Archive for the ‘Farmers’ Markets’ category

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Shoppers, Take Note!

November 22nd, 2010

This young man is responsible for today's post! He wrote an insightful piece for his newspaper, The Columbia Tribune. You'll love it, especially if you ever frequent Farmers Markets!

This handsome YOUNG man-I swear he looks to be too young to drive!-is T J Greaney and his well written article caught my eye.  I have his permission to reprint what appeared in the Columbia, Missouri  DailyTribune on Sunday, November 21, 2010:

‘Farmers market tries out food stamp program

By T.J. Greaney Columbia Daily Tribune

Sunday, November 21, 2010

At the Columbia Farmers Market yesterday, Stephanie McGuire used an EBT card given to all recipients of food stamps. The mother of two asked for only $24 worth of wooden tokens, which are redeemable as cash at the stalls in the outdoor market, but instead she received double that amount.

It wasn’t a mistake.

McGuire is part of a pilot program sponsored by Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc. that is doubling the food stamp dollars for shoppers at the market.

“Everything here is so amazing,” McGuire said while toting a bag of butternut squash, acorn squash and potatoes. “We never realized how big the farmers market is and how bountiful it is, really.”

The program will officially launch in March and organizers hope they can raise $50,000 to fully fund it, making it available to all local food stamp recipients. The program now is in a trial stage with only a handful of participants.

Casey Corbin, executive director of Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc., said the idea behind the project is to give people who live on a fixed budget access to locally grown produce, meats and dairy.Many of the healthy foods found at the outdoor market are more expensive than those in supermarkets, and food stamp recipients typically are unable to pay a premium for higher quality.

The pilot program seeks to eliminate that barrier.

“It’s like walking through the market and everything’s 50 percent off,” Corbin said. “And some vendors have already pledged to offer further discounts for people with the cards.”

Congress created the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC participants in 1992 and expanded those benefits to low-income seniors in 2000. However, the funds for those programs are limited, typically maxing out at $30 per recipient per year. In 2008, a private organization based in Connecticut, Wholesome Wave, pushed the concept even further by doubling food stamps used at participating markets. That program has been successfully implemented at dozens of markets across the nation.

Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc. hopes to bring the Wholesome Wave model to Columbia.

Yesterday, Corbin and others held a fundraiser at Orr Street Studios to kick off what advocates hope will be a successful winter of fundraising from private donors.

In addition to doubling food stamps, the group also plans to hold community cooking classes and hand out free pots, pans, utensils and cookbooks to needy families.

Corbin said the instructional classes will be held in local churches and teach basic food safety and recipes.

“One of the big concerns in our community meetings was, ‘What good is it to have great access to healthy foods you can afford, when most people who have been living off frozen foods from Sam’s Club don’t know how to cook anymore?’” Corbin said. “I personally don’t know that many people who know how to cook.”

McGuire, who works part time as a breastfeeding peer counselor, said she likes the fact that the trips to the market are opening her daughters’ eyes to new foods.

Yesterday as father, Shane Capuano, cuddled 6-month-old Keira in his arms, the couple’s 3-year-old Rhiannon excitedly walked from stall to stall.

She watched eagerly as an accordion player belted out “Old McDonald.” This wasn’t like a typical trip to the supermarket.

“I think she’s tried a lot of things here that she wouldn’t normally, because a lot of the sellers here will hand you pieces of different kinds of vegetables just as samples,” McGuire said.

“Last time we were here, someone said, ‘Hey, would you like to try a turnip?’ And she was like “OK” and that’s not something we eat a lot of. It definitely gives her a new perspective.”’

SO!  There you have it, kids.  If YOU are a user of an EBT card for SNAP or WIC; if you love fresh fruits and veggies and other goodies readily available at Farmers Markets or if YOU use foods from a food pantry or YOU have food commodities, this item is no doubt of interest to you.  If you use Angel Food bundles this should appeal to you, as those can be purchased with EBT cards.  Even if you are just cost conscious about YOUR own food budget, this article should give you hope about getting families fed.

