramrods the benefit meal, couldn’t get any better help than that!

However, until we open for the regular season Linda will be serving breakfast. Tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash brown casserole. Linda plans to continue her eat-in or take-out Saturday meal year-round. Tomorrow it’s potato soup and bread.
























I discovered a new vegetable at the market last week. Actually we’ve had this vegetable for several years but I didn’t know what it was. The Asian growers just called it Asian Broccoli but Karen Scott of Oakwoods who is also growing it now tells me that it is actually Broccoli Raab. I have seen that as an ingredient in recipes many times but never made the connection – and it’s while it is certainly found it Asia now, it originated in the Mediterranean where it is called Rapini.

As I learned this week, the stems, leaves, buds and flowers are all edible. It has a slight bitter flavor, which frankly I didn’t notice. What I noticed was the nutty flavor. I found it very tasty and invite you to try it.

Here’s the recipe I made for Carol Parker on KSN this week. Like all greens, this cooks down so don’t be intimidated by the volume of greens before they’re cooked.

Broccoli Raab with Honey and Grapes

2 bunches broccoli raab
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup grapes, cut in half
2 Tbs honey
Salt and pepper
Microgreens to garnish

Trim ends off broccoli raab and coarsely chop. Wash.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute more to toast them.

Add the raab, stir in frequently until it turns bright green. If the pan seems dry, add ¼ cup of water.

Remove from heat. Stir in grapes and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Garnish with micro greens.

Adapted from The Farmers Market Cookbook

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-18-17



It’s beginning to look more like spring at the market. Already we have two farms returning with their early produce from high tunnels. Misty Morning Farm and Lee Family Farm will be joining seven of our year-round growers at the market tomorrow. Misty Morning got their tunnel last year and grew a bit last fall. This spring is their first full effort. The Lees put up their tunnel in the fall so they are bringing in their first harvest. 

Several of our growers have their tunnels planted with strawberries or tomatoes which won’t be ready for harvest until early May. Others, like the Lees, planted cool weather crops which are ready for harvest much sooner. You will find a nice selection of greens, radishes, carrots, green onions, turnips, and more already at the market. So get ready for some freshness tomorrow.

We welcome back Red Bridge Trio tomorrow. They put on quite a show of bluegrass and gospel, and they have a big heart. They travel all the way from Ozark and are a well-known professional band. When we booked for the season I told them that I could only afford them this month because I still had a small grant I could use to pay their fee, which is higher than we usually pay. They came back to me with four dates through the year, saying pay us our usual fee in March with your grant and for the rest of the dates, cut that fee in half. “We love playing at the market.”  And we love our musicians!  Don’t forget to drop a dollar or two in their tip jar Saturday.

Breakfast tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole. 

Stewart’s Bakery will have corned beef and cabbage for eat-in or take-out for $5. Pick up some salad fixings and have a great meal tomorrow night – if you can wait that long.

The market received a nice pat on the back this week. The Missouri Department of Agriculture chose to showcase our Year-Round Education Center located on the Yang Farm near Rocky Comfort as an example of a successful grant project to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. When one considers that our project was selected over many others, including those of the state universities, that is quite a complement.

We’ll start our Twilight Tunnel Walks at the center next month so you can see what all the excitement is about. We’re also excited about our first field day at the center. We are only obligated to do adult education at the center by the grant, but we want to expand our efforts. In May we’ll do a pilot field day with horticulture students from high schools near Rocky Comfort. If that goes well, we’ll expand our efforts to a wider area in the fall. That’s how we do grants at the market. We spread the benefits as widely as we can, increasing the value to the community, whether that be growers, students or consumers, making every grant dollar count.

And you’ll see the results of those efforts tomorrow at the market – tables loaded with fresh local produce in March!  See you at the market.

Here's a recipe from Oakwoods Farm - pick up some just-picked radishes at the market on Saturday!

