Ribeyed Fries

The New Carterville Farmers’ Market

Last Sunday, I finally made it to the Carterville Farmers’ Market in it’s new time slot. Since it now runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays at Cannon Park, there was plenty of time to walk around and grab lunch at the market after church.

Although it was a pretty hot afternoon, I enjoyed looking at all of the different things and chatting with some of the vendors. Dee Ann Hammack, who manages the market, had invited me to come out and see the changes since my last time there. She explained that a few of the regular vendors were absent due to the 4th of July holiday, but there was still a good variety. Some of the items I saw were local honey, fresh veggies, artisan-crafted items, kettle corn, plants, live music, and even a chuck wagon with picnic tables.

Dee Ann and her husband, Mike, also operate the Thunder 5 Ranch Chuck Wagon, a farm to fork culinary experience that also sets up at the Johnston City Farmer’s Market. The rib dinner that they prepared for me was wonderful: ribs, corn, and zucchini and onions. I also really liked the special edition 4th of July bib custom made by Nammers Crafts for the chuck wagon. Super cute. The T5R Chuck Wagon menu may vary a bit from week to week based upon what they have ready in their gardens.

The market does accept EBT/LINK and Debit/Credit for transactions. EBT/LINK purchases are limited to items allowed by law such as produce, pre-packaged food, and plants that produce food. If you enter Cannon Park from Greenbriar Street, you will drive on around to the little drive/road just past the skate park that turns toward the market and park in the grass behind the vendors (unless directed otherwise.)

Mmmm….kettle corn

Thunder 5 Ranch Chuck Wagon

BBQ Ribs!

Zucchini & onions on a custom-made bib by Nammers Crafts

Did somebody say funnel cake?

Nammers Crafts

The Potager’s Garden

Music by David Campbell of Lamp Lighter Farm

Fresh veggies

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Since I had spent the past year kicking cancer’s butt, I didn’t grow as much fresh produce or herbs as I once did last summer. However, I did grow a few of my beloved San Marzano tomatoes (plants from the Carbondale Farmer’s Market,) basil, a bit of oregano and rosemary– and a lot of mint. This gave me some flavorful options: salsa, pestos, gazpacho, and more.

Above: San Marzano Tomatoes and Thai Basil

Below: Herb Pesto and a bit of Pico de Gallo sauteed with mushrooms.

So far this season, I have a little lettuce, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil cilantro, and an expanding mint patch. I still need to finsish areas for tomatoes, peppers, onions, lots of basil, and hopefully even watermelons…. and more flowers. I am a fan of edible landscape.

Mixing herbs and flowers and veggies can be a good thing. Consulting a companion planting chart might be wise if they will share soil. Essentially, some have researched the Native American practice of planting certain plants together that support each other’s growth. Tisquantum, also known by many as Squanto, acted as a lifesaving liaison to the pilgrims. Without his assistance and sharing his knowledge of companion planting and organic fertilization, food would have been much more sparse. What is referred to as the Three Sister’s Method involved planting corn, beans, and squash together for successful growth. Squanto also taught the new immigrants to plant fish with corn as natural fertilizer. People now also may use other organic material when planting such as egg shells and shrimp shells.

Above: Cayenne peppers

Below: Japanese Eggplant

Listed below are some common companion planting groupings:

Tomatoes/basil

Corn/squash/beans

Mint/peas

Onions/garlic

Garlic/roses

Some No-No’s/Plants that Don’t Play Well Together:

Dill doesn’t go by tomatoes, rosemary, sage, onions, peas

Tomatoes don’t go by corns, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash

Fennel doesn’t go with onions, parsley, asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, nasturtiums, marigolds

There are also some functional benefits to landscape gardens beyond beauty and food. Marigolds have been used for many years as a detourrant to wildlife eating gardens as well as mosquitoes when used as a border.

Below are a few plants and what they are known for repelling:

Marigolds- plant lice, mosquitoes, rabbits.

Above: Marigolds

Chrysanthemums- Ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, silverfish, ticks, lice

Mint- spiders, ants, mosquitoes. (Will spread and take over an area quickly. Planters or separate patches are best.)

Below: Fresh Mint

Below: Basil-mosquitoes, houseflies

Citronella grass- mosquitoes and flying insects

Lavender-Gnats, mosquitoes

Chives-Japanese beetles

Petunias-beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato worms

Above: Petunias

Bay leaves- flies, roaches

Garlic-beetles, root maggots, carrot root flies, moths,aphids

Rosemary-bugs

Above: Rosemary

I’m also a fan of repurposing or using unexpexted items as planters. A few things, usually at least tomatoes, tend to go directly into the ground when possible, but that also increases the prospects of weeds. I have previously turned old door frames and box springs into raised garden beds for more shallow-growing plants like my oregano, lettuce, and green onions.

