Thursday, June 27, 2013

Webb City Sentinel market column - 6-28-13

Fasten your seat belt, we’re going into the busiest time of the year for the market. Hopefully it won’t be a “bumpy ride” to misquote Bette Davis (she actually said “it’s going to be a bumpy night” as the character Margo Channing in the 1950 movie All About Eve), but it will be memorable – at least for me.

The week of the Fourth of July is always our biggest of the year, especially if the sweet corn and field tomatoes are in, which I’m not expecting this year. Sadly, all the crops are running a couple of weeks late due to the cool wet spring, so though I have a couple of farms hoping for sweet corn by the Fourth, it won’t be nearly enough, nor will we have enough tomatoes for all the barbecues slated for the Fourth. But we’ll be getting a better supply all the time and maybe by the end of the week we’ll come closer to meeting demand.
Several years ago I was apologizing to a customer about the difficult parking and crowded conditions at the market and said “you should have been here on the day before the Fourth of July, it was a zoo.”  The young woman gave me a high five and said “I was here!  It was awesome!”

So, hold that attitude. It’s going to be awesome next week.

(At left - The Honey Bear is aglow with excitement - the pear and cherry field tomatoes are in season!)

We’ll be open all our usual days – Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and we’re adding Wednesday, July 3, for our Holiday Market. We’ll be open from 11 to 2 Wednesday. William Adkins will play and Eden Bakery-Café will serve lunch. They specialize in local ingredients and that means much of what they serve comes from our farmers.  Here’s the menu for Wednesday:

Chicken salad sandwich
Chicken salad served on a bed of spring mixed greens (gluten free)
Italian Pasta Salad (vegan)
Each is served with a choice of chips or drink for $6
Cranberry pecan spinach salad - $4

The quality and amount of produce our farmers bring to the market continually amazes me. I often see their plants in the field when they’ve just sprouted. Doesn’t look like much. Then I’ll return two months later and the fields are overflowing with produce. Talk about awesome. You’ve seen the market version of that awesomeness.  Tables loaded with fresh produce – the carrots have been impressive this year  I’ve seen them piled over two feet high on the tables. Talk about abundance.

Folks were really excited about our newest vendor last Friday – Terrell Creek. They make artisan goat cheese. Their display is set up so you can sample each variety before purchase. I guess folks liked what they sampled because Terrell Creek only had three small containers of cheese left at the end of market. Were they pleased?  You bet. Can we talk them into coming on Saturdays too?  We’re working on it.

Gospel Strings plays today and Granny Shaffers serves lunch.

Tomorrow the Red Bridge Trio plays bluegrass and gospel. This high-energy group only plays about three times each year at the market so you won’t want to miss them. They’re based in Ozark.

Heartland Opera Theatre serves breakfast tomorrow. They have two fun events scheduled for their coming season – Paggliacci, one of the world’s favorite operas, to be performed on October 11 and 13 at MSSU’s Taylor and A Most Ingenious Paradox, which showcases favorite songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, performed April 25 at MSSU’s Corely. I’m getting tickets for that one as soon as they’re available. It’s a small venue and what’s more fun than music from The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance?  Many years ago I went with my teenage daughters and a friend to a Pirates of Penzance performance at the Foley Theater in Washington DC. My friend, who is much more literate than I am, quietly and joyfully sang along with the performers throughout the performance. The girls were mortified. I thought it was fun and wished I had the wits to do the same. 

The Webb City Athletic Booster Club will be at the market tomorrow. They’re a member-based support organization for the school’s sports program. They’ll be recruiting new members and selling stadium seats, blankets and other sports related items. I have a feeling everything will be red and have a cardinal on it.

Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate and give samples of Cucumber Dill Dip. It’s good with pita chips or spread on crackers and also makes a great filling for stuffed cherry tomatoes. (Yes, the cherry and pear tomatoes are in season now.)

Good news for our Saturday shoppers. Sunny Lane Farm, where Nancy Rasmussen raises pastured chicken and all-natural lamb and beef, is returning to the Saturday market. Nancy is a Friday regular and now will be at the Saturday market twice a month. She’s starting tomorrow.

As always, unless you want something that’s in short supply, try coming half an hour or more after the market opens. The parking will be much easier and the lines much shorter – or non-existent. The market will be more relaxed and you can take your time. Better yet, take your  friends and neighbors with you, bring the kids and grandkids. Come make some good memories while you get the fixin’s for some good meals.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Webb City Sentinel Column - 6-21-13

I have a wish list for the market – mushrooms, cheese, pasteurized milk, ice cream, more kinds of fruit (sweet cherries!), fish, more eggs and, of course, a great supply of local and fresh produce all the time. I get to check something off that list today. We had to go outside our usual radius to find it, but we finally have goat cheese at the market. Terrell Creek Farm is about 30 minutes drive on the other side of Springfield. 

