There’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to choosing what goes on your plate and into your mouth. Market Table picks the best local Alabama produce and foods so that you don’t have to second guess your food choices. We’re proud to have Marble Creek Farmstead on our distributors’ list. Get to know them here.
Text by Sarah Vice
Who Is Marble Creek Farmstead?
Named for its location, Marble Creek Farmstead is an all-natural farm located in the Marble City (Sylacauga, Alabama). It began as a a large patch of land, an old farmhouse, and a determined newlywed couple. After successfully raising broiler chickens for a year, that newlywed couple, Jesie and Matthew Lawrence, began investing time in growing crops and raising other farm animals. Marble Creek quickly became something much larger. They now employ a few extra hands and spend time regularly tending to vegetation and to hundreds of animals on the property. They’re careful to follow scientific strategies to maintain the health of their land, livestock, and well-being.
What Does It Mean to Be All-Natural?
The Lawrences believe that “eating truly healthy food benefits us all.” That’s why they refrain from using harsh chemicals and pesticides on their property. To remove the GMO obstacles, they regularly change the routine of their farms. The chickens are moved from location to location, fertilizing the pastures naturally. They also rotate other animals to prevent them from eating too much of the grass in one location. This benefits the soil’s productivity by allowing time for it to recover.
What Do They Farm?
Currently, Marble Creek hosts broiler chickens, hogs, roosters, duck, geese, goats, (occasionally) cows, and a series of fruits and vegetables. Their most popular items are their chicken and duck eggs, which have a fridge life of up to 45 days. In fact, Marble Creek supplies Market Table’s eggs, and we can attest that they’re absolutely delicious. Also, they now have a facility where they can butcher meat and preserve it to sell.
What Is Marble Creek Farmstead’s Mission?
The Lawrence family hopes to continue farming for their table’s needs and to share their produce with the neighboring communities. Farm tours are available so that people can enjoy the beautiful scenery and see how they maintain the farm. This allows customers an up-close look at how their food comes to be. It also invites a healthier community atmosphere and provides natural food alternatives to store-bought preservatives.
In my time at college I’ve gotten comfortable with cooking. But, that’s not the case for everyone — especially my roommates.
Text by Annika Bastian
My first roommate tried to pan fry two frozen chicken breasts. My next roomie set off the fire alarm with a breakfast quesadilla. For those of you who can’t cook, here are some ways to make your roommates think you can. And for those of you who are living with a roommate who can’t cook, here’s some tips to keep you apartment’s safety deposit.
Breakfast For Dinner
I love breakfast for dinner. My roommate can make practice pancakes until she has at least a few light, fluffy beauties. She cooks bacon and sausage in the microwave. And she can even make a mean scrambled egg (on low heat). It’s a comfort food for both of us that’s very beginner-cook friendly. Add a sprig of parsley for garnish and you’ve got a gourmet meal.
Soup and Sandwiches
My roommate gets a text from her mother every time soup goes on sale at Publix. Then she rushes to the store and loads up her cart so we always have a quick dinner option. She heats soup on the stove, but soup can also heat in the microwave. Just make sure it’s in a bowl and not its metal can! We’re also big fans of Market Table soups, made with fresh, local ingredients. Grilled cheese sandwiches are tasty stovetop options, and for fledgling chefs unsure of the stove, ham and cheese sandwiches are equally delicious.
My roommate excels at Crock Pot dinners. One of our favorites is loaded BBQ Baked Potatoes. She combines BBQ sauce and thawed ground turkey in our Crock Pot. Then, she can leave it on low until she needs to bake the potatoes, which she can do in the microwave.
Another go-to recipe for her is meatballs and gravy. She makes an easy base sauce with cream of mushroom soup, milk, and a spoonful of sour cream. After she adds premade frozen meatballs, it can cook until it’s time to serve. Additionally, the possible seasonings on this dish are very forgiving. She gives this dish a shake of garlic, onion, and pepper.
We love using Crock Pot liners to cut down on the mess and make cleaning up easier.
The great Julia Child once said, “The dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.” You might be thinking that it’s easy for a professional chef to find cooking relaxing, especially as you smell something burning and see a pot overflowing. What’s “happy” and “sacred” about that? However, there are ways to avoid dinner disasters to keep the peace between your meal time and your sanity.
