Thursday, August 29, 2013

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-30-13



It’s been a funny year for produce. Of course, it seems like every year has been a bit odd for some time. Two years ago heat and drought caused major gaps in supply and then last year was even hotter and drier, which I didn’t think was even possible. We had virtually no tomatoes or sweet corn in August last year. This year, the challenge has been the opposite – a spring so wet the fields couldn’t be planted and then freezing temperatures in May set what had been planted back for weeks, or killed it. Heavy rains a few weeks ago caused tomatoes and melons to split in the fields. But of course summer rains are way better problems to have then drought. Already the top soil is dusty dry but at least the subsoil has been replenished. And it sure shows at the market. 

I was putting together a list of abundant produce at the market for tomorrow’s Market Lady, Theresa Dohm, so she could select a recipe. I came up with 20 different crops right off the top of my head and that didn’t include a lot of things just now coming in, like butternut squash, edible pod peas and broccoli. And I’d forgotten the okra (which I tend to do) until a friend sent a text inquiring about it. Yes, we have lots of okra. It just loves this hot weather. Seems like okra and peppers thrive in heat.

There is just a lot at the market right now and it looks really good. The supply of sweet corn has been erratic but we should have plenty today and hopefully tomorrow. Pate’s Orchard is bringing the one-ton truck today so we should have peaches for everyone.

Doesn’t that sound good – enough for everyone. That’s pretty much the theme of Cooking for a Cause tomorrow when it benefits the Ozark Area CROP Hunger Walk. Volunteers from Central United Methodist and Peace Lutheran churches are partnering to prepare and serve the breakfast and that, too, is a theme of CROP. Cooperation among many people of faith is one of my favorite things about the walk where you’ll find Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics, United Methodists and Missionary Baptists, all walking together. It’s an interfaith walk and we’d love to extend it to all faiths in the community. We’re also young and old, kids in strollers, teenagers, all the way to octogenarians. Those who can’t walk sit in the shade and cheer the others on.

CROP does two things. It raises money to fight hunger and related problems and it educates people about hunger, its causes and solutions. One-quarter of the money raised stays right here, feeding our neighbors in need through Crosslines, the Salvation Army, Lafayette House and Childrens Haven. The rest goes around the world through Church World Service, caring for refugees, enabling long-term solutions in areas of chronic poverty, establishing clean waters sources and equipping the communities to maintain the sources.

The walk takes place on Sunday, September 29, at 2:30 and leaves from First Presbyterian in Joplin at 6th and Pearl. Want to join us?  Just catch me at the market and I’ll tell you more.

And CROP is not the only good cause at the market tomorrow. The Webb City Athletic Booster Club will be selling their new t-shirts, along with lots of other Cardinal clothing, stadium seats and blankets.  (That's some of the Webb City Band playing at the market last Saturday when the Band Boosters served breakfast.  They sounded great and made us all eager for cool fall Friday nights at the stadium.) 

The Joplin Business Women will have their Rada utensils for sale. They have expanded their selection four fold since last year. There are lots of different kinds of knives and other kitchen utensils that are very reasonably priced. They make excellent and useful gifts for folks that you’d like to give a little something to without breaking the bank. Stock up for Christmas.

A new band, On the Run, graces the market stage tomorrow. Something else new on Saturday:  cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls from the Butcher Block. We had three bakers submit samples for the Saturday opening, and they were all good, so that should tell you how good the Butcher Block’s are. Taking a phrase from our Athletic Boosters – they are outstanding!

Today The Loose Notes return to the market stage and Granny Shaffer’s at the Market serves homestyle chicken and noodles, chicken salad sandwiches and a fruit plate. University of Missouri Extension staff will demonstrate and give samples of Roasted Green Beans. Terrell Creek is back with their prizing winning goat cheese. We’re going to have lots of good things today, tomorrow, and, for that matter, next Tuesday. 

We start our last month of Tuesday markets next week. William Adkins performs and Granny Shaffer’s at the Market grills up hot dogs and hamburgers. They’ll also have their chicken salad sandwiches and fruit plates. We have just as many growers at the Tuesday market as at each of the weekend markets, but only about half the customers. It’s a great day to load up and there are only four Tuesday markets left this year!  See you at the market.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Webb City Sentinel Column - 8/23/13



I’m holding my breath – can you tell?  We’ve survived the beginning of school without the precipitous drop in sales that we have always experienced in the past. The next hurdle is Labor Day weekend, another date that has signaled a steep drop in customer attendance. 

