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 ├ęclairs. 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!