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!