Dash of Class: Farmers market finds

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By Nora Sweat

I know you have heard the term “hidden treasures.” We have a lot of treasures in Hardin County such as the Charles W. Logsdon Historic Downtown Walking Tour, the Hardin County History Museum, the General George Patton Museum of Leadership, Saunders Springs, Hardin County Community Fair and many others.

One some of you might not have taken advantage of is the Hardin County Farmers Market at Peterson Drive and Leitchfield Road in Elizabethtown, across from the Hardin County Extension Service office.

I have recipes from two of the regular vendors at this farmers market. Two of the recipes are from Peggy Thomas. Peggy and her husband, Larry, are the biggest tomato growers at the market and sell tomato plants, too.

The third recipe is from Star Dillard. She and her husband, Roy, own The Wild Mint Farm in Eastview and sell frozen beef products that are antibiotic free and 85 percent lean.

Brenda Thomas, a former student of mine at West Hardin High School, is president of the farmers market and was eager to share information about the market. It has been in Elizabethtown since at least 1976. The Farmers Market Association has 30 members, including four who have been there for 25 years, including Brenda and her sister, Jan Thomas.

The market offers a wide variety of produce, meat, cheese, fresh herbs, flowers and most recently soap. It is open at 7 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Starting June 27, it is open from 2-6 p.m. Thursdays. The market also will be setting up at Hardin Memorial Hospital from 3-5 p.m. Wednesdays.

The market has changed in the last 25 years, Thomas said. Everyone used to buy their vegetables by the bushel and the larger the vegetable, such as squash, the easier it was to sell. Now shoppers want smaller produce, which is better quality, and in smaller quantities.

If you have not been by the Hardin County Farmers Market, I urge you to do so. I stopped by a week ago and only three vendors were present. Roy Dillard was there with beef products. Thomas and her husband, John, had whole wheat flour, cornmeal and popcorn. She also had beautiful leaf lettuce, several varieties of succulents and other floral bedding plants, day lilies, Asian moon berry plants, all types of herb plants and assorted jams and jellies made by the Thomas sisters. The third vendor, Tom and Kathryn Brangers, had abundant beautiful beets, new potatoes, green onions, leaf lettuce and another wonderful find, black walnuts. The price of the walnuts was so reasonable, considering the time it takes to first remove the outside hull, allow them to season, crack and shell and finally pick out the wonderful flavorful black walnut pieces.

I came home with popcorn from the Thomas family, some leaf lettuce and a beautiful purple basil plant. Thomas said she really didn’t use the dark violet plant to eat but with fresh floral bouquets.

The types of products varies from week to week and day to day. As the season goes by, there will be bushels of tomatoes and corn to can and freeze, a perfect way to preserve the wonderful flavor of garden-fresh vegetables.

You hear so much about “Plate it Up: Kentucky Proud,” the campaign promoting Kentucky foods, you will be glad you did.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/ family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Herb-Zucchini Stir-Fry

3 average size zucchini, sliced

2 small onions, sliced

1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper (or use 1 green pepper)

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

4 small ripe red tomatoes, cut in chunks

Salt/pepper to taste

2 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed fresh oregano (can also use dried)

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Sauté zucchini, peppers, garlic and onions in butter. Add salt, pepper, tomatoes and herbs. Cook on medium/high heat. Stir, blend in cheese.

Source: Peggy Thomas

Tomato pie

3 or 4 medium size meaty tomatoes, peeled

6-8 oz. grated cheese, sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack

3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

3/4 teaspoon fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning can be used)

Dash of salt and pepper

1 medium onion or 2 green onions

1/2 cup mayonnaise

9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake crust until lightly brown, cool.

Chop and drain tomatoes Place in crust, making a mound in the middle. Sprinkle with herbs. Mix onions, cheese and mayonnaise; spread over tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown which usually takes 30 to 40 minutes. It is best to cool slightly before serving.

Source: Peggy Thomas

Juicy Hamburgers

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

2/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon minced onion

2 teaspoons molasses (or Worcestershire sauce)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a two-quart bowl, mix ground beef, milk, onion, molasses (or Worcestershire sauce), salt and pepper with wet hands. Store in covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors mingle. The next day, shape into eight 4-inch patties about 1/2 inch thick. Brown in skillet over medium heat or on outdoor grill. Turn once but do not flatten as this presses out the juices. Serve on toasted split sandwich buns with lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickle slices, onion slices, mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard.

Source: Star Dillard. The recipe was modified from Juicy Hamburgers, by Kathryn Williams, published in “Cherished Recipes” by White Mills Homemaker Club.