Thursday, August 28, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 8/29/14

Hard to believe that fall is just around the corner, unless you saw the mums at the market Tuesday. Two farms will have mums today and tomorrow, primarily yellows and reds. September is upon us and the first of September is what our mum growers aim for when they plant. So let’s start thinking fall. And while you’re thinking fall, put Saturday, September 13, on your calendar. We’ll celebrate Arts in the Park that day. We are delighted that WildHeart is returning this year. They are a duo from central Missouri who do original kids songs related to the environment and animals. The market makes this an extra special occasion by booking WildHeart for our Saturday market and for a performance at the kindergarten the day before. The Missouri Arts Council helps with the cost but we’re looking for a few more sponsors, so if you’d like to be a help, stop by the information table at the market. You’d be supporting the special music and the kids art activity tables at the market that Saturday.

You may remember that last week I wrote about the kids garden and tomatillos. Well, here’s the next installment. We had 39 kids this Wednesday. Once again we split them into different projects, harvesting, raking, and tasting. And they were enthusiastic about all of the tasks. In fact, I had to call several times to get them to leave their work in the garden at quitting time.

My station was the cooking table. In groups of about 12, we gathered around a card table. I showed them how to prepare a sweet pepper for eating raw and then of course we ate the pepper slices up. Then we examined the tomatillo. We talked about “tomatillo” being a Spanish word and several kids connected the “ll” being pronounced like a “y” in Spanish to the more familiar  “tortilla”. These are smart kids. We were surprised how tasty the tomatillo was raw. Somehow we had associated it with tomatoes even though the plants are not related. The raw tomatillo almost has an apple taste. Then, I donned gloves and showed them how to prepare a jalapeno, warning them that the seeds and the membranes were the hottest part. Finally, we tasted Salsa Verde, which is made with tomatillos and jalapenos. It was a big hit. Luckily I’d brought plenty of recipes to share. 

Next week, we explore the wonderful world of squash.

Today at the market, M & M Bistro is serving chicken and lamb/beef wraps. The Granny Chicks are playing so bring your dancing shoes. E & O Produce will be at the market but they have to miss tomorrow, so if you want their lovely melons, today’s the day to come.

Tomorrow, JR Sampson and Friends are playing. The Webb City Band Boosters are serving breakfast from 9 to 11 and a few members of the band will perform during our regular band’s breaks. As is the case with all Saturday breakfast, the volunteer group serves the meal from 9 to 11 and keeps the profits.
Oakwood Farm will have the pepper roaster at the market tomorrow. Oakwood grows many varieties of peppers, but if you find what you like at a different stand, they’ll roast those peppers for $2 a pound. They roast their own for free.

This weekend is our last time for the Ball Jar drawings. We’ll draw five names on Friday and five on Saturday. The winners have to be present to win so keep your ears perked for the megaphone announcements.

On both days, we’ll have lots of produce (though the peaches may be done for the season). Cottage Small Coffee Roasters is back after a break. It was just too hot to roast coffee last week. In fact, I think we can all agree, it was just too hot. Too bad we couldn’t hold some of that dreadful winter cold over for these hot days.

In September we’ll continue to be open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Next Tuesday, we expect Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza and Dog on a Roll to serve dinner. Rob Pommert will play.

Since the Salsa Verde was such a hit at the garden, I thought I’d share it with you. You can find lots of tomatillos at Fredrickson Farms stand. Hot peppers are at almost every growers table.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Makes about 3 cups

You can cook the tomatillos several ways. I roasted them. Don’t worry about chopping the ingredients finely. You’re going to mince them in the food processor or blender anyway.
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (don’t know how much a box weighs?  Just come to the information table and weigh them on our scale donated by Cardinal Scales.)

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeno peppers or 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use them whole if you want really hot salsa – but WEAR GLOVES!)

Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse the fruit well.

Cook the tomatillos using one of the following methods:

Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5 – 7 minutes until the skin is lightly blackened.


Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil and heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.


Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Put the cooked tomatillos and other ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in the fridge and serve with chips or as a topping or side in Mexican dishes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-22-14

Dale Mermoud, our master gardener, and I thought the fall season for the Kids Community Garden was a bust. Garden time is from 3 to 4 on Wednesdays, right after school. At 3:10, not a child had appeared though the buses were gone and the line of cars picking up kids had vanished. Then I looked up to see school counselor Karen Brownfield leading a troupe of children from the middle school. Twenty-five of them! 

