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.