Thursday, July 30, 2015

WC Sentinel market column - 7-31-15

My daughter Cora was telling me about medical care in Australia where she lives. She took daughter Madeleine in for her 4 year vaccinations, which was preceded by a 45-minute interview with the nurse. One question to Madeleine was “what is your favorite food?”  “Vegetables.”  “What kind of vegetables?”  “My favorite is broccoli!”  (That's Madeleine being a tiger!)

Cora was pleased. I was too of course, but I told her that I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the children who visit the market have similar responses. 

Last Tuesday we put out a “left-overs” bin for the children eating the Free Kids Supper. Officially the purpose was to let our farmers’ pigs enjoy the leftovers. But we also wanted to see what kind of food waste we had.

The bin was full at the end of the supper, but three-fourths of the “waste” was watermelon rinds (which the pigs love). About gallon was actual food waste, and of that only about six cups was fruit and vegetables. Not bad when each of 85 kids received over a cup of fresh fruits and vegetables. Apparently these kids love their fruits and vegetables, at least the ones they get at the market. It’s so hot that we serve as much cool and raw as we can – cantaloupe, sweet pepper strips, cherry tomatoes. The bonus watermelon slices were a big hit.

When we teamed up with Central United Methodist Church and the Missouri Department of Health to serve the meals, we anticipated buying as much of the fruits and vegetables as we could from our farmers. It hasn’t worked out that way – almost always they insist on giving it to us. Tuesday we served watermelon donated by Owen Detweiler. I told Owen, “you need to let me buy this from you so I can ask you for more without worrying about it cutting into your income.”  He responded, “I want you to ask, but you can’t pay for it.”

So far we’ve managed to spend $55 on produce for over 450 meals – that’s .12 a meal. Owen is just one of five farmers who have supplied produce for the supper. You may get weary of me saying it, but I work with a fine group of farmers. 

And with a fine group of volunteers. Central continues to schedule, train and supervise about seven volunteers at each supper. Some come from the church, of course, but others are not connected to the church. They just want to be part of a lovely community service. And it became even lovelier this week when the market decided to add music to the experience. 

If you’ve been to the market, you know we love our music and our musicians. And we love our new big tent that the Joplin Area Food Action Network bought for the kids supper. But the tent is too far from the pavilion to hear the music so I called Marshall Mitchell (left) who usually plays the first Saturday of each month to come entertain in the tent. Marshall loves performing with and for kids. He’s specializes in cowboy music and comes complete with cowboy hat, mustache and sawhorse pony. He was a big hit and we’ve got him coming back this Tuesday. If we can come up with a few spare tables, we may even break out the checkers and chess sets and the coloring pages that we set out during winter market. 

Today we welcome the Loose Notes to the market stage. The Loose Notes play bluegrass and gospel, with a few cowboy and railroad songs thrown in. M & M Bistro serves lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plates and baklava. Lumpy’s Express will have barbecued ribs, beef and port and smoked chicken with sides.

On Saturday, Cooking for a Cause benefits the Ozark Gateway chapter of the Audubon Society. Interested in birds?  The folks dishing up the biscuits and gravy, sausages and eggs cooked to order are too!  Marshall Mitchell is performing.  (right - that's some croissants from Red Lab Farms.  They come on Saturdays.)

On Tuesday, Marshall returns to the supper tent. The Pommerts will play in the pavilion. Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza is back baking artisan pizza to order from 4 to 7. Supper with Trish begins at 5 – ham salad or chicken salad sandwich, two sides, dessert and drink for $5. The Free Kids Supper runs from 5 to 6:30 and will be sloppy Joes, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes and milk.  Extension will serve samples of melon kabobs!

And good news!  The parking north of the pavilion has been restored. It was torn up by installation of a gas line to the kitchen, but Missouri Gas Service has smoothed it out and you no longer need four wheel drive to park there. Life is good at the market. See you there!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-24-15

The arrival of watermelon at the market this week (by the truckload) brought to mind a column I wrote in 2001. To quote: “Bill Perry, III, was by the market last week giving me grief for salting my watermelon and telling me that I neglected to mention the very best part of the watermelon in my last column – the rind. Bill’s grandmother made a delicious pickled watermelon rind. So in honor of Bill’s grandmother Tessa Pepper Perry, and all the grandmothers who made us special treats I give you the following recipes.”  There followed several recipes provided by the Cardinal Scale employees because Bill, Jr., had been unable to locate his mother’s recipe. Bill and his lovely wife Marion “made lots of watermelon rind pickles when they were first married. During the Depression every edible part of food was put to good use.”  We still don’t have Tessa’s recipe, maybe someday it will surface. In the meantime, I end this column with a recipe shared by the Columbia, Missouri, Farmers Market.