Luckily we had plenty to do and just enough tools and work gloves. I had them partner up. Five teams were assigned to Dale to rake the straw mulch off the potato field in preparation for tilling and seeding of cover crop. To another eight I gave bags and set them loose harvesting the tomatoes. And the last seven started breaking off and tearing out the giant sunflower plants that had grown throughout the garden. We’re getting the garden ready for winter.

Halfway through we took a water break, a new group took on the mulch and I took the rest of the children through the garden, exploring what was still in season, telling them about the different varieties of tomatoes and finishing up the sunflowers.

For our final task we split up the harvest with every child taking home a few tomatoes, five won the guessing game that awarded them a mess of fingerling potatoes and a few brave souls took home hot peppers – after a thorough warning to wear plastic gloves when cutting them.

They were a great bunch of kids to work with and Ms. Brownfield tells me we’ll have even more next week when we’ll have more mulch to move and more tomatoes to harvest. We won’t be planting a fall crop like many of our farmers. Instead we’ll work for the next month or so getting the garden in shape for winter and then call it quits until next spring. All of which means that we’ll be doing more than gardening since a 50’ x 50’ garden doesn’t really need 25 kids to put it to bed. 

So for the next month, the kids will put in about half an hour gardening, then we’ll have a lesson – about bees or compost or some other aspect of gardening or a cooking lesson. Next Wednesday we’ll be exploring tomatillos, a vegetable used in Mexican cooking. We have two plants in the garden and the kids were fascinated by them with their papery shells. We’ll sample Tomatillo Salsa Verde. Fredrickson Farms usually has tomatillos at the market. I’ll put the recipe at the Fredrickson’s table so you can give it a try.

Since the Kids Garden is winding down our quantity of produce is waning. And with 25 children that takes quite a bit of produce to make sure everyone gets enough to serve something to their family. Never fear, our farmers are here. Our market farmers are donating produce to share at the garden. It’s perfect. During the summer the kids had more produce than they could use so surplus was sent over to the CP Center or the Senior Center. While generosity is its own reward, it’s nice to see some of it returning to the children.

You’ll still find very generous tables at the market. I stopped by the Lee Family Farm today and was amazed at the quantity of produce, bushel baskets of peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, rows of Swiss chard and eggplant. The Lees sure know how to farm. And they’ve got the fall crop planted so we should be seeing the cool weather crops soon – and hopefully we’ll get weather to match.

Today we have special guests. University of Missouri Extension food safety and nutrition experts will be here to teach us about food safety and nutrition. Londa Vanderwal Nwadike, PhD, State Extension Food Safety Specialist, and Lydia Kaume, Nutrition and Health Specialist from Barton County, will have an activity for all ages showing how easily germs can spread, as well as handouts with food safety and nutrition information. 

The Sours will play traditional music. M & M Bistro will served chicken and beef/lamb pita wraps, as well as taboulleh, hummus and baklava. We welcome a new egg farm, One Tree Farm of Seneca. That means we’ll have LOTS of eggs on Fridays, the best supply we’ve had in years. 

Tomorrow, Market Dude Frank Reiter will wow us with his food demonstration – Cherry Tomato and Bacon Jam on a Crostini schmeared with Chevre. I think we’re going to have to start calling him the Market Gentleman, he’s so fancy. He’ll have samples too!

William Adkins will be singing popular tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. The Civil Air Patrol will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. This is a club of high school kids who hope to join the Air Force. We love working with them. They know how to follow orders and are extremely polite. It bodes well for our country’s future.

On Tuesday, Market Lady Trish Reed will demonstrate making stew and sealing it in the Food Saver. She can also teach you about canning.

The Pommerts are playing. Dogs on the Roll and Carmine’s Woodfired Pizza will have supper ready.
There’s a tremendous selection at the market these days so come on out and load up!  Time to get that canning done.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-15-14

Rainbows  in Webb City – At Least Three Times a Week
by guest columnist and loyal market customer Carolyn Foat

Three times a week, at the Webb City Farmer’s market you can indulge your senses in a rainbow of sights, smells, tastes, sounds and people. 

The Sights – Red, peach, orange,yellow, pink, purple, green, white, brown- a beautiful array of healthy foods, flowers, and handmade crafts (on Saturday),

The Sounds – Happy voices, beautiful live musical performances, excited children, and thousands of “Thank you’s.”