Roasted Radishes with Butter
1 bunch radishes
1 T. butter
1 T. soy sauce or tamari, optional but a delicious addition
splash of lemon
  • Heat oven to 375. Trim leaves and tap root from radishes. Wash and cut into quarters. I like to leave a little bit of the stems.
  • Heat an ovenproof skillet on medium-high. Add butter. When melted and bubbly, add the radishes. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, toss, and put the pan in the oven.
  • Roast for about 5 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-10-17

I'm am writing this from the tropical climes of Hawaii and I have to tell you that the Webb City forecast for tomorrow is too cold.  But don't let that  discourage you from coming to market tomorrow.  Our valiant staff and volunteers will be there early firing up the heaters.  With the walls down and the heat on it should be coat comfy.  That said, how about getting those temperatures under control before I get back next week!

The Kids Garden Club returns this Saturday to the market.  It’s free, it’s fun and this week the kids are learning to  identify weeds.  Now you may think anyone would know how to identify weeds but I have twice learned to my dismay that is not the case.  Many years ago I planted my first small vegetable garden, ringed it with marigolds which are thought to repel bugs and moved on to other projects while the weeds appeared and thrived.  My sweet husband decided one day to help me out by weeding the garden and did a thorough job of pulling up every marigold plant.  Years later I had landscaped a shaded section of our courtyard with columbine and perennial ferns.  My mother who was a wonderful gardener but unfamiliar with those plants ripped them all out.  I guess they didn't look as good as I thought. (photo above- no weeds here but all sorts of greens including living wheat grass)
On the other hand, one of the loveliest sights I've ever seen was a meadow in Switzerland, lush green grass dotted with yellow flowers which upon closer inspection turned out to be extremely healthy dandelions.
Led by Master Gardeners, the kids will learn how to identify common local weeds and will plant “Shamrocks” (clover).
Breakfast is biscuit and gravy, sausage, eggs, hash brown casserole for $5.  Coffee or juice is 50 cents.  Stewart’s Bakery will have pinto beans and cornbread for take away or eat in for $5. 
"The Includers", featuring Jason Brown, Jeremy Moss, and other musicians, will fill the pavilion with eclectic, fun, folksy music.

The market will be filled with fresh, local produce, baked goods, including gluten-free and handcrafted good-for-you crackers, jams, jellies, pecans, kettle corn, pork, beef, lamb and chicken, frozen tamales, locally made vanilla, handcrafted soaps, balms, jewelry and glass art.  Joplin Business Women will have Rada utensils for sale.  Cook's Berry Junction is bringing eggs for the first time.  Ed expects to bring 40 dozen so that should make a lot of shoppers happy - which makes us happy.  One of my favorite comments from a customer was "the market is my happy place."  We hope you will make it your happy place tomorrow. We try to make the market a happy, healthy welcoming experience for everyone.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 3-3-17



The market will be open tomorrow from 9 to noon, enclosed and heated as usual. What’s not been usual until recently is the wide selection of meats at the market. Sunny Lane Farm has added pork to their selection of beef, chicken and lamb. Nancy said she’d always wanted to raise pigs. I have to admit that raising pigs has never been on my list. In fact, please don’t make me raise pigs!  Isn’t it lovely that we all have different dreams?  Nancy is now living her dream (and as I write this I am in lovely Hawaii with my family so I’m pretty happy too.)

Penn Acres has added Cornish hens to their offerings. Center Creek Farm has pheasant. So we have
beef, chicken, lamb, pork, Cornish hen and pheasant – all humanely raised. Talk to the ranchers for details on how the animals are raised and what benefits you enjoy from eating sustainably raised meats.


Breakfast tomorrow is biscuit and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown casserole. Stewart’s Bakery will have meatloaf and oven brown potatoes for eat-in or take-away for $5. Add some salad fixings for a lovely nutritious Sunday dinner.

Richard Hugh Roberts will sing from the Great American Songbook again tomorrow.

There should be a good selection of produce as we are expecting eight farms – 417 Produce, Braker Berry Farm, Center Creek Farm, Harmony Hill Farm, Nature Valley Farm, Oakwoods Farm, Troyer Vegetables (that means little Lance will be there with dog biscuits) and Xiong Farm. We should have farm fresh eggs from four farms, baked goods, freshly roasted coffee beans, kettle corn, food bars, goat milk soaps, and more.

