Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Webb City Sentinel column - 5/6/11 - plus bonus recipe!

Before I ramble off on all the activities this week, let me just tell you that we have some of the prettiest loose leaf lettuce at the market that you could hope to find. Lettuce is a cool weather crop, so don’t miss it. Come hot weather in a month or so it will be gone until fall.

We open our Saturday market tomorrow and have special activities both today and tomorrow. Today (Friday) our First Friday Grower Advice booth opens. Sarah Becker, horticulture specialist with Lincoln University extension, will be at the market every first Friday of the month to consult with growers and gardeners. Today, she’ll also have Patrick Byers, horticulturist with University of Missouri, at the market. Together they are pretty much our region’s top plant experts and I hope our growers and gardeners will take advantage of their advice. If you have a plant problem like fruit or leaf damage or failure to thrive, take a photo and bring it to the market for analysis. You can also bring part of the damaged plant as long as it’s completely sealed in a clear plastic bag (we don’t want to spread any plant diseases around the market). Sarah and Patrick will be in the center of the pavilion.

The center is also where you will find The Market Lady today (that's a photo of one of the recipes that she's demonstrating today). “The Market Lady” is what Robin Green always calls me when I call her family at Shoal Creek Gardens and I stole the name for a major project the market has undertaken this summer. We received USDA grant funding to do consumer education on television, in print and on the web. Our Market Lady is Lane McConnell who is a huge fan of local foods and edits Ozark Farm and Neighbor. I first ran into her when she handled the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s relations with the state’s farmers markets.

Lane, aka The Market Lady, will film segments at about 20 area markets which will air every weekday through the market season on KSN in Joplin and KY3 in Springfield. She will demonstrate fresh produce recipes, how to shop at the market, interviews with farmers and consumers. She’ll also produce recipes that any newspapers and other print media may use and, of course, she’s blogging, tweeting, facebooking and all that jazz. You can find more details at

Since the Webb City market created The Market Lady, we get the honor of her first appearance. Lane will demonstrate Baby’s Asparagus Medley at 11:30 today and Bok Choy Sidekick and Ozarks Breakfast Casserole at 1.

She’ll also be filming throughout the market, so if she approaches you I hope you’ll have good things to say about your market!

Fundraisers going on both today and tomorrow include The Vipers traveling baseball team selling chances on their quilt and Keller Williams selling tickets to Grilling for a Cause (sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?). Grilling for a Cause will benefit our own Cerebral Palsy of the Tri-County as part of the national Keller Williams “give where you live” day. The event will be on Thursday, May 12, at the Keller Williams office in Joplin and costs $5 for a hot dog, chips, cookie and drink. They’ll deliver orders of 10 or more.

Lunch today is meatloaf, au gratin potatoes, green beans, cheese cake and a drink for $6. Jack and Lee Ann Sours play traditional music from 11 to 1.

Saturday is Let’s Plant a Garden Day. Every child (through college) receives a free tomato plant and instructions from our most experienced tomato grower, Tim Green. Tim and his wife Violet grew all the tomato plants we’ll be giving away.

And, of course, Saturday also means breakfast, which tomorrow will benefit the Southwest Missouri Walk Now for Autism Speaks. It’s biscuits and gravy, sausages, and eggs to order. We’re making the breakfast even better this year by using farm fresh eggs from Fair Haven and a slice of local tomato for each plate (as long as the tomatoes last). Should be yummy.

Our music on Saturday is Drycreek Bluegrass. They play from 9:30 to 11:30. Breakfast starts at 9 and ends at 11. The market will be open from 9 to noon on Saturdays.

Tuesday we’ll have Bill Adkins playing from 11 to 1 and Cooking for a Cause benefits Christians’ Haven. You can get the full story on their web site, but in a nutshell it is a Christian ministry based here in Webb City that takes abandoned and orphaned children off the streets of the Philippines, heals and nurtures them in safe group homes with the goal of eventually sending them back out into their communities as agents of change. I hope you’ll take time to have lunch with us Tuesday to learn more about this Webb City organization.

Bonus recipe (the rest of The Market Lady recipes will be at the market):

Ozarks Breakfast Casserole

2 tsp. olive oil
6 oz. spinach leaves, washed and dried
9 eggs, beaten
2 small leeks, chopped
½ cup market milk
1 tsp. ground mustard powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, drained or farm cheese curds
3 oz. soft local goat cheese, crumbled or substitute for Feta cheese

Measure 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, put in a fine strainer to drain. Clean leeks and cut into fourths lengthwise and slice into thin pieces. Heat oil over medium and add leeks, sautéing for 4 minutes. Add spinach and sauté an additional 3 minutes. While cooking vegetables, add eggs in small bowl and beat, while adding seasonings and milk.

In the bottom of an 8" x 8" casserole dish that has been greased, spread spinach/leek mixture in the bottom of the dish, then layer on cottage cheese and goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over, then use a fork to gently stir so the veggies and cheese are evenly distributed in the eggs. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until eggs are set and lightly browned. The casserole will puff up slightly as it bakes, but will settle down when it cools for a few minutes. Cut into pieces and serve hot with a spoonful of sour cream.