When the outreach committee of St. John’s Episcopal Church was considering different projects, church member Jan Hummel was pushing for a farmers market.
She got her wish, and last year, the church hosted a Wednesday market for 12 weeks. This year they are starting the market June 4.
“It really is a great service project,” Hummel says. “We support the local businesses and farmers, provide people with farm-fresh produce, and the money we raise goes to local charities.
“The market also helps people see who we are at the church.”
Each week St. John’s also gives out a flier to shoppers with recipes and food facts.
“We find out what is coming in new each week and feature the item on the flier with recipes,” Hummel says. “The vendors all try to tie in the item into their sales each week. When we featured squash one week, the flower vendor came in with a squash and flower arrangement.”
Hummel is one of the master gardeners with the University of Illinois Extension, and therefore, has access to a wealth of information about fruits and vegetables. She freely shares the facts in the weekly flier, including: disk-shaped onions are sweeter than ball-shaped onions; apples are a member of the rose family; pickles were Cleopatra’s beauty secret; and other fun facts about each week’s featured fruits and vegetables.
Since her daughter Emily Miller is an instructor with the Naperville Park District’s culinary program, Hummel is able to access their recipe collection for the weekly flier. She also uses tried-and-true recipes from church members.
Last summer when apples were featured, Hummel shared memories of being a Girl Scout while growing up in Naperville. She recalled roasting apples at Camp Von Oven Scout camp.
“First we peeled an apple and put it on a long stick,” she says. “We roasted it over an open fire and then rolled it in brown sugar and nuts. It was so delicious.”
The roasted apple recipe was included on last year’s weekly recipe sheet along with recipes for apple pancakes and apple crisp.
Hummel says the weekly market “feels like going to an old-fashioned county fair because there are so many interesting things, and people are walking around and visiting with each other.”
There are 18 vendors coming to this year’s market.
“We are going to have cheese from Wisconsin; flowers from Naperville; meat, eggs, smoked fish and wild rice from Wisconsin; bread right out of the oven; honey from Naperville hives; cupcakes, muffins, teas and spice,” she says. “Oh, and we have someone coming from Park Ridge who makes gourmet ice pops with all-natural flavors like blueberry lavender. All of the vendors who come are so friendly and talk with everyone.”
Hummel buys some produce from the market, but she is an avid gardener, too.
“I try never to commit what I call ‘vegacide’ where you grow more than you can use so you throw it out,” she says. “I can what I can’t eat or give it to the neighbors or donate it to pantries.”
Hummel’s pantry has several neat rows of jars filled with her homemade pickles and jams.
Although she grew up in Naperville, Hummel, 67, married and moved away from Naperville for 30 years.
“I came back 16 years ago, which proves that, yes, you can come home again.”
She retired from a career in marketing but has kept very busy. In addition to the farmers market, she is on the committee planning the 50-year reunion this year for her Naperville Central High School class.
Hummel shares her recipe for wild rice chicken salad and for her cold pack pickles.
“It is important to buy pickling cucumbers, not regular cucumbers for pickles,” she says. “It is best to pick the cucumbers and then pickle them right away. This recipe can be used to do just one jar if that is all the cucumbers that are ready.”
Her secret for truly crisp pickles is adding a grape leaf to each jar. Hummel invites the community to attend the market for even more recipes for fresh seasonal produce.
Wild Rice Chicken Salad
½ cup uncooked wild rice
1-½ cups chicken broth
3 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Three green onions
¾ cup smokehouse almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Mayonnaise to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook rice in chicken broth for about one hour or until done. Drain and cool.
Chop green onions and sauté with chicken breasts in vegetable oil until breasts are cooked through. Cool and cube chicken. Mix chicken and rice.
Stir in Dijon mustard and chopped almonds. Add enough mayonnaise to get desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
One Quart Cold Pac CRISP Dill Pickles
1 grape leaf
Clove fresh garlic, peeled
1 or 2 heads of fresh dill, plus stems and pieces
1 tablespoon dried dill seed
5 to 6 4-inch fresh pickling cucumbers
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1/6 cup pickling salt
Place grape leaf, garlic and dill seed in jar. Scrub cucumbers clean and then pack into the jar.
Mix together vinegar, water and salt in a pan. Bring to a rolling boil. Place packed jar in a pan with 2 to 3 inches of boiling water in the bottom to heat the jar. Heat canning lids and screw tops in boiling water also. Carefully fill jars with boiling solution to ½ inch from the top. Wipe jar rims with a dampened paper towel. Place sterilized canning lid on jar and add screw on ring until finger tight. Lids should seal as they cool. Store in cool, dark place and don’t open until Thanksgiving!
If you go
What: A farmers market, featuring produce, cheese, meats, dairy, eggs and more
Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church parking lot at the corner of West Street and Oswego Road in Naperville
When: 3 until 7 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning June 4 through Sept. 25. No market on July 2 because of RibFest.
More information: Visit http://stjohns-episcopal.com.
Jan’s Culinary Cue
When making dill pickles, it is important to wait to open them until Thanksgiving, so the flavors have time to develop. If a jar doesn’t seal, simply refrigerate it until Thanksgiving and then enjoy the crisp flavors of a homemade pickle.Tags: Farmers' Market, food, St. John’s Episcopal Church