Thursday, September 27, 2012

Webb City Sentinel - 9-29-12

We begin our fall schedule next week with the arrival of October (and fall brings new crops like the edible pod peas in the photo). That means we’ll be open on Fridays from 11 to 2 and Saturdays from 9 to noon. The Tuesday markets are finished for the year. When November, or the first hard freeze, arrives we’ll go to Fridays only until we reopen for the 2013 market season in late April. We plan to stay at the pavilion until truly cold weather sets in. Last year we went to the Clubhouse in November but the winter was so mild we could have stayed at the pavilion. And while we love the Clubhouse – it’s warm and wind-free with lovely bathrooms and kitchen, it’s also tough to fit all our vendors inside and tougher still to redirect our customers there. So it’s the pavilion for us until the weather forces us to move.

Besides dropping Tuesdays, the other major change starting next week involves our market meals. Granny Shaffer’s wraps up their season at the market today. They’ve provided us with tasty meals twice a week May through September, often in oppressive heat, and we’ve really appreciated their dedication and yummy food. Next week, Hazel’s Bakery takes over the Friday lunch and will serve a different soup each week. On Saturdays we continue our benefit breakfast, but the menu changes to pancakes, eggs and sausage.

That said, today Granny Shaffer’s is serving hot roast beef sandwiches for lunch. The Plainsfolk will be playing.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause includes biscuits and gravy, sausage, and cooked to order eggs. It’s served from 9 to 11 and all profits go to the Ozark Area CROPwalk. CROPwalk is an interfaith walk held in over 2,000 communities nationwide. Our walk is this Sunday and there will be information on it at the market Saturday in case you would like to participate. The focus of the walk is fighting hunger with 1/4 of the funds raised being split locally among Crosslines, Lafayette House, Children’s Haven and the Salvation Army. The rest goes around the world feeding refugees and increasing economic opportunities in areas of chronic poverty. Locally, United Methodist, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Christians (Disciples), Catholics and Baptists walk together. Other churches, businesses and individuals are welcome.

The Loose Notes will play on Saturday.

Keeping the market going two days in a row is a challenge for our growers, but they’re committed to doing it if the weather will cooperate. It’s my job to make sure we have the customers they need on Saturdays when there are festivals galore drawing the customers out of town. So mark your calendars now. On October 6th we have a special musical treat. Joel Conner and Robert Bruce Scott of Indianapolis will present “The Music of Simon & Garfunkel” in much the same way that Simon & Garfunkel originally presented it when barnstorming the U.S. in the 1960's - one guitar and two voices in intricate harmony. Joel Conner, singing Paul Simon’s part, has performed across the United States for nearly 40 years. Robert Bruce Scott is an operatic tenor who performed at the market last year playing his 32-string Celtic harp. We are really pleased to have these musicians stopping at the market during their Oklahoma/Missouri tour.

On October 13th, we’ll have our scarecrow demonstrations. Lisa Sweet, Webb City’s queen of crafts, will demonstrate how to paint the scarecrow’s face – really the only part of the process that takes talent. And for those of us with no talent, she’ll also be giving away her demonstration pieces. I also hope we’ll be able to share some other materials like the clothing used to create the scarecrows. I’ve gone through my closets (is there anything more satisfying than clearing out closets?) and invite you to do the same. If you have long pants, long-sleeved collared shirts, overalls, denim skirts or dresses, old boots or hats, bring them to the market by the 13th and we’ll pass them on to others making scarecrows. The pants and shirts need to be hard woven fabric like denim or cotton. Stretchy fabrics like knits don’t work well. Also, if you have plastic bags, we can use those to stuff the scarecrows. Wouldn’t it be fun if homes and businesses throughout Webb City were decorated with market mums and pumpkins and original scarecrows? And you can add a couple of market carrot driveway markets to complete the effect for only $2 each. Who knows, maybe this winter we’ll get snow and actually need driveway markers.

In the meantime, come to the market and celebrate the fall. There’s still plenty of produce and other good things to buy, great music to listen to and friends to meet and make. See you at the market!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 9/21/12

What a lovely time of year. The weather couldn’t be nicer, the rains have greened things up, the pumpkins and mums have arrived and Sammy and Suzie Scarecrow are back on their park bench at the market.

Sammy and Suzie have been fall fixtures at the market for 11 years now. And though their outfits change, their bodies just get a little more stuffing every year and their faces get a good scrubbing – in the washing machine.

(That's Devereaux Lewis of Oronogo, giving Suzy a hug, while his big brother looks on.)

