Thursday, July 23, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-24-15



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.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-17-15


There are certain seasons at the market that I love – especially when it comes to fruit – strawberry, peach, and now melon. I hated to say goodbye to blueberries for another year. Seems like that season just flew by. And, of course, strawberries are a sweet memory now. But as the saying goes, when one door shuts, another opens, and the melon door is opening wide. Cantaloupes are coming in by the truckload and the watermelon harvest is starting. I have to admit, watermelon is probably my very favorite market fruit. And unlike many of the other fruits, we usually have plenty so even at the end of market when I do my shopping there are still plenty of melons. It’s not unusual for me to cart home two. Luckily for me, my husband Phil is not a watermelon fan or I’d have to haul even more home. (Sharing is greatly over-rated.)

One of the fun things about the Free Kids Supper is serving seasonal food. We started out hiding zucchini in sauces and serving cucumbers on the side. Now we’ve moved on to fresh sweet corn, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers. Next week I hope we’ll add melon. Our nutrition guidelines require two items of for fruit and/or veggie totaling 3/4 cup for each plate. Now that we’re in high season, that is really easy. The plate Tuesday was beautiful and it was fun to see the kids digging in. The corn was especially popular. And, of course, it was also nice to have the kids come up and say thank you.

The Free Kids Supper is served every Tuesday from 5 to 6:30. Anyone 18 or younger can eat and we are pleased that we’ve been averaging over 90 kids each week. We’ve also been pleased that we’ve had lots of volunteers to help. You’d think that feeding that many kids would be overwhelming, but with all the good help it has gone smoothly. If you would like to volunteer, just stop by the information table at the market.
Today we’ll have a full pavilion with 16 farmers expected, plus kettle corn, baked goods, pork, beef, chicken and goat meat. There’ll be jams and jellies, iced tea and coffee and raw food bars as well.
Lunch today is Granny Shaffer’s ever popular catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Express will have brisket, ribs, smoked chicken and pulled pork.

Cliff Walker will perform.

Tomorrow will be much the same, but we’ll be missing the pork and goat meat, and adding lamb. Edith Bayless will be there with her sewn goods and Rebecca Bristow with her glass and metal art and jewelry.

The Carl Junction Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. All profits will go to the American Cancer Society.

The Granny Chicks will grace the market stage.

M & M Bistro will serve from 9 to noon – lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plates and baklava for eat in or take out.

On Tuesday, Carmine’s Wood Fire serves artisan pizzas from 4 to sell-out. Supper with Trish is Chicken Spaghetti, salad, roll, chocolate cake and drink for $5. As mentioned earlier, the Free Kids Supper is served from 5 to 6:30. The Pommerts will perform. Extension is demonstrating a hummus and veggie recipe.

Sweet corn and tomatoes seem to get all the glory this time of year, but there are many other veggies to choose from at the market, including eggplant. In fact, there are many kinds of eggplants to choose from at the market, small, big, long, round, purple, green. Here’s a recipe using the large egg-shaped Italian eggplant shared by the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans. New Orleans was home to a large Sicilian immigrant population in the late 1800s. Chef Duke LoCicero remembers his Sicilian grandpa with this dish:

Grandpa’s Sicilian Eggplant

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Italian eggplants (medium to large), peeled, and then cut into small cubes
2 medium red onions, diced small
2 large bulbs garlic, roasted
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups sliced black ripe olives
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh basil
1 cup green olives
1 cup diced pimientos
1 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup capers
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon anchovies, pureed
Scant teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add eggplant, onions and garlic; sauté over low to medium heat until eggplant is tender. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to sauté until 80 percent of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 6 hours.

Serve hot or cold, with grilled seafood or meat. This dish can be used in many ways, including with pasta. Serves 8 to 10.

Just as we have many kinds of eggplant at the market, there are many ways of preparing it. Sautee, bake, grill…  Enjoy!

See you at the market.
                                

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Webb City Sentinel Column - 7-10-15



Goodness, as I write this Thursday evening I look out into the soggy landscape and marvel at our farmers who will somehow manage to harvest in this muck and bring us beautiful, fresh, and, no doubt, very well hydrated produce. Not that all produce can be harvested in this weather. Tami Fredrickson said she won’t have okra today because it does not keep well when harvested wet. So there may be a few products or producers missing today but there will be plenty to choose from (including something for the pups).

And that includes lunch because M & M Bistro is expanding their menu. In addition, to their chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plate, and baklava, they will have lasagna and moussaka. M & M Bistro will be at the market both today and on Saturday.

Lumpy’s Express will be at the market today with barbecued ribs and brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sides.

We expect today to be a much calmer day than last Friday, which was an awesome (in a slightly terrifying way) day. We figured that we had close to 2,000 customers, mostly in the first hour. So, let me just remind you that unless you want peaches, you can probably get everything you desire at the market even when it’s been open for an hour. And even the peaches are lasting longer so don’t feel you have to be there at the opening bell.

