Thursday, April 17, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - Friday, 4-18-14

I can’t say much for the weather we’ve had this week. Freezes?  Really?  Hopefully we’re done with freezes but they probably put the kibosh on at least some of the early field tomatoes. Several of our farmers said they lost their field tomatoes, peppers and squash despite multiple layers of row cover. They’ll have to start over. On the other hand, all the cool weather crops came through just fine and the high tunnels also did well so we don’t need to begin gnashing our teeth yet (except on some of the best salads of the year).

Speaking of salads, I was visiting with Vicki Groff over at the Sentinel yesterday about the greens at the market. She uses market spinach in all sorts of dishes, both cooked and fresh. And she agreed with my observation of the greens at the market, which is that they keep wonderfully well. Vicki said her spinach lasts about 10 days. I have found that the lettuce I buy holds beautifully if I just keep it in the shopping bag it comes in, add just a bit of cold water, tie it shut, give it a toss or two to distribute the water and put it in the fridge. Before we began opening on Tuesdays, I would buy several kinds of lettuce on Saturday and pull it out of the fridge on Wednesday evening to serve at church. It was crisp, fresh and beautiful four days after I bought it.

And what choices we have of greens. I counted about eight varieties of lettuce on Tuesday and four varieties of kale, plus there was Swiss chard and collard greens, green onions and radishes. The asparagus won’t be far behind.

(At right, call me obsessive, but I continue to be wowed by Jim Oxley's dresses which will be at the market again Saturday - last chance till next fall!  These dresses will be winging their way to Australia next week.  Top - size 6 to 9 months dress with panties, socks and hair band - $40, Middle - size 3 dress with panties, socks and hair bow - $23, Bottom - sundress with lined bodice - $10)

There’s a lot going on this weekend at the market. Both today and tomorrow we should have local produce, honey, kettle corn and other flavored popcorn, roasted nuts, baked goods (Black Forest on Friday and Hazel’s Bakery on Saturday!), eggs, and plants – and do I ever mean plants. Between Braker Farm and Fredrickson Farms we should have about 600 hanging baskets go through the market this spring. Tim Green has big beautiful tomato plants, as well as cucumber, pepper and onion plants. If you have children in the family – or the neighborhood - mark down the first Saturday in May when we have our annual Let’s Plant a Garden Day. Each child will receive one of Tim’s big beautiful tomato plants and instructions from the master himself.

But back to plants you can buy. Fredrickson Farms also has Tumbling Tom tomato plants in hanging baskets that were hugely popular last year, as well as 20 varieties of herb plants. Josh Flager has many varieties of heirloom tomato plants as well as flowers for your beds. Fairhaven will have their custom designed wooden planters filled with cheery flowers.

We expect to have enough Washington Hawthorn seedlings to give them away today and tomorrow and we still have lots of seed packets from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company to give away.

Today, when the market is open from 11 to 2, we are delighted to welcome back Terrell Creek Farm, our goat cheese vendor. They plan to have chevre - plain, herb & garlic, hog heaven (bacon and chives), smokin' goat (fire roasted jalepeno), horseradish and chocolate chip, plus feta and feta marinaded in EVO, garlic and herbs.

We also expect Sunny Lane with all-natural beef, lamb and chicken and Madewell Pork today, as well as Cottage Small Coffee Roasters and Endless Bounty energy bars and lotions.

Need to know exactly who’s at the market before heading our way?  Just check the market facebook page. We’ll post a listing of all vendors on site within 30 minutes of opening on every market day.

Granny Shaffers at the Market debuts a menu today with old favorites and what we hope will become a new favorite: chicken salad sandwiches, spinach and strawberry salad and bierocks. Bierocks, a specialty of Granny Shaffers Chef Scott Teal, are meat-filled pastries originating in Germany. They will be sold hot and ready to eat, as well as frozen for taking home and eating later.

Lindsay Supplee with University of Missouri Extension will demonstrate a Braised Greens recipe which can use either kale or collard greens. Stop by her table in the center of the pavilion and try a sample.
No Strings Attached plays bluegrass, gospel and whatever else strikes their fancy from 11 to 1.

Tomorrow, when the market is open from 9 to noon, we’ll have Cooking for a Cause the first two hours – biscuits and gravy, sausage and eggs cooked to order. All profits benefit The Missouri Fisher House, which is a sort of Ronald McDonald house for the families of veterans receiving care at the St. Louis VA Medical Center. Volunteers serving the breakfast are members of the Carl Junction Order of the Easter Star. The Pommerts play. 

Jim Oxley returns for the last time until fall with his handcrafted dresses for little girls, new-born through 10 years. We’ll also have Copperleaf Pottery, glass artists Rebecca Bristow and Jane McCaulley, as well as Edith Bayless with her sewn goods.

The sides are coming off the pavilion Monday so we are officially declaring “No More Cold Weather!”  Next Tuesday (don’t forget the new Tuesday hours – 4 to 6 pm), Dogs on the Roll will serve supper with a menu of all beef hotdog, all beef chili dog, Frito pie. There will also be chips and drinks for sale. Ten percent of sales to the Golden Paws Animal Rescue Shelter. Bill Adkins will play golden oldies on Tuesday.

Freeze or not, the market is going to have a great season. I hope you’ll join us!