We at the Club want to thank Mr. T J Greaney and his newspaper for granting us permission to use the article.  I hope you will cruise on over to his newspaper and leave your comment…AFTER you leave one HERE, of course.  Grinning and winking…Here’s hoping you will find time to send us a message at, too.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Doing the Happy Dance?

October 24th, 2010

I dunno if this is how the Happy Dance looks but Mother Connie is HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

When it was decided that people who use public assistance to fund their food budgets-SNAP and WIC, for example or food commodities; even food pantries it never occurred to Mother Connie that it would have the impact that we are seeing today!

Here’s what’s really going on:

You know how I nag all of you for comments…well, many of you have responded thoughtfully by offering your remarks, your messages, your recipes, your blog posts and your undying support.  You have even, much to the delight of this blogger, created community and dialogue!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!

Some people are shy, however.  Even though you know you can comment anonymously, there are those who have great ideas but are just too bashful to come forward.  Mother Connie understands.

Today the phone rang; on the other end was a gentleman who wanted to touch base with the Club to let someone know he loves to cook but doesn’t always know for sure how things go together.  We had quite the discussion about limes vs lemons and cilantro and how much might be too much.  It was exhilarating, because I realized once again that we are making an impact!

Our caller is an avid and talented gardener.  He has a market garden, which means he raises organic foods that are sold at the Farmers Market.  His customers clamor for his melons, his tomatoes and his luscious sweet potatoes.  As his crops ripen they quickly go to market to be purchased by people who seek quality foodstuffs.  He promised to taste test the sweet tater recipe in question and will happily share it here!

DO YOU SEE HOW YOU ALL ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE?  I want you to go to the mirror, smile at your self and say “Thank You.”  Say it like you mean it because you all are wonderful!

In the same vein, I can tell you that recently I was able to promote the use of Angel Food Ministries to a couple of group homes-boy, do THEY ever need to save money on food!-and to some people who had not heard of the wonderful service they render.

We all need one another, you see.  And Mother Connie is doing the Happy Dance because you are all rallying around one another in full support!



Mother Connie

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Another Love Affar; Another Chef?

July 17th, 2010



Bit by bit and bite by bite I continue to find foodies to follow!


You had my confession about watching TV chefs.  Now I’ve found yet another food hero to follow.  I know; you think Mother Connie needs to get a life.  It’s just that food and people totally fascinate her and she is eager to learn everything possible from every source.

Food Network, a cable channel, features a competition between successful chefs called “Chopped” where 4 chefs create an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.  The chef who manages to impress three judges, who are also celebrity chefs,  wins a hefty $10 K for his talent and effort.  The most recent winner I saw was Chef Joshua.

Chef Joshua struck a chord with me because he teaches people about food on the streets at Farmers Markets.  You can ask him any food question and he will explain the answer in terms home cooks can understand.  He does this at no cost because he feels it is the right thing to do. His blog is adorable and he is completely accessible.  He has a newsletter that is very interesting, as well.

This way of life is noble; who wouldn’t fall in love with a guy like that?  Besides, he spoke about his baby daughter and I saw a photo of the little child that plucked at my heart strings.  The winning money will help Chef Joshua provide a very good life for his little family.

But I digress…

There are a jillion food blogs out there on the internet.  Mother Connie is so happy you found this one; welcome and thanks so much for popping in! But how many bloggers offer real help for the home cook?  Some bloggers just want to show off their high end kitchens; others simply want to show off.  Some of the food blogs are great fun in spite of being silly.  Some blogs offer foods you could never afford or could never procure the ingredients for the esoteric dishes they demonstrate.  Others go on and on about the proper wine choice…I’m not even going to shine a light on that one because those who are on SNAP or WIC food budgets or those who depend on food pantries and/or food commodities are NOT going to worry about the wine!  The same is true for users of Angel Food Ministries and people who are just plain frugal, watching their food budgets carefully.

