On the Plate this Week

The cool weather this spring has really put a damper on the growing season so far, with a lot of farmers saying summer crops aren’t really getting established. We’ll hope for better tomato & melon weather, all the while enjoying the delicious lettuces and herbs that thrive in cool weather. We’re thrilled that our bibb lettuce now comes from Tipi produce farm up by Madison, instead of a greenhouse in Canada. Our mixed lettuces should be all local for the foreseeable future, hopefully all summer if weather permits!

This week we’re also getting more spicy greens mix from Shooting Star Farm. This is a delicious mix of tat soi, mizuna, peppercress, and arugula. We’ll be giving it the same treatment as before – grilling some marinated TallGrass sirloin, and tossing it all with organic oranges, mint, and chive blossoms, to make a refreshing early summer treat.

Fantastic soft shell crabs just came in this morning on an airplane from Chesapeake Bay – we’ll pan-fry them in iron skillets (the ONLY way to pan-fry) and serve them up with savory cornbread dressing and grilled local asparagus (moving from Michigan to Wisconsin on that as the week progresses.)

We’ve finally got a baked bean recipe we’re happy with (and it’s vegetarian – yay!) so our veggie friends will be happy to know they have available a hard-times beans-and-greens plate, with baked beans, organic kale steamed with garlic, popcorn rice, and corn bread. We say “hard-times” because the rich variety of vegetarian offerings in Southern cookery came about rarely as a lifestyle choice, often as a way to celebrate the bounty of a garden, and just as often as a way to fill hungry bellies when times were hard and meat just wasn’t in the budget. Beans, greens, and rice are just such a meal one would eat when times were tough – the beans and rice are inexpensive, and greens grow everywhere down south – just get out back and pick ’em. It costs us a lot to ship popcorn rice up from the delta, and organic greens and such make ours a little more pricey, but still very affordable at thirteen bucks, served to your table, and we do the dishes.

Gunthorp Farm continues to supply us with the best pork loin chops there are, and we’ve switched over to a porterhouse cut – with the loin on one side, tenderloin on the other, and a T-bone in the center. Our regulars won’t let us let go of the delicious devil sauce, so we’re still offering it up with the cayenne mashed potatoes and maque choux. Based on the weather, it’ll be some time before we’ll have local okra for the maque choux (okra likes it hot – REAL hot and humid) but that’ll give us something to look forward to…