Tomorrow NALA is serving breakfast – biscuits and gravy, sausages, slices of market tomatoes, and coffee or orange juice for $3.50. Two cooked-to-order farm fresh eggs are $1. When you get breakfast, you not only get a tasty meal and get to support an important community service, but you also get the pleasure of being served by the outrageous Gary Stubblefield. Gary, in case you have not had the pleasure, is an exceedingly tall and boisterous supporter of many good things in our community including NALA. And, in case you have not had the pleasure of working with NALA, it is an organization well deserving of your support. NALA trains and connects volunteer tutors with adults who are illiterate in reading or math, or who do not speak English well. It is estimated that over 10,000 adults in Jasper and Newton Counties are illiterate. Not only does that limit their employment opportunities, but also limits their ability to parent. Children with an illiterate parent are much more likely to be illiterate themselves and to struggle with school. For the folks I know who have sought assistance from NALA, those two reasons were prominent. One was a capable and skilled worker who could not hope to advance in his career without better reading and writing skills. The other was a parent who wanted to be able to read with his young daughter. Both have accomplished their goals with the help of NALA.

Tomorrow, Hawthorn takes the market stage. They specialize in traditional music, especially the music of the Civil War.

We welcomed two new vendors to the market this week. Both will be at the market today:  Hebrew Holy Grounds who sells iced tea and coffee and Lance Troyer, who sells the dog biscuits he and his mother Lois make. Lance is a long time presence at the market, first as an observer, but now as a regular helper for his dad Hector at his vegetable table. Those skills were evident on Tuesday, Lance’s first day as an entrepreneur. I watched as he bagged up the treats, made change and then, after the customer left, rearranged the biscuits to make a nice display. He learned from a master. His Dad’s table always looks good. In fact, Hector thinks about the display when he plants to make sure he has a colorful and attractive table.

On Tuesday, we’ll be serving the Free Kids Supper again. We’ve changed the menu to Sloppy Joes (and yes, the sauce is still packed with fresh veggies) and I guess it’s a hit because even though it was pretty miserable weather we served 97 kids meals last Tuesday. Of course, it didn’t hurt that our volunteers, folks from Keller-Williams, were super saleswomen. They made sure everyone with a child knew there were free Sloppy Joes before they even got in from the parking lot. So bring the kids (18 and under)for a free meal from 5 to 6:30 on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Extension will share Pumped Up Pudding, a pudding made with yogurt and milk with market fruit. Sounds yummy.

On Tuesday Carmine’s Pizza will bake artisan pizzas to order from 4 to sellout. Supper with Trish – meatloaf, au gratin potatoes, salad, dessert and drink for $5 – begins at 5. The Pommert’s will perform.

And, though I know I’ll be longing for it after a while, I’m really glad the rain is supposed to let up and we have a few rain-free markets coming up. Come enjoy them with me.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-3-15



Hold on to your hat bands – we are going into high season!  The sweet corn is coming in by the truckload, the cantaloupes are here, the field tomatoes… Oh, yes, it’s that time of year when the tables are groaning and the pavilion is full.

Tuesday we had over 1,000 customers and tons of produce go through the market in three hours. We exploded our previous Tuesday sales record by over 50%. There were lines everywhere, but only for about 15 minutes. So if you prefer to miss the “seek and secure” drama of opening, just come about 20 minutes after opening. The lines are dissipated and the tables still loaded – because our farmers really know how to grow.

When Patrick Byers, an Extension horticulturist doing research at several markets including ours, was here last week, he told me at least three times “the quality of the produce is excellent”.
   
But things do slip through. If you buy an unsatisfactory product, please let us know at the information table and we’ll be sure it is replaced. With some produce, like sweet corn and melons, it can be very hard to catch a problem without actually shucking it or cutting into it. Your letting us know serves two purposes – it allows us to be sure you get what you pay for, but it also lets us work with the farmers in question to be sure they address any recurring problems. Our farmers strive to grow the best produce around but if they don’t know about a problem, they can’t solve it.

Today Granny Shaffers returns with their catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Barbecue Express will have ribs, barbecued beef, pulled pork, and smoked chicken, as well as sides.

William Adkins plays from 11 to 1 with a break at 11:30 when the JLT’s cast of Forever Plaid performs a medley from the show. Randy Garrett of Lincoln University Extension will be on hand to answer questions about gardening.

Friday, we’ll have all our usual vendors, plus E & O Produce (who usually only come on Tuesday and Saturday but expect to have so many cantaloupes that they need an extra day to sell) and Terrell Creek, who usually sell their award winning goat cheese on Saturday but are coming Friday so they can take the 4th off. In other words, if you want goat cheese, come Friday.

But if you want kettle corn, come Saturday because King’s Kettle Corn is taking Friday off. Now, let’s review “Who’s on first?”

Saturday we welcome M & M Bistro who will serve their chicken pita wrap, gyro, and hummus and tabouleh plates and are adding lasagna and moussaka. They’ll also have their amazing baklava.

On Saturday, Cooking for a Cause benefits Crosslines, our regional food pantry. Volunteers from Central United Methodist and Peace Lutheran churches will serve biscuits and gravy, sausages, slices of market tomatoes, and orange juice or coffee for $3.50. For an extra dollar you can add cooked-to-order farm fresh eggs. 