Associating with people like Chef Josh and Chef Shawn Bucher reinforces my hope for mankind.  These are good people who have a passion for food as well as for people.  They are concerned about the health of every generation in every income group.  They are passionate about growing and preparing food.  They have real affection for the health of Mother Earth.   I like that about them.  I would highly recommend you visit their sites and return here to comment on what you find. I think you will agree with me that their work is really helpful to the masses.

Incidentally, nothing is being sold here; I am only sending you to some food sites that will help you in the kitchen.  That’s Mother Connie’s JOB.

We are greatly enjoying your messages to us.  You can send your message to  and make our day!

Here’s hoping you are enjoying your weekend!  Check out those blogs mentioned above and let us know what you think!


Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should those links be clicked and sales result, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Do business only with those you trust implicitly.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: NO HAY?

January 22nd, 2010


Tall Grass Prairie Seminar featured a Potato Bar! And that's No HAY!


The Normanator and I took off for a whole day this week to attend a Tall Grass Prairie Seminar!

There were  Farmers Market vendors there; people from out of state who have poured their hearts and souls into Discovering Eden by restoring a White Oak Savanna and a sharp expert who shared his wit and wisdom regarding patch burns.  It was a marvelous experience; one I’d have gladly shared with ALL the club members.

I had  most interesting conversations with an avid gardener, a man who provides raw organic milk and a farmer who raises organic, free range poultry.  The people who turned out for this event are those who believe wholeheartedly in good food, good health, and good stewardship practices.  They are good people!

As lovely and enlightening as all that was, my focus today is the lunch we were served.

Lunch was all about the humble potato and topping it with interesting things like chili, bacon, cheeses, sour cream, chives, onions and all things yummy.

But here is what impressed me so:  The woman who is in charge of the crew who cooks and serves is such a charming, personable soul. She smiled broadly and looked me in the eyes as she handed me a tray.  “I remember you from last year,” I told her.  “And I remember you.  You were  one who told us you appreciated not having to fix your own lunch!”

Here’s the thing, kids:  The ENERGY that goes into the food that is prepared for us is so important.  Just because we cannot SEE that energy does not mean it isn’t there!

Let’s consider the people who wrapped the potatoes we were served.  If they had ugly feelings about being at work that day, those ugly feelings would translate into the food we ate.  If there were disagreements and jealousy among the workers in the kitchen, that would have gone directly into those potatoes!

This young woman runs the kind of kitchen where her staff are all smiles and that happy feeling was very much a part of the menu.  It gave those humble potatoes and all the fixin’s real personality and flair.  It added to the quality of the meal and the day.

She also told me that all the calories and carbs had been baked out of the brownies.  I probably should have looked into her methods.  grin

So, if you are preparing meals from foods you got from commodities or a food pantry or from WIC or SNAP or Angel Food or Farmers Markets or whatever have you, bear in mind that your attitude flavors your recipes as much as the spices.

We would be most eager to learn what YOUR gang likes to put with the potatoes that come out of your oven.  Do you bake more than you need for one meal and reuse them in interesting ways?  Please let us know by adding your comments below and/or sending us a hey to, won’t you?

If you are interested, there is more information about that Tall Grass Prairie seminar on Mother Connie Sez. Stop by if you are in the mood.  We love comments there, too. Even those which do not flatter.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should those links be clicked and sales result, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Always do your due diligence when conducting commerce online or offline.  Do business only with those you trust implicitly.

Happy National Farmers Market Week!

August 6th, 2009

Well, the week is nearly over and I only learned about this auspicious occasion yesterday!  You know how the saying goes:  “The wife is always the last to know.”  Grin

If you are using Farmers Market Coupons you may already have the heads up on this. But for me, it’s just one more great reason to party!  After all, when you support your local Farmers Market you are directly supporting small family farmers and your local economy. You are “voting” for fresh, organic, healthy and WHOLE FOODS.  You know how I am about WHOLE FOODS.  Not only that, you support a family farming tradition that goes back for generations and a philosophy of land stewardship that is critical to a wholesome way of life.

