Field of Greens: Farm-to-Table Festival Style

Another Fall weekend is upon us in Atlanta and that means another great festival! So break out those tall boots, throw a pretty scarf around your neck and head out to the farm for Field of Greens this Sunday from 11am-5pm. Don’t forget to bring your grocery totes and cooler because there’s plenty of fresh produce and delicious treats to bring home!

In its seventh year at Whippoorwill Hollow Farm in Walnut Grove, Field of Greens brings together local farmers, chefs and specialty food artisans from around Metro Atlanta in celebration of the farm-to-table movement. There will be chef and craft demonstrations, live music from local artists, a kids’ area with fun things to do like apple pressing and clay projects, a farmer and artisans’ market and of course the legendary Chef’s Tent with over 30 chefs!

I love this festival for the sheer and simple fact that no one leaves unhappy. If you’re a foodie, both the Chef’s Tent and Meals from the Market will provide you with finger-lickin’ yumminess with some of their favorite dishes using local meats and produce. If you’re a crafter, you’ll love the artisans’ market where everything from scarves to soaps are for sale (I bought a scarf last year made from local wool). Looking for some fresh fruits and veggies? Then head over to the farmers’ market and stock your cooler with seasonal produce, local meats and cheeses, jams and pickles. Make sure to bring the kids because there’s lots for them to do at the Kids’ Village (not to mention the farm animals). You’ll probably spot my ruby red head in the Chef’s Tent because let’s face it, it’s all about the food! The tent is open from 12:30-3:30 or until the food runs out, so plan to get in line early. But don’t fret, it’s worth the wait because this tent brings festival food to another level with flavors from such restaurants as Rosebud, One Eared Stag, Cardamom Hill, Alma Cocina, The Shed and soon-to-open Bantam & Biddy and Buttermilk Kitchen.

To me, Field of Greens represents everything that’s right and good about Fall festivals. It provides an opportunity for these culinary and craft artists to meet with the public, put a name and face with the food or product and educate us on what we can do to continue the farm-to-table, buy local movement in our own homes. It’s a day of celebration, education and most of all of people who love what they do and want to share their passion with their community. So come out to the farm…eat local, shop local, support local and be in the movement.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the gate.  Admission includes unlimited tastings from the Chef’s Tent. Children 12 and under are free.  No pets.

Festival Schedule:

11:00 – Festival begins

11:00 – 12:30Meals from the Market

12:30 – 3:30 (or until food runs out) – Chef’s Tent

1:30 – Chef Demo with Justin Keith of Food 101: Pickling and Preserving

2:30 – Chef Demo with Kevin Ouzts of The Spotted Trotter: Charcuterie

4:00 – Pig Roast with Chef Todd Mussman of Local Three

5:00 – Festival ends


Fried Green Tomatoes – Tasting the Past

There was so much to learn at the Atlanta History Center‘s annual Folklife Festival, but of course one of my favorite demonstrations took place in the Smith Family Farm kitchen. Run by slaves, the kitchen (located in a small out building behind the house) was the heart of the farm where Mrs. Smith’s job was to merely present menus, provide recipes and supervise those cooking and preparing the meals for the family and their guests. These slave women worked in the kitchen from before sunrise to long after sunset doing everything from gathering ingredients, to prepping the food, to cleaning the dishes. Meats, vegetables, fruits, even cheeses were all grown and harvested on the farm like a little self-contained ecosystem.  So what did they eat regularly? Turns out, fried green tomatoes.

Fried green tomatoes were a farm staple due to the abundance of tomatoes, easy preparation and quick turn around time.  As I stood listening, I quickly realized the small kitchen was filled with visitors from beyond the South who innocently misunderstood one of the most recognizable Southern foods. “So wait. This isn’t a variety of tomato?” one woman asked, clearly taking mental notes. “Really?” another person chirped with astonishment. Shaking her head and stating a polite, yet emphatic “No”,  the docent explained that fried green tomatoes were simply unripened red tomatoes plucked from the vine early. The sweetness has yet to fully settle into its meat giving it a somewhat tangy taste.  Once picked, the tomatoes are sliced into rounds, dipped in milk (or buttermilk which was typical) and egg, dredged in cornmeal then shallow fried in a skillet with a little butter or bacon fat to a crispy golden brown. “Just as we do today,” she pointed out “you got to serve ’em hot!”  Maybe with a little goat cheese and bacon on top.