They’re going to start out on Fridays but hopefully will add Saturday if demand is sufficient. That’s important for our market because many of our Saturday customers can’t make it to the market during the week.

Terrell Creek hand crafts Chevre, Cheddar, Crottin de Ozarks (that’s made in the style of the traditional French Crottin de Chavignol), Finley Feta and Gouda. Their Nubian herd has unlimited access to pasture, browse and artesian spring waters. Grazing is supplemented with local hay, organic materials and herbs, and a custom blended organic grain mix. In other words, these are well-treated kids.

So stop by the south end of the pavilion today and say welcome to our newest vendor.

I went with Extension ag experts Patrick Byers and Shon Bishop yesterday on farm visits. The market requires that all our farmers be visited once a year and it is a real plus when I can take Patrick and Shon along to offer our farmers advice. Most plantings looked quite good. One couple was advised to cut back on their watering, at another farm something strange was happening to one plant which Shon pulled up and will have analyzed. A third farm had some blight beginning in the tomato field. They could have used a spray to control it, but that particular farm uses all-natural practices so Patrick showed them how to prune off the affected parts of the plants and dispose of them. That method is more labor-intensive but should keep the plants healthy through the growing season.

Our friends at Extension have been a huge help over the years. When we first started the market, most extension agronomists rolled their eyes at the mention of organic. They seemed convinced that conventional farming was the only way for a professional farmer to go. But within a year or two, I noticed a complete reversal as Extension began promoting Integrated Pest Management (pest being their word for any bug, weed or disease). The “integrated” means using all the tools available, both conventional and organic, and the first choice is always the most benign, the organic. There are, of course, times when only conventional chemicals will save a crop but the emphasis now is on healthy soil, healthy plants, and vigilance in spotting problems early. The approach has proved successful for our farmers who find they do better when their farm, their land, and their plants are healthy. And it’s always a plus when they don’t have to expose themselves or their families or workers to hazardous products.

A particularly challenging part of the IMP approach for me is learning to identify the beneficial bugs. On every farm, I’d spot a bug on a leaf and ask “good bug, bad bug?”. Every time it was a good bug. Love to see those good bugs. One more reason to avoid those chemicals, they kill the good bugs along with the bad – and the honey bees.

We’re beginning to make plans for what is typically the biggest week of the year for us – the week of the Fourth of July. We will be open from 11 to 2 on Tuesday, July 2, Wednesday, July 3 and Friday, July 5, plus from 9 to noon on Saturday, July 6th. It’s going to be a busy week for our vendors and volunteers.
Sadly, since much of the produce is running a couple of weeks behind because of the wet, cold spring (remember the snow in May?) we won’t have the abundance of tomatoes and sweet corn that we usually expect for Independence Day, but I have a couple of farms reporting tasseling so, cross your fingers, there may be some sweet corn!   And I think we’ll have a good supply of high tunnel tomatoes then though the field tomatoes may still be scarce.

Today we expect a lot of tomatoes and green beans, along with potatoes, onions, zucchini, squash and tables piled high with  other good things. Tomorrow we may not have as much in the tomato and green bean department but we should have a better supply of blueberries. Thompson Orchard is planning on bringing as much as 150 pounds.

Today our Extension nutrition specialists are preparing and sampling Honey Glazed Carrots. William Adkins is performing and Granny Shaffers is serving lunch.

Tomorrow Market Lady Theresa Dohm is demonstrating and giving samples of Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad and a refreshing summer drink, Cucumber Limeade. The Green Earth Band plays. Big Brothers, Big Sisters provides the volunteers for breakfast, served from 9 to 11. A big thanks to Karen Latimer for ramrodding the breakfast for the market while our usual supervisor Phil Richardson is out of town.

Don’t forget the Tuesday market, when you can enjoy the music of the Pommerts (father and son) and lunch with Granny Shaffers at the Market. We have pretty much all the produce available on the weekend, but not nearly the traffic, parking problems and lines.

Whenever you come to the market, Welcome!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Webb City Sentinel column - 6-14-13

There was a time when I spent a lot of time in the kitchen making things like Mount Kilimanjaro Cake with 7 different kinds of chocolate – that was pre-children. I also did needlepoint and gardening. But with the arrival of children my time became consumed with other things. Now, though the children are grown and away, my husband does most of the cooking, I buy my garden produce at the market and my needlepoint projects long ago were used in kids’ crafts. Now my hobbies are things like writing this column and visiting those grown children.

