Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farmer's Table Summer Solstice

Here is a little more about the farm dinner we hosted last Saturday. We held it outside, on our family farm. When we decided to hold one of our farm dinner's in the summer, we knew that we'd be tempting Mother Nature. Here in south Alabama in the summer, you never know what the weather will do. Tropical storms, 100 degree temps, 99% get the idea. So the week before our dinner we watched the weather, held our breath, and said more than a few prayer's, that the weather would participate. As the week-end neared we had a 50% chance of scattered showers in the forecast. Around here that means it may rain at your house but half a mile away the sun may be shinning. Would it rain or not? It was any ones guess. Our back-up plan was to put all the tables on the wrap around porch of my parent's house.
With our guests arriving at 5:30, at about 4:00 we decided to go ahead and set up outside. It would be nearly impossible to move everything if it did start to rain. Lots more prayer's were said!
At 5:30 our 22 diner's began to arrive. We had a table with various cheeses, homemade cherry chutney, and a tomato, basil, and garlic salsa, for them to munch on while they mingled. Our famous mint tea and a strawberry lemon-aid were on offer to drink.
Just before we planned to have everyone sit down for dinner, Splat! Some fat raindrops began to fall! NO! was the collective cry, and God listened. The rain stopped, the clouds right above us parted and opened to a patch of blue sky. The dinner was wonderful, featuring fresh local ingredients, with as many as possible coming from our farm. Here's what was on the menu:

Farmer’s Table Menu
Summer Solstice

Artesian Cheese Table

Grilled Flank Steak with Portabella Mushrooms
Grilled Alabama Shrimp Skewers

Blue Cheese Potato Salad with Apple wood Smoked Bacon
Grilled Slocomb Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter
Summer Grilled Vegetables with Picnic Vinaigrette
Waterberry Farm Green Salad with Purple Radish and White French Dressing

Blue Ribbon Dessert Table

Fried peach hand pies

For dessert, we had a friendly competition. Mom, my sister, a family friend and I, all made fruit desserts. Then we let the guest tell us their favorite. Everyone had a great time tasting and retasting all the desserts, but we never did come up with a clear winner. Maybe that's because all the choices were delicious. We had quite the spread. There was old fashioned apple pie with sour cream topping, a mixed berry crisp, freshly fried peach hand pies, mini blueberry tarts, rhubarb cake, cherry cobbler and strawberry and blueberry ice cream. With choices like those it's no wonder we never could pick a winner!

About 45 minutes after dessert was served, everyone was still sitting around the table talking. All of a sudden the rain started to fall lightly. Perfect timing! It was a truly wonderful evening.
If you didn't make it to this dinner, we plan to host another dinner this fall. We'll post the date and menu for that dinner in late summer so you can make plans to join us!
The pictures in this post were taken by Angela Davidson

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Farmer's Table Summer Solstice

We hosted our summer solstice dinner last night on the farm. It was the perfect welcome to the summer season. Here's a sneak peek from last night's dinner.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sweet Basil Pesto

With Summer in full swing here in Alabama the beautiful produce is starting to fill our markets. There is never a better time to eat Fresh and Healthy than in the summer so much goodness to choose from. My favorite thing to grow and eat is basil, it's just not quite summer until you have nice fresh basil. This weekend I harvested my basil and OH MY I had a ton! So when life give you basil you make pesto of course.

Pesto is a sauce that originates in the city of Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese). The name comes from pestâ "to pound, to crush", from the Latin root pestle (traditionally made with mortar and pestle), in reference to the crushed herbs and garlic in the sauce. Pesto is traditionally used on pasta but I love to use it on everything from pizza to sandwiches.

Sweet Basil Pesto
servings: Makes about 1 1/3 cups.


3 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts - i used almonds because I had them on hand
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop.

  • Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.

Pesto keeps, its surface covered with plastic wrap, chilled, 1 week and is easily frozen to enjoy all winter

Chicken Pesto Pizza with sun dried tomatoes, olives and mushrooms
Angel Hair with Fresh Pesto and Sauteed Garlic Shrimp click for recipe

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rhubarb in the South!?!

Yes, you can grow rhubarb in lower Alabama! Typically, rhubarb is a cool weather plant and hates the hot humid summers we get here in the South. However, it has been thriving in our hydroponics system. Look at these lovely stalks!

Rhubarb and strawberries are a marriage made in food heaven and we just happen to have both right now! So naturally we've been cooking up some wonderful desserts.
I made a rhubarb strawberry clafoutis. Clafouti, pronounced kla,foo,Tee, is a french counrty dessert with a custard like batter baked over fresh fruit. Traditionally the French make clafoutis using fresh cherries. We don't have any cherries, (which also hate our hot humid summers) but we've got plenty beautiful rhubarb and strawberries.


1 cup cleaned rhubarb, cut in small sticks
6 oz strawberries
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar for the rhubarb
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 teaspoon light rum (or vanilla)
1/4 cup blanched almonds (optional)
Confectioner’s sugar, to sprinkle


Place the rhubarb in a colander and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Let rest for 1 hour so that it releases some juice.
Preheat your oven at 400 F. Butter an oven safe baking dish or pie pan.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the cornstarch and flour and mix together.
Mix the sour cream in with the milk and slowly add the milk to batter.
Arrange the fruit, in a buttered oven safe dish, and pour the batter over and sprinkle nuts over top.
Cook for about 30 to 35 min, or until golden in color. Remove from the oven and let cool a little before eating. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Best when eaten while still warm. Enjoy!