Those drops are always hard on our vendors’ bottom line, but this year they could be even more critical than usual. Produce at the market doesn’t really dwindle dramatically until freezing weather arrives, though the type of produce changes. Typically in September we still see summer produce like tomatoes coming in and add the cool weather crops like spinach, peas and lettuce. The green beans flood in along with the winter squash – we’re expecting a lot of butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash this year. But because the summer harvest is running two to three weeks late, we’ll see a big supply of peaches, peppers and other crops that normally start to fade out next month. That means we need to hold onto our summertime crowds. Let’s consider it a bonus time for our customers who had to wait weeks longer than usual for their favorite crops to mature.

And now that I think of it, why not just stay in the market habit all year long. Our winter market is well-established and growing. Our farmers are already planting their high tunnels with tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, carrots and other tasty treats to sell during the winter. We now have more than ten high tunnels scheduled for winter production. And we have farmers who are also planting for winter production in the fields, using row cover and crops that weather the cold well like turnips and beets.
For those of you who have shopped at the Clubhouse during the Winter Market, you may wonder where we’re going to put all these farmers and their produce. Well, the answer is, right at the pavilion. One of Chuck Surface’s last projects was to write a grant to buy sidings for the pavilion and portable heaters. Chuck was a real friend of the market, as well as the city’s director of economic development.  Tom Reeder took over the project after Chuck’s death and designed and ordered the roll-down sidings. They will allow us to use as much of the pavilion as we need and we expect to use at least half of it. In other words, we expect to more than double our Winter Market this year. I’d like to add a Christmas market season this year too, a place where folks can buy locally crafted gifts. It would be held during the Winter Markets, I’m thinking from mid-October through mid-December. Wouldn’t it be fun to have some church choirs singing carols after Thanksgiving?  If you have ideas or suggestions, let me know – 417 483-8139. 

Tom Lewis, of Broken Wire Ranch, is planning to bring loads of Big Jim peppers to the market today and tomorrow. They are a mild hot pepper, perfect for stuffing. I see a lot of folks having them roasted in the Broken Wire roaster. Tom will also have his other specialty peppers, as well as his pretty bell peppers.
We welcome a new musician to the market today – Marshall Mitchell. He was recommended by one of our regulars, William Adkins. They’re both from Bella Vista, though Marshall does mostly cowboy music. Should be fun.

Granny Shaffer’s at the Market will serve homestyle chicken and noodles, chicken salad sandwiches, and a fruit plate.

Extension is back and will demonstrate a super easy Butternut Squash recipe. 

Tomorrow, the Webb City High School Band Boosters will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. It features biscuits and gravy, sausage and farm-fresh eggs cooked to order. I’m really pleased to be offering those farm-fresh eggs. We’d had such a short supply earlier in the year that our customers were buying them all, but now we have a good supply, especially on Saturdays – enough for our customers and the market, too.

The Red Bridge Trio will perform and Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate and give samples of Watermelon Refresco.

Tuesday Gospel Strings plays and Granny Shaffer’s at the Market serves lunch.

I want to say thank you to the Webb City Parks Department for quick action. I noticed on Tuesday that there were car tracks coming off the alley on the east of the pavilion and a new post on the pavilion. Monday morning the park workers found a post had been knocked out, apparently by a driver who had neglected to leave a note. They jacked up the side a bit, set in a new post, cemented it in and had it all ready for us in one day. Impressive.
And kudos to our volunteer golf cart driver. De Hunt drives on Fridays and Saturdays for the first hour or so of market when cars are still parking a considerable distance from the pavilion. I try to drive on Tuesdays if the parking lot is full so I know how important the task is. I always have several passengers who tell me that they just couldn’t come to the market if the cart was not there. They are physically unable to walk a distance and certainly unable to carry a watermelon and all their other purchases. This week, De told me that in his last nine days of driving he had 355 passengers, an average of about 40 per day with 62 being the biggest day. So thank you, De, for making this service possible. And thank you Perry family for buying us new cart batteries this year. The market blooms and prospers because of the people and organizations that play a part.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sentinel column - 8-16-13



I’m calling it a weekend of peaches and peppers at the market. Peaches because we’re loaded with them. Ripe, run-down-your-chin juicy peaches. So many that a few boxes of peaches have actually gone back to the orchard a couple of market days. Now, folks, we can’t have that!  Avoid the peach line and buy a half hour after opening or if this last week holds true, buy two hours after opening. There are unprecedented quantities of peaches at the market so be sure to stock up for winter. Pre-order 1/2 bushels from Pate’s Orchard by calling 417 276-3297.