My husband is a wonderful cook and is happy to put together a meal from the market like pork chops, green salad and new potatoes. But the zucchini, squash or any kind of cooked green – that’s my bailiwick. So I have some super easy ways of doing them. Boc choy is one of my favorites. It’s usually in good supply at the market and it goes well as a side with almost any meal. I especially like it with salmon, but it goes well with almost any meal. It’s a very mild green and leaves you feeling righteously healthy. And it should. A serving has only 20 calories but 144% of your daily Vitamin A needs and 73% of your Vitamin C needs, plus all sorts of other good-for-you minerals and anti-oxidants. A serving is a whole cup, but like other cooked greens, when you start out with a cupful you end up with a pretty modest serving. In fact, I usually take two.
You’ll find it at the market in bundles and sometimes it spelled differently or has a slightly different name. My farmers know the difference between boc choy and pak choi, but I can’t tell them apart. They seem to cook up and taste the same.

Boc choy couldn’t be easier to cook – wash, trim off the growing end, slice across the stem and the leaf. Boil some water, insert a steamer basket filled with the choy, cover and steam for about 4 minutes until it’s done to your taste. If you want the stems to be soft, put them in first and cook longer. I like the stems a bit crunchy so I put in the stems and leaves together.

And that’s all there is to it. Of course you can get fancy and sauté it with olive oil, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds or do any number of other treatments, but I like it simple and quick. It’s not the star of the meal, but it’s a lovely accompaniment.

Zucchini is another easy veggie that will be in season all summer. It’s not the super food that boc choy is, but it’s low in calories, a good source of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, and, if you leave the peel on, it adds fiber to your diet. Lindsay Supplee with Jasper County Extension will be demonstrating a sautéed zucchini recipe today. It takes two minutes to cook!  She’ll be using market zucchini, green garlic and fresh oregano, plus a little olive oil. The oil is, according to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, one of the good-for-you fats, in moderation. Stop by for a tasting sample and the recipe.

Tomorrow Market Lady Carolyn Smith is whipping up a radish dip for you to try. Carolyn retired from teaching family and consumer sciences at the Webb City high school and she is wonderful not only at coming up with some tasty dishes but with educating our customers. She recently posted a tasty tip on about an Asian green she bought at the market – shuicai – which she tried in three different ways, as one of the greens in a fresh salad, with boiled potatoes and in a Japanese hot pot dish.

The market is loaded with fresh produce now. Some, like zucchini, is very familiar but not all. With teachers like Carolyn, we can try it all.

Speaking of fresh produce, we now have enough local tomatoes at the market that I can do more than whisper about it. Last weekend was the first time we had enough to last almost the whole market. These are local high tunnel tomatoes. The field tomatoes will probably not be available in large quantity until after the 4th of July. Sadly the corn will probably be late too. Blame the cool, wet spring. Normally we would have expected to be loaded with the high tunnel tomatoes by mid-May but the cloudy days delayed them as well. But now the tunnels are in full production and we have four farmers with a total of over 15,000 square feet doing tomatoes. We have three other farmers who planted their tunnels in zucchini and green beans so we’ve had an early crop of those too.

The Plainsfolk are playing traditional Irish music at the market today from 11 to 1. Granny Shaffer’s at the market is serving homemade chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes, chicken salad sandwiches and a fresh fruit plate for lunch.

Tomorrow the Granny Chicks play. They are such fun and always put on a good show. Volunteers with the Greyhound Pets of America will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. GPS is a volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing information about and promoting adoption of retired racing greyhounds into responsible homes. 

Of course we’ll have market on Tuesday from 11 to 2 with music, a meal and lots of good produce, baked goods and other things.

I’ll end with an easy recipe that I “invented” a few years ago. 

Egg Salad with a twist

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon radishes grated on large holes
Salt and pepper to taste

Grate eggs on the large holes of your grater. Add other ingredients and mix. Adjust to taste. Vinegar and mustard add tang. Mayo tones it down. Garnish with paprika or parsley if desired. Place on a bed of fresh greens for presentation. Enjoy in a sandwich, as a cracker topping or in a lettuce wrap.