One of our goals at the market is to create good memories. We hope the hundreds of children coming to the market this year will someday bring their own children to create more cherished family memories. For me, finding that column from fourteen years ago was a nice trip down memory lane. Bill and Marion were such faithful supporters of the market and we have many things still to remind us of them, like the concrete floors, and the handicap accessible parking and picnic table at the market. Marion spent her last years in a wheelchair and despite the difficulty of moving on our pea gravel floor, her family made the considerable effort to get her into the market. That brought home to us how important accessibility was and, with Perry Family Foundation and Park Board support, we now have good access in the market for anyone on wheels – whether adult or infant. It is a legacy I see making a difference at every market.

A memory that we’ve just started creating this year is the Free Kids Supper on Tuesday. As I wrote earlier, Tuesdays have been transformed. We are jam packed with families and we’re loving it. But growth always brings challenges and one of them has been shelter for all the folks eating at the market. It can get mighty hot in the sun on a summer afternoon, and with our crazy weather, it can also pour down rain, and with the crowds we just can’t fit the tables under the pavilion. The Joplin Area Food Action Network (JFAN) came to our rescue by giving us a grant to buy a large tent which we’ve placed north of the pavilion. It will stay up at least until the Kids Supper program is over for the year and is available to anyone wanting to eat sheltered from the sun or rain.

JFAN’s mission is to increase access to healthy, locally grown food. What a great fit for the market. Another grant they gave in the same round was to Feed the Heart, a food pantry in Carterville. The pantry distributes food to 125 families twice a month and the grant will allow them to provide $10 worth of fresh produce from our market farms to each family. Good things are happening in our communities.

Today at the market, M & M Bistro will serve lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, tabbouleh and humus plates and baklava. Lumpy’s will have smoked and barbecued meats, plus sides. The Sours will play traditional music.
Tomorrow, members of PEO serve Cooking for a Cause. All profits benefit their scholarship program. 

Brown Moss is playing. We love their eclectic original music, especially the Market Song written for and about our market. You can hear it anytime on our website, Music and breakfast run from 9 to 11. The market is open on Saturdays till noon.

Tuesday we’re open from 4 to 7 pm. The Pommerts will play.

We serve the Free Kids Supper from 5 to 6:30. The menu is chicken strips, cantaloupe, sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes, a roll and milk. Kids that clean their plates will get a bonus slice of watermelon!
Supper with Trish is a BLT sandwich, chips, spinach salad, dessert and a drink for $5. It begins at 5. Carmine’s Pizza is taking this week off.

Come make some memories at the market this week. 

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

1/2 of the rind of a small (5 lb.) watermelon

3 Tbsp. salt

3/4 c. sugar

2 star anise

Remove rind from watermelon, leaving a small amount of red flesh attached to rind. Reserve watermelon flesh for another use. Peel rind, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups cubed). Place in a large bowl.

Stir together salt and 3 cups water. Pour over rind. Cover and chill 24 hours. Drain; rinse well.

Combine rind, sugar, next 2 ingredients, and 3/4 cup water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cool completely (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 24 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-17-15

There are certain seasons at the market that I love – especially when it comes to fruit – strawberry, peach, and now melon. I hated to say goodbye to blueberries for another year. Seems like that season just flew by. And, of course, strawberries are a sweet memory now. But as the saying goes, when one door shuts, another opens, and the melon door is opening wide. Cantaloupes are coming in by the truckload and the watermelon harvest is starting. I have to admit, watermelon is probably my very favorite market fruit. And unlike many of the other fruits, we usually have plenty so even at the end of market when I do my shopping there are still plenty of melons. It’s not unusual for me to cart home two. Luckily for me, my husband Phil is not a watermelon fan or I’d have to haul even more home. (Sharing is greatly over-rated.)

One of the fun things about the Free Kids Supper is serving seasonal food. We started out hiding zucchini in sauces and serving cucumbers on the side. Now we’ve moved on to fresh sweet corn, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers. Next week I hope we’ll add melon. Our nutrition guidelines require two items of for fruit and/or veggie totaling 3/4 cup for each plate. Now that we’re in high season, that is really easy. The plate Tuesday was beautiful and it was fun to see the kids digging in. The corn was especially popular. And, of course, it was also nice to have the kids come up and say thank you.

The Free Kids Supper is served every Tuesday from 5 to 6:30. Anyone 18 or younger can eat and we are pleased that we’ve been averaging over 90 kids each week. We’ve also been pleased that we’ve had lots of volunteers to help. You’d think that feeding that many kids would be overwhelming, but with all the good help it has gone smoothly. If you would like to volunteer, just stop by the information table at the market.
Today we’ll have a full pavilion with 16 farmers expected, plus kettle corn, baked goods, pork, beef, chicken and goat meat. There’ll be jams and jellies, iced tea and coffee and raw food bars as well.
Lunch today is Granny Shaffer’s ever popular catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Express will have brisket, ribs, smoked chicken and pulled pork.

