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The Joys Of Cooking: What I Learned in My Mother’s Kitchen

The Joys Of Cooking: What I Learned in My Mother’s Kitchen

I’m grateful to my mother for so many things. She taught me how to do laundry and showed me how to coupon. Most importantly, she let me experiment in the kitchen. My mother regularly cooked for our family while I was growing up. She was a master of quick dinners and improvised casseroles. Her uncanny ability to combine raw ingredients to create a flavorful meal is one I’m glad I’ve inherited. When I think about what I learned in my mother’s kitchen, I realize she taught me more than how to follow a recipe. She taught me how to find joy.

Text by Annika Bastian

Learning Means Making Mistakes

During summer breaks in high school, I developed a love for food-themed television. Soon, I couldn’t stop flipping through food magazines and fancy cookbooks. I started cooking with several disastrous attempts at desserts. Early adventures included cookies that were hard little rocks, pecan pie with salt instead of sugar, and pudding congealed so thickly it was nearly inedible.

Girl holds tray of burned cookies.

Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

Thankfully, even after these less-than-successful attempts, my mother still let me back in the kitchen. She gave me pointers on where I went wrong and tips on how to improve. After mastering the art of boiling pasta and making béchamel sauce, I felt invincible. Thanks to her guiding hand, I now feel comfortable handling fresh vegetables and raw meat. And I even know how to make cookies that actually look like cookies, not rocks.

Mother teaches daughters to cook.

How to Help Newcomers Learn and Love to Cook

If you’re an experienced home cook, I hope you’ll pass on your love of cooking. I encourage you to give new cooks the same freedom my mother gave me. Let newcomers experience the basic cooking techniques offered in many simple dishes. You can even buy a pre-prepared main dish and teach them how to make simple sides. New cooks can sharpen their skills by making roasted broccoli, glazed carrots, or mashed potatoes. If they manage nothing but making a mess of the kitchen, offer up encouragement and a dish rag. They’ll figure it out soon, and, with your help, they’ll learn that cooking really can be a joy.

When it comes to cooking, everyone starts out not knowing what they’re doing, but somehow we figure it out along the way. With lots of tasty ups and bitter downs, every dish shows a beginner how to better their techniques.

Text By Annika Bastian

What Every Picnic Basket Needs

What Every Picnic Basket Needs

Spring has sprung and we’re enjoying warm weather and vibrant greenery all over Birmingham. Why not celebrate with a picnic? Kids and pets alike will love the freedom to run and play, while adults can catch up on sunshine and their friends’ lives. In honor of National Picnic Day, here are Market Table‘s picks for what every picnic basket needs.

Text By Annika Bastian

Large group of friends with food.

The Food

The kind of food you pack in your basket depends upon the time of your picnic outing. Is it a brunch picnic? (Yes, those exist, and they are just as awesome as they sound.) Is it a lunch picnic? An afternoon snack picnic? Picnics early in the day can feature inventive brunch options, like our scrumptious Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Frittata or an eggs-cellent sandwich tray.

If your outing falls around lunch, provide hearty deli style options, like White BBQ Chicken or Beef Brisket Sliders. Or, if you’re serving guests with wildly different tastes, check out our Light Lunchboxes. From Cilantro Lime Chicken to our Zesty Quinoa Salad, you’re sure to find healthy options to keep your whole picnic party happy.

And if you’re picnicking between meals, go for fun snack options — both sweet and savory. For larger picnics, invite everyone to bring one of their favorite snacks to make a potluck fun-in-the-sun picnic at the park.

Water bottles in cooler.

The Accessories

There are a few things every picnic basket needs, but they may not be the first things on your mind. First, don’t forget to bring trash bags. You’ll want the leave the beautiful outdoor space that hosts your picnic as pristine as you found it. Next, make sure to include insulated water bottles among your drink selections. When it comes to hydration, there’s nothing like a cool bottle of water. Lastly, paper towels will come in handy to both hold food and to clean sticky fingers.

hands holding popsicles over picnic blanket.

The Desserts

The perfect way to end your sweet day? With something sweet, of course! Dessert is a delicious must at any spring picnic. Often, you’ll find Farmer’s Markets with fresh food and tasty treats to bring a picnic from good to great. So make sure to pick up easy-to-eat desserts for a sweet finish to your fabulous outing. Market Table‘s Cookie and Marble Brownie Trays are picnic-basket-ready perfection!

Dessert Disasters: Sometimes Pie Takes the Cake

Dessert Disasters: Sometimes Pie Takes the Cake

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.

Various measuring utensils

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.

Cake layer on cooling rack
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.

Multiple evened out cake layers
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. 

Edolyn's Pecan Pie at Market Table.

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!

Five Easy Christmas Dessert Recipes

Five Easy Christmas Dessert Recipes

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest. Among other responsibilities, making dessert for the family gathering or work party may sound way too stressful at this point. Here are five easy Christmas dessert recipes that will save you some time and energy while also satisfying even the pickiest sweet tooth.   

 

Assorted Christmas sugar cookies.Sugar Cookies

Let’s face it: sugar cookies are a Christmas tradition. It’d just feel wrong to celebrate without them. Thankfully, they’re an easy-to-make crowd pleaser. This particular recipe is our fave. Not only will it yield quick results, but the cookies will crush the competition at the dessert table.

 

 

Reindeer Rice KrispiesGreen Christmas tree shaped Rice Krispie treats.

Get ready to give your regular Rice Krispie Treats a reindeer makeover that’ll impress guests of all ages. These snacks are as fun to make as they are to eat — and this is a recipe that the kids can help out with, too. For a fun twist, try adding green food coloring and star-shaped candies as ornaments.

