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C.F. Meadows



erika-and-bruce-jpg.jpgErica and Bruce Holland
are two of the most remarkable growers we've ever encountered.
Based in Norwood, Missouri, they sold their produce for some time at the Greater Springfield Farmers' Market in Springfield, Missouri.
      Erika and Bruce specialized
in growing mushrooms for restaurants, markets, and home cookery. They also, however, grew other distinctive produce such as that shown below. In addition, they became known for being unusually generous in sharing their garden knowledge with their customers.
      The Hollands are now retired and living in Norwood. they no longer grow mushrooms, but do tend a very big garden and keep busy with other activities.
      We have to keep these extraordinary people and their work on the website because in our opinion their contributions as growers and market vendors were superb and of enduring value. And if that isn't enough, we also miss them as people, especially for their kindness and thoughtfulness.

   

Shiitake Mushrooms
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Heading the list of the Hollands' market products, shiitake mushrooms are famed for their rich, meaty taste. Native to China and Japan, shiitakes are now grown worldwide as a gourmet food item. Besides being extra-flavorful, the mushrooms are also high in B-complex vitamins, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other nutrients.



Dried Shiitakes
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Bruce and Erica also produced dried shiitake mushrooms, which many cooks prefer for their more concentrated flavor. The rule of thumb, said Erika, is to substitute in mushroom recipes about one ounce of dried for 8-10 ounces of fresh. Dried mushrooms must be reconstituted by soaking for a half-hour or so. They can be soaked in salt- or sugar-water or wine diluted with water.



Erica
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In addition to steering customers to the best values in their foods, Erica also shared the best ways to prepare them. 



Oyster Mushrooms
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In addition to the versatile shiitakes, Erica and Bruce also grew Oyster mushrooms, famed for their delicate flavor and velvety, seafood-like texture. They also created and sold their own special kit for growing your own.



Growing Your Own
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The Hollands' kit for growing oyster mushrooms at home included the mushroom spawn (grown from the spores) packed in a growing medium of sawdust and grain. It's all ready-to-grow and the couple was ready and willing to any questions about the process.



Are They Fattening?
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There was no moss growing on Bruce Holland. When this customer asked of the shiitake mushrooms, "Will they make me fat?" he was ready with the documentation proving otherwise. She read, laughed, and went off with a bag of mushrooms.



Poona Kheera Cucumbers
poona-kheera-cucumbers-jpg.jpgOne of the most unusual treats Bruce and Erica offered was the Poona Kheera cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Of East Indian origin, the plant bears fruit that are at first cream or light green in color then gradually turn light brown. The flesh is crisp, juicy, delicate, and uniquely delicious, very different from that of a conventional cucumber. This crop sold so quickly, said Bruce, that he planned on growing a good many morein the future. Note: Poona Kheera grows on strong vines that bear heavily.


Red, White, and Blue Potatoes
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The Hollands call them "Patriotic Potatoes" and they appeared just in time for the Fourth of July. The blue ones actually have blue flesh. Bruce swore that they're delicious and keep their blue color even after cooking.



Remember These?
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You haven't seen them in many, many years. Why? Because a disease called Chestnut blight killed all of the mature American chestnut trees by the 1950's. These chestnuts are a Chinese variety raised by Bruce and Erica. (Note: For the fascinating story of the American chestnut, and how there's still hope to bring it back, you can visit www.acf.org.)



Lemon Squash
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This picturesque heirloom squash is just about the exact size and color of its namesake fruit. Easy to grow, Lemon Squash are borne on small vines that do not bear heavily but will keep on producing if the fruit is picked. Drizzled with butter and sprinkled with salt, the squash are said to have the same flavor and texture as Straightneck Squash.



Squashblossoms and Baby Zucchini
squashblossoms-and-baby-zucchini.jpgSquashblossoms are a gourmet treat in many cultures and most commonly in Italian and Mexican foods. Use them sliced or whole as a garnish or in salads; coated with light batter and sauteed; or stuffed with soft cheese or other ingredients, battered, and fried. They're delicate and shouldn't be stored in the frig for over a day. Baby Zucchini are extra tender broiled and also delicious steamed, chilled, and spiced with vinaigrette. Also shown: Petit Pan Squash and Kentucky Wonder Beans.


Persimmons
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As most Ozarkers know, to eat a persimmon before it's ripe is to learn the true meaning of "pucker up." How do you know when they're ripe? Bruce said it takes a good freeze to make them sweet. When ripe, they're delicious raw or in jams, puddings, or purees, or baked in breads and other goods. Note: The genus name, Diospyros, means "food of the gods."



Chinese Long Beans
chinese-long-beans-jpg.jpgChinese Long Beans (Vigna sesquipedalis), also called Yardlong Beans and Asparagus Beans, are best young and tender and 12-18-inches long. Crisp and sweet, the lighter green ones shown here are sweeter than the darker green. They can be cut into 2-inch pieces for delicious stir fries or prepared like any snap bean. At right is Russia Giant Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum), much bigger and also much milder than most garlic and said to be especially delicious roasted or sauteed as a side dish.


Giant Red Okra
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We don't know what variety of okra this is, but it is big, it is plump, and it sure enough has red shadings. Apart from its slightly festive look, Erica said it tastes, well, just like other varieties of okra. 



Jerusalem Artichokes
jerusalem-artichokes-jpg.jpgJerusalem Artichokes aren't from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes. "Jerusalem" is a corruption of the Italian girasole, meaning "turning toward the sun," which the plant does because it's a sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus. The artichoke name came from a 17th-century French explorer's comparing the taste to artichokes. The vegetable is crisp and delicious, with a delicate flavor resembling water chestnuts. It's especially good sliced in salads, with dips, or marinated in olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar. It can also be stir-fried, baked, steamed, or boiled with delicious results. Mama mia!


Hard Red Winter Wheat
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The Hollands knew that homemade bread is a big item for many Ozark folk, so they added Hard Red Winter Wheat to their list of goodies. This is a harder, darker-brown wheat known for its long storage life, good protein content, and superb baking qualities with hard baked goods such as cookies and breads. Several wheat varieties are classified as Hard Red Winter Wheat, but all share similar good qualities.




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