Cliff Walker will perform.

Tomorrow will be much the same, but we’ll be missing the pork and goat meat, and adding lamb. Edith Bayless will be there with her sewn goods and Rebecca Bristow with her glass and metal art and jewelry.

The Carl Junction Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star will serve breakfast from 9 to 11. All profits will go to the American Cancer Society.

The Granny Chicks will grace the market stage.

M & M Bistro will serve from 9 to noon – lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plates and baklava for eat in or take out.

On Tuesday, Carmine’s Wood Fire serves artisan pizzas from 4 to sell-out. Supper with Trish is Chicken Spaghetti, salad, roll, chocolate cake and drink for $5. As mentioned earlier, the Free Kids Supper is served from 5 to 6:30. The Pommerts will perform. Extension is demonstrating a hummus and veggie recipe.

Sweet corn and tomatoes seem to get all the glory this time of year, but there are many other veggies to choose from at the market, including eggplant. In fact, there are many kinds of eggplants to choose from at the market, small, big, long, round, purple, green. Here’s a recipe using the large egg-shaped Italian eggplant shared by the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans. New Orleans was home to a large Sicilian immigrant population in the late 1800s. Chef Duke LoCicero remembers his Sicilian grandpa with this dish:

Grandpa’s Sicilian Eggplant

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Italian eggplants (medium to large), peeled, and then cut into small cubes
2 medium red onions, diced small
2 large bulbs garlic, roasted
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups sliced black ripe olives
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh basil
1 cup green olives
1 cup diced pimientos
1 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup capers
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon anchovies, pureed
Scant teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add eggplant, onions and garlic; sauté over low to medium heat until eggplant is tender. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to sauté until 80 percent of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 6 hours.

Serve hot or cold, with grilled seafood or meat. This dish can be used in many ways, including with pasta. Serves 8 to 10.

Just as we have many kinds of eggplant at the market, there are many ways of preparing it. Sautee, bake, grill…  Enjoy!

See you at the market.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Webb City Sentinel Column - 7-10-15

Goodness, as I write this Thursday evening I look out into the soggy landscape and marvel at our farmers who will somehow manage to harvest in this muck and bring us beautiful, fresh, and, no doubt, very well hydrated produce. Not that all produce can be harvested in this weather. Tami Fredrickson said she won’t have okra today because it does not keep well when harvested wet. So there may be a few products or producers missing today but there will be plenty to choose from (including something for the pups).

And that includes lunch because M & M Bistro is expanding their menu. In addition, to their chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plate, and baklava, they will have lasagna and moussaka. M & M Bistro will be at the market both today and on Saturday.

Lumpy’s Express will be at the market today with barbecued ribs and brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sides.

We expect today to be a much calmer day than last Friday, which was an awesome (in a slightly terrifying way) day. We figured that we had close to 2,000 customers, mostly in the first hour. So, let me just remind you that unless you want peaches, you can probably get everything you desire at the market even when it’s been open for an hour. And even the peaches are lasting longer so don’t feel you have to be there at the opening bell.

Tomorrow NALA is serving breakfast – biscuits and gravy, sausages, slices of market tomatoes, and coffee or orange juice for $3.50. Two cooked-to-order farm fresh eggs are $1. When you get breakfast, you not only get a tasty meal and get to support an important community service, but you also get the pleasure of being served by the outrageous Gary Stubblefield. Gary, in case you have not had the pleasure, is an exceedingly tall and boisterous supporter of many good things in our community including NALA. And, in case you have not had the pleasure of working with NALA, it is an organization well deserving of your support. NALA trains and connects volunteer tutors with adults who are illiterate in reading or math, or who do not speak English well. It is estimated that over 10,000 adults in Jasper and Newton Counties are illiterate. Not only does that limit their employment opportunities, but also limits their ability to parent. Children with an illiterate parent are much more likely to be illiterate themselves and to struggle with school. For the folks I know who have sought assistance from NALA, those two reasons were prominent. One was a capable and skilled worker who could not hope to advance in his career without better reading and writing skills. The other was a parent who wanted to be able to read with his young daughter. Both have accomplished their goals with the help of NALA.

Tomorrow, Hawthorn takes the market stage. They specialize in traditional music, especially the music of the Civil War.

We welcomed two new vendors to the market this week. Both will be at the market today:  Hebrew Holy Grounds who sells iced tea and coffee and Lance Troyer, who sells the dog biscuits he and his mother Lois make. Lance is a long time presence at the market, first as an observer, but now as a regular helper for his dad Hector at his vegetable table. Those skills were evident on Tuesday, Lance’s first day as an entrepreneur. I watched as he bagged up the treats, made change and then, after the customer left, rearranged the biscuits to make a nice display. He learned from a master. His Dad’s table always looks good. In fact, Hector thinks about the display when he plants to make sure he has a colorful and attractive table.