We are making plans for the regular season which begins on Earth Day, April 22. That will be our first Cooking for a Cause, the fund-raising breakfast on Saturdays. We have a few openings for new non-profits. Funds must be used for public causes. In other words, my own church Central United Methodist signs up for a Saturday but the money raised doesn’t go to a church-only project like repairing the roof or funding a mission trip, instead it goes to our regional food pantry Crosslines. If you have a cause you’d like to support, send me an email at eileennichols@sbcglobal.net.

On the last Saturday in May we begin our Free Kids Summer Meals. We’ll be serving those meals – loaded with local produce – at every market - on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this year and we will need lots of help. If you’d like to volunteer for a couple of hours once a week, once a month or just once, email me. We’d especially like to recruit groups of three or four who would sign up for a regular day of the week or month – groups like churches, businesses, clubs or just friends. Many hands make light work.  (that's Chase handing out silverware at the kids meals last summer)

It’s going to be another great year at the market but don’t wait for April. It’s already Market Time. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Webb City Sentinel market column - 2/24-17



Yes, this crazy weather is supposed to dump frigid air on us this weekend. Thank goodness for our enclosed market and big heaters. (Thank you, City of Webb City!) We’ll be firing the heaters up early tomorrow so the pavilion is comfy when we open at 9.

The Kids Garden Club is back in action tomorrow and they are planting tiny gardens with tiny seeds.  Master Gardeners Eric and Debbie will lead the children in making egg carton gardens, planting radish, spinach and lettuce seed. You will be amazed at how small those seeds are. The club meets in the center section of the pavilion and it will be come and go throughout the morning - and free.


Breakfast is biscuit and gravy, eggs, hash brown casserole, and a choice of sausage or bacon. Coffee or juice is 50 cents. Stewart’s Bakery will have spaghetti and meat balls with a hot roll for take away or eat in for $5.

Richard Hugh Roberts will perform from the Great American Songbook, favorites from the great musicals and performers of the past.

We’ll have seven farmers tomorrow, along with bakers, jam and jelly makers, and lots of other excellent vendors. We’re expecting four farms with eggs so we should have plenty. (Shhh, this is a bit of a secret, but Penn Acres is bringing duck eggs. Supply is limited now but should grow as all the ducks begin laying.)

We’ve had four full days of workshops and conferences in the last two weeks. And it’s been hard to sit inside with the weather so nice. In fact, I had a two hour planning meeting with my horticulture friends from Extension on Wednesday afternoon and we held it outside!  It really only needed an hour and a half but it was so beautiful we lingered. Our topic was developing a grant application for an idea inspired by George Washington Carver’s Jessup Wagons. Carver designed a mini-Agriculture School that traveled  (pulled by a horse) to the farms. If successful, we’re going to be relying on our trucks and cars, but the concept is the same. We want to build kits themed on protected growing (low tunnels and caterpillar tunnels), irrigation, pesticide/spraying, and on technology – yes, we want to teach our farmers how drones, and other technologies, can save them time and money. The kits will go on farm visits and also be used in workshops.  (Completely off the subject, that's a photo of Joe Palmer's birdhouses.  He has them at the market for only $8 each.)

 
I know you’ve heard it before, but University of Missouri and Lincoln University Extension have been essential partners in training our farmers to be successful growers of top quality products. These kits, if funded, will provide tools to continue and expand on those efforts. Much of the training we do is in a classroom. That’s a beginning but hands-on training will solidify the knowledge shared. 

There was a time not so long ago that small and medium sized farms seemed on the way to extinction in our country. That trend has been reversed – partly because many in today’s generation are keen to be farmers, partly because there is a much stronger demand for local foods and support for local farmers and, in our case, partly because Extension and the market has teamed together to provide the best agricultural knowledge to our farmers. 

And when I say the best, I mean the best. We are fortunate to have a tremendous team of educators/mentors in Extension in southwest Missouri and also we have brought in some of the top experts in winter production and food safety. Even now we are working on a tomato conference with the one of the country’s top tomato experts for this summer. So three cheers for Extension and for our farmers who are always ready to learn more – even when it takes them from the farm in beautiful weather.

Brave the cold tomorrow. The sunny days have made the high tunnels exploded with beautiful produce that you can enjoy all week. It is amazing how long the market greens, when properly stored, last. If you buy enough they should take you clear through the week. 

See you at the market!