Posts tagged ‘Southern Foodways Alliance’

Happy 100th Birthday to the Hughes Family and Pine Knot Farms: A North Carolina Century Farm

I’ve been a fan and a customer of Mr. Stanley Hughes and Pine Knot Farms since we moved home to North Carolina from Southern California in 1999. His family farm out in Hurdle Mills, 12 miles north of Hillsborough, produces a marvelous organic harvest which he sells to area chefs and to the public at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. His justifiably famous sweet potatoes first caught my attention, as I am a fool for them in any form. His yearlong bounty of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and yellow squash, canteloupes, strawberries and watermelon, collards, kale, and Swiss chard have kept me coming back, stopping by the table where a visit with him and his wife, Linda Leach, feeds my spirit just as their vegetables brighten my kitchen. I wrote this story about Mr. Hughes in Edible Piedmont’s Winter 2009 issue. “Stewards of the Land” included him among six Piedmont North Carolina farmers profiled HERE . Pine Knot Farms’ website is right HERE. This past Saturday, I joined hundreds of friends, fans, customers, neighbors, and family members on the 100-year-old Hughes family farm, to celebrate its centennial birthday, which brought designation as a North Carolina Century Farm. From the day in 1912 when Mr. Hughes’s grandfather purchased the farm, it has been in continuous operation, its 125 acres supporting the Hughes family for one hundred years. What a reason to celebrate, and what a fine celebration they created on a gorgeous, late-summer afternoon. Here’s a small peek at a big, bountiful, joyful gathering in rural Orange County, NC. My friend Diane Robertson congratulates Linda and Stanley on their great success, in organic farming, growing and running a successful small business, and in throwing a fantastic memorable party! An abundance of friends-in-farming stopped by, including fellow vendors at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, Alex and Betsy Hitt of Peregrine Farms. Here’s Alex with Stanley. I got to visit over lunch with my friends Kate Medley and Emily Wallace, feasting on an astounding and extensive repast of old-school family-reunion-quality cooking. Here’s my plate; my initial plate, actually. At 12 o’clock, you see a fried chicken leg teetering atop candied yams (sweet potatoes cut into french-fry sized chunks and cooked with butter and sugar). To the right, chicken and dumplings, just like my grandmother made them. Next is “beantown”: greenbeans/stringbeans, field peas (maybe crowders, or lady peas? Please do leave me a comment if you can set me straight here, or just have an opinion about it), and butterbeans, both of which are cooked with corn. Next set is lima beans/butterbeans cooked with curls of streak o’ lean, a beloved porky seasoning meat which is kin to bacon but with the big accent on the fat, and red peas. The grand finale is chicken and country ham, the latter cooked by host Linda Leach, who didn’t let the challenges of putting on this grand, extensive party keep her from cooking up two peach cobblers, a country ham, and more. I loved it when a young family member walked out to greet me as I came up the driveway, handing me my program in the form of a cardboard fan, the kind we literally prayed for when sitting in my grandparents’ church on a July Sunday, back in the days before air conditioning adjusted the summertime for us.

Fried chicken, and a big pot of chicken and dumplings, made by Miss Linda’s mother. Below is Miss Linda’s country ham. I wish I had some right now.

Butterbeans and corn.

This tobacco barn right out front is an original building, with an old washtub, a washboard, and other pieces of farm history decorating the wall.

Pieces of the farm’s past arranged inside the big, beautiful ‘shed’ where the crowd lined up for food and enjoyed shelter when rain showed up a time or two. I loved the Hershey’s cocoa can made from metal, the coffee mill, Cheerwine or RC Cola bottle, irons, and a Lodge Cast Iron cornbread skillet. This school desk came from the old schoolhouse which stood on the farm property. Family elders and longtime neighbors reminisced about schooldays there. The piece of wood on top of the desk was used in planting tobacco. Elders recalled (and demonstrated by pantomime right there by the desk) poking the seeds down into a hill of dirt as they worked a row, planting the new crop.

I find this so beautiful and profound. I also find it poignant: I cannot begin to imagine how tired people must feel walking home after another day of ‘working tobacco’, in the blistering, merciless heat of a North Carolina summertime. This is how the tobacco was prepared to be placed in the tobacco barn to cure.

This broom was made by Stanley Hughes’s father, who grew the plants he used in the summertime, dried it in the fall, and crafted the brooms during the winter when the outdoor farmwork took a backseat to the weather.

It was the sweetest, easiest day. As things wound down, I was standing out back talking with Mr. Ricky, Hughes-family friend, neighbor, and pitmaster, who was working the gigantic smoker on which he had cooked a whole pig (starting at 5:00 a.m.). Looking up, I noticed what I interpret as commentary from the universe on the occasion, the celebration, and the location. The Southern Foodways Alliance‘s oral history collection includes interviews Carrboro Farmers’ Market vendors. My friend Kate Medley (and lunch buddy, see above) recorded an wonderful interview and video with Mr. Stanley Hughes, which you can enjoy on the SFA website HERE

Pine Knot Farms 1912 – 2012. Going strong, growing strong. To the next hundred years!