Text by Sarah Vice
Serve Simple Dishes
You don’t have to make an extravagant meal to get someone’s attention. Try focusing on a family recipe that you’ve loved since you can remember — or borrow one from this site. If you want to make something simple that looks like it requires more effort, make a pizza from scratch. By “scratch,” I don’t mean you have to let the yeast rise and cure your own mozzarella. Make it from sort-of scratch. Buy a pizza crust, tomato sauce, and your toppings of choice from your local grocer. This helps you avoid frozen pizza, which sometimes contain preservatives. Plus, by not ordering pizza, you save some major pennies. Not a pizza fan? Sounds fake, but okay. Sometimes a simple bowl of spaghetti can go a long way if you’re pairing it with the right garlic bread and salad.
Try taking preemptive measures. Understand how long a meal takes to prepare and cook before you agree on when and what to eat. Uncover your strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen and use them to your advantage. Don’t underestimate your ability to be crafty. Measuring isn’t your natural talent? Send any extra portions home as a parting gift with your guests. You discover you’re exceptional at chopping? Great, you can cook chicken noodle soup with fresh vegetables or make scalloped potatoes. Preparing your meal plan ahead of time is also useful in making sure you have all the ingredients required to cook your dish of choice.
Set the Table
When hosting a party or even having family meals, sitting around a table can help create stronger bonds. Make an effort to set the table before cooking. You can even get your kids — or guests! — to help. It gives you more time to talk about your kids’ days — or to keep cooking if guests arrive early. You also won’t have to stress over not having things in order. Offer to fill their glasses or have a selection of drinks readily available to them.
Practice isn’t honing your chef skills to your liking? There is no shame in ordering take-out, catering, or purchasing a pre-made meal. Take-out can be an option if you’re running late to your own dinner and don’t have time to preheat the oven much less put a meal in. But if you’re looking for a more nutritional option that carries the comfort of a home-cooked meal, check out pre-made dinners. Market Table also offers pre-prepared lunches and catering services to fit all your needs.
Here at Market Table, we care about our community. We’re committed to providing healthy foods and meal options for your family. We’re also committed to supporting local businesses and the Central Alabama food economy. Whenever possible, we buy our fresh produce from nearby farms. We’re proud to partner with Ireland Farms in Alpine, Alabama, a farm focused on bringing the best naturally grown ingredients to your table. Get to know the good folks of Ireland Farms below!
Text by Sarah Vice
Who is Ireland Farms?
Ireland Farms is located in Alpine, Alabama. It’s owned and operated by Scott Ireland, Hollin Williams, John Riddle, and Joseph Batistella. The farm began as a way to provide more local food options to the central Alabama food economy with an emphasis on naturally grown produce. Scott Ireland founded the farm with Hollin Williams in 2016 with a trial run for friends and family. Once the two men got a grasp on how to run the farm, it became an official business in January 2017. Then, they outsourced foods to local restaurants as well as selling on-site. Soon after, team members John Riddle and Joseph Batistella joined the crew. The four men share responsibilities on the 5 acre farm.
What is Ireland Farms’s Mission?
Ireland Farms wants to bring food to their community’s table while preserving the environment. They strive to bring healthy and natural produce to local vendors, restaurants, and individual buyers. This includes providing food to the Jimmy Hale Mission. When the crops are plentiful and won’t last throughout the season, Ireland Farms shares their gains with the Jimmy Hale Mission food bank.
What Does it Mean to Grow Crops Naturally?
Ireland Farms grows crops naturally as a way to help protect the environment and provide healthier soil for planting. They keep 6 greenhouses year-round and rotate crops during the winter months. Rotating different plants in different seasons eliminates the need for preservatives. During the summer months, Ireland and his associates cover the greenhouses in cloths to shade some of the plants. This provides cooler temperatures.
Ireland Farms Community Involvement
Scott Ireland not only produces food on the farm, but also helps teach a local middle school about agriculture. He’s given presentations on how to properly maintain food sources on a farm. He also helps the students with a small farm of their own. Ireland stated that the farm occasionally shares fertilizing resources with the school in addition to the farming lessons. Ireland Farms aims to help other generations grow food successfully and naturally.
