Thursday, July 22, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column - 7-23-10

Who knew some 800 people would brave the fierce heat on Tuesday for their fresh fruits and veggies? And we’re glad they, or should I write you, did because our farmers have sure been braving the heat to harvest. So far the heat hasn’t affected production, though if it continues long we may see a reduction in some crops. Tomatoes, for example, will not set in high heat conditions. That means, they’ll flower but not produce fruit. All of which means that we need to have our Tomato Day pronto just in case the weather doesn’t break.

Our annual Tomato Day will be a week from tomorrow, July 31. We’ll have sampling of a variety of tomatoes and several tomato contests. Contest entry forms are available at the information table and can be downloaded off the market’s blog – The categories are: Best Quality Red Tomato, Best Quality Other Color Tomato and Best Quality Small (cherry or pear) Tomato. In the fun category, there will be a prize for the heaviest tomato and the weirdest tomato. Winners of the quality categories receive $25 in market tokens. Fun categories win $15 in tokens. Our thanks to Granny Shaffers for underwriting the prizes again this year. The winners will be on display at the market from 10:30 to 11:30 on the 31st.

Tomorrow’s market is loaded with fun. The streetcar is up and running again and will give free rides from 9:30 to 11. The Ninth Hour Quartet will perform between 9:30 and 11:30 and during their intermission, Joplin Little Theater will present highlights from their upcoming musical show High Society. The Webb City Police Explorers Club will serve breakfast from 9 to 11.

You may be noticing a trend here – that we schedule special events on Saturdays during high season. The reason is simple. With so many vendors, so much produce and so many customers at the Friday market, we’re full! Plus, we like to schedule the extra fun when everybody can come, including folks who work 9 to 5 on weekdays and families. Not that our Friday customers are going wanting. Today lunch will be a BLT sandwich, spinach salad, cake and a drink for $6. Webb City’s own Gospel Strings will play. And there will be loads of produce. Friday is still our biggest day in terms of numbers of vendors and amount of produce.

I got to inaugurate the new KSN-TV studio kitchen Thursday. You may remember that the station was destroyed by their broadcast tower a year ago during the inland hurricane in May. They’ve rebuilt better and bigger and I’m honored to join Carol Parker for her first segment in the new kitchen set.

Tami Fredrickson put together a special recipe for me to demonstrate on air that uses many of the vegetables in season right now. This recipe can top chicken while baking, be a side salad or be combined with pasta for a main dish.

Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad

1 large cucumber
1 small onion
1 large tomato
1 medium bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Zesty Italian dressing

Dice cucumber, tomato, onion and bell pepper. Add zesty Italian dressing with a splash of wine vinegar to coat the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste.
If combined with spiral pasta, this recipe can be made the night before and refrigerated, but do not cut and add the tomato until right before serving to preserve the tomato’s flavor and texture. Tomatoes are chill-sensitive. Many of our growers have a cold room or shed to keep their produce in top shape between harvest and sale. We always check the temperature when we visit to make sure tomatoes are stored at a temperature above 54 degrees so they reach the market at their best. So if you want great tomatoes – keep them out of the fridge. Once they’re cut, of course, they’ll have to be refrigerated. With the market buried in tomatoes, why not use the whole tomato and start over with a new one for the next meal?