Marshall Mitchell will be on the market stage astride his saddle, entertaining kids and adults. Music and breakfast run from 9 to 11.

Tuesday the Pommerts perform. Carmine’s Pizza bakes to order from 4 to sellout. 
Supper with Trish begins at 5. The menu is baked ravioli, side salad, garlic bread, dessert and drink for $5.
The Free Kids Supper, a Sloppy Joe, a veggie side and milk, is served from 5 to 6:30. We’re really excited about the response. We’ve averaged over 90 kids each Tuesday and are aiming to break 100. The Kids Supper is free to anyone 18 or younger.

We’re looking for some kids to help with the Kids Community Garden. We meet from 9 to 10 on Wednesday mornings. There is still some planting to be done, but there’s also harvesting. New potatoes are ready to be dug and taken home and we’ll soon have tomatoes. All children are welcome. Those under 11 need to come with an adult.

Oh, yes, it’s high season. Don’t miss it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 6/25/15



Got Books?  The Friends of the Library are collecting gently used books for their traveling library project. Twice a year, the Friends take collections of books to area nursing homes and retirement centers for residents to enjoy. The market will be collecting books for the project today, tomorrow and Tuesday. Bring your books to the information table and we’ll see they go to eager readers.

Those summer crops are beginning to arrive at the market, but, except for the tomatoes, in small quantities. So I won’t start a food fight by naming names. Hint, hint - the good stuff is coming!

We have a good supply of tomatoes and with this heat they are coming on fast and fabulous. You know they taste good and that all veggies are good for you, but did you know that several research studies show that a tomato a day will help keep cardiovascular disease away?  In fact, one study showed that individuals who consumed more than seven servings a week (with a serving being a cup of chopped tomatoes which equals about one tomato) reduced their risk of that disease by 30%. One more reason to feast on the season.

So come for the tomatoes, but don’t forget the cornucopia of other fruits and vegetables. (Oops, did I say fruit?  Yes, I did.)  Here’s a recipe from the Minnesota Food Association. I’ve placed an asterisk next to what you can buy at the market right now:

Refrigerator Dilly Beans

1 Jalapeno*, seeded and finely diced
2 cups of green beans*
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
2 cloves of garlic*, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1/2 medium onion*, sliced thinly
2 sprigs of fresh dill*
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1/4 to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you want them)

Make the brine by combining water, vinegar, salt, sugar and garlic in a saucepan and bringing to a boil. Take off heat and cool down to room temperature.

Trim the beans (you can leave the pointy end if you like).

Bring a saucepan of water to a full boil, dump in the beans and boil for thirty second. Drain and dunk them in ice water. That will stop the cooking and fix the bright color. Drain and set aside.

Add onions, dill, red pepper flakes and peppercorns to your jars (which should be glass with a lid. Since this is a refrigerated product, the lids do not have to be suitable for canning. You can actually reuse jars and lids for this.).

Add beans to jars. If you want to put them in upright, lay the jar horizontally to load them in.

Pour in the cooled brine. Fill the jar to 1/2 inch below the top of the jar, completely covering the beans. 

Leave the jar(s) in the fridge for at least two days before eating. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to six months but I bet they’ll be long gone before that.

Today, we enjoy the traditional music of the Sours. Lumpy’s Express will have ribs, barbecued beef, pulled pork and smoked chicken. M & M Bistro will have market fresh gyros, chicken pita wraps, hummus and tabouleh plates. 

Tomorrow, the Mayfields are playing bluegrass and gospel. Breakfast benefits the Friends of the Webb City Public Library. Biscuits and gravy, sausages, sliced market tomatoes, coffee or orange juice for $3.50. Add two farm fresh eggs cooked to order for $1.

If you come early tomorrow, you’ll probably see a fellow in a University of Missouri Extension shirt getting produce before the bell rings. No need for outrage. That’s Patrick Byers, weighing and recording for a research project he’s conducting. All that produce is going right back to the farmer for sale. Patrick is conducting the project at Webb City (his version of a small market) and Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield (his version of a large market) to gather information on how prices are set. I’m guessing they’re less in Webb City, but we’ll have to wait for the report which should be out this winter since this is the second year of a two-year project. In Webb City, the management (that would be us volunteers) are careful to avoid price fixing. Every farmer and vendor sets their own price. Even when asked, what’s the going rate? by a new farmer, we say “you’ll have to check that out for yourselves.”  We give absolutely no price advice except you need to price your product at a fairly, one that will allow you to make the profit you need to stay in business and one that allows your customers to afford it.

Tuesdays are thriving. We may rename it Family Night. Over 90 kids ate with us again last week.
The Free Kids Supper is from 5 to 6:30. Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza is served from 4 until sell out. Trish with Supper begins at 5. 

The Pommerts are playing (they’ve added kids songs to the playlist). Joplin Little Theatre is sending over their cast from Forever Plaid to tempt us with some of their wonderful close harmonies from 5 to 5:20.

It’s going to be another wonderful week of markets. Don’t miss them. And get ready – we’ll be open Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4. It’s always our biggest weekend of the year!