September 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm 1 comment

Road Trip with SFA: Lebanese food in the Mississippi Delta

Right in the middle (or last third rather) of Pie-a-Day month, here I am on a work trip to the Mississippi Delta. That means no pie baking for me, until next Monday. My plan was to “bank” some pies, baking enough before I left so that I would have photos with me and could do the posts from my hotel room. But that was just a teensy bit optimistic, and in fact it was all I could do to pack and head for the airport in time to catch an early morning plane from NC to Memphis. There I picked up a rental car and zoomed down to Greenwood, Mississippi, for the first portion of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual symposium. It’s a one-day field trip focusing attendees on a particular aspect of Southern food and culture, including lots of feasting, conversations, information, education, and fun. This year’s subject is Lebanese food and culture in the Mississippi Delta, where immigrants from Syria and Lebanon have been lived and worked since the late 1800’s. Fascinating, moving presentations all day long, and spectacular tastes of the subject matter made for a memorable day.  Technical difficulties keep me from showing you photographs from today, but here are next best things: Links to the people and places that made it such a fine day.

At Viking Culinary Center in Greenwood:Culinary demonstration and Q&A with author and chef Anissa Helou

Talk by Mary Louise Nosser of Vicksburg, MS

At fantastic bookstore, Turnrow Books, presentation by Jimmy Thomas, Editor of New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, entitled : “Mississippi Mahjar”. Turnrow’s kitchen’s Richard Byrd prepared tabbouleh, hummus, and warm pita bread (bread from Chef Donald Bender); and Richard also shared his delicious little pecan tassies. mmmmm

Blogpost by artist and historian Amy Evans Streeter, on the people and places that made today so delicious for me and my fellow attendees of the SFA Delta Divertissment

Hot tamales, warm hospitality and delightful tales and stories from Pat Davis, Sr., son of Abe Davis and owner of Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, MS

Spectacular feast of traditional Lebanese dishes (hummus, stuffed grape leaves, kibbe) and magnificent PIE!!!, at Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale, MS, hosted by owners Chafik and Louise Chamoun, and attended by members of the Clarksdale Cedars Club

NPR’s Kitchen Sisters get the story on Lebanese food in the Delta

And here is a blog post featuring today’s pie, from Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale: we had chocolate and coconut cream—fantastic!

Okay, that’s today, and this is just the pre-show!  Am I lucky or what? Yes, I am. See you tomorrow, with more notes.

October 22, 2010 at 5:07 am Leave a comment

Martha Hall Foose’s Sweet Tea Pie

Martha Hall Foose’s Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie

My friend Martha Hall Foose is a chef, author, teacher and storyteller. She combines homegrown Mississippi Delta smarts with professional culinary education, work in France, and world travels, and her writing and teaching open windows into the kitchen for her readers and students. Her book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook won the prestigious James Beard Award for 2009, and it belongs on your bookshelf and kitchen counter if you love Southern cooking or just want to know more about it from a brilliant writer-cook. Martha’s Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie is luxuriously rich, perfectly paired with her cream cheese pastry, which is simply patted into the pie pan with no need to roll it out. You’ll find it in my pie book, and also in the just published treasury, The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, because she is so generous and her pie is so good.

Even those who haven’t taken a liking to sweet iced tea can usually get behind a generous slice of Ms. Foose’s famous Sweet Tea Pie.

Martha Hall Foose’s Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Pie

Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Cream Cheese Piecrust

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup (1/4 pound, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the piecrust, combine cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until they are evenly combined. Add the flour and continue beating a low speed just until the dough comes together into a ball. Press and pat the dough into a pie pan, building up a thicker top edge of the crust. Set the piecrust in the freezer while you prepare the filling.


Sweet Tea Lemon Chess Filling

3/4 cup warm, freshly brewed strong orange pekoe tea

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornmeal

Zest of one lemon

1 cup (1/2 pound, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

8 large egg yolks


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl or pitcher, combine the tea, vanilla, lemon juice and vinegar and stir well. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornmeal, and lemon zest, and stir with a fork to mix them together well.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it is fluffy. Add the sugar-flour mixture gradually, and continue beating to combine well. Add the egg yolks a few at a time, mixing well each time. Add the tea mixture and beat to combine everything evenly and well. The filling will be soft and liquid, not thick, and may seem curdled, but don’t worry about that.

Pour the filling into the piecrust. Bake until the top and crust are handsomely browned, and the pie is fairly firm throughout, with just a little jiggling in the center, about 50 minutes. Place on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and cool to room temperature. Chill two hours or more before serving.

From  The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge; University of Georgia Press, 2010. All rights reserved.

October 20, 2010 at 3:14 am 2 comments

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