When I began my quest to eat locally, I discovered that the most difficult part was knowing what to eat and when to eat it. I wanted to eat in season but I was stumped by my lack of knowledge regarding local growing seasons. Browsing the shelves of Fiction Addiction for a book that would help me out of my dilemma, I picked up the Southern Farmers Market Cookbook by Holly Herrick and discovered the perfect book for me.
What make this book a fantastic choice for newbie locavores is the way Holly opens up the world of seasonal eating and farmers markets. She acts as a guide, explaining the importance and benefits of eating local food, giving you tips on what to bring/what not to bring to a farmers market, and providing suggestions on how to stock a pantry that is ready for seasonal cooking. Recipes for each course are grouped by season for ease and clarity. Beautiful photographs by Rick Mckee show the tantalizing beauty of dishes made from fresh, local food.
Holly focuses on the Southeastern region of the US: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. For those, like me, who have no idea what is in season when, the included state-by-state charts of seasonal produce are indispensable. State-by-state listings of farmers markets and listings of online resources to locate farmers markets really take away any excuse for not exploring the world of farmers markets and local food.
Whether you are a seasoned locavore or just beginning to enjoy the world of wholesome, fresh, local food, I highly recommend this excellent book. Want a free copy of it? Holly has given me a signed copy to give to one lucky reader. Check out the Leah Loves Local Facebook page for details. For more information on Holly Herrick or any of her cookbooks, please visit her website.
To give you a taste of what is in store for you in Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, here is one of my favorite recipes (reprinted with permission):
Strawberry Mint Clafoutis
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs (preferably local)
1 cup whole cream
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 quart whole strawberries, green tops removed and rinsed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Form a well in the center and add the eggs, cream, salt, vanilla, and mint. Gradually incorporate into a smooth batter, whisking well. Generously butter a 9-inch pie pane. Line the bottom with whole strawberries, top-down. NOTE: Use enough to entirely fill the bottom – the quantity will depend on the size of the berries. Pour the batter over the top. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and the center is set.
If desired, brush the top of the warm – to room-temperature clafoutis down with a thin layer of warmed strawberry jelly for added sheen. Serve warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream, a fresh strawberry, and mint leaf for garnish.