I was happy to learn that the tasty treat I love so much really hasn’t changed over the last 150 years. So the next time you bite into a fried green tomato, just think, you’re tasting the past, transporting you back to the farm, back to a simpler time when local wasn’t local, it was just a way of life.

The Atlanta History Center’s Folklife Festival

Fall festival season is in full swing in Atlanta!  Not interested in the acts or crowds at Music Midtown this weekend? Want something you can do with the kiddies or your sweetie? Then you might want to check out the Atlanta History Center‘s Folklife Festival at the Smith Family Farm on Saturday, September 22 from 10:30-4:30.

Learn all about traditional crafts and sustainability in the South while drinking a local brew, indulging in local foods and listening to some local folk and bluegrass artists. There will be an array of demonstrations from candle making to blacksmithing to pickling by one of my favorite people, Angie Tillman, of Phickles Pickles (shameless plug) as well as storytelling (a most Southern attribute). A seed swap demonstration with Slow Food Atlanta, Slavery and Food with Chef Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood and smokehouse techniques with Chef Dan Lantham of Farm Burger Buckhead will also be taking place throughout the day as they discuss the current culinary trends and farm-to-table movement in Atlanta. This is a chance to interact with and get to know the people behind the food, art, music and stories we have come to cherish in the South. Plus, there’s a petting zoo! Who doesn’t love a little goat chewing on their shoelace once in a while. Tickets are on sale now at The Atlanta History Center’s website: $14.50 for adults, $11.00 for seniors and $9.00 for children.

Can’t make it on Saturday? Then join The Atlanta History Center Friday, September 21 for the festival’s kickoff from 7pm-10pm. Dine and discuss the South’s culinary landscape with Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Chef Duane Nutter of One Flew South and Steve and Marie Nygren the founders of the beautiful Serenbe. Local wines, cocktails and food will be highlighted as well as the museum’s many exhibits. This is great opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the finest chefs in the area and mingle with fellow Atlanta foodies and history buffs while enjoying a night out in the gateway city to the South. $60/pp with a $20 off coupon using the code: FOOD.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – The Fall Snackie

Growing up in New England, Fall was a magical time of year. The golden yellows, coppers and royal reds adorned the great oaks, walnuts and maples that lined the streets. The air was crisp and dry. Leaves fell from the trees, covering the ground like a colorful carpet of snow. Baking season was in full swing! Apples and pumpkins were the Fall harvest of the New England area. Orchards and pumpkin fields dotted the landscape. For us, getting our pumpkin for Halloween was always an adventure…but that is a story for another time.

Carving the Halloween jack-o-lantern was a really big deal in our household but as much as this gutted gourd was the star on that spooky night, its seeds were the main attraction upon its carving.  My Mother sifted through the slimy guts to gather all the seeds she could find. Then while Dad was carefully sketching his elaborate scary face for Jack, she would roast the seeds for snacking. My sister and I happily scooped up handfuls of seeds while chatting with our parents, discussing our costumes for the upcoming evening’s candy fest and eventual coma to follow. This tradition has been carried on in the homes of both my sister and myself; our children delighting in this wonderful seedy snack, its simplicity and the conversations that inevitably develop around the carving table.

So before you throw out those seeds, why not try roasting them. This easy-to-make, nutritious snack packs a vitamin-filled punch and is as delicious as it is good for you. Pumpkins seeds contain antioxidant carotenoids – alpha and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitamin A through converting beta-carotene as well as vitamins C and E. Minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, copper and iron.

Simple snack, simple directions:

  1. Gut your pumpkin and separate out the seeds.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Rinse the seeds, patting them dry with a paper towel.
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil and spread out the seeds, making sure to line the sheet.
  5. Then lightly spray the seeds with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until you can smell the seeds.
  6. Once out of the oven, stir the seeds up to ensure full oil/salt coverage and serve!

A simple tradition of food and good conversation. What could be better than that?