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.
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.