Thursday, February 25, 2016

Webb City Sentinel Market column - 2/26/16

It’s going to be another dandy market.  I continue to be amazed at the way the market has blossomed into a year-round market.  Even in the depths of winter we have tables loaded with fresh local produce, baked goods, meats, eggs and other good things and usually a crowd to buy them.  When we began Winter Market (and it was just twice a month then) there was no produce to be seen.  Now some seven years later, after a lot of investment, training and hard work on the part of our farmers, we can feed our community year-round.

Mabel at Harmony Hill will serve her delicious ham and potato soup with roll for $3.50 – eat-in or take-out.  Drew Pommert takes the market stage.  Market Lady Carolyn Smith is sharing Avocado Egg Salad served in a won-ton cup with greens.

We welcome back Center Creek Farm.  Farmer Sam had been off for a couple of months after the birth of her first child, Rowan.  I don’t know if Rowan will grace us with her presence tomorrow, though I have no doubt that this summer she’ll join us as one of the market kids, but Sam will have a table full of her very special naturally grown greens.

Green's Gardens and Greenhouse will be back at the market as well with a table loaded down with acorn and butternut squash.
It’s been a busy week of learning for the market.  Tuesday evening we held our “Taste of Green” class.  Farmer Karen Scott, ably assisted by her son and friends, served up some amazing greens.  Ever had a salad with 17 varieties of lettuce?  We have.  The discovery of the night, all the students agreed, wasn’t green at all.  It was a small white salad radish that Karen grows on her farm, Oakwoods.

Wednesday, the market held its annual Farm Safety: from field to market class - three and a half intensive hours focusing on best practices to ensure that the food you find at the market, as well as at other markets, is safe and free of contamination.  I say “other markets” because typically we have a lot of growers attend who sell at other markets.  This year we had growers from Cedar County and from Neosho.  Their markets required attendance to sell, as do we.  Even though our growers must attend only once every five years (the information doesn’t change much from year to year), we still had 15 growers connected to our market attend.  Many, especially our Hmong farmers, attend every year.  Our thanks to the Jasper County Health Department, University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Extension for providing the training.

Today and Monday we have workdays at the WCFM Winter Education Site at the Yang Farm south of Rocky Comfort.  We hope to complete the high tunnels and the seed starting structure in anticipation of our first workshop, Seed-Starting, slated for March 11.  You can find information on that and other workshops on the market website: under the grower training tab.

And finally, we’re having our annual member meeting tomorrow afternoon.  The members will be setting the details for the new season.  I’ll be reporting those details to you next week.
We’ll see you at the market tomorrow. 

We’re open every Saturday from 9 to noon all year, rain or shine, in the pavilion east of the Main Street entrance to King Jack Park. Sales and setbacks begin at opening. The market accepts SNAP (food stamps), debit and credit cards. The market is cancelled only if ice or snow make the roads unsafe for travel.  For information, call 417 483-8139. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Webb City Sentnel market column - 2/19/16

Well, let’s talk eggs, folks. Hens can be notoriously fickle when it comes to laying eggs. If it’s too cold – or too hot – they don’t lay. They can become broody, which means they stop laying and start nesting to hatch the eggs, which is why those eggs have to be collected every day. They molt, usually for several weeks or months each year. Losing feathers and laying eggs apparently are not compatible. They stop laying as the days shorten. Commercial operations avoid this by keeping the days “long” with artificial light. That works if the hens are confined and never see real daylight. That’s not how our egg ranchers operate. Their hens always have access to natural light and the ranchers wouldn’t artificially extend it anyway because they figure that’s nature’s way of giving the hens a break.

And sometimes the hens just go on strike for no apparent reason.

But right now, the hens are on the job. No molting or brooding, no mysterious lack of eggs, and the days are lengthening. We have lots of eggs – even more so because we brought on another egg rancher during the lean winter months to help fill the gap. You will find a good supply of eggs at Penn Acres, Oakwoods Farms, Fanning Egg Farm, Garrett Egg Farm and, our newest egg rancher, Rush Egg Farm. Yep, that’s a lot of eggs but we’ll be happy to have them when we have to split them among three days a week come April and our customer numbers shoot up. But we may not have them if they can’t stay in business till then. So this is my personal plea to you to ramp up your egg purchases for the next six weeks. Pick up some for the neighbors and relatives and get them hooked on farm fresh eggs. Start celebrating Meatless Mondays. (below - Penn Acre's mobile hen house - it's moved every day or two so the hens always have fresh pasture - and bugs)

And remember when you compare prices, the eggs at the market are from hens that are not fed food or water laced with antibiotics. These hens are not crammed into cages or barns (the commercial egg industry considered eggs “cage-free” even if the hens are jammed into barns and never see the light of day.)  In other words, you can find cheaper eggs elsewhere, but not better eggs or frankly a better value for what you get. So come buy some eggs!  (Plea over)

Tomorrow Mabel with Harmony Hill is serving chicken and gravy over rice paired with a green salad. Mabel will buy the fixin’s at the market as soon as the growers pull in and then prepare it in the Market Kitchen. Now that’s a fresh green salad. The cost is $3.50 for eat-in or take-out.

