Look to the farmer’s market this Fourth

Published 6:38 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

We went to a small, new-to-us farmer’s market this morning trying to decide what to cook for the Fourth of July. The small markets are so full of those pretty vegetables this time of year. I have never seen such good-looking tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, green beans and corn. The markets today are getting more organic produce such as eggs, poultry, meat and usually local caught seafood. Today’s market had a lady selling old-fashioned roses and her home baked bread, made with local products (even the sugar is local! We were in sugar producing country.). A new vendor was selling pastured chickens. He was a young man very into pastured meat products so he knew about our Devon as being good on grass. It makes me happy to see so many of these markets flourishing. It means more people are trying to eat local and healthier. Not all of the produce in the markets is local, or organic, but you can ask the vendor if he grew it and how. One day we would like to be selling grass-fed beef, but with only three cows (two cows and a bull), we have a little ways to go!

I decided to go with a red, white and blue theme with my sides for the Fourth of July. Everyone will be grilling something. I usually just grill some hamburgers. A beautiful red tomato salad should be the colorful beginning of the meal. Corn can be grilled with the hamburger, but spiced up with some herbs. The blue just had to be my dessert of blueberry cobbler topped off with whipped cream or ice cream.

Enjoy your day with an easy menu! Happy Fourth of July!

Try cherry tomatoes for a change. They are sweeter in the summer and are an excellent source of Vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant that studies say may help lower the risk of prostrate, lung, and stomach cancers. This recipe was taken from Bon Appétit, July 2010:

Bacon, Lettuce and Cherry Tomato Salad

with Aioli Dressing

6 servings

5 ounces applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices)

12 cups torn romaine lettuce (from 1 large head: about 13 ounces)

8 ounces cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and/or pear tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, pressed

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Crumble bacon coarsely. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet; reserve skillet.

Place lettuce and tomatoes in large serving bowl. Heat bacon drippings in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, mayonnaise and vinegar; whisk until blended, 30 to 40 seconds. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over lettuce and tomatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle bacon over. Serve immediately.

Butter is not the villain in this corn recipe, but roasted garlic makes the creamy spread for the corn. This recipe was taken from Food and Wine, July 2010 issue:

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Roasted Garlic and Herbs

6 servings

2 heads of garlic

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Finely grated zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

¼ cup chopped cilantro

¼ chopped tarragon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 large ears of corn, in the husks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top third of the garlic heads. Stand them cut side up on foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake for about an hour, until very soft. Squeeze the garlic into a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, butter, cilantro, tarragon and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Light a grill. Peel back the corn husks, keeping them attached. Discard the silk. Spread the herbed garlic all over the corn. Fold back the husks back over the corn and tie the tops with string. Wrap the corn in foil.

Grill the corn over moderate heat, turning until the kernels feel tender, 15 minutes. Remove the foil. Grill the ears over moderately high heat, turning, until the husks are nicely charred, about five minutes, then serve.

I love using Martha Foose’s book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. She always has good southern recipes. Her blueberry cobbler is no exception.

Silent Shade Cobbler

5 cups fresh blueberries (They are in season now and are available in Andalusia at the Power Plant Marketplace.)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground mace

3 cups sugar

1 cup whole milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 ½ cups boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the blueberries in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Divide the lemon juice over the berries and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the nutmeg, mace, 1½ cups of the sugar, the milk, butter and vanilla. Spoon over the berries and spread in an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1½ cups sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the cornstarch. Sprinkle the mixture over the batter. Pour the boiling water evenly over the top of the cobbler. Poke a few holes down in the batter with the handle of a wooden spoon. Bake for one hour or until the top is golden brown, frosted and shiny. Serve warm or at room temperature.