The Future of Ireland Farms
Scott Ireland hasn’t made plans to expand the farm beyond local communities. There is a chance that the produce could make its way into the Atlanta market, because of the close proximity to the farm’s location, but nothing is set in stone right now. The farm was created to provide for a local community, and Ireland holds true to that idea for the future.
There’s something comforting about a warm vegetable soup when you’re feeling down, especially when it’s made with love and cornbread. That’s just how my mother always makes it — and how her mother made it before her.
Text by Sarah Vice
Me Against the Tree
When I was six years old, I mistakenly targeted a tree with my bike and tumbled off. I had a bruise the size of Alabama on my chin — and three less teeth in my mouth. When I finally got out of the dentist’s office, my mother prepared some of her famous vegetable soup. I stuck around the kitchen while she washed the vegetables and peeled off their skins. She then poured buttermilk into a bowl of cornmeal and stirred. Despite the numbness in my mouth and the drool dripping onto my shirt, I was at peace watching her work.
First Love = First Broken Heart
When I was twelve, I had my first real crush. A boy name Kelvin confessed his feelings for me. By the next day, he started dating someone else. I cried to my mother about the boy who broke my heart. She marched straight to the kitchen to see if we had any vegetables. This time, I helped her peel the skins and mix the cornmeal and buttermilk.
Loss and Love
When I was eighteen, I realized I didn’t have the money to pay for college. My parents were taking care of my three brothers so they couldn’t help financially. My mom made our special soup for dinner that night. I asked her why she always chose soup instead of ice cream, because it seemed like frozen treats were the go-to comfort food for most people. She just smiled and said it was to bring warmth to my heart and nutrients to my soul. The cornbread was just a bonus.
Now, whenever I’m unsettled, I go home and fill a pot with cleaned vegetables and beef stock. I mix up a batter of cornbread and place it in the oven. The simple motions of making the hearty meal reminds me of my mother’s love and patience.
Vegetable soup heals me, without fail. It reminds me that even the simplest of things can make a positive difference in our lives. And when I’m too tired even to cook, I’ve found that Market Table’s vegetable soup is close to my mother’s recipe (don’t worry, Mom — yours is still the best!). I try not to dwell on the negatives as much as possible these days. Not when there’s always soup to feed my soul.
When everything goes wrong, let Market Table be your BFF.
Today was one of those days that most moms know well… A day where all of your scheduling, planning ahead and organization efforts are rendered futile, your children transform into demons, and the world seems to work against you in every way. And it all happened before 8am.
I’ll spare you most of the gory details and give a quick recap. My morning looked something like this:
Woke up. Immediately sensed something was amiss. Stepped in a pile of poop that the puppy so graciously left at my bedside. How thoughtful. On to get the kids up. My youngest is already awake, and he’s covered himself in diaper cream. Fantastic. We’ll let the husband deal with that one. My oldest is awake, happy, but has some major goop seeping out of a bloodshot eye — pink eye. Wonderful. Looks like she’ll be tagging along to that 10 a.m. meeting. Next up is breakfast, where all hell breaks loose. Both kids are suddenly screaming and utterly heartbroken because they’re being forced to eat blueberry muffins … the same blueberry muffins they refused to leave the grocery store without just one day prior. Curious how things change so fast. Breakfast is followed by tantrums regarding one not wanting to wear rain boots and the other needing a specific pink colored bow that we can’t seem to find (not sure we ever even owned) but MUST wear today or we will die.
Finally, we’re out the door and on our way. And then the car won’t start. Dead battery. Glorious.
At that point, I wanted so badly to throw my hands up, cry “Uncle!” and have someone else take over for the day. But I’m a mom. We don’t have the luxury of giving up on a bad day and hiding in a cave where no one can find us. So, I did my best to muddle through the rest of the day. After a late afternoon doctor’s appointment for eye drops, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get dinner on the table in time. But then I remembered: there is help out there. At least, help for dinner.
A 3-minute stop into Market Table, and I had chicken fingers and mac & cheese for the kids, a slow-smoked pork belly and cauliflower fried rice for the husband, and a bottle (ok … two bottles) of wine for myself. Done, done and done.
