Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Webb City Sentinel 5-30-14

It’s one of those special times at the market when crops come in that folks are eagerly anticipating. These particular two crops make a dish that holds dear memories for many and a special place on the table – green beans and new potatoes. (OK, the photo is not green beans and new potatoes - but I thought you'd enjoy seeing the cool colored cauliflower at Xiong Farms stand.)

In the past, there was only a short window to enjoy these two favorites together. New potatoes harvest in the late spring. Green beans in early summer. But thanks to the adoption of winter production techniques by several of our growers, green beans arrived this week at the market, weeks earlier than usual. They were planted early and protected from the late frosts by row covers and high tunnels and now we can enjoy the fruits of our farmers’ learning and labors.

And I do mean “our” farmers. That is one of the pleasures of the market – knowing the people who grow and make your food. The USDA has a campaign called “Know your Farmer, Know your Food” with the tag line – “every family needs a farmer”. Well, long before the USDA campaign, for the last 15 years in fact, we in Webb City have known our farmers – and ranchers – by name. And our families have lots of farmers. 
When the market started in 2000 we had so few farmers that we barely filled a quarter of the north pavilion. Now we’re bursting at the seams. 

Back then there just weren’t many professional farmers and would-be professional farmers growing for farmers markets around here. I think one reason we have so many more farmers now is the success of the market. Folks see farmers succeeding at the market and think they’d like to give it a try. And, let’s face it, it is the dream of many to have a small farm and one of the things farmers markets do best is provide a venue for start-up businesses like small farms. Another reason is probably all the training the market has done. We have trained hundreds of people in good agricultural practices and visited many, many farms with Extension giving advice. You might say the market works hard at growing growers and, for that matter, growing markets. We’ve mentored dozens of new markets across the state and the country. We’re only paying it forward. We were mentored by a Springfield market when we began.

In fact, there are so many farmers in our area now that every week I send a list of other area markets to farmers asking about setting up in Webb City. We just don’t have room for any more right now. Several of our vendors from last year were not returning this year so we accepted four new farmers but we’ve pretty much hit the limit, especially since a number of our regular vendors have decided to try their hand at farming – like Apple Road which previously only did eggs and Marlee’s Creamery who formerly only did milk and Flagger Greenhouse who had always before only grown spring plants….. We may have to start using a shoe horn to get everybody in. 

We had two more of our regular farmers start coming this week. I’m expecting blueberries in the next couple of weeks and another four or five returning farmers with field crops. What a contrast that is to our first year when we had one large farmer, two occasional small farmers, a bee keeper and a baker. Our baker became ill midway through the season, so I ended up baking till we shut down in September that year. Good thing we have professional bakers now. I don’t think my ten zucchini loaves and 14 pies would last long on a market day now.

Enough reminiscing about our beginnings. 

We’re open today from 11 to 2. The Granny Chicks are playing. Whether a polka, a traditional song or rock ‘n’ roll, these ladies will get you tapping your feet. Granny Shaffers serves chicken salad sandwiches, spinach/strawberry salad, and homestyle chicken and noodle for lunch. Mary Ann Pennington with University of Missouri Extension demonstrates and samples Broccoli and Red Pepper Salad. (Have I mentioned that the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage at the market are beautiful?)

Tomorrow we’re open from 9 to noon and Tony Bergkoetter plays. Cooking for a Cause benefits the Heartland Opera Theatre. Their volunteers will serve biscuits and gravy, sausage and cooked-to-order eggs till 11. Food blogger Frank Reiter will demonstrate Garlic Scape Pesto. 

On Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 6 pm. Drew Pommert will play and Dogs on the Roll will serve hot dogs, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs and Frito pies. Tuesdays continue to be a great day to shop – not crowded but with a full selection of produce, meats and other good things.  And because of those smaller crowds and because of the shorter hours on Tuesday, the selection stays good pretty much through to the end (except on eggs – I’m working on that!) 

It just keeps getting better and better with each week – see you at the market!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 5-23-14

It’s hard to be grumpy when we finally have lovely weather but I’ve managed to be a bear this week – just ask my husband, Phil. Small problems and challenges had gotten me down, not the least of which was getting no produce at the Tuesday market because before I’d done my buying the fire alarms went off at the Middlewest Building where I live and which I manage. I rushed off to find the fire department on site and water dripping through the lobby ceiling. An air conditioner had a broken joint and condensate was leaking into a smoke alarm. No fire or smoke, but lots of damage to a ceiling that is a good 25 feet off the floor. It made me thankful for our wonderful fire department – they got there before I did and even though they’d figured out the problem they still checked every apartment just in case there really was a fire. But I was still pretty grumpy. I’m not looking forward to getting that ceiling repaired and I really missed my market produce this week.

