Thursday, July 31, 2014

Webb City Sentinel - August 1, 2014

Just when I think there’s nothing left to share about the market, I find that I am wrong. (Don’t tell my husband Phil. He thinks I’m perfect.)  There’s actually quite a bit of market news this week.

Folks have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the heirloom tomatoes. I knew the harvest had begun, but it was not until I went on farm inspections Wednesday that I realized that the harvest is in full swing. Fairhaven Berry and Produce in Harwood planted six varieties of heirloom tomatoes this year:  Cherokee Purple, Brandywine Pink, Yellow Ruffle, Old German, ponderosa and Goliath. Their plants were just loaded. You’ll also find heirlooms at several other growers like Fredrickson Farms, Nature Valley Farm and Greens Greenhouse.  (photos taken at Fairhaven)

Heirloom vegetables are typically open pollinated plants that have been cultivated since before 1951 (If we were plants, Bob Foos and I would be heirlooms. And that is my birthday present to you, Foos.)  They have been passed down through generations, shared among seed savers and propagated by specialty seed companies. They have fascinating names, odd shapes and sizes, often fantastic colors and distinctive flavors. They’re not for everyone but many consider them the best tasting tomatoes around.

Heirloom tomatoes can also be a challenge to grow for market. They split easily, are often ugly, and have a short season. I expect that’s the very reason that you’ll only find the heirlooms at the market or in a home garden. They’re not uniform enough, pretty enough, and sturdy enough for the supermarket.
But they sure have a taste that can’t be beat. 

The season is too short, they’ll play out in a month or so. Now’s the time to give them a try and, if you like them, preserve some for the winter.

More news – Granny Shaffers is debuting a market-fresh entrée today for lunch:  Thai Chicken Lettuce wrap with a wedge of melon for $3. That lettuce is from 417 Produce, our year-round lettuce grower. They’ll also serve their always-popular chicken salad sandwich.

Some more news – Oakwood Farms has bought a pepper roaster. They’ll have it at the market on Tuesdays and Fridays.

And the last bit of news is that the market has received funding again this year from the Missouri Arts Council for its music program and for Arts in the Park. The first grant, for $1,410, will underwrite our regular music at every market. The second grant allows us to bring back WildHeart to perform at the market on Saturday, September 13, and at Madge T. James Kindergarten on Friday, September 12. WildHeart is a duo from central Missouri who sing, dance, educate and engage children in the environment. Here’s a bit from the liner notes of their latest cd:  “a wild variety of tunes including jazz, pop, swing, bluegrass and rap - chock full of facts and fun about the natural world. Wiggle with the Armadillo Alphabet, dance like an insect to the Buzzy Wuzzy Buggy Boogie, and make your Mom squirm with Scit, Scat, Diddily Doo! Learn the scoop on frogs and their cousins with Amphibian Blues. Sit back in your imagination and float an Ozark stream taking in the melodic memory of Jan's Grandfather's canoe in her Irish tune, Legacy. Experience the amazing adventure of one tiny Monarch butterfly in the ballad, Journey Maker.”

Oh, yes, we’re going to have a good time. Mark your calendar and bring your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews or the neighbor’s kids.

What else is on tap for the immediate future?  Our Extension experts will be at the market today, just south of the information table, to answer all your gardening questions. Are your tomatoes splitting, are bugs taking over, are leaves yellowing?  Bring a sample if you can and they’ll try to identify the problem and propose solutions. Patrick Byers with the University of Missouri and Randy Garrett with Lincoln University can help you with veggie, fruit and ornamental plants. They’re at the market every first Friday of the month during the regular season.

Gospel Strings is playing today. Cottage Small Coffee is back after a two-week absence with roasted coffee beans from Guatemala and Ethiopia. M & M Bistro will have tabbouleh and hummus for take-out, along with their baklava today.

Tomorrow Cooking for a Cause benefits the American Cancer Society. Volunteers from the Carl Junction chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star will serve biscuits and gravy, sausages and farm fresh eggs from 9 to 11.

Marshall Mitchell, our cowboy crooner, will sing.

M & M Bistro adds pita wraps to their menu on Saturdays.

Next Tuesday we’ll celebrate National Farmers Market Week. We’ll have a bunch of giveaways and drawings, including one for $50 worth of market tokens. Some of the fun is not finalized yet, so, my advice, come to the market Tuesday between 4 and 6 to see what’s going on!

