Thursday, August 9, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 8-10-12

It’s National Farmers Market Week but it’s a typical week in Webb City because we celebrate every week. For example, today we have Center Creek Bluegrass playing, plus a bonus - Sadie’s Dollar, a young local group, will play while the Center Creek players take a break for lunch. And they’ll certainly take a break because Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving their famous fried chicken, with potato salad, three-bean salad, drink and dessert. And that’s not all folks, because Jon Skinner, urban forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, will be at the market to diagnosis bug and disease problems and advise you on late summer tree care and fall tree planting. Plus we’ll have our healthy recipes and food preservation table set up as we do at every market loaded with recipes and all sorts of canning goodies like labels, recipe booklets and coupons.

Tomorrow may be even more fun than today because nutritionist Susan Pittman will demonstrate Rigatoni with Grilled Vegetables. (That's Bob Foos demonstrating making Pesto last Tuesday.) Drew Pommert will play his guitar and sing. The streetcar will give free rides from 9 to 11. The Joplin Exchange Club will serve breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, farm fresh tomatoes. All profits go to Healing the Family Counseling Center, a non-profit that works to build stronger families and prevent child abuse. Other non-profits at the market tomorrow include The Forget-Me-Not team raising funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. They’ll have homebaked cookies for sale, as well as cold sodas and water, handcrafted flower clips and hair bows and insulated drink cups which can be personalized with the owner’s name. The A.D.K. Teacher Sorority will sell cardinal door stops to benefit Children’s Haven and the Children’s Center.

So you can see, every market is special – we don’t need a farmers market week for an excuse. However, our market is definitely part of the national celebration. The Farmers Market Coalition, which is the national organization of markets, sends out a press release every day during the national week. Each release centers on a different aspect of markets and is illustrated by the relevant activities of five markets nationwide. On Wednesday, Webb City was recognized for our mentoring program, improving farming skills. On Thursday we were recognized for our gleaning program, specifically all the produce our farmers donated last year that fed hundreds of volunteers working in the tornado fields.

Our mentoring program has garnered national attention several times. We are really fortunate to have both farmers and extension folks dedicated to improving the success of our market’s farmers. For example, on Monday I drove down to a farm in Anderson that needs a well. I had with me a very experienced farmer, plus two Extension consultants. (That's Ed Browning,left, Extension Ag Engineer Specialist, with our farmer.) I was there for transportation, organization and as “cultural attaché”. I don’t speak Hmong but I have worked with our Hmong farmers enough that I’m pretty good at asking the right questions and insisting on answers. (The Hmong are incredibly polite. If they don’t understand something, they’ll rarely indicate that, not wanting to inconvenience you. So I keep asking questions until I’m sure everyone is on the same page.) Two hours later, plans were in place. And in two weeks, the well will be too.

On the gleaning front, my farmers are continuing their tradition of generosity by donating produce at the end of every Tuesday market. And they are not alone, our customers are dropping by items and our bakers also make donations.

So Tuesday, if you’d like to give something to Crosslines, just drop it off at the information desk and we’ll pass it on when the truck arrives at 1.

We also have good-for-you recipes demonstrated on Tuesdays. Last week, Bob Foos demonstrated pesto and then market intern Lindsey Rollins used the pesto to make Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks. Both recipes are easy, tasty and printed below.

Rob Pommert plays for the last time this Tuesday. He’s headed back to teach guitar at OCC. (But never fear, we have other musicians lined up to finish out the Tuesday season which will probably be September 25th.) Granny Shaffer’s at the market will have their chicken salad sandwiches, freshly grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and chef salads. And on every market day we’ll have lots of produce, baked goods, honey and other goodies.

Many of the ingredients of the recipes below are available at the market. These and other good-for-you recipes can be found at the market and at

Bob Foo’s Pesto recipe

Darryl Alton introduced us to Pesto Genovese during the Webb City Farmers Market Pesto Festo! in 2005, I've been growing my own basil and making it every year since. You can make it in a food processor, but I prefer a mortar and pestle. Make several batches, freeze them in an ice cube tray for use throughout the year. I love it just melted in bow tie pasta.

4-6 cloves garlic
16 large leaves of basil
2 sprigs of parsley
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 or 2 allspice berries
1/2 cup olive oil

Pound garlic and salt together until thoroughly mashed. Add nuts and allspice berries and pound until smooth. Add basil, parsley and cheese, pounding until smooth. Put in a bowl and slowly add olive oil while stirring constantly. Stir until smooth. Use immediately or store in a jar topped by a thin layer of olive oil placed in the refrigerator.

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

You can grill the eggplant rounds up to a day in advance, then assemble the eggplant, tomato and mozzarella “stacks” at the last minute. To make the eggplant and tomato stacks look symmetrical, use eggplant and tomatoes with approximately the same diameter.

Makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant (3/4-1 pound), cut into 6 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
6 teaspoons prepared pesto
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices about 3/4 inch thick
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 thin slices
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.

Use 2 teaspoons oil to brush both sides of eggplant slices; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill the eggplant slices for 5 minutes. Turn; continue grilling until tender and marked with grill lines, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large platter.

Spread each eggplant slice with 1 teaspoon pesto. Top with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf.

Drizzle vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the towers; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.