But a friend has just brightened my day. Jan Waldie is with the American Legion Post 322 Auxiliary here in Webb City and she asked to bring “poppies” to the market today and tomorrow so folks could wear them in honor of our veterans. Before I could give the OK I had to do a little research. Of course, the poppy program has been around for decades, in fact since 1921, but I didn’t know much about it. The more I learned, the happier I was that Jan asked to come to the market. Here is the back story from the American Legion Auxiliary web site:

From the battlefields of World War I, weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle of nature, the spirit of their lost comrades lived on.

The poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Moina Michael. She was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” that ... on impulse she bought a bouquet of poppies – all that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had – and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMC where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. World War I was over, but many of America’s sons would rest forever “in Flanders’ Fields.”  
A portion of the poem reads – 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…

Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our veterans has been an important goal of the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program since its inception in 1921. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies—all handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation—are distributed across the country .. .. donations go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities.
Jan said the poppies are free and, while there will be a donation jar, people may have a poppy without making a donation. Look for her at the market both today and tomorrow.

All of which is to say, how small is a damaged ceiling and how deep and broad is the generosity and courage of those who gave everything for our country and of those who risked everything. During World War II alone, Webb City lost 50 young men. I will be wearing a poppy today to honor them.

Today at the market the Sours are playing traditional music. Granny Shaffers at the Market serves chicken salad sandwiches and spinach/strawberry salad and a surprise entrée. Last week it was spaghetti and meat sauce.

Tomorrow Joplin Globe columnist Cheryle Finely is our Market Lady. She will demonstrate Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar. She’ll also have her cookbook, The Best of Cheryle, available for sale.
Cooking for a Cause benefits the Choir Boosters of Webb City High School. They’ll be serving biscuits and gravy, sausage, and cooked to order eggs from 9 to 11. William Adkins will play popular hits from the 60’s and 70’s.

The Tuesday market has finally taken off. We have lots of vendors on Tuesday and are beginning to have enough customers to make it worth the vendors’ while to come. That balance is important to the market’s success. The Pommerts are playing their soft rock as well as classical and jazz guitar – another reason to be happy. The budget looked a bit tight at the market this year and reducing the Tuesday music was a serious possibility but, lo and behold, we received an anonymous donation last week that allows us to keep our music program complete. So to that kind donor – you know who you are – thank you!  When music fills the pavilion I will think of you.

Meet me at the market this weekend – I’ll be wearing a poppy - and I hope you will be too!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Webb City Sentinel Column - 5/16/14

I’ve been busy unpacking boxes this week. Boxes and more boxes from Jarden, the folks who make Ball jars and lots of other food preservation items. This is the third year we’ve received a grant from them. The grant includes funding for us to hire food preservation experts to demonstrate how to “can it forward” or vacuum pack it forward. Those demonstrations will start in June.

The grant also includes lots of goodies that we can give away to our customers. So many goodies, in fact, that starting today we’ll have a drawing at every market for things like drinking cups that look like Ball jars with straws and lids, canning kits, recipe books, fresh herb keepers, dry herb jar sets, jar packs, lid packs, drink infusers, hot jar holders. There seems to be a new box of goodies coming in every day. What fun it will be to give it all away. So look for the small table in the center of the market with the banner overhead to sign up for the drawings. There’ll also be recipe cards and booklets on the table, free for the taking. We’re open from 11 to 2 on Fridays.

We’re coming into full season at the market. Tables are loaded with more and more different kinds of produce. Strawberries came into full harvest this week and hopefully will provide us with sweet bounty for a month or more. The first zucchini and squash came in from the high tunnels this week. John Pate will be at the market tomorrow with high tunnel tomatoes and cucumbers and several of our other growers have been bringing red and green tomatoes out of their tunnels.