See you at the market.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - July 25, 2014

‘Tis the season of the giant zucchini. Every year about this time the zucchini plants produce to such an amazing degree that it’s not possible to keep up with the harvest. Overnight it seems a wee zucchini expands to the size of a club. The good news for farmers and customers is that zucchini clubs are good for more than pounding. Large zucchini make great bread, cake and relish. And they’re a great buy for the quantity. 

Zucchini is an interesting vegetable. I call it a chameleon veggie because it takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. You might say it provides a platform for the flavor. That’s why it works so well in combination with other veggies. If a recipe calls for tomatoes and eggplant, throwing in a bit of zucchini will not throw off the balance of flavors. It just adds low-calorie (and low-cost) nutrition and volume. For example, a cup of chopped zucchini has only 20 calories but provides 35% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
See below

So when you’re at the market, look for zucchini in a variety of sizes and colors. Most zucchini is green, but we do have a bright yellow variety. You’ll be able to tell it from yellow squash because it is shaped like zucchini, long and smooth. It tastes the same as the green but adds a bit of color. You’ll find small and medium sized zucchini, both good for sautéing and roasting. And you’ll find the large ones too (Fredrickson Farms has been loaded with them.)

On this last weekend of July (how is that possible?)we have some fun things planned. Today, the Sours will play traditional music. Granny Shaffers at the Market will serve homestyle chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches. We’re expecting 34 vendors, including the eagerly awaited Broken Wire Ranch with their roasted peppers. They’ll only be at the market today this week, so if you want Anaheim, Big Jim or any of their other hot peppers roasted, today’s the day. However, those of you who cannot make the Friday market need not despair. Oakwood Farms has ordered a pepper roaster which should be in place at the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays beginning a week from tomorrow.

Tomorrow (on Saturdays we’re open from 9 to noon) we have a double musical treat. Randy Corbin and Friends will perform traditional music with a break at 10 am when the cast of Joplin Little Theatre’s upcoming production The Boy Friend sing a couple of numbers. Breakfast benefits the Chert Glades chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists. Biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs cooked to order and a drink are served by volunteers from 9 to 11. 
Josephine in one of Jim's dresses.

Tomorrow we're tickled to have Tami Fredrickson's grandpa, Jim Oxley, back at the market with his dresses for little girls.  He'll have dresses bedecked with lace and frills, as well as sun dresses in a variety of sizes.  If he doesn't have the right size in the right style, he'll custom make the dress for you and ship it.   He's a treasure and doesn't often make it to the market since he lives in Mountain Grove, so don't miss him.

For those wanting lunch, to eat in or take out, M & M Bistro will have pita wraps and hummus, along with baklava. Edith Bayless, our seamstress, and Odd Duck Soaps with also be at the Saturday market.

Tuesday, join us for supper and music and a market just as loaded with good things as the weekend markets. We’re open from 4 to 6, parking is easier and the choices are excellent.

And just in case you want to try one of those bargain giant zucchini, here’s a nice recipe that uses honey for the sweetener. Remember when buying your honey, that in Missouri it is sold by weight not volume. That means that 16 oz. doesn’t equal two cups, it equals a pound. So you’ll have to eyeball the jar to figure volume. In my experience a 12 oz. jar of honey is just about one cup. In this recipe, the zucchini provides a platform for the honey flavor, as well as moistness.

 Honey-Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1 cup honey

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8 x 4 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Add oil, then honey (put honey in measuring cup after oil. The oiled cup will all the honey to drip out more easily) and vanilla. Stir in zucchini.

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Along with nuts, stir into zucchini mixture. Pour into prepared loaf pans.

Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes before turning out.

We were spoiled by last week’s cool weather. Don’t let the heat keep you away from the bounty of summer. Blink and it is gone, just like July. See you at the market! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-18-14

This time of year I worry about fitting all the vendors in the pavilion.   So much so that I slight our nutritional education program – we often have every square inch of side space and much of the middle taken up by vendors.   That was the case this weekend, until I got a couple of calls (Cottage Small had a piece break on their roaster and will gone while they get a replacement part and Robertson Family Farm called to say the blueberry harvest was over and we’d see them in the fall with pumpkins).   While I was sorry to get the news from both, it does mean we can have education tables both today and Saturday.   Today, Mary Ann Pennington with University of Missouri Extension will demonstrate and sample a good-for-you recipe using tomatoes and eggplant.   We have lots of both right now.   

