A Teenagers View of the Market

Once again, Chyna is sharing her thoughts with us:

When you walk into the building, you’re immediately greeted by its unique style that manages to blend quiet country life with all the benefits of modern dining.  From the second the door opens the pleasant smell of home-cooked meals surrounds you.  At the right time of day, friendly conversation can also be heard echoing around walls that seem perfectly designed to funnel the conversation right to your ears.

If you walk straight forward, you’ll find yourself in the cafe portion of the building, greeted first by our twin mascots; Gordy, the ceramic pig and Maggie, the acrylic cow.  You would think that they, along with the other seemingly random decorations, would create a confusing sort of atmosphere, but they only add to the charm.  The dining room itself is made up of mismatched sets of tables and chairs, making you feel like you’ve been invited over to someone’s home.  Turn to your right, and you are in the store side of the building, where rows of freezers look right at home next to old-fashioned shelving and a rustic wooden barrel.

The whole place is filled with interesting things to look at.  Knick-knacks, farm photos, and cows of every kind imaginable.  The kinds of things you usually see at flea markets.  And it all fits together.

In a word, the Black Angus Cafe  and Heritage Farmer’s Markets are homey.  Not only in their style and setup, but in the way that the people in it treat you like family.

It truly does feel like a home.

Market Funnies

All of us at Heritage Farmer’s Market and The Black Angus Café enjoy teasing and playing tricks on each other.   A young lady that comes in to help on Saturdays recently became one of our victims.

Here is the story in her own words:

Of all the ridiculous things that have gone on around the diner, my favorite is probably the ongoing adventures of the novelty squirting toilet……

It was a Saturday morning just like all the others.  I had just finished my first big load of dishes and escaped to the bathroom.  I was washing my hands when I saw it.  A perfect replica of an ordinary bathroom john, but shrunk down until it fit in the palm of my hand.

What was it?

A soap holder?

A decoration?

I could tell that the lid on the device lifted up, and with the bathroom door closed and locked,  I now felt secure in my snooping.  By the time I noticed that the lid was just a little too hard to open, the top sprang open and it was already too late.  Out came a stream of water and I was left with a wet spot in the center of my shirt.  The trick toilet had marked me for all to see!

It was only later that I would learn the history of the tricky device.  The list of victims was long – longer than most would admit.  Driven by curiosity or confusion, the toilet drew victims in just long enough for it to do its dirty deed.

And this evil device is still there, waiting patiently for the next curious fool to open the lid!

Now that Chyna has been initiated into our little market community, we feel sure that she will be up to the challenge of creating her own little tricks to pull on us!



White Scallop Squash

Pan Fried Scallop Squash

Pan frying is one of the simplest ways to prepare the squash. There’s not really a recipe involved. Cut the squash in half vertically and scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash (about 1/2 inch thick). Heat a frying pan to medium high. Pour a little olive oil into the pan. Cook the squash for several minutes on each side, until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Simple Scallop Squash Recipe

3 medium Squash, thinly sliced
2 T  Butter or Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
1 t Seasoned Salt
1 dash Pepper
1/4 t Minced Onion
4 T Parmesan Cheese
1/4 c Milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Spray 1 1/2 quart casserole with cooking spray. Cover bottom with squash. Dot squash with butter or olive oil
5. Season with salt, pepper, and onion. Cover squash with grated Parmesan cheese. Pour milk on top. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.  Serves 6

Fried Scallop Squash

1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
1 part flour
1 part cornmeal
Mix egg and milk. In separate bowl mix flour and cornmeal. Slice squash thin and dip in egg mixture then in flour mixture. Fry until crispy. Salt to taste.

Summer Squash Stir Fry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups White Scallop Squash or other assorted summer squashes
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Dusting of grated cheese
Chopped fresh parsley as garnish
Slice the squash into bite size strips or chunk.  Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is barely softened. Add squash and stir-fry a minute or so. Stir in stock and oregano and simmer gently until liquid has almost evaporated. Serve, dusting with cheese and garnish with parsley.

Other Herbs to use instead of oregano: Basil, Rosemary, Chives, Marjoram

Buckaroo Summer Squash
1 cup grated  Fontina or Gouda cheese
approx 25  Whole Wheat Crackers, crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
3 White Scallop Squash or other summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1″ squares or rounds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, toss together cheese, cracker crumbs, parsley, onion and thyme. In a large bowl, toss together squash, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Arrange squash in a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish. Scatter cheese mixture evenly over the top and bake until melted and golden brown and squash is just tender, about 20 minutes.