Using market-fresh eggs?  They can be a challenge to peel but there are tips that make it a breeze on themarketlady facebook page.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Webb City Sentinel Column - 6-7-13

I’ve been thinking food this week. Yes, it is true that I think about food a lot most weeks but this week I’ve been focusing on food education and the market’s efforts in that area. The best behind-the-scenes part of those efforts belongs to others. Luckily for everyone, no one is depending on me for recipes and nutrition advice. The market has wonderful resources for both.
A couple of years ago the market received a grant through the Missouri Department of Agriculture for a project called the Market Lady. Its purpose was to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables in Southwest Missouri. A lofty and ambitious goal, I’m sure you’d agree. We hired a consultant to be our “Market Lady” and she did cooking demos at markets across southwest Missouri which were videotaped and made available to area television stations and posted on the Market Lady Internet sites.

Once we’d accomplished the demonstrations and videos we’d proposed, we still had some grant money left so, with the state’s permission, we revamped the project. Now we’re doing the economy version of the project. And honestly, I think we’re going to get a lot of bang for the remaining grant’s bucks.

This summer, we have a Market Lady at our market every Saturday demonstrating a cooking recipe. We are fortunate to have local food experts to fill the Market Lady role – we have four Ladies this summer, plus the occasional Guest of the Ladies. We’re also posting lots of recipes and tips (and pretty pictures) on our internet sites –,, and Facebook.

Our communications intern, Amanda Cupp, is writing food stories we hope will be picked up by print media throughout southwest Missouri, giving people the knowledge and inspiration to shop their local markets.

This week I’ve been updating all the web sites and working with our intern and Ladies, but I’ve also gotten into the kitchen. I needed photos to go with Amanda’s article on Lettuce Medley Salad, so I shopped the market and made the salad. If you go to any of the Market Lady sites you’ll see photos of the result, and had you been at the Methodist church Wednesday night you would have gotten to taste the result – which is only fair because I then stayed at the church and prepared the dish we’re sampling today in their inspected kitchen.

We are doubly blessed with consumer education this summer because University of Missouri Extension is doing recipes and samplings at the Friday markets. Normally I won’t be making the sample, but this week I happened to already most of the market ingredients and could supplement with a quick trip to our two closest farms.

So what are we sampling today? Pasta Veggie Salad. It’s pasta with a dressing of your choice and cooked and raw vegetables in season. I included kohlrabi, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and basil.

Tomorrow, the Market Lady, Trish Reed, is demonstrating Oriental Cole Slaw using Napa cabbage. I think it’s delicious, and I don’t even like Cole slaw.

Today Granny Shaffer’s at the Market will serve chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes, chicken salad sandwich, and a fresh fruit plate. Lee Ann and Jack Sours will play traditional music. Our plant experts, Shon Bishop with Lincoln University Extension and Patrick Byers with University of Missouri Extension, will be on hand to answer gardening questions. They’ll also visit with all our farmers, identifying problems and offering solutions. One reason our farmers produce such a bounty at the market is the regular advice and training they receive from Extension.

Tomorrow Crime Stoppers will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. William Adkins will perform.

As those of you who patronize the market know, the market changes according to the time of day and the day of the week. Friday is our busiest day and the day we have the most vendors, but Saturday has its own charm. On Saturdays we see a lot more families, folks aren’t in such a rush and, while we don’t have a large meat selection (in fact we have none on Saturdays until our pork rancher returns from vacation next week), we do have the wonderfully meaty ribs and other barbecue, as well as tamales, of the Butcher Block.

On Tuesdays, the crowds are considerably reduced – in fact we usually only have half the sales that day that we have on Friday. That means that parking is easy and lines are generally short or non-existent. Not that we want to make our customers’ lives more difficult, but we are looking for ways to draw more traffic to the market on Tuesdays. We have almost as much to sell on Tuesdays as we do on Fridays, which means a lot of it is going home. If you have any ideas, drop them by the information table.

Extension demonstrated a recipe that was perfect for the market a few weeks ago. The customers really enjoyed it and the main ingredient, kohlrabi, sold out. Kohlrabi is good sliced thin and eaten raw like radishes or can be cooked. Here’s the recipe. Now go buy some kohlrabi!

Sautéed Kohlrabi

4 small kohlrabi, peeled and trimmed of leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
2 T of butter
1 tsp of crushed dried basil leaves or 1 T fresh chopped basil leaves

Wash hands and surfaces (yes, a little food safety teaching is not a bad thing!)

Grate the kohlrabi and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit 30 minutes. Squeeze water out.

Melt butter in a skillet. Add onions and brown.

Add in kohlrabi. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and turn heat to medium. Cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.

Refrigerate leftovers immediately.