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.