In Southern Illinois, we are blessed to have a climate that allows us to grow many things. I am thankful for that opportunity.

It’s Porch Season

Spring is here, and throughout Southern Illinois, people are looking for excuses to be outside in the warmer weather. One way to do this is by making some easy updates to your outdoor living space.

I recently decided to tackle a few improvements to our front porch. My kids, and even my daughter’s boyfriend, helped do some editing and pitching of things that accumulate when it’s too cold and gloomy to do much on it. Granted, a power washer would do wonders, but that is yet to come. I hope…

Meanwhile, I decided that a few plants would bring some life and coziness to the space.

Fortunately, I saved my hanging baskets from last year to be reused. The Carbondale Farmer’s Market has already had a great selection of flowers and plants this spring. I’ve started filling the baskets with wave petunias from a local farm.

I also rescued some impatiens from a clearance rack at a local store. They really just needed to be dead headed and watered. Last year, I had painted my little bistro table chairs sea green and covered the table with a lemonade-ish colored thrift store cloth. Amazingly, I found a trendy striped trash “can” at a thrift store this spring that perfectly matches the chairs and tablecloth. So, I lined it with a plastic bag to protect the interior, added rocks for drainage, and planted the impatiens. It is now the living floral arrangement on the bistro table.

A goal is to make a cozy spot to paint on glass (or whatever I feel like doing to relax) when there is a nice breeze on the porch. Once upon a time, people spent more time relaxing and socializing on their front porches. We tend to hear more about decks now, but both are valuable outdoor living space. I hope to deal with our deck soon too, but at least one space now has a few fresh updates. I’m picturing a glass of refreshing sun tea poured over ice on the bistro table now…

A Community Tradition of Harvesting Memories

The Carterville Lion’s Club Free Fair kicked off this Wednesday in Cannon Park with the Farmer’s Market and runs through Saturday, September 8, 2018. This year’s theme is 105 Years of Our Tradition: Harvest the Memories. The Free Fair is a family-friendly event where many gather each year for some good, clean fun.

Friday evening features a 5K Twilight Glow Run and Poker Walk as part of the event festivities. Jackson Junction will be performing from 8:30 pm – 11:00 pm.

Saturday’s lineup includes a parade at 10:00 am, the Lioness Cake Walk, and Stride Pro Wrestling. Debbie Browning is this year’s Parade Marshall. Some of this year’s free events are a pet fair, children’s eye screenings, Identi-Kid services, Emery Brothers Roller Skating, a Ping Pong Avalanche, and hands on healthy snack and eating demos from the Carbondale Neighborhood Co-op Grocery.

Carnival rides, games, and bingo will be operating Friday evening and Saturday. Arm bands are $24 and single tickets are $3.

Additional info is available on the event’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FreeFairPageant/

Sunshine and Market Fresh

It was still pretty warm this morning, but the weather was perfect for the Carbondale Farmer’s Market. Despite a late start, I still arrived in time to snap some photos, shop a bit, and get my iced holy basil tea.

Many dogs enjoy walking around the market each week with their humans.

Beautiful fresh flowers from a Carbondale vendor paired with some iced holy basil tea from Mustard Seed Sowers.

Lots of yummy choices from Leepy’s Gourmet Foods.

Southern Que was on site with delicious barbecue.

Mario’s Mama continues to be a favorite among canine shoppers.

One of the talented musicians that entertain shoppers at the market.

Farmer’s Market Salsa Fresca with Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

As we are heading full swing into the summer farmer’s market season here in Southern Illinois, I am sharing a staple of sorts from my house: salsa fresca. I prefer somewhat of a kicked up pico de gallo. When time allows, I prefer to bake my own tortilla chips.

Salsa Ingredients:

2 to 3 large tomatoes

2 to 3 peppers

1 large onion

handful of basil

2 garlic cloves

a pinch each of sea salt, sugar, cumin powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder

a dash of freshly cracked black pepper

the juice of one lime

Salsa Directions:

1. Chop the tomatoes, peppers, and onion into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Finely chop the basil and mince the garlic.

3. Add all ingredients together in bowl and mix together.

Tortilla Chip Ingredients: One bag of flour tortillas.

Tortilla Chip Directions: Cut or tear tortillas into chip size pieces. Bake at 350 degrees F on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until they reach the desired crispness. You can also get fancy and cut them into special shapes to fit whatever theme you desire. Be creative.

Note: Cilantro and parsley work just fine too. Use as hot or as mild of peppers as you prefer. Mix it up a bit! Have fun and enjoy!