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 –themarketlady.com, themarketladyblog.com, 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!
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.