“Out And About” Again
We have been “out and about” again and exploring a new area not too far from us called St. Helena, South Carolina.
Friends of ours had visited a local farm to get some fresh off the vine tomatoes and other fresh produce. They wanted to go back and we were interested in getting our own selection of veggies.
There is a farm stand at Demsey Farms with several items already picked such as eggplant, a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, corn on the cob, and of course okra. We opted to pick our own tomatoes.
There is a huge field adjacent to the farm stand where you can hand pick your own tomatoes. We found such a great variety including our favorite heirlooms. It was a bit hot, but handpicking our favorites was such a treat.
Now, we just have to decide what recipes we can incorporate into our menus using these so very fresh veggies.
One “no-brainer” is a simple tomato sandwich. Good white bread slathered with mayo, a nice thick slice of tomato and sprinkled with salt and pepper. This brings back such great childhood memories and is as delicious as we remember.
Of course, a Caprese salad or two was enjoyed with the addition of some of our fresh basil from our herb pot. Just drizzle with some good quality olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and you are good to go!
Roasted veggies are one of our favorite side dishes and we particularly loved the roasted okra. Again, all it took was just a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and they were delish!
We made Greek salad with the cucumbers and later on we whipped up a batch of Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable dish and the ingredients were just what we had available from our outing. Also, we had enough tomatoes and cucumbers leftover to make some refreshing gazpacho soup. So many great options!
One of our favorite cookbooks is My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. We found the recipe for the ratatouille here. Of course we changed a few items in the recipe to make it to our own taste.The addition of a pinch of red pepper flakes took this up a notch with a subtle heat. We served the ratatouille with pan seared mustard pork chops and a green salad. A glass (or two) of Cabernet Sauvignon made for a perfect pairing! You should definitely give this simple recipe a try.
- July 29, 2021
- Print this
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
- 2 eggplants, cut into chunks
- 3 zucchini, cut into chunks
- 1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 cup water (or you can use red wine)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Bay leaf
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
- Step 2
- Add the onions and garlic and sauce for 3 to 5 minutes
- Step 3
- Add the peppers, eggplants, and zucchini
- Step 4
- Mix well and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to brown
- Step 5
- Add the tomatoes and water (or wine)
- Step 6
- Add all of the herbs and mix well
- Step 7
- Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 1 hour and stir occasionally
- Step 8
- Stir in the remaining olive oil and check for seasoning
- Step 9
- NOTE: The longer it cooks, the better the taste. You may need to add more water to get the right consistency. Also, do not cut the veggies too small. You want large chunks that will hold their shape
Picking The Freshest Tomatoes – Then A Little Nosh
After our picking excursion, we decided we needed a bite to eat. Our friends had heard of Gullah Grub that was nearby and that serves traditional Gullah fare.
According to Wikipedia, the Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They developed a creole language, also called Gullah, and a culture with some African, Bahamian, and Bajan influence.
Unfortunately, Gullah Grub is not open on Mondays and we were really looking forward to trying some traditional Gullah specialties. We will definitely plan a return trip when we are over that way again.
Shopping Stop At One Of Southern Living Magazine’s Fav Spots
Along the way, we discovered a wonderful shop called MacDonald Marketplace that has a great selection of antiques, local artwork and lots of coastal decor. They were named one of the South’s Best Shops by Southern Living Magazine.
Since moving to the low country Southern Living has become our source for all things “southern”. Even our hubbies enjoyed the shop and found some interesting antique books and unique local items. We need to go back there to spend more time as there were so many great “finds” that it was a bit overwhelming.
Waterfront Dining Is The Best!
Ok, so now we are getting really hungry. The gals at MacDonald Marketplace suggested Johnson Creek Tavern. What a nice surprise to find a great local spot with waterfront dining. It was not too crowded for lunch, however, we were told that it is not unusual to have to wait over an hour in the evening for a table. Although it was a hot day there was a great breeze coming from the water.
Overall this was a fun adventure. Our friend commented that it felt like a school field trip – “adult style”.
Spending Summer In The Lowcountry
Many of our neighbors head north to North Carolina or further up the coast to escape the heat. We are staying close to home this summer and making the most of our beautiful surroundings here in the Lowcountry.
We are also in the process of picking out slabs to replace our countertops in the kitchen. New countertops, sink and some appliances will do the trick to update our kitchen and make it feel new again. This little project is sure to keep us busy for a while.
What are you up to this summer? Take time to enjoy yourself and consider exploring close to home – you would be surprised what you might find.