We’ll have a scarecrow building workshop at the market on a Saturday in October but here’s the basics in case you want to start early. Gather up all those plastic shopping bags and two sets of old clothes – either your own or from a resale shop. (Well, I guess you could raid your spouse’s closet.) Regardless of scarecrow gender, you start with one pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Those form the body. Just pin each leg bottom and wrist opening shut with a safety pin and stuff with the bags. Start with the pants, then do the shirt, then tuck the shirt into the pants, pin them together, and add a little stuffing to fill everything out. I always use old boots and gardening gloves for hands and feet, again pinned to the body. For the head, stuff a plastic bag with more plastic bags, put it inside an old white pillow case. Draw or paint a face on a piece of old white sheet, wrap around the head, tie at the bottom and tuck into the shirt, pinning to keep the head in place. I’ve nnever figured out how to keep the head upright, so I just use a stick along the back to keep the scarecrow’s head from lolling about.

Now you’re ready to dress your scarecrow and top with an old hat. The outer garb will fade in the sun but that’s perfect, because changing the outfit each year is great fun. The inner body will be fine for reuse year after year.

Now all you need to do is give your scarecrow a name, add a few pumpkins and mums and celebrate fall. Don’t forget the festive ornamental corn decorations grown and made by our youngest vendor, 13-year-old Lane Luthi. You’ll find him at his sisters’ mum stand.

The market is open today from 11 to 2 and is loaded with beautiful produce. It is amazing how quickly plants perk up with some rain. You’ll see a wide selection of eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and squash. Today we’ll have the first of the sweet potatoes. And of course we’ll onions, green onions, radishes, Swiss chard, and other greens – basically a ton of local, fresh vegetables. Our pumpkin grower, Webb Citian Heath Reineke, is selling all his pumpkins for $3 each regardless of size. There will be baked goods both today and tomorrow, including Hazel’s Bakery with pies, cakes, muffins, cookies and fruit breads.

Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving chicken tetrazzini, green beans, dessert and a beverage for $6 today. Center Creek Bluegrass plays.

Tomorrow we celebrate Market Roots. This Webb City original has been copied across the country and celebrates where our food – and we – originated. The Historical Society will have a world map where everyone can mark their ancestral home. The Genealogical Society’s books will be for sale: Families & Histories of Webb City, Carterville, & Oronogo Vol. I for $65 and Pictorial History of Webb City, Carterville & Oronogo Vol II for $30.

Every vendor will have a sign with their birth place and where their ancestors came from. In the case of our immigrant farmers, we show when and where they became US citizens. There are always several tables full of produce currently in season and where scientists think they originated. Sure hope we have watermelon so we can have Africa represented on the table. The table also has artifacts from around the world just to give the display a little more flavor – after all, you don’t get to taste the display so you’ll have to savor it with your eyes.

The Carl Junction Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star serves breakfast tomorrow and will give their profits to one of the many charities they support like the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Society. The Green Earth Band plays. Be sure and ask them to play “The Market Song” written especially about the Webb City market.

There’s a lot going on in Webb City tomorrow with the market open from 9 to noon, Webbstock all day at the high school and Minerva’s open house downtown in the afternoon. Why not make it a Webb City day and visit them all?

On Tuesday, Granny Shaffer’s at the Market serves hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches and chef salads. Gospel Strings performs.

It’s a wonderful time of year to visit the market. See you there!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 9-14-12

As the long hot summer comes to an end, it’s time to evaluate one season and plan for the next. For the second year in a row, the summer heat devastated some crops like sweet corn, reduced the supplies of others, and left us market volunteers drained at the end of each day. Our farmers showed amazing resilience, as did our customers. Customer attendance remained steady even in 100 plus degree weather and that’s what keeps us volunteers and our vendors going.

If you’ve been at the market lately, you know that our current produce supply is amazing given the heat of August. We have loads of heat-loving crops like egg plant (in many varieties) and okra. We also have good supplies of green beans, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, onions, and lots of other things. We are short on tomatoes but should begin seeing more as the fall crops mature. Tomatoes won’t set their fruit if the temperature doesn’t drop to the low 70’s sometime during the day. So, we have a gap in production as a result of those hot days.

Because we had such a promising start this spring with about twice as much produce through May as ever before, we may still end up with an average season. I sure wish we could have maintained that great beginning. Still, it was a good summer in many ways. Probably the top of my list is the fact that six of my farmers received help from the Governor’s emergency drought fund that has allowed them to put in wells at their farms. These new wells mean we should have good fall crops which we might not have seen otherwise. Even with the recent rains, the subsoil is so dry that we are still considered by the experts to be in drought and that puts fall crops in jeopardy unless they have a consistent, assured source of water.