Extension will demonstrate a sautéed kohlrabi recipe today. If you like broccoli, you’ll like kohlrabi. It’s a member of the cabbage family and quite alien-looking, but very tasty and nutritious. Extension demonstrated the same recipe on Tuesday and barely a kohlrabi could be found in the market by closing. Typical of our thoughtful vendors, the young woman selling at the Lee Family Farm stand made a point of visiting the cook to thank her.  (photo -  the kohlrabi is the round vegetable nestled in among the greens)

I encourage our growers to try new things, but for true success our customers have to try new things too. A simple cooking demonstration and tasting has added kohlrabi to the shopping list of many. I did a bit of trying myself this week. I was given two bundles of Chinese broccoli. Most of our Hmong growers plant it, but I’d never given it a try. I took it to Wednesday night fellowship, washed it, cut off a bit of the ends, sliced it horizontally about four times and steamed it until tender. That’s about three minutes of preparation and ten minutes of cooking. It was my first time to try it – and I took two helpings. My friend Pat Stinson was a huge fan, so she got the second bundle. It’s a mild green, the leaves are a bit stronger than the stem. It’s tasty and, of course being a dark green, full of nutrition.

Jon Skinner, the urban forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, is at the market today. He’ll be available to answer any tree questions, but is focusing on watering and mulching trees for summer heat. Yes, summer heat is just around the corner and trees are a lifetime investment. Jon will tell you how to protect that investment without spending your life savings on water.

Bill Adkins is playing music from the 60’s and 70’s today. Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving spinach/strawberry salad and chicken salad sandwiches. King’s Kettle Corn will have flavored popcorn, candied nuts and funnel cakes both today and tomorrow.

Tomorrow the market is open from 9 to noon. Cooking for a Cause, which is served till 11, benefits the Ronald McDonald House. Our musician will be Robert Scott Bruce from Indianapolis. Robert swings by once or twice a year on his Midwest tour to share his amazing repertoire with us. Tomorrow he will be doing world folk and classical music, but in the past he’s done everything from Renaissance music to Simon and Garfunkel to Klingon opera. He’ll take a break at 10:15 when the cast of the Andrews Brothers perform “Slow Boat to China” and “Accentuate the Positive. The musical takes the stage at Joplin Little Theatre on May 28.

Carolyn Smith will demonstrate how to make kale chips tomorrow. People rave about these and you’ll have a chance to sample them to see if you want to add this super-food to your menu at home. We still have a great selection of kale and other greens like Swiss chard, mustard greens and spinach.

On Tuesday, we’ll be open from 4 to 6 pm, and Rob Pommert will play his gentle music ranging from popular music to classical and jazz guitar. Carroll Lumen returns with his pork, pecans and eggs. Dogs on the Roll will serve hot dogs, chili dogs and Frito pies.

We’ve welcomed two new volunteers to the market this month – Dan Sellers of Webb City and Susan Moser of Joplin. The more the merrier so if you’d like to spend a couple of hours a month helping out or a few hours a week, just drop by the information table.

Every season of the market has something special to offer but we’re coming into the season that seems to offer the most. Don’t miss it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Market - Strawberries!

It’s finally full blown strawberry season!  The market is expecting hundreds of quarts of strawberries tomorrow (The Webb City Farmers Market is open from 4 to 6 pm Tuesday in the pavilion at the South Main Street entrance to King Jack Park.) 

The market will be loaded with fresh local spring produce like strawberries, asparagus, kohlrabi (more on that below), spring greens, beets, radishes, green onions, cut herbs, broccoli and more.  Two more farms make their first 2014 appearance on Tuesday – Kenney Family Farms of Stockton with strawberries and Rocky Horse Ranch, of Rocky Comfort, with broccoli, greens, strawberries and asparagus.  There will be lots of herb and vegetable plants, flowers and hanging baskets, baked goods, all-natural beef, chicken and lamb, honey, energy bars, kettle corn, flavored popcorn and candied pecans, as well.   

Dogs on the Roll will serve hot dogs, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs and Frito pie.  Ten percent of their sales go to Golden Paws Animal Rescue Shelter.  Bill Adkins of Bella Vista plays popular music from the 60’s and 70’s from 4 to 6.

Now about that kohlrabi – University of Missouri Extension nutrition program associate Lindsey Supplee will demonstrate recipes featuring kohlrabi at Tuesday’s market.  Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and with its like green bulb topped by large leaves looks a bit alien but it’s a big seller once people sample it.  In fact, the last time Extension used it in a cooking demonstration it sold out.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column 5-10-14

It’s another big weekend at the market – especially for our plant folks because it’s Mother’s Day weekend. That’s usually their biggest weekend of the year and rightfully so. The plants at the market are amazing and would make terrific presents for anyone who appreciates beauty. The hanging baskets are show stoppers. The handcrafted planters by Fairhaven are charming. Joe and Carrol always bring small planters this weekend for small children with small budgets. And, of course, they also have the large planters for us big kids to buy our moms.

