Southern meal recap

Sunday, we hosted the Show Me Eats family for lunch and a farm tour. It was a glorious sunny day, which got off to the right start as massive flocks of snow geese passed high overhead. A quick spot count let me estimate their numbers at nearly 1,000, in countless vees spread across the sky as the sun glinted off their white feathers and their calls filtered down to us. They were heading WNW, almost certainly following the Missouri River on their return journey. One of the great joys of living in rural Missouri is our presence along major flyways for migrating birds of all sorts. Just a wonderful way to start a day.

Our goal for the day was to enjoy a farm visit with a valued customer and friend (family included), and meetings between kids and farm animals, which never fails. We also wanted to share a real, farm-sourced Southern meal, in winter no less, the kind you might have gotten on any regional farmstead a few generations ago but has now been almost completely lost. Even decent restaurants tend to use generic, processed, high-mileage ingredients, whereas on-farm we can really restore the flavors of traditional American meals as they once were. I think we succeeded overall, but we’ll see if Scott has a review as well.

I’m not one for much presentation, preferring taste to appearance, as you can tell. In the photo we have:

Oven-fried chicken (our chicken breasts breaded in our fresh-ground farm-grown cornmeal with salt, pepper, and oil)

Fried okra & tomatoes (our okra and Mercuri winter tomatoes, breaded with our cornmeal and fried in oil & bacon drippings) in a cast-iron skillet)

Fresh cornbread (our home-grown and -ground corn, homemade yogurt, farm fresh eggs, and leaveners, baked in cast-iron skillet with bacon drippings and butter)

Hoppin’ John over rice (bulk organic black-eyed peas [our own are gone for the year] cooked with homemade bacon [organic pork from local JJR Farms] and our own goat meat, our onions, garlic, and hot peppers, with bulk allspice; Missouri-grown rice)
Not shown but present: wedges of our last 2008 cheddar cheese, aged since August. This cheese has developed a stronger flavor since its initial quality on opening, but is still pretty good for amateur cheddar.
For dessert, a choice of two fresh pies:

Sorghum-bourbon-pecan pie (crust of Missouri wheat flour, organic butter, and our goose egg; filling of Missouri sorghum, honey, and fresh-shelled pecans with a touch of brown sugar and our own eggs).

Lemon-meringue pie (crust of Missouri flour, butter, water, salt; filling of organic lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, flour, our egg yolks; topping of our own whipped egg whites and sugar)

Everything in the main meal came out about the way I wanted it. Tender chicken with good flavor, accentuated but not hidden by a light breading; same for the okra and tomatoes. This is one of the things I hate about restaurant Southern; it always coats the food in thick suits of processed breading that not only tastes bad, but obscures what’s beneath. I love Hoppin’ John over rice, and the use of broth, bacon, and goat meat gives it a rich meaty flavor that balances the peas nicely.
The pecan pie wasn’t quite right; I’m still practicing my methods for this version. I refuse to use corn syrup in pies (or anything) on principle, and most modern pecan pie recipes rely on it, so learning the behavior of more authentic substitutes takes time. It tasted good, but tasted more like sorghum pudding with pecans than a real pecan pie. As advertised, I guess. It also didn’t set up right for some reason, having a more liquid texture than the good, solid custard you expect. That may have something to do with using a goose egg instead of chicken.
The lemon meringue turned out just fine; Joanna did a great job on that. It was the one thing that really wasn’t sourced on-farm or locally, but she’d been wanting to make one for a while and it was a really good fit for the menu. So well done on that score.
So, overall, good food, good company, and a good time had all around. This, to me, is part of what farming is all about. Living on one’s own labor, and sharing the fruits of that labor with community and friends, in ways that make a living while living well. Thanks, Show Me Eats family; we’ll look forward to the next time.

3 thoughts on “Southern meal recap

  1. Anonymous,That’s certainly true, but it would have missed the larger goal of sourcing locally and preserving the flavor of Missouri. I’m going to keep playing around with my ratios and ingredients to see if I can get a nicely gelled pie with the right balance of flavors.