With drought apparently being the new normal in our area, these farms were looking at eventual failure without wells. A good spring is just not sufficient to carry a farm through a poor summer every year. Now they’ll have a way to sustain much of their production even in drought. These new wells will benefit our farm families and our customers and will make the market stronger, too.

Some of the other good things about this summer –

We were fortunate to have our market intern, Lindsey Rollins. Lindsey, a senior at MSSU in health science, was a God-send, capable, willing, bright and interested. We were also incredibly fortunate in acquiring a new market volunteer, Janet Taylor. Like Lindsey, Janet is a quick-learner and willing to take on anything. Even on the days she works, she’ll often pop over to help with set up and take down which are our most work-intensive times. She also was willing to take on management of the dreaded peach line – capable and brave.

Our cooking demonstrations underwritten by the Missouri Foundation for Health have been a real plus for the market this summer. We made contact with some wonderful resource people like Carolyn Smith and Susan Pittman who relished teaching others how to prepare fresh produce. Many customers made a stop at the demonstration table a part of their market routine. We got to try some very tasty dishes, sometimes with unfamiliar ingredients. I learned from Susan last Saturday that I actually prefer long beans over green beans. They’re similar in taste, but the long bean is firmer with a texture that I like very much. If you’d like to give it a try, you’ll find the recipe on the market’s web site: We also have it at the market. (The photo is of folks crowding around to try the long beans.)

Our canning program was a hit this summer with lots of sample mixes, recipe booklets and coupons. We still have all the freebies available, so if you’re in a canning mood – and with the loads of green beans we have now, how could you not be? – stop by and pick up instructions and discounts.

Now, on to the future. Since we’re expecting bountiful fall crops due to increased irrigation, the market can be open on both Fridays and Saturdays through October. That’s good news for our shoppers who can only shop on Saturdays. We did a survey last Saturday and of the 50 participants, only two shopped more than once a week at the market. That means that the vast majority of responders only come on Saturdays.
Come October, we’ll drop the Tuesday market till next spring. Then at the end of October, we’ll go to our winter market schedule which is every Friday from 11 to 2. The only exception that we anticipate is the annual Thanksgiving Market which is the day before Thanksgiving. Then, unlike every other “shop” in the country, we won’t be open the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Enough of the past and the future! Today, Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving stuffed baked potato with a choice of broccoli and cheese or chili and cheese, plus a drink for $5. Drew Pommert will play easy listening favorites. The Tri-State Iris Society will be at the market with more than 100 iris plants for sale.

Tomorrow, the Civil Air Patrol serves Cooking for a Cause breakfast. The Civil Air Patrol is made up of young people planning to join the Air Force. The Granny Chicks will perform so bring your dancing shoes! The first pumpkins will be for sale at the market. We're expecting over 600 to come in this fall.

On Tuesday, Granny Shaffer’s at the Market grills up hot dogs and hamburgers and also serves chicken salad sandwiches and chef salad. Gary Kyger will play classic country hits.

The market lost a good friend this week with the death of Merle Lortz. Merle lent his support to the market through this paper and the Wise Buyer, but when I think of him as a market customer I think of his discovery of fresh broccoli. He’d eaten broccoli before, but he’d never eaten fresh, local broccoli – delicious! Merle, I’m going to miss you and your sweet nature and I’ll think of you every time I see the market broccoli that you found so delightful.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 9-7-12

A few years ago a friend scolded me that every time I made a recipe on TV it was something so calorie laden that she couldn’t hope to enjoy it. I have to admit, she was right. If it wasn’t an outright sugar-laden dessert, it was a side or main drenched in butter. I began looking for a few healthy recipes but my heart wasn’t in it. I love desserts and rich foods.

A grant the market received this year from the Missouri Foundation for Health gave me the motivation I needed ($7,000 will do that for you). But my new appreciation for healthy recipes was the exact result both the Foundation and the market were hoping for and it wasn’t based on dollars. It was from tasting the recipes. Week after week, we have had cooking demonstrations of good-for-you recipes, and you know what, they’ve been really good and satisfying.

(Eggplant continues to come in abundance and variety - we have at least 5 kinds in all sizes at the market)

This week provides great examples. Tuesday Carolyn Smith, former teacher at Webb City High School, demonstrated Creole Okra. I was pretty sure that I didn’t like okra unless it was deep-fat fried. Guess what? Creole Okra is tasty, filling and chockfull of veggies. That same day I was on Carol Parker doing a recipe of a dish I had enjoyed while on vacation in Prague. I’m certainly no culinary expert so it was a treat for me to have written down what I guessed to be the recipe and then after returning home to find it on-line almost exactly as I’d guessed. Actually, the dish I prepared at KSN was even better than the one I had in Prague. I think the difference was the amount of grilling I did with the veggies. I’d heard it said, but don’t remember experiencing it before in such profusion. Grilling veggies intensifies their flavor. Grilling a bunch and combining them knocks the flavor out of the park. This dish was so rich that I think it could pass for a main dish. It doesn’t need it for taste, but you could add chicken for protein. I’ve printed the recipe below.