Jordan Nichols, tomorrow’s Market Lady, will be in the kitchen too, chopping up lettuce, radishes and green onions for her Butter Lettuce, Radish and Avocado Salad with mustard dressing. Be sure to stop by her table for a sample and a recipe.

Scott Eastman will be on the market stage.

If you’re a regular Sentinel reader you know that in addition to an abundance of eggs, we’ll have tables loaded with lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, boc choy, green onions, radishes, turnips, pea tops, cabbage, winter squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and other surprises.

If you want to know about the more than 14 kinds of lettuce at the market right now, and the many other greens, sign up for Taste of Green, our tasting class from 6 to 7:30 on Tuesday (February 23) at the Market Kitchen. It’s only $15 per person and you can sign up at the information table tomorrow or call me at 417 483-8139.

King’s Kettle Corn will be back after an absence of several weeks. Ed Grundy returns with his scrolled bookmarks. He’s not a regular so if you have a gift need coming up, catch him at the market tomorrow.

It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day at the market tomorrow. I’ll see you there (buying eggs!).

Friday, February 12, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 2-12-16

Honey-lovers alert – Amos Apiaries will be at the market tomorrow with their local raw honey. They
are only coming once a month because after some heavy bee losses in the last few years they’ve decided to down-size their operation. So this is your only chance this month to get Amos honey at the market. Don’t miss it.

Also, we’ll be loaded with eggs. That’s exciting for us because it has been months, no, years since we had enough eggs to last through the full market. Problem solved, at least for now, so stop by one of the egg ranchers and pick up a dozen or two of farm fresh eggs. If you’ve never had an egg dish like frittata or even just scrambled eggs from farm fresh eggs you’re in for a treat. And you’ll feel good knowing that the hens that laid those eggs truly live on local family farms where they have shelter and access to sunshine and the outdoors.

Mabel from Harmony Hills is serving ham and pinto beans tomorrow with cornbread for $3.50. You can eat in or bring a big container and feast all week (Mabel has containers too but why load up on Styrofoam when you containers hold more while taking up less room in your fridge?).
William Adkins returns to the market stage. Don’t tell our other performers, but Bill is my husband’s favorite musician. Bill does popular music from the 60s and 70s, music which also happens to be very popular with Phil.

The Market Lady, Carolyn Smith, will be dishing up a market fresh recipe for sampling.
Tis the season for greens at the market. With the return of 417 Produce we currently have four farms bringing in loads of lovely fresh greens. 417 and Braker both grow hydroponic lettuce – renowned for tenderness. The Braker, Oakwoods, and Xiong farms also grow lettuce and other greens in their high tunnels. 

There’s not room to list what everyone is bringing, so I’ll just share what one farm, Oakwoods Farm, will have tomorrow:

Greens mix – Suehlihung Mustard, Mizuna and Arugula
Lettuce mix – red and green butter, oak leaf, sweet crisp and incised lettuces
Zesty salad mix (aka Wild Weed) which combines the two mixes above
Spinach mix – Red Kitten, Flamingo, Carmel and Gazelle
Plus Siberian kale, Bright Lights Swiss chard, Pea Shoots, Parsley, Cilantro and Green Onions

Wow!  That’s a lot of different kinds of greens from just one of the farms. The other farms generally do heads rather than mixes, but there are still lots of choices.

Such an abundance of choice might be a bit bewildering so the market is pleased to announce its second class in the market kitchen – A Taste of Green – 6 to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, February 23, in the market kitchen. Cost - $15 per person. Farmer Karen Scott of Oakwoods Farm will lead the participants through a tasting bonanza – mini-salads of all four mixes, complete with Karen’s favorite dressings and additions, plus samples of two prepared dishes incorporating some of the other green ingredients being harvested now at the farm. Train your palate, expand your culinary horizons and learn how your food is grown. Reserve your spot by signing up at the information table at the market or call 417 483-8139. To get you in the mood, Karen shares the recipe below. All the fresh ingredients, except the cucumbers, are available at the market.

Spring Rolls adapted from Macheesmo
Yield 8 spring rolls      Prep Time 30 minutes Total Time 50 minutes

  • 1 skinless boneless chicken breast sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pea shoots
  • Spring roll wrappers
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • Sesame oil, to taste

Whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha and toss in sliced chicken. Coat chicken and. Let rest for 15-20 minutes to marinate.  Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade cook in the oil until no longer pink.  Remove chicken, cool. Also grate carrots and slice cucumbers into sticks.

 To make a spring roll, put some warm water in a large plate. Take one rice paper wrapper and submerge it in the water. Let it sit for 5 seconds and flip it and let it sit for another 5 seconds. It should be flexible but not soggy.  Move wrapper to a clean surface. Add a few chicken slices and veggies to the middle of the wrapper. You can fill them pretty big. Roll wrapper up, pulling on the wrapper as you roll to keep it nice and tight.
Slice each roll in half and repeat until you use all your chicken or veggies.
Serve with dipping sauce!

Note:  you can substitute tofu for the chicken and lettuce for the wrap. Last week Market Dude Frank Reiter did an Asian inspired wrap using lettuce as the wrap. It was delicious. You’ll find his recipe on the market web site:  webbcityfarmersmarket com