Here’s what some folks had to say about THEIR Farmers Markets:

“I love that I can meet with and talk to the folks that grow the food I plan to share with my family and friends.  I learn quite a bit and feel more connected to my community.  -Tikki F.”

“I support my local farmers market because it is important to have fresh foods right from the farm to nourish our bodies.  Even more importantly, the foods and products are local, which means we are helping to sustain our local farmers and producers.”  -Rebecca K.

“I love wandering down on a Saturday morning and getting good, fresh products at good prices.  I always see several people I know, and enjoy visiting with friends.”  –Korrin J

Whether you are using Farmers Market Coupons, SNAP, food commodities-even food pantries or Angel Food Ministries to fund your grocery budget it behooves us all to step up and support our local farmers by shopping when we can at Farmers Markets.

As always, we invite your comments and emails.  The RSVPs for the Cooking Class are coming in, along with your precious, treasured remarks and recipes.  THANK YOU SO MUCH.  Just remember:

Thank you, too, for sending your contacts  to our Food Stamps Cooking Club to get in on the occasional messages that go out and for stopping by our partners, who are sincerely interested in helping you learn how to make money online in order to fund your food budget from a healthy stream of income!

Speaking of HEALTHY-you might be interested to read this blog, too: The Healthy And Wealthy YOU. Every effort is made to help all people be their very best selves and this is just one more avenue in that regard!

Connie Baum

Farmers Markets and Whole Foods

August 3rd, 2009

Have you been to the Farmers Markets this season?  Are they loaded with goodies or WHAT?  It is such fun to see the pickups parked along our village square and the tables of freshly plucked product displayed for our buying pleasure!

If you are fortunate to have Farmers Market Coupons you have no doubt redeemed them for a wonderful array of sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers and other garden goodies.  Even if you plunked down your hard earned cash, you have chosen wisely.

The Farmers Markets offer delicious WHOLE FOODS and in many cases that means ORGANIC.  This can only mean good things for our bodies!  Glowing, vibrant good health comes from eating whole foods.  Must be something about the anti-oxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  And the flavor keeps calling us back for more.

Summertime means treats, even for breakfast.  Our menu today was tomatoes on toast and we left the breakfast table feeling quite satisfied and full of vim, vigor and vitality.  We have such perfect, such delicious, such juicy tomatoes this year, despite a hailstorm that roared through and pelted the little fruits.  We had such an abundance that we were able to take a boxful of tomatoes to church with us and share with those who have no gardens.  They disappeared quickly!

What do YOU have to share?  Recipes?  Memories?  Ideas?  We would enjoy hearing your summertime food notions.  Just shoot an email to us: and make our day!

It delights our hearts whenever someone offers up their email address at Food Stamps Cooking Club so we can send occasional messages about food and health.  Thanks to all of you who have recently joined the club!

You may be in the market for something to help you with your bottom line, particularly if you are a user of SNAP or food commodities or even food pantries.  If you use Angel Food Ministries, it is a distinct possibility you could be interested in learning how to bring some rapid cash into your household. If you like that idea, please CLICK HERE.

Connie Baum

Food Commodities in YOUR Cupboard?

July 13th, 2009

Each day when the first wave of emails hits my computer I am always eager to see what’s cooking!  I am blessed to receive a number of messages from recipe sites.  Today I found something suitable for these hot muggy days but it was way to ‘chi chi poo poo’ for us commoners!  So I thought I would trot out one of my mother’s old standby favorites for a cold dish on a hot day:  Salmon Salad.