The Smells – Just-baked bread, pastries, garlic, herbs, flowers, fresh-picked vegetables, coffee, roasted peppers, caramel corn, ripe melons, and sweet peaches.

The People – Babies in strollers, energetic toddlers, spry adults, not-so spry adults – all eager shoppers thrilled with the choices and happy to see faithful vendors, volunteers, friends and family. 

It’s a multicultural, multi-sensory celebration.  Hundreds of eager customers visit this fabulous market every week.  Have you realized that you can purchase everything you need for a complete, healthy diet at the market?  Meat, vegetables, cheese, milk, coffee, bread, snacks, honey, desserts, fruit, and seasonings.   Do your weekly food shopping here.

Right now, there is an abundance of almost everything.    If you are a canner, there are plenty of green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers.    Melons and peaches are also plentiful. 

I can’t resist purchasing a rainbow of produce.   Ratatouille is my favorite dish to enjoy eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic and thyme – all of which are available at the market right now.    Here’s the recipe:

8 servings

2 medium eggplants
1 tbsp salt
¼ c vegetable oil
2 large onions, cut into rings
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 green or yellow peppers, cut into strips
4 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into small chunks
3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
¼ tsp salt
Black pepper
½ tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Cut eggplant into thick slices and then into small wedges.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes.  Rinse and pat the eggplant dry with paper towels.
Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onions and garlic for two minutes.  Add green pepper and cook for another two minutes.  Add eggplant and cook for three minutes on high heat stirring constantly.  Add zucchini and continue stirring for 3 minutes.   Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf.   Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes on low heat until all vegetables are tender.   Remove bay leaf.
Serve hot.  Excellent reheated and also served cold as an appetizer.

Last week on PBS’s Cooks Country, I learned of this delicious potato dish.  This is perfect for those small yellow, red, and/or purple potatoes at the market.  The large amount of salt in the cooking water makes the potato skins extra crispy and gives the potato the perfect texture.  Amazingly, the potatoes don’t absorb much of the salt!  

Salt-and-Vinegar Potatoes
Serves: 4

6 Tbsp  olive oil
2 lbs small red (yellow and/or purple) potatoes (1 to 2 inches in diameter)
1  1/4 c  salt  (yes this is cups)
3 Tb malt (or cider) vinegar
 Ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500°F.  Brush a rimmed baking sheet evenly with oil. Bring 2 quarts water to boil over med-high heat. Stir in potatoes and salt, and cook until just tender and paring knife slips easily in and out of potatoes, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain potatoes and let dry for 10 minutes on a rack or a kitchen towel.
Transfer potatoes to oiled baking sheet. Flatten each potato with underside of measuring cup until ½-inch thick. Brush potatoes with half of vinegar and season with pepper. Roast until potatoes are well browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Brush with remaining vinegar. Transfer potatoes to platter, smashed side up. Serve.

Today we welcome M & M Bistro as our Friday market restaurant.  They’ll serve a choice of chicken or beef/lamb pitas full of lovely fresh market produce.  They’ll also have hummus and tabbouleh, as well as baklava.  Marshall Mitchell provides the entertainment.  John Skinner, the urban forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation, will be at the market today to answer all your tree questions.  If you have a sickly or damaged tree, bring a sample for him to examine.

Tomorrow is “International Can It Forward Day” and we'll be celebrating with a drawing for a full-size canning kit and with a cooking demonstration by Market Lady Trish Reed.  Trish will show how to pickle cucumbers, zucchini and okra.  Jim Graham brings his wonderful repertoire of songs ranging from children’s music, bluegrass, hymns to train songs.  He even has some songs about canning vegetables.

Cooking for a Cause tomorrow benefits the American Cancer Society.  Volunteers from General Mills will dish up biscuits and gravy, sausage, and farm fresh eggs cooked to order until 11.

On Tuesday, Market Lady Carolyn Smith will show folks how to make healthy packed lunches.  The Pommerts will play and we’ll have wood-fired pizzas, a variety of hot dog dishes, plus Frito pie and pulled pork sandwiches.  Remember, we’re open from 4 to 6 on Tuesdays.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-8-14

With rain in the forecast and already a nice rain this week, I’m expecting the fields to explode with produce during August.   That means two things – times to start canning and freezing for the winter and time to up your veggie portions at dinner and lunch time.

