Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Webb City Sentinel column - 5/24/13

The asparagus is hitting peak season here in southwest Missouri. And strawberries will be peaking in the next few days as well. That means it’s time to get down to the market!

Above, one of our customers was pretty pleased with her strawberries last week.

Pre-order your berries from your favorite strawberry farmer if you want to do some freezing or jam-making. They will be happy to bring you a flat while supplies are plentiful. Our two large strawberry growers are Kenney Farms from Stockton who come on Fridays and Tuesdays and Fairhaven from, surprisingly enough, Fairhaven who come most market days. Hang Farm and Rocky Horse Ranch also have strawberries.

Want to make some jam? We’re giving away samples of Ball’s RealFruit Pectin, good for making 2 half pint jars of no-cook freezer jam. Just stop by the recipe demonstration table for your free sample. That will be in the center of the pavilion this weekend. When more farmers come in and the pavilion becomes crowded with vendors we’ll move the cooking demonstration to the north end under a fixed canopy. In fact I had planned to put the canopy up this week but decided to hold off until the winds settled down. I could just imagine our canopy ending up in Springfield with the weather we’ve been having.

We have two very different recipe demonstrations this week. Today Lindsay Supplee with University of Missouri Extension demonstrates sautéed kohlrabi. You’ve probably seen kohlrabi at the market. We have at least three growers who sell it in the spring and fall. It’s a light green color with a ball on one end about 3 inches in diameter and large leaves growing out the top. Frankly it looks a little other worldly. It has the earthy sweetness of cabbage but with a bit of the bite and heat you’d expect from a radish or turnip. You can eat it raw sliced or cooked and, like most of our veggies, it’s super good for you. It’s a great source of fiber and vitamin C. The only nutritional complaint I’ve come across about kohlrabi is that most of its calories come from sugar – all 36 calories per serving. Doesn’t sound like a big problem to me.

On Saturday, Market Lady Trish Reed is demonstrating Cheese Cake Strawberries. And, yes, there’ll be samples both days. For the recipes, go to or

We’ve been putting a Market Lady tip up once a week or more on the blog. Susan Pittman shared three of her favorite ways to prepare asparagus earlier this week. Next week, we’ll feature Trish’s trick for hard boiling farm-fresh eggs.

Here’s a sneak preview:

We’ve all boiled eggs that we then had to demolish to get the shell off. It’s the freshness that causes the shell to be so tightly stuck to the egg. The membrane between the egg and the shell needs time to separate – as in days and weeks. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with most store-bought eggs, but you can really run into difficulty with market eggs (market – fresh – get the connection?). That's a photo of the eggs Trish used at the market on Saturday. She had bought them at the market the day before! Trish’s tip is: add 1/4 cup or more of table salt to the water before boiling. After the eggs are boiled, drain the water and replace with cold water. Crack the small end of each egg and let them sit in the cool water for 15 minutes. The shells should come right off.

Like The Market Lady facebook page or check the blog for more tips and recipes. The Market Lady is a project of the Webb City market funded by a USDA special crops grant. It promotes consumption of fresh local produce throughout southwest Missouri.

We have solo artists at the market this weekend. Drew Pommert, the talented son of our talented Tuesday musician Rob, will play today. Tomorrow, William Adkins plays. My husband Phil who ramrods the Saturday benefit breakfast always enjoys Bill’s playing (I think because he sings a lot of golden oldies).

Granny Shaffers will serve lunch today. The Carl Junction Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star serves breakfast in the morning.

The Kids Community Garden is moving right along. It’s located just west of the kindergarten on school grounds and we have a lovely bunch of kids gardening. We were really pleased that the pepper and tomato plants weathered the storms. This week the kids learned how to cage tomato plants, to plant sweet potato plants, and seed in zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, carrots and radishes. My farmers clued me in on the carrots and radishes. You mix the seeds together before planting. The carrots take what seems like forever to sprout while the radishes are up and ready to pull in no time. It’s almost instant gratification which is always a good thing when working with kids, plus you know where you planted those silly carrots which won’t peek out of the soil for weeks.

Speaking of instant gratification, after we spent an hour planting and mulching, one of the kids wanted to know if we were also going to harvest before calling it a day! This would be our second week in the garden. The peppers are blooming but we are still a long way from harvest. Patience is just one more thing we’re learning in the garden.

Luckily our farmers started planting a couple of months ago and we’re seeing lots of harvested produce at the market. Hope you can come by to enjoy some of it.