Tomorrow Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate vacuum sealing for freezing summer bounty for winter use.   She’ll be doing a mix of fresh vegetables that can be frozen together and then thawed and cooked in stews and soups.

But that may be the end of our weekend recipe demonstrations for a while as we are expecting Broken Wire with their pepper roaster next weekend and vendor space will be super tight again.   It’s a good problem to have.   More choices for the customers, more opportunities for local farmers and small business people.

We’ve had a few new small businesses join us this week.   M & M Bistro, based at their restaurant on Main Street in Joplin, was very pleased with their Saturday sales of pita wraps and baklava.   They’ll be back this Saturday, as will our other new Saturday vendor, Red Lab Farms with their French pastries.   They sold out of pastries last week, so I’m expecting them to bring a larger supply tomorrow.

Our new Tuesday vendor, Carmine’s Pizza, was also pleased with their first day at the market.   In fact, they ran out of pizza dough.  They’ll be back on Tuesday.

Seriously, folks, the market is on a roll!  I don’t think we’ve ever had so much sweet corn and of such good quality.   With literally tons of it going out at every market, I know of only a few dozen ears that were 
unsatisfactory.   That’s pretty amazing and I know there has to have been more because you just can’t do that kind of volume without some mistakes slipping through.   If you’ve bought a market product that was over or under ripe or that was damaged, please let us know.   None of our vendors would intentionally sell a poor product and we want to make it right if it happens.   You can speak directly to the vendor or you can come to the information table and we’ll make sure you receive a refund or a replacement.

That being said, please be sure that you give your produce the same care your farmer does.   Sweet corn is best eaten within a day or two of purchase and it should be refrigerated.   Tomatoes should never be refrigerated until they are cut.   Peppers should be stored in the refrigerator and used within about four days.   Cantaloupe can be stored uncut at room temperature until it’s ripe, then should be stored in the refrigerator.   Eggplant can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.   All cut produce should be stored in the refrigerator.   For more tips on storing and serving fresh produce, go to   This useful app and web site was developed by University of Missouri Extension.   It has tips for all sorts of fresh produce and recipes, too.   You can get more information about it from Mary Ann today.

So what’s happening today in addition to the cooking demo?  William Adkins is playing hits from the 60’s and 70’s.   Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving home style chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches.   We’re expecting Terrell Creek with goat cheese and Marlee’s with raw milk.   Hillside Farm will have elephant garlic and Endless Bounty will have energy bars.   Of course, we’ll have loads of fresh produce, plus baked goods, jams and jellies and honey on both days.

Tomorrow, The Granny Chicks are playing.   Cooking for a Cause benefits NALA (Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action) whose volunteers teach adults to read and immigrants better English skills.   The benefit breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, and eggs to order is served from 9 to 11.

JJ’s Woodfired Pizza will be at the market talking about how they use local fresh produce in their restaurant.   They are one of several restaurants that shop regularly at the market.   You’ll want to stop by their table near the center entrance because they’ll have samples!

Saturday will be the day for cantaloupe and watermelon because E & O Produce will be here.   They are usually here on Tuesday and Saturday and are the first ones in the market with a big supply of melons.
We’ll have a new crafter at the market Saturday, Dorothy Cliff, who is a weaver of rag rugs, table runners, mug rugs and handbags all out of recycled materials.   She also does zipper art and woven bowls.   
Tuesday we’ll be open from 4 to 6 with all the usual offerings.  

Friend our facebook page for all the latest information.   We post a list of all vendors on site within 30 minutes of each market opening, as well as photos so you can see a sample before you come.  See you soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-11-14

I guess the word got out that we were open on Friday and Saturday. Between the two days, July 4 and 5, we had thousands of people come to the market. Good thing we were loaded with produce. In fact, even with all those people, we still sent corn home. Now that’s a lot of corn. (photos from Thursday's farm visits)

Carolyn Smith demonstrated roasted sweet corn seasoned with PT Gardens’ seasoned salts at the market Tuesday. Folks must have agreed it was good because PT Gardens’ sales were up 70% that day. They’re at the market every Tuesday and sell many varieties of salts blended with seasonings such as garlic, onion, bacon, plus a salt called “Dragon’s Breath”. Yes, that would be the hot one. They don’t grow the salt, but they do grow all the seasonings that they add (except the bacon which they buy from local ranchers). They also sell a variety of fresh cut herbs.