So, as I sit here with that (second) bottle of wine, just know that no matter how badly your day goes, it can always end well with Market Table.
Picture it: you’re on your couch, flipping between Cake Boss and Cake Wars. Suddenly, it occurs to you: you can do this. You can make a cake. You’ll be the cake boss, victor of the cake wars. And you’ll win the admiration of your friends at Becky’s next potluck party. After all, it looks so easy: why not try to make a simple layered cake?
If you’re like me, this situation may lead to learning a lesson — or lessons! — the hard way. While reality shows like these make baking look “easy as cake,” in reality, it’s no cake walk. So, in the interest of sparing you from pain and sorrow, here’s what I learned when my attempt to become cake boss became the boss of me.
Size… It Matters
Remember that episode when someone made an Eiffel Tower cake that looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Well, now I know why. One way that a layered cake can turn into a disaster is the size of each layer. When making a layered cake, you want to measure out each layer evenly to ensure that one won’t be thicker than the others. When a layer is too thick, it adds extra weight to the cake. Then, the cake is more likely to crumble all over your freshly cleaned countertop when you add another layer.
Temperature and Patience
My mother always said that patience is a virtue — and baking has taught me it’s one virtue that I don’t have. Apparently, layered cakes can also fall apart if the layers are not cooled. After removing the layers from the oven, you want to let them cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. After the layers have cooled, carefully flip them onto a cooling rack or a flat pan in the freezer. This allows the layers to continue to cool. If the layers aren’t cooled enough, they’re very tender and likely to fall apart in the process of adding the layers, as I learned from experience.
Level the Playing Field
Once the layers have cooled, you’d think it’d be time to build the cake by putting the layers on top of each other. But this is approximately 100% wrong. Instead, you need to make sure the layers are all level and flat. Using a knife, carefully carve the top of each layer so that it’s as flat as possible. If the layers aren’t flat, the lopsided cake will eventually crumble, falling apart and onto your nice Pier 1 runner rug. And not even icing can save the day for an unleveled cake. While using icing in between each layer may seem to even it out, your cake may still crumble.
Heading to a Pot Luck? DON’T Take the Cake!
Real talk: layer cakes take a lot of time and a lot of patience. I started out expecting a masterpiece but ended up with a candidate for a Cake Fails listicle. After losing my own personal Cake War, I felt the full agony of my flour-covered defeat. I couldn’t even face the thought of facing a freezer full of perfectly layered cakes at my local bakery.
Luckily, Market Table offers a solution to my dessert dilemma: Edolyn’s Homemade Pies. Made with care from a family recipe, these single-serving beauties take the cake when it comes to fast, delicious and, most importantly, no-fail desserts. Pick up some Pecan, Lemon Chess, and Sweet Potato pies to impress your guests at your next gathering. Pro-Tip: you can even say you made them yourself. Market Table won’t tell. So if at cake you don’t succeed, try Market Table for Edolyn’s pies!
We’re deep in the dreary, chilly winter months, but that doesn’t mean fresh, tasty veggies are off the table. There’s plenty of nutritious and delicious produce around. We’ve compiled this list to show you five of our favorite winter vegetables to cook with right now.
These hardy vegetables can make a meal for a family of four with no problem. Prepare butternut squash by slow-roasting them in an oven at 350° Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes. Check out this video or the accompanying recipe for a tasty Butternut Squash Risotto. It’s sure to be warm and satisfying on the chilly winter nights ahead.
Too tired to cook? Head to Market Table for our new Smoky Market Mac & Cheese. With Smoked Gouda, peas, bacon and butternut squash, this fully-prepared dish is sure to become a family favorite!
Acorn squash are every bit as tasty as butternut squash, but smaller. One half of an acorn squash makes for roughly one portion size. For a one-dish meal, fill roasted acorn squash with this recipe for a Moroccan lamb filling, or this delicious turkey filling. Leftover filling makes a mouth-watering addition to omelets or on toast the next morning.