(adapted from a “Whole Foods” recipe)

Smothered Summer Squash
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups sliced White Scallop Squash or other summer squash (1/4 inch thick x 1 ” square)
1 cup chopped Heirloom Tomatoes
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan with a tight fitting lid. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and squash; cook 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, beans and corn. Cover pan and simmer 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove lid, top with cheese and allow cheese to melt over the squash. If you prefer a browned cheese topping, place under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.


Parmesan Crusted Squash
How can you go wrong when you create a parmesan crust on anything!

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
2 pounds white scallop, zucchini or yellow squash, cut on an angle into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.   Put breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley and red pepper flakes into a wide, shallow dish and mix well. Spread a bit of the pesto on both sides of each piece of squash, then transfer to dish and press gently to coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture. Transfer squash to prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.  Dip in Ranch or marinara sauce if desired.

Pan Seared Summer Squash
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 large white scallop squash, or other summer squash
For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh basil and salt.  For the squash, slice into large rounds 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Warm a 10-inch skillet (cast iron is best) until very hot. Place squash in pan and sear over high heat, until blackened, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip onto other side and sear additional 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides are blackened.   Place squash on a large platter. Spoon vinaigrette over squash. Serve warm.

May 2016

Wow!  It’s almost summer!

The kids are getting out of school and graduation parties are popping up everywhere.   The Turkey Festival gets underway June 9th with the Miss Tremont pageant.  This weekend is Memorial Day weekend and everyone seems to be planning a cookout (I hope the weather cooperates).  Many people will be visiting the grave sites of loved ones to pay their respects and reminisce. Traditionally the public pools in this area start their season on Memorial Day so the hoped for forecast is “hot and dry”.

The livestock on the farm are enjoying being out  in nicer weather also.  We got chickens outside scratching and pecking and pigs running through the mud and dirt.  The cows are enjoying the fresh green grass.  Rambo is looking over the herd and ready for romance.

Our gardeners are finally starting to bring in produce from their gardens.  We have lettuce greens and radishes in the cooler.  Strawberries are ripe and leaving the market almost as fast as they arrive.  Hoping by the end of June we might have some ripe tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squashes.  Fruit trees and berry bushes are showing signs of their fruits.

The Black Angus Cafe is doing better than ever since our profiling on a food segment from our local TV station.  Vickie has been kept busing cooking and serving her great homestyle meals.  She is looking forward to including fresh grown produce into her recipes.

Overall late spring is one of my favorite times of the year!



A New Adventure in Food

Since we lost Wanda, we have been looking for a new kitchen wizard.  Hayley, Wanda’s niece has been doing a good job, but she is young and has other interests besides our cafe.  Doug recently ran into Vickie of Vickie’s Place, a small restaurant that Doug’s family frequented before it closed.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  We were looking for a cook and Vickie was looking for a kitchen to cook in.

That was in July.  We are now serving lunch Monday through Saturday.  We also have a special breakfast that we serve only on Saturday mornings.  The only hiccup was that we already knew a Vickie.  We now have Vickie 1 and Vickie 2.  Easy peasy fix.

Vickie fits in like she has been here forever.  If business keeps up likes this, we may have to add a shed to the back for more seating!


April started off really well for Heritage Farmer’s Market. We were all excited about being able to go outside without having to put on coats and scarves. The weather was starting to warm up, the market was buzzing with activity, Doug’s cows were giving birth to healthy calves. The talk was all about getting gardens ready for planting and how good fresh home grown fruits & vegetables taste. All the local farmer’s markets are advertising their starting dates.

Then we started getting bad news. On April 7th we Scott Bittner, the owner of Eureka Locker (our meat processor) was killed along with six other local men. We had just started to get over the shock of his death when on April 16th, our kitchen guru, Wanda passed away after a short illness. In just over one week’s time we had lost two people that were very important to us.

Over the years, Doug and Scott had worked together to make sure Heritage Farmer’s Market sold only the best quality local beef and pork possible. There was a lot of “can you” and “here, try this” over the years between the two men. Doug lured Wanda out of retirement to cook for us on Saturdays. She was kind enough to share her knowledge of food and cooking with all of us here at the market.

These two people were not just important to us in a business sense, they were also friends and colleagues. Without Scott and Wanda working with Doug, Heritage Farmer’s Market would not be what it is today. A gathering place to exchange information and visit as well as a place to buy local food.