But it’s not just peaches you’ll want because Broken Wire will be at the market Friday and, for the first time this season, on Saturday with their specialty peppers and pepper roaster. We want you to know how good those smoky roasted peppers are, so our Market Lady Carolyn Smith will be demonstrating and sampling a dish tomorrow featuring them, Spicy White Bean and Roasted Pepper Dip.

As the ad on late night TV says “but wait, there’s more!”  The sweet corn is back. After a lull of more than a week, at least two of our farmers, Fair Haven and Brakers, are harvesting corn and Harmony Hills shouldn’t be too far behind. And there’s melon, both seedless and seeded watermelon and several varieties of cantaloupe, including French melons. And we seem to be getting a better supply of tomatoes which, if the rain holds off for a while, should increase next week as well.

Other tidbits of information –

Harmony Hill has added soft serve ice cream to their offerings, but the price is $1.75, not $1.50 as I previously noted. Paul Jackson, who is one of the most careful shoppers I know, declared it worth the price both for flavor and the generous quantity. Give it a try.

The Webb City Police Department came through for the market – again. Someone left their smart phone at the market Saturday. The owner called the WCPD hoping it had been turned in. Tiffany Landes who took the call at the department had seen our facebook posting about a lost smart phone and directed the owner to us. The smart phone was back in the right hands just 24 hours after it was lost.

Winners of the Tomato Contest:  A hybrid tomato with the lyrical name of "BHN964" grown by Fredrickson Farms was judged the Best Red Tomato; an heirloom called Brandywine Pink grown by Fair Haven Gardens won Best Other Color Tomato; the Heaviest tomato - weighing 1.4 pounds – was an heirloom called Ponderosa Pink grown by Fair Haven; and the Weirdest was a tomato with "dred locks" grown by Barb Pate of Pate's Orchard.

Our thanks to Mike Wiggins of Granny Shaffers, Sean Flanagan of Wilder’s Steakhouse, Jason Miller of Instant Karma Restaurant and the Eagle Drive-In and Frank Reiter of Joplin, local foodie and blogger of “Frank About Food” for judging the tomatoes.

Another contest was going on last weekend at the State Fair. Our goat cheese makers, Leslie and Doug Million of Terrell Creek, missed last Friday’s market so they could enter their cheeses in the state fair contests. Pretty good call on their part. Every cheese they entered won a blue ribbon and their Feta won “Best in Show”. That means it was judged the best of the entire dairy category, better than any cheese, butter, milk or ice cream entered. Even Leslie was surprised that they beat ice cream!  Leslie will be at the market today with their prize-winning cheese. Don’t miss it.  (photo - some of the kids - taken during a farm inspection at Terrell Creek this week)

School started this week and typically that dramatically reduces the number of customers at the market.
At the market today, Granny Shaffers at the Market serves lunch including home-style chicken and noodles, chicken salad sandwiches and a fruit plate. The Granny Chicks perform.

Tomorrow The Green Earth Band performs. Breakfast benefits The Make a Wish Foundation. The Webb Chapter #204 Order of the Eastern Star provides volunteers to prepare and serve the breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage and farm fresh eggs.

Tuesday will be the true test of our customers. Will they come out in force even though school is back in session or will be have bins of left-over produce. Our farmers are always willing to share with those in need, and in fact, donate left-over produce every Tuesday afternoon to Crosslines, our regional food pantry, but let’s make sure they sell enough to stay in the farming business. Bring a friend, tell your neighbors, announce it at church. The market is still open!  See you there. Tuesday and Friday from 11 to 2 and Saturday from 9 to noon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Webb City Sentinel column - 8-9-13



Well, I’m going to do it – name the fruit which shall not be named – it’s peaches!  And we’re going to have a LOT of them this weekend. 