We’ll also have vegetable and flowering bedding plants. Fredrickson Farms has geraniums, lantana and Gerber daisies. Flagers has an array plants for your flower beds. And the tomato plant selection is huge with Fredrickson, Flager and Green’s Greenhouse having dozens of varieties of hybrids and heirlooms in sizes from just right to plant to potted plants with tomatoes already on them. Fredrickson even has tomatoes plants, called Tumbling Toms, in hanging baskets.

We’ll have lots of plants on Friday and Saturday, but let’s take what else we have one day at a time.
Today, Marlee’s Creamery is back with their raw milk. They’ve been having trouble with their truck, but think they’ve finally got it under control. Speaking of Marlee’s, what a treat it was last Friday when Mark Robinson, the dad of the operation, appeared at the market. Mark was seriously injured last month when he was hit in the head by a softball. His recovery, thus far, has been nothing short of miraculous and it was so good to see him walking, talking, hugging and smiling. 

PT Gardens is making a rare Friday visit today with their flavored salts and sugars – bacon salt, dragonsbreath salt, vanilla sugar, French fry salt, just to name a few. If you like it spicy be sure to try their hot sauces, too. Probably some Mother’s Day present possibilities there, too. 

Another nice gift would be Rosemary McCulley’s handmade vanilla extract. At $12 a bottle it’s a real vanilla bargain. 

Terrell Creek will be at the market today with their award-winning goat cheese.

Mohaska Farmhouse will be at the market today and tomorrow with their artisan breads and pizza kits.
And, of course, every market day we’re loaded with local produce. The high tunnel strawberries are coming in – I should have bought more for Wednesday night fellowship this week. Some folks made the mistake of getting dessert after they ate. They got dessert, but there were no strawberries to be had. There was not a scrap left of the spinach/strawberry salad either. I’ll print the recipe below. Except for the dressing, it is completely market based – and delicious. King’s Kettle Corn will be at the market today, but not tomorrow, and you’ll need one of their products for the recipe. Very mysterious...

Music today is by Some Strings Attached. They’ll be playing a little gospel, a little bluegrass and anything else that strikes their fancy. Granny Shaffers at the Market will have bierocks, side salad, strawberry-spinach salad and chicken salad sandwiches.

Tomorrow Hawthorne Old Time Music plays music from the civil war and other heritage American tunes. In keeping with the heritage theme, Apple Road Farms is bringing lamb’s quarter tomorrow, along with their usual eggs, cut herbs and vegetable plants. Lamb’s quarter is a native plant harvested here since prehistoric times and a common dish in the last century. Lately it’s been making its way back t the table because of its flavor, which is similar to other dark greens like kale and collards, and its nutrition. A single one-ounce serving contains 12 calories and one-third of your daily Vitamin C requirement and two-thirds of your Vitamin A requirement. It can be eaten cooked or raw and Apple Road will have recipes available.
Tomorrow is our monthly Art Market and many of our favorite artists will be there with jewelry, glasswork, metal work, note cards, painted signs and books.

Cooking for a Cause benefits the Ozark Gateway Audubon Society. It’s served till 11.

Next Tuesday, we’ll have our hotdogs with various fixin’s and Frito pie for supper (remember we’re open on Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm). Bill Adkins is playing. On both Tuesday and Friday next week, Extension will be demonstrating a kohlrabi side dish. This vegetable is in good supply right now but will be gone before you know it, not to return until fall. You’ll be surprised what a treat it is, raw or cooked.
Here’s that recipe with the mysterious King’s Kettle Corn ingredient:

Spinach/Strawberry Salad

About 6 cups of spinach leaves, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered or sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions (or this time of year, use the lovely spring onions)
1/4 cup crumbled feta or chevre cheese (don’t forget, Terrell Creek is only at the market on Fridays!)
3 – 4 tablespoons of raspberry-poppy seed dressing (recipe below)
1/2 cup candied pecan pieces, chopped (that’s the surprise ingredient from King’s Kettle Corn)

In a large bowl, toss the spinach, most of the strawberries, onion and half cheese with the dressing. Sprinkle with pecans and the rest of the cheese and strawberries.

Raspberry-poppy seed dressing 

1/4 cup grated/minced onion or spring onions
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar or raspberry balsamic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup poppy seeds

Can you tell I like the cheese?
Mix together thoroughly all ingredients except oils. Whip in oils until well combined. Dressing will keep several weeks in the refrigerator.