To help you with the former, we have small batch mixes for making bread and butter pickles and for salsa, as well as for freezer jam.   They’re part of our grant from Ball Jar and you can pick up one of each every time you come to the market until we run out, which shouldn’t be for a few weeks.   A week from tomorrow is International Canning Day and Market Lady Trish Reed will be demonstrating pressure canning.   So, to quote the Ball Jar motto, “you CAN do it!” at the market.

You may have noticed that I’m doing rather a lot of television this summer.   I’m lucky to have a monthly spot on KSN with the effervescent Carol Parker and a bi-monthly spot on KOAM on the early show (well, given my proclivity for sleeping in maybe the early show is not so lucky).   Television is a great way to get the word out about what’s in season though I have to admit it can be something of a challenge on KOAM.   There I tape three shows at a time so the last one airs over a month later.   Forgive me if I wax rhapsodic about a particular veggie and you find little or none at the market the next day.   It can be tricky knowing just what will be in abundance a month early.   So far, so good though.   I’ve been doing this for several years and haven’t made a gross error in prediction yet.   And since “pride goeth before the fall” I am probably doomed with the next airing now that I’ve made that claim.  

This weekend we will be loaded with produce.   Granny Shaffers at the Market is serving their new Thai Chicken Lettuce Wrap and their chicken salad sandwiches for lunch today.   I had the wrap last week and it was delicious.   And it’s a wonderful value too.   The wrap, which includes a very generous serving of the Thai chicken salad, and a wedge of watermelon cost only $3
The Sours will play traditional music today.   King’s Kettle Corn is adding funnel cakes and fried stuffed local peppers to their selections today.   Agee’s will have their flavored vinegars and we’ll have all the usual vendors except Terrell Creek.   They are at the state fair, hopefully wining lots of blue ribbons for their goat cheese.   Last year their feta cheese won best dairy product in the state.   

Tomorrow’s breakfast benefits the Friends of the Webb City Library.   Brown Moss performs.   Oakwood Farm will have their pepper roaster at the market.

The next couple of weeks will tell us whether moving the Tuesday market to evening was a wise choice.   We’re selling about the same amount in two hours as we did in three hours last year, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with the time change.   We really need to increase the amount sold because we are just buried in produce on Tuesdays.   When school starts next week, we’ll see if we experience the drop in attendance that has always come in the past.   Hopefully with the market open from 4 to 6 pm, folks will come after school or work.   August, especially when we get rain and moderate temperatures, is our most productive time, that means we need more customers, not less!

Come for supper, enjoy the music, and load up on “fresh and local” every Tuesday.

Here are two tasty ways of using all that produce you’re going to buy.   

As seen on KOAM – Herb Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta

1 3/4 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large plum tomatoes, cored, quartered lengthwise
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry or Champagne wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.   Place eggplant, onion and tomatoes in a shallow oven proof casserole dish or roasting pan and toss with oil and vinegar.   Sprinkle 2 tablespoons oregano, salt and pepper to taste.   Roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally about 40 minutes.   Transfer eggplant and tomatoes to platter.   Sprinkle with feta and the remaining 2 teaspoons of oregano.   Serve hot.

As seen on KSN – Rustic Tomato and Onion Pie

4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus some for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some to drizzle on right before serving


1 1/2 cups flour
Just under 1/2 cup butter, chopped*
Just under 1/2 cup of cold cream cheese, chopped*

Caramelized onions

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

To make onions, cook onions and thyme in olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes.   Add sugar and vinegar.   Season.   Cook for 10 more minutes or until onions are caramelized.   Stir periodically throughout.   Chill until cold.

To make pastry, process flour, butter and cheese in a food processor until crumbly.   Add 2 tablespoons of cold water, process to form a ball.   Shape into a disk, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper into a 12-inch circle.   Discard top paper and place remaining paper and pastry onto a pizza tray or cookie sheet with a rim.   Spread onions on pastry leaving a 2-inch border.

Toss tomatoes and thyme in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.   Slightly overlap onto top of onions.   Fold pastry over edge, crimping to hold.   Brush pastry edge with remaining oil.

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until browned.

Drizzle with remaining olive oil and garnish with thyme.

*what’s with “just under”??  This is a recipe I learned in Australia where they use the metric system.   100 grams of butter or cream cheese is .88 of 1/2 cup.   I’m sure you CAN do it!  Because you’re going to love this crust.