We are doing our best to remember the good times we shared with Scott and Wanda. We will try not to dwell on the sadness. Our heartfelt wishes go out to each of their families.  You will all be in our thoughts and prayers.

End of Summer

The summer is almost over and fall weather is here.  The days are rainy and the nights are cool.  Dusk sets in sooner.  The farmers are in the fields trying to harvest their crops.

Doug is mowing and baling like crazy to get as much hay stored as possible before winter sets in.  Hayley is back in school.  She didn’t go quietly, but she has since settled into her studies.

We have been reflecting on how busy we were this summer.  Wanda thought the demand for her fresh made soups would slow down when the weather got hot, but if anything demand increased.  When food is GOOD, it is GOOD!  The market had lots and lots of locally grown vegetables for our customers this year.  Everyone enjoyed trying the many varieties of potatoes, tomatoes and squashes that were available.  The onions and sweet corn were amazing this year.  The Okra was even good.

Doug’s cows surprised him with calves sooner than he had anticipated this year.  Apparently the bull enjoys his work and did some “speed dating” the first week he was introduced to the cows.  This last week Doug had a heifer jump two fences to introduce herself to the bull.  That is one determined lady cow!  There might be a new little calve in nine months.

We are not yet ready for winter, but we know the cold weather is just around the corner.  As the leaves turn and fall from the trees it seems like everything and everyone slows down.

Such are the seasons of life in Central Illinois.



Doug, Donna & Karen were relaxing at home on a recent Sunday after a busy weekend.  He decided to go outside for a few minutes to watch some of his yearling calves.  While most of the calves were grazing, he noticed one was looking off to the east.  It’s head was lowered and thrust forward like it was trying to make out something in the distance.  Doug thought there was something odd about this behavior and started walking in the direction the calf was staring.  Then he saw what the calf saw…… several cows milling around in the yard between the two houses!  “THE COWS ARE LOOSE!!” zipped through his head.

Not only were some of the cows loose, but Marilyn & Festus, the bad-tempered donkeys, were heading for new pastures, i.e. the neighbor’s yard.  Doug started yelling for Donna, Karen and the dogs.   He ran to the pasture gate with the dogs close behind.  When he got there he saw that somehow one of the cows had managed to open the gate.  In fact, the gate was completely off its hinges and laying in the mud!  Doug set the dogs to keeping the remaining cows in the pasture and he, Donna and Karen went to round up the “free range” cows before the cows reached the road.

The cows apparently decided that the grass wasn’t really that much greener on the other side and docilely returned to their own pasture.  Marilyn and Festus took a little more convincing, but eventually they returned to the pasture also.  Once everyone were where they were supposed to be Doug got the gate back in place and extra securely fastened.  Doug rewarded the dogs for a job well done and he, Donna and Karen went inside to relax once again.











Doug had a “out of this world” experience recently.  He thought he had a haunted hay bale.  During the winter months, no grass is growing so Doug puts out hay bales for his cattle.  He likes to use the big, round bales.  One week Doug put out several of these bales in the cattle’s pasture.  Over time he noticed that the cattle were feeding on all of the bales except one.  Even when the other bales were gone, the cattle would not touch this particular bale.

In Doug’s mind the cows were just being contrary,  this bale was harvested from the same field and stored in the same place as the other bales.  There was nothing wrong with the bale.  The cows would just have to straighten up and eat that bale.  He couldn’t let the cows go without fresh hay, so Doug put out more bales.  Again, the cows ate all the bales except for the original bale that they would not go near.

Doug always takes his cattle dog with him to the pasture and one day Brecher went past this bale and starting barking and carrying on.  Doug knew Brecher wouldn’t act like that for no reason, so Doug got a pitchfork from the truck and started towards the bale.  As he got closer he could hear the hay bale growling back at Brecher.   The growling startled Doug a bit and he decided maybe he should investigate.  After convincing Brecher to move out of the way, Doug poked the hay bale with his pitchfork.  The hay bale growled at him!

This would not do!  No hay bale was going to talk to Doug that way!  Doug continued to poke and dig at the hay bale until he found his growler.  A raccoon had take up residence in the hay bale during the cold weather.  This raccoon was not happy at being disturbed and was even more angry when Doug finally evicted him!

No wonder the cows wouldn’t go near the hay bale.  Oh well, at least it wasn’t haunted!