The arrival of watermelon at the market this week (by the truckload) brought to mind a column I wrote in 2001. To quote: “Bill Perry, III, was by the market last week giving me grief for salting my watermelon and telling me that I neglected to mention the very best part of the watermelon in my last column – the rind. Bill’s grandmother made a delicious pickled watermelon rind. So in honor of Bill’s grandmother Tessa Pepper Perry, and all the grandmothers who made us special treats I give you the following recipes.” There followed several recipes provided by the Cardinal Scale employees because Bill, Jr., had been unable to locate his mother’s recipe. Bill and his lovely wife Marion “made lots of watermelon rind pickles when they were first married. During the Depression every edible part of food was put to good use.” We still don’t have Tessa’s recipe, maybe someday it will surface. In the meantime, I end this column with a recipe shared by the Columbia, Missouri, Farmers Market.
One of our goals at the market is to create good memories. We hope the hundreds of children coming to the market this year will someday bring their own children to create more cherished family memories. For me, finding that column from fourteen years ago was a nice trip down memory lane. Bill and Marion were such faithful supporters of the market and we have many things still to remind us of them, like the concrete floors, and the handicap accessible parking and picnic table at the market. Marion spent her last years in a wheelchair and despite the difficulty of moving on our pea gravel floor, her family made the considerable effort to get her into the market. That brought home to us how important accessibility was and, with Perry Family Foundation and Park Board support, we now have good access in the market for anyone on wheels – whether adult or infant. It is a legacy I see making a difference at every market.
A memory that we’ve just started creating this year is the Free Kids Supper on Tuesday. As I wrote earlier, Tuesdays have been transformed. We are jam packed with families and we’re loving it. But growth always brings challenges and one of them has been shelter for all the folks eating at the market. It can get mighty hot in the sun on a summer afternoon, and with our crazy weather, it can also pour down rain, and with the crowds we just can’t fit the tables under the pavilion. The Joplin Area Food Action Network (JFAN) came to our rescue by giving us a grant to buy a large tent which we’ve placed north of the pavilion. It will stay up at least until the Kids Supper program is over for the year and is available to anyone wanting to eat sheltered from the sun or rain.
JFAN’s mission is to increase access to healthy, locally grown food. What a great fit for the market. Another grant they gave in the same round was to Feed the Heart, a food pantry in Carterville. The pantry distributes food to 125 families twice a month and the grant will allow them to provide $10 worth of fresh produce from our market farms to each family. Good things are happening in our communities.
Today at the market, M & M Bistro will serve lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, tabbouleh and humus plates and baklava. Lumpy’s will have smoked and barbecued meats, plus sides. The Sours will play traditional music.
Tomorrow, members of PEO serve Cooking for a Cause. All profits benefit their scholarship program.
Brown Moss is playing. We love their eclectic original music, especially the Market Song written for and about our market. You can hear it anytime on our website, webbcityfarmersmarket.com. Music and breakfast run from 9 to 11. The market is open on Saturdays till noon.
Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 7 pm. The Pommerts will play.
We serve the Free Kids Supper from 5 to 6:30. The menu is chicken strips, cantaloupe, sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes, a roll and milk. Kids that clean their plates will get a bonus slice of watermelon!
Supper with Trish is a BLT sandwich, chips, spinach salad, dessert and a drink for $5. It begins at 5. Carmine’s Pizza is taking this week off.
Come make some memories at the market this week.
Pickled Watermelon Rinds
1/2 of the rind of a small (5 lb.) watermelon
3 Tbsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
2 star anise
Remove rind from watermelon, leaving a small amount of red flesh attached to rind. Reserve watermelon flesh for another use. Peel rind, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups cubed). Place in a large bowl.
Stir together salt and 3 cups water. Pour over rind. Cover and chill 24 hours. Drain; rinse well.
Combine rind, sugar, next 2 ingredients, and 3/4 cup water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cool completely (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 24 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.