Well Dined


Pumpkin Patch and Farmer’s Market

Fall is upon us at last! This is my favorite time of the year - cool, crisp winds on cloudless days; scarves and boots; and let's not forget the food! Fall is the time of warm-you-up stews, pumpkins and squash, tarts and pies.

And let's not forget the gorgeous colors of changing leaves.

I just love the Fall!

So I was very excited to be invited by a friend to go out to Butler's Orchard in Maryland and pick out pumpkins and other Fall goodies from the farmer's market there.

They had plenty of the usual bright orange variety of pumpkin - as modeled by my friend Keerin here. But I was much more interested in the more unusual looking varieties (like in the photo at the top of the post).

I picked out some pumpkins and gourds, and this is the combination I came up with - I think it turned out great!

At the rest of the farmer's market they had tons of gorgeous mums; homemade apple cider, pies, and cider doughnuts; local cheeses; jams and dips; and tons of fresh veggies. I found some gorgeous green tomatoes, but I'll talk about those later on.

We took our goodies and headed over to a potluck where fantastic food was had (I didn't manage to get a pic of the spread, oops!). Then the host brought out this very interesting cookie dough - it looks like playdough, but is actually sugar cookie dough. You can mold it and make whatever designs you want (Keerin made the pumpkins, I made the fruit), and then bake them. We were a little skeptical about how they would turn out, but they just tasted like regular sugar cookies.

The host's daughter, Bella, inspects a princess mini-version of herself.

Fried Green Tomatoes

So, back to those green tomatoes I mentioned... I snatched them up for one reason and one reason only - fried green tomatoes, just like my Grandma used to make!

I sliced the tomatoes and set up my breading station - seasoned flour, buttermilk and egg, cornmeal. One of the tomatoes had actually started turning red by the time I got around to making them - that's fine just as long as they are still firm enough to stand up to the frying.

I served them hot and golden brown, topped with a buttermilk, lime, and green onion dressing - delish!

Fried Green Tomatoes
adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook via Ezra Pound Cake

For the tomatoes:
4 firm green tomatoes
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup cornmeal
Vegetable/Canola oil for frying
Buttermilk-Lime Dressing, recipe below

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices, discarding the ends. Beat the egg and buttermilk together.

Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365 degrees. (If using a different size skillet or pan, fill with oil to a depth of 1/3 inch.)

Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Set a baker’s rack on a cookie sheet on the top rack.

Dredge the tomatoes in the flour, dunk in the egg mixture, then dredge in the cornmeal. Shake off any excess and place on a clean plate. Repeat with more slices until you’ve dredged enough for a batch.

With a spatula, transfer the first batch of slices to the oil. As the first batch cooks, dredge the second batch of tomatoes, keeping an eye on the first. Once the slices have fried to a rich golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, flip them carefully and fry for 2 minutes more, or until golden brown. Transfer the fried tomatoes to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and leave them to drain for 1 minute.

Transfer the slices to the baker’s rack in the oven, arranging them in a single layer, so that they remain warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining slices until all the green tomatoes have been fried. Serve right away with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (see below).

Buttermilk-Lime Dressing
(Makes 1 1/4 cups)

3/4 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk
5 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (from 3-4 limes)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
1/4 cup finely minced green onion
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator not more than 2 days.

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