Let’s start off with a recipe shall we?
It is tomato season so I scored some beauties during a morning visit to my local farmer’s market. Inexpensive, and easy to make, fried green tomatoes are a tangy and satisfying salute to summer. Here’s how I made them:
4-6 firm green tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch slices
Himalayan sea salt
1/2 cup gluten free pancake mix
1/2 cup organic corn meal
1/2 cup organic almond milk
cast iron skillet
Salt the tomatoes and set them aside. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a gallon sized seal-able bag. Heat coconut oil (enough to cover the pan in a thin layer) on medium heat. I play with the amount of oil I use and my flame along the way (I mention those who cook on electric stoves in my prayers).
You must do this one tomato at a time:
Dip the tomato in the milk bath and coat it with batter. Place into hot oil. Sounds like a crazy thing to mention but this is about technique just as much as it is about anything else. You can fry more than one tomato at a time but be sure not to over cook the tomatoes. I suggest frying a tester tomato or two to get give yourself a chance to get into the groove. Since you are frying a vegetable, there is really no worries about it being ‘raw’ just ‘mushy’. And it the game of fried green tomatoes, mushy means you lose.
Sounds simple right? Well it is… But you must follow a few rules:
1)You must use green tomatoes. Not one bit of a single other color on the fruit. Test this theory and again, you lose.
2)The cast iron skillet is an ingredient for a reason. This is not optional.
3)Do not get lazy and add the salt to the dry mix. Salt the damn tomatoes. It matters.
4) I know paper towels do not make for sexy pictures but they are a southern cook’s staple. You must soak up the excess grease with paper towels. Period.
5). Gather you family as soon as the grease gets hot. These babies cook in minutes and are to be eaten as soon as they cool… just a little bit. Cold or old (and once they are cold they are old) fried green tomatoes are just ruined.
I made these last night and they were a hit with the crew.
I should mention that there was a bit of an issue in my kitchen. When I started heating the oil, the hubster started sniffing around.”That smells interesting.” Really dude? Was my corresponding look. “I mean, you sure you about that coconut oil? It smells a little sweet.” I don’t know if it was my ice glare or the telepathic “Get out of my kitchen!” but he quickly turned on his heals and left the room.
Yeah, I’m sure.
By now, I’m certain that a few old school southern cooks didn’t make it past the phrase ‘gluten free’ in my recipe. I must admit the term is really is overly played and if it weren’t for my gut telling me otherwise, I’d join them in eye rolling this blog.
But I have a funky belly.
And I’m Southern.
And I know how to take a dish taught to me by my momma and make it so that I can eat it.
Besides, I’ve been playing with and in my food a lot these days.
The non-profit I run (surprise!), Project Generation Gap has partnered with Rancho Alegre Farm (you might remember me mentioning visiting with them last Fall). Our goal is to bridge the gap between traditional and technology; the tried and true and the new. I assure you, this is the best news you’ve heard in a long time. Well that’s probably not true but we are REALLY excited.
So let me tell you how I got to this point:
Over the years, I’ve learned so much about nutrient dense foods, the effects of a poor diet, disease maintenance, and the importance of a solid exercise program. Along with my degree in Education from the University of Georgia, I’ve received certifications in both fitness and in nutrition.
I’ve also studied modalities rooted in culture and tradition: healing herbs, food preservation, fermentation, functional/natural movements… all have me reconnecting with nature.
While I admire the research and work that has gone into establishing ‘super foods’ and ‘the ‘dirty dozen’, I found myself feeling like food (and its healing potential) is being complicated unnecessarily.
And that we are raising a generation of largely inactive and unhealthy kiddos who have no clue where their food comes from.
Not to mention the elderly, who have so much to offer in solving the above issues, are devalued and sometimes, abandoned.
About a year ago I had a conversation with my friend and client, Janice, in the sauna. We talked about this and many others issues that plague our society. She has had her own health triumph using food and has a passion for children and the elderly. It might have been the heat that gave us the confidence but in that moment, Project Generation Gap was born. You can read more about our story here.
It didn’t take a long to realize that if we wanted to make a real change, we had to not only talk about good food, we had to grow it, share it and teach about it. Partnering with a farm has put us in a position to do just that.
One of the first things we decided to do was send some kids to farm camp. I got to experience Rancho Alegre Farm’s (RAF) first week of camp in June and it made me want to send every child I know! Pilar (the owner/operator) and I put our heads together and came up with a way to give 10 kids a great opportunity this summer. She agreed to reduce the fee for our sponsored kids. Great Beginnings (a local daycare center) is providing transportation to and from camp. Project Generation Gap is raising the funds. See what can happen when a community comes together?
We need your support. Please purchase a t-shirt! Every 5 shirts sold sends a kiddo to camp.
Stay tuned for updates on me adjusting to farm living… very Green Acres-esque. HA!