On Tuesday, we’ll be serving the Free Kids Supper again. We’ve changed the menu to Sloppy Joes (and yes, the sauce is still packed with fresh veggies) and I guess it’s a hit because even though it was pretty miserable weather we served 97 kids meals last Tuesday. Of course, it didn’t hurt that our volunteers, folks from Keller-Williams, were super saleswomen. They made sure everyone with a child knew there were free Sloppy Joes before they even got in from the parking lot. So bring the kids (18 and under)for a free meal from 5 to 6:30 on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Extension will share Pumped Up Pudding, a pudding made with yogurt and milk with market fruit. Sounds yummy.

On Tuesday Carmine’s Pizza will bake artisan pizzas to order from 4 to sellout. Supper with Trish – meatloaf, au gratin potatoes, salad, dessert and drink for $5 – begins at 5. The Pommert’s will perform.

And, though I know I’ll be longing for it after a while, I’m really glad the rain is supposed to let up and we have a few rain-free markets coming up. Come enjoy them with me.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 7-3-15

Hold on to your hat bands – we are going into high season!  The sweet corn is coming in by the truckload, the cantaloupes are here, the field tomatoes… Oh, yes, it’s that time of year when the tables are groaning and the pavilion is full.

Tuesday we had over 1,000 customers and tons of produce go through the market in three hours. We exploded our previous Tuesday sales record by over 50%. There were lines everywhere, but only for about 15 minutes. So if you prefer to miss the “seek and secure” drama of opening, just come about 20 minutes after opening. The lines are dissipated and the tables still loaded – because our farmers really know how to grow.

When Patrick Byers, an Extension horticulturist doing research at several markets including ours, was here last week, he told me at least three times “the quality of the produce is excellent”.
But things do slip through. If you buy an unsatisfactory product, please let us know at the information table and we’ll be sure it is replaced. With some produce, like sweet corn and melons, it can be very hard to catch a problem without actually shucking it or cutting into it. Your letting us know serves two purposes – it allows us to be sure you get what you pay for, but it also lets us work with the farmers in question to be sure they address any recurring problems. Our farmers strive to grow the best produce around but if they don’t know about a problem, they can’t solve it.

Today Granny Shaffers returns with their catfish and fried potatoes for $3. Lumpy’s Barbecue Express will have ribs, barbecued beef, pulled pork, and smoked chicken, as well as sides.

William Adkins plays from 11 to 1 with a break at 11:30 when the JLT’s cast of Forever Plaid performs a medley from the show. Randy Garrett of Lincoln University Extension will be on hand to answer questions about gardening.

Friday, we’ll have all our usual vendors, plus E & O Produce (who usually only come on Tuesday and Saturday but expect to have so many cantaloupes that they need an extra day to sell) and Terrell Creek, who usually sell their award winning goat cheese on Saturday but are coming Friday so they can take the 4th off. In other words, if you want goat cheese, come Friday.

But if you want kettle corn, come Saturday because King’s Kettle Corn is taking Friday off. Now, let’s review “Who’s on first?”

Saturday we welcome M & M Bistro who will serve their chicken pita wrap, gyro, and hummus and tabouleh plates and are adding lasagna and moussaka. They’ll also have their amazing baklava.

On Saturday, Cooking for a Cause benefits Crosslines, our regional food pantry. Volunteers from Central United Methodist and Peace Lutheran churches will serve biscuits and gravy, sausages, slices of market tomatoes, and orange juice or coffee for $3.50. For an extra dollar you can add cooked-to-order farm fresh eggs. 

Marshall Mitchell will be on the market stage astride his saddle, entertaining kids and adults. Music and breakfast run from 9 to 11.

Tuesday the Pommerts perform. Carmine’s Pizza bakes to order from 4 to sellout. 
Supper with Trish begins at 5. The menu is baked ravioli, side salad, garlic bread, dessert and drink for $5.
The Free Kids Supper, a Sloppy Joe, a veggie side and milk, is served from 5 to 6:30. We’re really excited about the response. We’ve averaged over 90 kids each Tuesday and are aiming to break 100. The Kids Supper is free to anyone 18 or younger.

We’re looking for some kids to help with the Kids Community Garden. We meet from 9 to 10 on Wednesday mornings. There is still some planting to be done, but there’s also harvesting. New potatoes are ready to be dug and taken home and we’ll soon have tomatoes. All children are welcome. Those under 11 need to come with an adult.

Oh, yes, it’s high season. Don’t miss it!