Kale is no stranger to superfood stardom, but its easy availability in winter is just another feather in this leafy green’s cap. Of course, we love kale in salads, but you can use this leafy green in hot dishes perfect for cold winter nights.Southern Living features it in a pasta bake, making for an easy one-dish meal that’s warm and welcoming after long days at work.
Kale also plays a starring role in Market Table‘s new Chicken & Ricotta Meatballs. This fully-prepared meal pairs spectacular and savory chicken meatballs with creamy polenta and sautéed kale. It’s gluten-free and ah-mazing!
These winter root vegetables are not your traditional radishes. Asian cousins to the red radishes familiar to Americans, daikon radishes are less bitter and much bigger. They can be used in a variety of dishes for a starchy crunch, and make a delicious side dish when quick-pickled. Check out this recipe for Daikon Pancakes. It’s a fun twist on a deliciously fried comfort food sure to leave you satisfied.
Brussels sprouts cook in under half an hour and can be seasoned to compliment all kinds of dishes. Bon Appetit offers up a spicy, sweet and tangy recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with a Warm Honey Glaze. They’ll hit all the right spots and leave everyone at the table wanting more, making for a wonderful winter dinner.
You’ve likely heard horror stories about processed food. People call processed food the enemy of the diet. Though some can be part of a healthy diet, too much processed food can wreak havoc to the human body. From the good to the bad, here’s everything you need to know about processed food.
What Is Processed Food?
Processed food is any food that has been altered for our consumption. Because we live in a society where the consumer typically lives far from places where food is actually grown, food is often altered for storage purposes. For example, preservatives can increase the shelf life of the food. However, some food is also processed for safer consumption. These kinds of processing can actually make the food better for you to eat, as they remove dangerous bacteria. But processed foods become hazardous when they contain added sugar, trans fat, and sodium.
Good Processed Foods
Lots of foods are processed, but not all are bad. Milk, for example, is pasteurized before it reaches your grocery shelves. This kills off harmful bacteria, allowing for safe consumption. Milk is also homogenized, a process intended to keep fat from separating.
Some minimally processed foods can still be healthy in moderation. Breakfast cereals, for example, contain processed grains. If they contain whole grains, these cereals may still be healthy. However, processed cereals also often contain too much added sugar. And the next time you’re picking up orange juice at the store, check the label. Some companies fortify OJ with calcium, which is even better for you than the juice alone. Dried fruits, roasted nuts, seeds, and 100% whole grain bread are all quite good for you as long as they don’t contain added flavors. These flavors are packed with sodium and other chemicals. Make sure to check the label for added and artificial ingredients!
Bad Processed Foods
Processed foods become bad for your health when packed with heavy amounts of preservatives, sodium, sugar, and trans fat. These harmful substances can be found in most canned foods. Also, pasta made from refined white flour instead of whole grain flour isn’t beneficial to your health. Packaged snacks often contain astronomical amounts of sugar, sodium and fat. You should also stay away from packaged cakes and cookies and cake mixes. Most frozen dinners, such as fish sticks and pot pies, contain a lot of sodium as well. At Market Table, however, our prepared foods and freezer meals are prepared in-house with locally sourced ingredients, so there’s no need for preservatives. Also, our fresh, healthy produce and meat is packed with flavor, so we don’t add artificial flavors as well.
How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Processed Food
You may be wondering how you can tell if food is moderately or extremely processed. Thankfully, these tricks can help you decide what’s okay to eat and what you should avoid.
The best way to tell the difference between something you should and should not be eating is the ingredient list. As a rule of thumb, go for foods with less ingredients — and with ingredients you can pronounce, rather than complicated chemical names. If you can pronounce all of the ingredients and know what they all mean, then you’re probably in the clear.
Fresh vegetables, fruits, and greens are generally okay to eat, as they’re chopped and bagged for your convenience. Some preservatives are added to keep them from wilting or browning, but they’re not typically extremely harmful. On the other hand, you should avoid processed meats, which contain dangerous preservatives.
The worst processed foods you can find in the grocery store are frozen dinners like lasagna, pizza, etc. If that sentence makes you stress about what you can feed your kids, don’t worry! Market Table has you covered. From our Cheeseburger Bake to our Pizza Casserole, we make healthy, hearty versions of the frozen foods your kids crave.