 

 

 

Brownie triangles with green frosting.Christmas Tree Brownies

Need an easy way to satisfy hungry houseguests? Give a holiday twist to traditional sweets! These Christmas Tree Brownies will be sure to light up the room — maybe almost as much as the actual tree!

 

 

 

Snowman CupcakesCupcakes with marshmallow snowmen.

These Snowman Cupcakes make such great decorations that it’ll be hard to eat them … but not that hard. You can use almost any flavor cake mix and icing you want, as long as it’s a light enough color to look like snow. They’re a quick and easy dessert that even the Grinch of the family will enjoy. You can also use marshmallows, frosting and pretzel sticks to create stand-up snowmen on top of any kind of cupcake you’d like.

 

 

Ice cream cone whipped cream chocolate dessert.

Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

This recipe may take a little longer to make, but the result will be more than worth it. Impress your guests with these cute Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups that can serve as a great compliment to an actual cup of hot chocolate to help you warm up on a cold winter afternoon. Don’t have time to bake? Set up a faux cocoa bar with flat-bottomed ice cream cones, pudding or yogurt, marshmallows, Nutella, whipped cream, and whatever trimmings you’ve got laying around.

 

 

Text by Nick Adrian

5 Thanksgiving Essentials

5 Thanksgiving Essentials

As a holiday, Thanksgiving deserves more respect. It’s a day where it’s socially acceptable — and expected of you — to eat as much as you possibly can (and be thankful for your loved ones, of course). Since this is a holiday that revolves around food, you’re going to want the best recipes you can get your hands on. Here are five Thanksgiving essentials no gathering should go without.

 

Roasted Thanksgiving turkey with gravy.

Turkey

No great Thanksgiving meal is complete without turkey. It’s synonymous with the holiday. So why fight tradition? You’ll want the best offering possible to satisfy your holiday guests. This recipe makes delicious turkey and gravy, giving you the perfect centerpiece for your holiday meal.

 

Mashed PotatoesHealthy Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Another Thanksgiving staple? Potatoes, of course! Whether they’re mashed, boiled, baked, etc… they’re a must. This simple and traditional recipe for mashed potatoes will leave even your pickiest guests satisfied. It’s a classic recipe without any of the frills, perfect for anyone who wants to stay in their comfort zone.

 

Traditional green bean casserole.

Green Bean Casserole

Some kind of green vegetable is an essential for every meal, not just Thanksgiving! That being said, green beans are always an ideal side. But if you want to shake things up this holiday, why not try this tasty casserole? It’s a “no cans” take on the classic dish, offering a fresher take on a Southern staple.

 

Homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest.

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Here’s another holiday favorite that deserves a place at your family’s dinner table. There are several fancy ways of fixing cranberry sauce up, but why not go the traditional route? It’s a classic for a reason.

 

Sliced Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving desserts are a must and one that is truly essential is pumpkin pie. This recipe gives you a classic offering, sure to satisfy every sweet tooth. The recipe leaves off whipped cream, so guests can add their preferred amount.

 

Market Table's smoked whole turkey.

With these essential Thanksgiving recipes, no mouth will go unfed and no appetite will go unsatisfied at your dinner table. Of course, cooking a full Thanksgiving meal can be intimidating to even the most experienced chef. Plus, the holiday season’s always rushed and hectic. Why not give yourself a break and let Market Table do the work? Our Thanksgiving catering options include everything from a Smoked Turkey Breast to Rosemary and Garlic Green Beans to Pumpkin Pie — you can even get the entire meal catered! Place your orders online or in-store by Friday, November 16th then sit back and relax until Turkey Day comes!

 

Text by Nick Adrian

Spooky Halloween Party Recipes

Spooky Halloween Party Recipes

Halloween’s all about the candy, but you need a few other food options to keep your party guests happy. Luckily, you can keep up the spirit of the season by making some spectacularly spooky snacks. Here are a few recipes for a Halloween party sure scare up some appetites.

 

Spooky ghost pizza bagels.

Picture from https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/halloween/recipes/a49353/ghost-pizza-bagels-recipe/

Ghost Pizza Bagels

These appetizers won’t draw any boos from your party crowd. In fact, adding a fun little mozzarella ghost to your pizza bagels will have your guests screeching in ghoulish delight. This recipe also makes for a great kid-approved snack. Plus, they’re as fun to make as they are to eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creepy mummy meatballs.

Picture from https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a55767/mummy-meatballs-recipe/

Mummy Meatballs

If you’re craving a deadly – or undeadly – snack, these mummy meatballs are the way to go. These might take a little longer to make, but the results will be worth it. They’ll make a delicious addition to your snack table and be the talk of your monster mash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate chip Dracula dentures.Dracula Dentures

Halloween sweets are a must, but they don’t have to be limited to candy. This recipe turns party-favorite chocolate chip cookies into a mouth-watering treat. The result is a spooky dessert you can really sink your teeth into.

 

 

 

Dead Velvet CakeBloody prop hand rising from red velvet cake.

Best name for a dessert ever? Yes. Scariest cake ever? Yes! This spooky take on red velvet cake is a scream, especially if it’s topped with this plastic cleaver prop or a fake severed hand. It’ll make a scary-good dessert that will kill at your Halloween party.

 

 

 

Spooky drink with eyeball fruit garnish.The Witch’s Heart – Halloween Cocktail

No Halloween party is complete without a spooky drink. The recipe for this truly bewitching Halloween cocktail will be a hit at your party. Add a little dry ice to make it steam like a witch’s brew. For an extra scare, create a fruit “eye” for garnish by popping a blueberry into a lychee then skewering it. Spellbook sold separately.

 

 

Adding any of these recipes to your Halloween party spread will surely result in a hauntingly good time. Just make sure to save room for candy, too.

Text by Nick Adrian