Thursday, October 15, 2009

Webb City Sentinel - 10/16/09

We’re looking forward to a special market today. The third-graders from Mark Twain Elementary are coming for the first time ever. Children participating in Parents as Teachers are painting pumpkins at the market today. In honor of both, the street car will be running from 11 to 2. Rides are free and there will be room for all comers regardless of age.

We have two contests today. One is our annual scarecrow contest. More than twenty life-sized scarecrows will be set up and visitors can vote for their favorite. The scarecrows are made each year by the children of Webster First and Second Grade Center. We’ll also have a guess the weight of the pumpkin contest. The winner, drawn at 1:00 from the correct guesses, will win the giant pumpkin donated by Organic Way Farm.

Bailed Green and Wired Tight will play. Lunch is served from 11 to 1 and is beef stew, corn bread, chocolate cake and drink for $6. Sounds just right for the cool forecast.

I was talking to Tim Green today about the weather. He was commenting that his high tunnel plantings are, so far, resulting in a bountiful harvest of yellow squash and zucchini, but the burpless cucumbers are taking their time. He put it down to cool cloudy weather. “We should still be seeing 70 degrees during the day, at least that would be normal.” I begged to differ. I’m not sure what normal weather is anymore, even in Missouri where unpredictable weather is a running joke.

Gary Bandy of KSN-TV told me earlier this year (before his studio was destroyed by the high winds in May) that it was becoming difficult to predict the weather based on computer models because the models use past weather patterns which don’t seem to have much relevance to current patterns.

All of which means that farmers must use every tool available to be successful and the high tunnel, which looks like a clear quanset hut with crops planted directly in the ground, is one of those tools. It gives the farmer some control over the temperature, if not the amount of sunlight. We expect to have more than ten high tunnels in production for the winter market this year (that would be ten more than we had last year). There will be gaps in production, naturally, but there should be summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers through much of the winter, as well as cool weather crops like lettuce and spinach. Fresh produce plus meats, honey, jams, jellies and baked goods should result in a winter market well worth visiting.

The winter market begins in November on first and third Fridays from 11 to 2 under the pavilions. Cold won’t chase us away, though icy roads will. We don’t want our farmers or customers out on dangerous roads. While we don’t expect to have meals or music, we the wireless EBT, credit, debit machine so customers can use their cards and shop with market money.

Other market plans include the Holiday Market, held each year on the day before Thanksgiving from 11 to 1 at the Clubhouse, 115 South Madison. It will be a great time to stock up on honey, jams and jellies for the holidays (or for Christmas presents). There will be loads of baked goods, but to be sure you get what you want, like pumpkin or pecan pies, pumpkin rolls or coconut cakes from Hazel’s Bakery, or European or American pastries from the Black Forest House, I would order ahead. Just stop by your favorite baker at the market some Friday this month and place your order.

We will soon be saying farewell to the lovely red potatoes we have enjoyed this year. Before they’re gone, try this good make-ahead recipe that can be halved or quadrupled according to the crowd you’re expecting. I made it while taping at KOAM-TV last Friday morning, put it in an ice chest and drove to my daughter Emily’s house in Indiana on Saturday and baked it on Sunday for Emily and her friends after spending the day painting - & it was delicious. I felt a bit like Wonder Woman with a paint brush in one hand and a casserole in the other, though I have to admit, I didn’t look much like her.

Make Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole

10 potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 pinch dried marjoram
salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy.*

2. Drain and let cool slightly, peel.

3. With a potato masher, mash until smooth, do not use an electric mixer, blend in cream cheese and butter until melted.

4. Mix in onions, sour cream, parsley, marjoram, and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Transfer to 8 inch baking dish, smooth top.

6. Sprinkle with crumbs, (Casserole can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 week. Let thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Add 10 minutes to baking time.) Bake in 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly golden.

*I prefer to peel and chunk the raw potatoes prior to boiling. And I don’t think you would go wrong by adding some shredded cheddar cheese in with the cream cheese.

Next Friday, lunch is meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, corn, brownies and drink for $6. Jack & Lee Ann Sours play. Let’s hope for warmer weather so Lee Ann doesn’t have to wear woolen gloves while playing the fiddle.