I eat a lot of deviled eggs during the spring — especially around Easter. This all started with a few cracked eggs that just didn’t look right after I dyed them. The colors missed the thin white lines, and my eggs looked like they had stretch marks. Don’t get me wrong: stretch marks are a beautiful part of the human body. But on an Easter egg? It’s just wrong. Thankfully, it’s easy to turn Easter eggs to deviled eggs, which are delicious!
Text by Sarah Vice
Once my friends and I have divvied up the eggs to dye, we set up the dipping cups. We buy generic egg-dying kits with those little tablets that dissolve in vinegar. Sometimes, the water’s a different color than the tablet, once they dissolve.
The most challenging part of making deviled eggs? Removing the shell. Learning how to use cracked Easter eggs is a life-saving lifehack. Their shells are already broken. If I’m honest, when I’m getting the dye ready, sometimes I hope that more eggs will be broken than not. I wouldn’t admit this to my friends, but when we dye eggs together, I’m not super careful when removing them from the pot. Yes, that’s partly because I’m impatient. But it’s also partly because I want some to be cracked.
I don’t even attempt to put the yolk mix back into the boiled whites when I’m done. I never liked that part to begin with, so when I make my own, it’s just the yoke. By Easter Sunday, I’ve usually consumed more eggs than I’ve dyed. It’s all worth it, though. Besides, plastic eggs are better for decoration anyways. They don’t spoil when left out. Real eggs are meant to be cherished and eaten.
When you’re in need of comfort, there’s nothing better than delicious Southern soul food. And sometimes we need comfort from life-altering events like natural disasters. For my town, April 27, 2011 was one of those times.
Text by Sarah Vice
Most Alabamians know by now what happened on that date. A large EF4 tornado ripped through half of Alabama. But what you may not know is how the communities pulled together directly after the storm. A neighborhood beside my high school was flattened, but thankfully no lives were lost there. In the days after the tragedy, I witnessed how people show love through food, and how a meal can heal in the most necessary of ways.
The National Guard had brought in aluminum bags of prepared foods. Residents also donated all the canned goods they could offer. These weren’t exactly the kinds of comfort foods that we look forward to, but no one was complaining.
Volunteer Servers and Chefs
Within a few days, however, the local restaurants that remained unaffected were able to pull together enough volunteer employees to reopen. But they weren’t just reopening for business. They were reopening to provide meals to those who needed them the most.
These restaurant owners were members of this town. They lived with the people affected by the tornado and were set on doing as much as they could to help. The employees and owners worked hard making hamburgers, biscuits, BBQ sandwiches, key lime pies, tacos, and so much more. They piled the food into trucks to drive to a community center. There, they welcomed all to a warm, free meal.
People were visibly in tears. They ate hungrily. For many, it was the first full, hot meal they’d had in almost a week. But the restaurants didn’t stop at serving these delicious dishes. They also opened up fundraisers in unaffected nearby towns in hopes of bringing more supplies to the victims.
Neighbors who still had a home joined in. They baked several meals a day and brought the food to the community center. For weeks to come, their food, kindness, and generosity nourished my small town. It’s in these moments that we grow to appreciate the little things like comfort foods and the bigger things, like our communities, that become our support systems.
Founded in 1995, Creekstone Farms has produced high-quality USDA certified beef and pork for nearly twenty five years. Located in Arkansas City, Kansas, Creekstone Farms is one of America’s most committed providers of high quality meat. Market Table proudly sources our premium steaks from Creekstone Farms and their grain-fed cattle.
Text by Annika Bastian
What Makes Creekstone Farms Different?
Creekstone Farms is one of only a few USDA certified programs. They source their meat from single family farms. Then, they undergo rigorous USDA inspections to ensure both cattle and consumer are safe, sound and satisfied.
In addition to the USDA’s safety policies, Creekstone Farms looks to specialized independent programs to test the feed they give their cattle. This allows their cows to live antibiotic-free and hormone-free. These extra steps are part of their commitment to excellence.
Creekstone Farms Owns Their Entire Operation
Creekstone Farms manages the cattle they procure. They also process their cattle at their own plant, designed by animal science expert Temple Grandin. By owning their own facilities, Creekstone Farms manages every aspect of their operation. From start to finish, their beef is just the way they like it: perfect.
This freedom allowed Creekstone Farms to become Certified Humane® in 2016.Humane Farm Animal Care certified Creekstone Farms because of the great care they give their animals. They provide their cattle with plenty of room to express natural behaviors and graze green pastures.
They Care About Their Cattle and Their Customer
Creekstone Farms’ non-GMO beef provides an ethical animal protein option for our kitchen and your table. We are proud to partner with Creekstone Farms, who source their non-GMO beef from a single-family farm. They raise their cattle on grains and foraging, free of all genetic modifications.
The cows’ grass-fed and grain-finished diet results in healthier cows and leaner meat. Also, Creekstone Farms works hard to lower their carbon footprint and maintain more sustainable farming practices. Creekstone Farms’ approach to grain-fed, non-GMO beef betters the industry, and we’re proud to provide their better beef to our customers.
Fewer meals sound more hearty than a fresh lasagna. Melted cheese and sauce combine with layers of noodles and ricotta, making a meal many of us know and love. However, it’s a meal few of us have time to make from scratch. It’s true that when you’re making dinner, you’re making memories. But in our busy lives, how do we keep making dinner a time to gather with friends and family? Thankfully, it’s not laboring over the meals themselves that matters but the memories surrounding them.
Text by Annika Bastian
A Childhood Favorite
Lasagna holds a special place in both my heart and my appetite. As a child, the meal felt festive. When lasagna was on the menu, I knew it was going to be a good day.
My mother would devote an entire Sunday afternoon to making her lasagna. She’d get home from church a little after noon and have dinner on the table by four. It was a weekend treat we enjoyed with family and friends for as long as I can remember. She often served lasagna when report cards went out, when birthdays came around, or when loved ones visited town. To me, lasagna is the meal that brings together family and food.
Making My Own Lasagna (Sort Of)
Once lasagna’s in the oven, the hard part is over, but assembling that Italian goodness is enough to make most of us choose a different dinner option. I haven’t made a lasagna by hand in years, not when lots of delicious pre-prepared options exist. From fresh to frozen, I’ve tried all kinds of pre-made lasagnas. I find it’s worth the extra penny to get fresh, pre-prepared options. When I’m near Homewood, I make sure to stop at Market Table and pick up their hearty and healthy family-sized veggie lasagna. It’s the perfect meal to share with kids who’ve come home from college, friends on board game night, or with your spouse for candle-lit alone time.
Bringing Friends and Family Back Together
With the main dish taken care of, all you have to do is steam broccoli or whip up a simple salad and some buttery garlic bread for tasty side dishes. They’ll be ready in so little time you can set the table for a hassle-free dinner. Then, you can enjoy being with your friends and family, making memories instead of washing dishes in the kitchen.
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.