Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Webb City Sentinel column - 10/9/09

James and Dee Agee will be back at the market today. While they were between crops and hadn’t much to sell, they’ve been setting up at the Neosho Farmers Market. Now that their last patch of sweet corn is ready it’s worth the longer drive to Webb City. They will also have decorative Indian corn and corn stalks, as well as some produce fresh from their garden. I have been looking forward to their return because I want to buy several bottles of their flavored vinegars for Christmas gifts. It’s pretty, delicious and local.

Jamie Smith will not be at the market today because he must attend a funeral. He expects to return next Friday.

With our Friday-only schedule in October, I’ve had the chance to visit several markets this week. I find visiting other markets a great way to learn, plus I love markets.

Last Saturday I went to the Neosho market. Several of our vendors sell there and I had heard good things from those vendors about the new market.

It is certainly smaller than Webb City’s which isn’t surprising for a first season, but it felt full with abundant tables. I’m really impressed by their volunteer manager Mary Horine and by the city’s support. You may have read in the Globe that Neosho is pushing forward with plans to create a special park just for the market. Currently they are located a block northwest of the square on a parking lot which fits them well now but will, I expect, be too small next year.

Wednesday I got to visit the farmers market in Washington, Missouri. They are in a new pavilion built around an historic downtown structure. It’s full of features that I loved – fabulous bathrooms, covered roof with lights and fans, lovely landscaped and hard-topped parking. What I found a little iffy was the way vendors enter the space. They must drive right through the middle where the customers gather. There is no access from the outside other than two driveways to enter and exit. I find backing our trucks up to the pavilion is sometimes a bit too exciting if they arrive after customers have begun to congregate. I can’t imagine driving right through the customers, but Washington seems to have worked it out.
My friend Jo Letsinger and I were in the area to ride a segment of the Katy Trail. That’s a railroad bed that has been converted to a walking/biking trail. It begins near St. Louis and ends in Clinton and is under the care of the Missouri state parks system. The Katy Trail is considered one of our nation’s jewels when it comes to biking. I have to say that between the weather (which was fabulous),the trail, the scenery and the people we met both on the trail and in the adjoining businesses and farms, it was a wonderful experience that we hope to repeat.

We met a couple from Colorado who were about to complete the entire trail, having started in Clinton. I asked which part was their favorite and they couldn’t decide. The bluffs and the river between Columbia and Jeff City were spectacular but the rolling farmland and open river bottoms found between Augustus and Defiance had its own beauty. Not the breath-taking kind they were accustomed to in Colorado but a more gentle pleasing beauty, a beauty that cradled you rather than knocked you off your feet.

Fall is a great time to create beauty in your own neighborhood. We’ll have some gorgeous mums today and pumpkins of all sizes. I invite you to add some seasonal color to your life by stopping by the market.

Speaking of seasonal, it’s sweet potato time. Two of our farmers, Fairhaven and Circle E, planted lots of sweet potatoes this year with a goal of having enough to last beyond Thanksgiving. This versatile vegetable not only tastes good, but also is easy to prepare and is loaded with nutrition. Carrole Palmer of Fairhaven shared this recipe with me. It’s easy and tasty.

Sweet Potato Cobbler

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter or oleo cubed

Pre-cook sweet potatoes in the water until crisp-tender (about 10 minutes).

Reserve 1 1/2 cup cooking liquid and drain off remaining liquid.

Layer potatoes in greased 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Add reserved 1 1/2 cup liquid. Combine sugar, flour, and spices and sprinkle over potatoes.

Dot with cubed butter.

Place pastry (see recipe below) over filling. Cut slits in top. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


Mix with a fork: 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2/3 shortening and 5 – 6 tablespoons cold water. Roll out between layers of wax paper.

Hmmm-hmmm. Tastes like fall!

Lunch today is lasagna, side salad, garlic bread, peanut butter cookies & drink for $6. Gospel Strings play.

Next Friday is Scarecrow Day. Be sure to vote for your favorite! Lunch is beef stew, cornbread, chocolate cake and drink for $6. Bailed Green & Wired Tight will play.