Carolyn is one of our new market volunteers and what a jewel she is. As a retired family and consumer sciences teacher, she is perfect for our nutrition education program, always bringing us interesting tastes and techniques and wonderful displays. She makes it look easy. And she doesn’t stop with her demonstrations. She and her husband stay and help us put away the market at the end of the day when she demonstrates. Yes, we are fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers – like Susan who helps on Fridays. Not only has she learned all the set up and operation, but she’s a nurse to boot and advises us when there is a medical problem. Last week a customer fell while getting in her car, and Susan’s advice was “call the ambulance”. It was good advice. (And, with the EMTs’ help, everything worked out just fine.)

Another new volunteer is Dan, who is at the market most Saturday mornings helping with set up and driving the golf cart. Thursday he went with me to do farm inspections. As a gardener, bee keeper and keeper of chickens, he’s just right for the job. On Friday he’s training our newest volunteer, Roger, who will be driving the market cart. This time of year, the cart is essential because three bags of sweet corn and two melons are just a bit heavy to carry while walking a quarter mile to your car. 

Wait, did I say melons?  Yes, I did. The first of the cantaloupe came in last Tuesday. We’ll have a few today and we expect hundreds by tomorrow (and may even have some watermelon). Every season has its delights, but it’s sure hard to beat melons, sweet corn and field tomatoes. I had a Cherokee Purple from Green’s Greenhouse for dinner tonight. Being heirlooms, they can sure look ugly, but nothing beats the taste.

So what other delights does this week’s market hold?  Today (Friday from 11 to 2), the Sours play traditional music. Granny Shaffers at the Market serves home style chicken and noodles and chicken salad sandwiches. We’ve had to suspend our Extension cooking demonstrations for a while because we are so full. There’s just no extra space to set up a demonstration table. Today we expect 22 growers, 2 dairies, 2 ranchers, an egg farmer, plus nine other food related vendors, plus music. That’s a lot to fit into our pavilion!

Tomorrow (Saturday from 9 to noon), we’re going to squeeze in two new vendors and I guarantee that you’ll find them special. M & M Bistro will be at the market with two “sandwiches” – a gyro pita wrap and a chicken pita wrap. My husband, Phil, and I did their inspection last week. Boy, that was a tough gig. The wraps were delicious and the baklava was as good as I’ve ever eaten. Yes, there will be baklava, too!  And it only gets better, because our other new vendor makes French pastries. You can expect plain and savory croissants, gougeres and other delights from Justin Mason of Red Lab Farm. Yes, I had to look up gourgere, too. It’s a savory pastry made of choux (pronounced “shoo”) pastry and various kinds of cheese. Choux pastry is also used to make beignets, cream puffs and éclairs. It’s leavened by steam, not by baking powder, baking soda or yeast.
Justin brought some samples by Tuesday’s market for us to try. (We volunteers lead a hard life.)  I had Teng Yang, of Nature Valley, try the croissant because he lived in France for many years. He gave it a big thumbs up.

Tomorrow we welcome Cliff Walker and Rebecca Hawkins to the market for the first time. You may have heard them as part of the Rebecca Hawkins Project at Minerva’s Candy Company.

All of which is pretty exciting news, but it doesn’t end there. On Tuesday, we expect yet another new vendor – Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza. Carmine’s will bake to order hand-tossed pizza’s using market veggies – at last we’ll have a vegetarian choice on Tuesdays. He’ll also do meat pizzas. It should be a great option, along with Dogs on the Roll who will be offering their hot dogs in various choices, pulled pork sandwiches and Frito pies.

Trish Reed will be at the market Tuesday (4 to 6 pm) demonstrating how to prepare and vacuum seal veggies for freezing, preserving today’s bounty for winter enjoyment. I’ll be asking several of our growers to bring some veggies in bulk on Tuesday for customer to buy for canning and freezing. And, of course, this is the perfect time of year to load up on sweet corn for freezing. Come December, you’ll be glad you did.
The Pommerts will perform.

See you at the market. In fact, why not come to them all this week so your sweet corn is as fresh as possible?  Fresh is always nice, but in sweet corn it is fabulous!