Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...
Aug
10
Farmers’ markets make me happy, always, anywhere, anytime of the year. They inspire cooks, attract all kinds of people, delight children, and decorate the world with produce, flowers, jams and hand-crafted many-things. One of the fine farmers’ markets which are local for lucky me here in NC is the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, whose tagline “Locally grown, nationally known” is apt. They sell on both Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings this time of year, and they keep going Saturdays all winterlong, albeit with a smaller presence during the months of cabbages and collards. Also handy for me are Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market, and the Durham Farmers Market, both open yearround, as well as the South Durham Farmers’ Market, and the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market, both open April through November.
I kept thinking about peaches and blueberries, but before I made up my mind, I realized that my favorite farm-raised pleasure of summertime is a ripe, sweet gorgeous aromatic tomato. But the way I was raised, we don’t do too much to the tomatoes this time of year, beyond slicing them for eating with salt and pepper, or dealing them out on well mayonnaised- white bread for tomato sandwiches. So that’s not a recipe, nor, all by itself, a lunch. But that tomato, while not needing a recipe, anchors what I grew up loving about summer eating: the Southern vegetable plate. Not to give up or give up on meat, but to make time with the goodness from the garden, which next to everybody had. Corn, beans, squash, ‘cukes, ‘maters, okra, watermelons, canteloupes…..I’ll stop even though I’m not done.
Vegetable plates aren’t always vegetarian, as the green beans often got an assist in flavor and substance from a hunk of side meat or fatback. But the concept, based in joyful economy (no grocery bills) and flavor (can you spell ‘local’?)  of garden vegetables, simply prepared and laid out like a quilt on a big dinner plate made a feast, especially if cornbread or biscuits were along for the ride. So here’s my Southern summer vegetable plate, with sliced tomatoes, green beans and new potatoes cooked together, and hard-boiled eggs. I added in an herbed mayonnaise and some canned tuna packed in oil, as a little birthday wave and nod to Julia Child’s Salad Nicoise. Her 100th birthday is coming up August 15th. She lived into her 90’s and her presence anchors the culinary profession in powerful, precious and wise ways, to this day. With the tuna, the dressing, and the hard-boiled rather than deviled eggs, I took things in a Southern direction. For a fine salad Nicoise, visit “Simply Recipes” HERE, (and subscribe while you are there — a wonderful bountiful resource. For another recipe for salad Nicoise inspired by Julia Child, click HERE, from the blog “8.ate@eight”
Spoonbread is a somewhat fancy version of cornbread, although it is every bit as easy to make, and lovely with almost any main course or meal. Its texture varies, from a soft custard to a sturdy pudding to a very moist bread. Cornbread can be as simple as cornmeal, salt and water, while spoonbread adds in eggs and milk or buttermilk, and leavening to lift it up into a rustic demi-souffle, one whose ‘poouf’ deflates quickly with no loss at all. I adore it, and usually make it in a cast iron skillet, but this recipe called for a 7-inch wide dish. Searching my cabinets for a 7-inch baking dish, I grinned when I found this white ceramic French-style ramekin. It allowed my spoonbread to become another small nod to Julia Child on her coming birthday.
Let’s Lunch on a Farmers’ Market Vegetable Plate “Nicoise” with Herb Mayonnaise and Spoonbread
Sliced Tomatoes
(I blanch them to remove skins; if that’s too fussy, just slice ’em and go)
Green Beans and New Potatoes
(Boil till tender in salted water, leaving small potatoes whole)
Hard-Boiled Eggs
(Cold water, to a boil, turn to low, 8 minutes, rinse and peel)
Tuna packed in oil
(Hated it as a kid; love it now. Stock up — uber-good pantry presence)
Herb Mayonnaise
(1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons each of minced green onion and fresh herbs)
Spoonbread
(recipe below)
Spoonbread
This recipe comes from a package of Moss’ Plain White Fine Ground Corn Meal, which is located in Kittrell, North Carolina.
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup corn meal
1 egg
1 teaspoon lard (I used butter, which I had handy)
1 cup sour or buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pour boiling water over corn meal and butter, and then let cool. Beat in egg, milk, soda and salt. Pour batter into hot greased 7 inch baking dish. Bake at 400degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6
For a bountiful supply of superb and practical recipes for farmers’ market feasts all summer and throughout the year, get yourself a copy of this book:
The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes.This cookbook and reference guide by my good friend Sheri Castle delivers everything you need to make the most of the produce find throughout the year. Visit Sheri’s website HERE.  Learn about the book and/or buy book HERE.                    
Spoonbread is simple, satisfying, and goes with everything. It doesn’t usually come with breakfast but it sure goes with it.
I know you are still a little bit hungry, so here’s a buffet of posts by my fellow food bloggers & foodie friends,
who are lunching together on Farmers’ Market fare today and through the weekend.
I may add more so check back in a few days  if you’re looking for more FM inspiration
Cheryl’s Summer Mexican Chicken Stew at A Tiger in the Kitchen
Annabelle‘s Mixed Berry Shortcakes at Glass of Fancy

Charissa‘s Curried Roasted Cheddar Cheese Cauliflower Soup, Gluten-Free at Zest Bakery

Juliana‘s View from Les Halles Farmers Market at Chicken Scrawlings

Linda‘s Farmers’ Market Fruit Galette at Spicebox Travels

Linda‘s Zucchini or Cucumber Quick Pickles at Free Range Cookies

Lisa‘s Eveleigh Farmers’ Market (in Australia!) Winter Salad at Monday Morning Cooking Club

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Annabelle Reply

    What timing: I actually had spoonbread day before yesterday. Your recipe looks great; I’ll be interested to see the difference using buttermilk instead of regular milk makes.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      I love that. And I came close to posting about shortcakes. We are tuned in to the same magical culinary radio station in the sky! I am determined to leave the corn meal out on the counter (though hmmm maybe not till fall and coolness) so that I make spoonbread and corncakes often enough that they become just regular to me, like pasta and rice. I forget how much I love it, and how simple it is to make. I will love making your shortcakes with peaches, and also damsons, of which I’ve got a small supply coming from a good friend.

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  3. Cheryl Tan (@cheryltan88) Reply

    Spoonbread is just about one of my favorite things — and that vegetable plate looks mighty fine, too! Thanks for sharing…

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      My great pleasure, Cheryl. I love your book and I love #LetsLunch lots! (Alliteration award…)

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  7. Lucy Reply

    What a beautiful plate of vegetables! And spoonbread! I remember my first taste of spoonbread, visiting Old Salem as a child. My mom was on quite a spoonbread kick after that. I’ve always meant to make it for my girls and now that I have your recipe, I will. Outstanding post; Julia would swoon.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      What a wonderful thing to say. Makes my day. Old Salem: Do you have NC roots, like me? Many thanks and happy summer, Lucy.

  8. spicebox travels Reply

    Hi Nancie, I am a big fan of both Salade Niçoise and spoon bread, so this post is making me drool! What a perfect summer meal.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, so kind. My grandmother never had it quite this way, but I think she would have loved it, as long as I stirred the herb mayo into the tuna. She could grow vegetables, cook them, and can them. Her pantry was a playroom for me, cool and jewelly with all those jars on burgundy shelves. She would have cooked her beans to a darker green, with side meat. Good. But I like them this way too. Happy summer to you.

  9. charissa (zest bakery) Reply

    oh my! spoonbread sounds fantastic! Although I’ve never had it, your description is enough of a reason for me to want to make this immediately. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      My pleasure, Charissa. Love yours too. I love Let’sLunching with you and this crew.

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