Tomorrow nutritionist Susan Pittman teaches us how to cook with long beans. It’s an Asian specialty crop that several of our Hmong farmers grow. It’s sometimes confused by customers with green beans even though it’s usually 8 to 12 inches long, which would be a very long green bean. Long beans have a softer texture and are more flexible, and less crisp, than green beans. They range in color from light green to almost purple and the color determines how they are best prepared. We’ll have a tip sheet on long beans at the demo table. Who knows? They may become a favorite at your house.

There’s a lot going on today and tomorrow at the market. Today, Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving chicken & noodles, potatoes & gravy, apple crisp & drink $6. Chef salad & drink are $6 and a slice of pie is $2. We’ve moved picnic tables under the pavilion so folks can eat high and dry. Jack and Lee Ann Sours will play traditional music.

It’s the first Friday of the month so we’ll have gardening advice from the University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Extension in the form of Patrick Byers and Shon Bishop. While both specialize in produce, they can also help with questions regarding trees and lawns.

Today is our last day for canning drawings. We’re concluding our food preservation program with two very large drawings. Each includes 86 packets each for Kosher dill pickles mix and for freezer jam pectin. The winners will also receive a food preservation recipe book and a market shopping bag. The drawings will be held at 1 pm today and the winners do not need to be present.

Tomorrow is the market’s annual Arts in the Park celebration. The Spiva Center for the Arts will run a Veggie Arts table. Children (and children at heart) can make artistic creations. If past experience holds, we’ll see a lot of whimsical zucchini, cucumber and pepper people. The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center will help children create a paper monarch butterfly. Top off the free fun with a ride on Old No. 60, Webb City’s restored streetcar. It will run from 9 to 11 am.

Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the dulcet voices of father and son musical team Rob and Drew Pommert from 9 to 10:30. From 10:40 to 11:30 Dyanne Lile, Devri Brock, John Wilkins, and Ross Bruns, with accompanist: Kathy Nenadal perform family-friendly selections from HOT Scandals (HOT stands for Heartland Opera Theatre which hosting HOT Scandals Friday and Saturday nights at the Webb City Route 66 Civic Center.).

Our Cooking for a Cause breakfast will be served by members of the Webb City Park Board and profits will benefit the parks.

Next Tuesday, we welcome back Hazel’s Bakery to our weekday market. The bakery plans to be at every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday through September. In October, the market goes to Fridays only.

Come for lunch and enjoy the market debut of Kelly Cecil, blues and folk musician Tuesday. Carolyn Smith demonstrates our last good-for-you recipe of the year – Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab. Yum.

Speaking of yum, here’s that recipe I promised:

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
1 green pepper, seeded and cut into quarters
6 baby eggplants, cut lengthwise into quarters (I used Japanese eggplant, quartered for roasting and then cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 plum (egg or Italian) tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh purple basil or fresh green basil
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh spinach tagliatelle pasta
Preheat grill to a high heat.

Place red, yellow and green pepper quarters, skin side up, under grill. Cook for 5-10 minutes until skins are blistered and charred. Place peppers in a plastic food bag and set aside until cool enough to handle. (You can save time and get perfectly roasted peppers right at the market every Friday and many Saturdays at Broken Wire.) Remove skins from peppers. Cut flesh into thick slices.

Brush cut surfaces of eggplant lightly with oil. Grill for 2-3 minutes each side or until tender and golden.

Place tomatoes, skin side down, under grill. Cook for 2 minutes or until soft.
Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until onion is soft and golden. Add red, yellow and green peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan following packet directions. Drain well. To serve, divide pasta between warm serving bowls. Top with vegetable mixture.
Serving suggestion: This pretty pasta dish is delightful for casual entertaining. A complete meal might start with a mixed green salad and crusty bread (from Mohaska Farmhouse) and finish with a selection of fresh seasonal fruit.

Serves 4

When I had this dish in Prague last month it also had grilled zucchini in it, as well as a little butter on the pasta and rosemary which the Czechs love. For KSN I added the zucchini and switched to a locally available pasta that is enriched with carrot, spinach and tomato providing a full vegetable serving in a 4 oz. serving of pasta.