As you know, we are landlocked here in Nebraska and the closest we come to having anything seaworthy is the Nebraska Navy.  We don’t have access to fresh seafood on a tight budget-many of us are using food commodities, food pantries, the SNAP program and maybe even Angel Food Ministries.  Even the coupons for the Farmers Markets do not gain access to salmon, for crying out loud!  My mother always used canned salmon but she also made this dish with tuna.  She even used ground beef.  She also subscribed to the theory you can cook once and eat twice.  Cold ground or roast beef in a salad is quite tasty.

Here’s how Mom made her SALMON SALAD:

1 package of pasta.  Mom was partial to shell macaroni.  Use what YOU like: Bow ties? Elbows? Rotini?  Cook it according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain.

1 medium cucumber, washed and rough chopped-the goodness is just under the peeling.  This time of year people are BEGGING folks to help them use up their zucchini squashes from the gardens!  Great substitute!  Or, use both.

1 can salmon, drained and mashed with a fork-Mom always removed the bones

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 rib of celery, finely chopped

*Optional: 2 or 3 rings of red onion-white or yellow will work, if you have some on hand

1 pepper, rough chopped-red is pretty but green are cheaper and plentiful in the garden these days

Salt and pepper to taste

I can still see Mom assembling this mixture into the big yellow mixing bowl and tossing it ever so lovingly.  She dressed it with mayonnaise but your family’s favorite will work just fine.  She used to put lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves on the “good dishes” to make lunch or supper feel like a special occasionWhen she made this dish for guests, she added just a sprinkle of celery seed.  Sometimes she would arrange hard cooked eggs on the top of the serving bowl and pass the dish at the table. She often served lemonade with this salad because of the balance of flavors between the salmon and the lemon.


No doubt YOU have family favorites that were simple and budget friendly.  We would love to have you share those.  Just drop us an email at;  it will make our day!

You are always welcome to post your comment on this blog, too.  We remind you that comments must be moderated so they do not always appear instantly!  If you are shy, you may remain anonymous.

All of you have been generous to share the Food Stamps Cooking Club website with your networks and we so appreciate it because when folks visit that site and enter their name and email address they are able to receive the little messages we send to our people.  We never mean to impose but when we find something worth sharing we can give our people a shout out!

Our partners are very pleased that you have paid some mind to them, too.  Thank you so much, everybody.

Plans are in the works for the event sponsored by SENCA later this month here in Southeast Nebraska, as well as our second round of  Cooking Classes!  Watch for that date to be announced!

Connie Baum

Supper’s Ready!

July 1st, 2009
Supper's Ready!

Supper's Ready!

I am so tickled to SHOW you what we had for our evening meal!  What is pictured is a stir-fry that melted in our mouths!  Here’s the scoop:

“I Don’t Know What To Call It But It’s Delicious Turkey Supper”

1 tablespoon oil  *I prefer olive oil; use what you like best

1/2 medium onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

1 pound lean ground turkey  *Ground beef, even cooked chicken would work well

1 cup corn *I used frozen but canned will do; fresh would be even better

Salt and pepper to taste

Poultry seasoning to taste

1 – 2 cups cooked pasta  *I used spaghetti because that’s what I found in the fridge, all cooked!

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet.  Add the onion and celery.  Allow to cook til veggies are tender.  Add the turkey meat to brown.  Salt and pepper to season.  Add poultry seasoning. *NOTE:  I did not measure but I’d guess I used a rounded teaspoon.  It seemed as if it might be too much but the dish had good, rich flavor.  Add according to your family’s preferences. Add corn and allow everything to heat through well. Add the pasta and heat thoroughly, stirring so the pasta does not become sticky. I served this in pasta bowls; we had lettuce/tomato salad and buttered toast with this tasty creation.  We washed it all down with refreshing iced tea.

Who needs dessert?  SIDEBAR:  The Normanator needed dessert and he served us up dips of chocolate marshmallow ice cream after the dishes had been washed!  END SIDEBAR.