As I’ve probably told you too many times this summer, everything is running late this year, but it’s finally peach season – almost a month late.  Pate’s Orchard is bringing in two trucks today and hope to bring in two tomorrow.  John thinks he’ll have enough to last the whole market.  I’ll be thrilled if we have peaches for the first two hours because that would mean no need for a long peach line.  Much as I love our peaches – and I do – I’m not a fan of the peach line, especially when it snakes all the way out of the pavilion.  While harvesting is at its peak, I’m hoping that the line stays much shorter or, better yet, that folks will wait until about half an hour after opening to come to market or do their other shopping first so they have no line at all.  

If you need a large quantity of peaches for freezing or jams, you’ll need to pre-order by calling the farm store at 417 276-3297.  And now’s the time to do it while larger quantities are available.

And speaking of quantities, we should have tons of melons this weekend, cantaloupe and watermelon.  We’re expecting the first of the butternut squash as well.  

Walter Brubacker of Harmony Hills, our new farm on the southeast corner of the pavilion, read this column a couple of months ago when I confessed that I would love to have ice cream at the market.  He immediately ordered a soft serve ice cream machine.  It took a while to wade through the state’s permitting procedures but the machine is up and running.  Ice cream by the cup or cone is $1.50.

I guess I need to tell Walter about some of my other wishes – like having my granddaughter a bit closer than Perth, Australia.

I’d also wish for a more consistent supply of some of our favorite produce.  We’ve been shy of sweet corn for a week now.  Three of our farms, Braker, Harmony Hills and Fairhaven, all planted sequentially about 10 days apart and it turns out that the 10 days between plantings on all three are matching.  So don’t give up on us, we should be buried again in sweet corn, hopefully by next week when the three new fields come in.
We’re also having trouble meeting the demand for tomatoes, but that’s because of the weather.  All this rain causes the full-sized tomatoes to swell and split.  The cherry and pear tomatoes are once again proving to be the workhorse of the market.  Last year only the wee tomatoes could set fruit during the extremely high temperatures, this year they are the only ones surviving the rains intact.  So it’s definitely time to come up with some good cherry tomato recipes and I’ve printed one below that Market Lady Susan Pittman shared last week.  

Today at the market we host The Josh Jenson Band.  Granny Shaffers at the Market serves chicken and noodles, chicken salad sandwiches and a fresh fruit plate.

Tomorrow we have lots going on.  Robert Bruce Scott makes his annual appearance during his Midwest tour.  Robert, who lives in Indianapolis, puts on quite a show.  You never know whether he’s going to pull out a song from the ancient Celts, from the 16th century Europe, from modern-day America or from 23rd century Kronos (yes, he sings in 20 languages including Klingon).  In addition to singing, he plays the Celtic harp, the classical guitar, and the mandolin.  Robert is performing a completely different set tomorrow evening at Minevera’s from 7 to 9.

Market Lady Carolyn Smith is demonstrating and giving samples of peach salsa tomorrow.  And we’ll have our annual tomato contest tomorrow.  Winners will be announced at 10.  Our judges this year include Mike Wiggins of Granny Shaffers, Sean Wheaton of Wilders, Jason Miller of Instant Karma and The Eagle Drive-In and Frank Reiter of franklyfoodblog.blogspot.com.

Next Tuesday we’ll have our usual bounty of produce and baked goods and fewer customers to wade through.  The Pommerts play for the last time this season and Granny Shaffers at the Market serves freshly grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches and a fresh fruit plate.

Here’s that recipe I promised.  I like to make it without the pasta to use as a dip or side dish.  Chop the tomatoes into quarters and it’s also great in a taco.  And since it’s even better the next day, add the pasta and enjoy it as an entrĂ©e.

Ranch (Greek Yogurt) Salad Dressing
About 2 cups of Fat Free Greek Yogurt
1
envelope of Ranch dip mix
0.5 cup of milk
Mix all ingredients together in a mason jar and refrigerate.
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Number of Servings: 16

Summer Black Bean Pasta Salad
1/2 pound favorite small pasta
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups of cherry tomatoes* cut in half
2 ears fresh corn* or 2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 small red bell pepper,* seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion,* chopped
fresh basil* leaves to taste
1 large garlic* clove pressed
½ cup Ranch (Greek Yogurt) Salad Dressing (or dressing of your choice)
Cook pasta al dente.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix well and let salad sit for about 15 minutes before serving so that the flavors meld. Tastes even better the next day. This makes an excellent salad with or without the pasta - you decide.
Serving Size: 12 1-cup
Number of Servings: 12
*in season now at your local farmers market