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.

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 entrĂ©e 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.