The kitchen stayed cool on this warm day; we filled our tummies with fresh goodness and dinner was on the table in jig time!

What did YOU make for dinner?  We’d love to know.  We so hope you’ll send your “reports” to

We appreciate that you have stopped by our partners and we are grateful for your comments here.  We know you are opting in to Food Stamps Cooking Club and for this we thank you.

Users of food pantries, Farmer’s Market Coupons, food commodities and SNAP-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are our heroes and heroines.  We aim to help them all we can by providing useful information and news and food ideas.  We want to make a difference and be of help.  After all, if we are not part of the solution to life’s issues, we must be part of the problem!  Can’t have THAT, now, can we?

Connie Baum

PS/I spoke with the local grocer today.  HE ASKED ABOUT OUR COOKING CLASSES!  Stay tuned!  We are accepting your class ideas…

Farmers’ Markets Abound!

June 16th, 2009

Is it your Saturday morning ritual to visit your local Farmers’ Market?  If so, you might be interested to know what I learned this morning.

Our local SENCA Center’s office-South East Nebraska Community Action Center is sporting a new look, under the steady hand of a new Director, Terri Brethouwer, and a new cook who is passionate about food, Teresa Borrenpohl.  Both of these vibrant young women have been on the job only a short time.  They seem to be properly partnered and I’m liking the way they think.

As I entered the building I was greeted by less clutter and more comfortable chairs, arranged for conversation.  That made me smile.  In the main dining room, many of the dark pieces that crowded the room are gone.  In their place stands an attractive mantel.  There were well fitted tablecloths with a patriotic theme covering each dining table.  A number of men from the community were gathering for coffee and to solve the problems of the city and the world.  There was cheer in the air as folks greeted one another.

My order for their famous Wednesday fried chicken-Smart Chicken-was taken by the cook herself.  Smart Chicken is a Southeast Nebraska mainstay.  It is processed with air, not water, and is a top quality product, giving Johnson County the bragging rights since it is a local enterprise.

Tomorrow, as I eat my lunch I will have a meeting with Terri Brethauer as we discuss the Food Pantry, how best to serve its clients and we will talk about the new Federal program for Seniors: Farmers’ Coupons.  Senior citizens who meet the eligibility requirements for this program can get special coupons at discounted prices so they can shop at Farmers’ Markets and use the coupons to buy locally grown, health-giving, life-supporting nourishment!

This program is great news for those who use SNAP-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-or food commodities or food pantries.  It is especially good news for Seniors.  You are welcome to pass the word amongst those in your circle of influence; I’m sure the program administrators would welcome the publicity.

You might welcome a recipe…have you settled on the menu for Father’s Day yet?  Oh, the circulars are out and steak is so cost prohibitive that you are likely to opt for the more affordable hot dogs!  That would be one great way to stretch your food dollars and the chances are good most dads would appreciate your economizing!  Our local market is advertising boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 per pound and that would make a wonderful meal for Dad.  How about grilling some chicken or braising it?  You could serve some barbecue sauce with it, too.  Here is an idea even the children can help you make:

Braised Chicken with Marinade

Cover the chicken and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours.  Then you can broil, roast or braise.

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

This will give your chicken a bit of an Asian flair.  Dad will like it; so will the kids.  And Daddy will be proud that the little people in his household contributed to his special day!

Enjoy your trips to the Farmers’ Markets!  The bounty there will offer good health for your whole family as well as an opportunity to support your neighbors!

Please send your ideas, recipes and suggestions to and if you have not done so, we hope you will put your name and email address in the little box at the top of the page on  We trust you will share this information with your friends and family; we do not want anyone to miss out!

Our partners will be pleased to have you visit their sites, as well.  If you like what you see here, you might like to let them know so they will feel their efforts are fruitful.

Oh, and when you visit your local Farmers’ Markets, do give them our warmest regards!

Food Stamps Cooking Club

Connie Baum