I’m finally back and settled from a heavenly five days in D.C. (don’t worry I’ll tell you about all the food later) which was immediately followed by two big events (one on our farm, the other on an incredibly fabulous permaculture operation nearby) and preceded by a trip to the Northwoods and a trip to Charleston.
And all I can say is I’m so happy to be focused on home for the next few weeks. I can’t believe the first week of October is already coming to a close. I guess that’s what happens when you travel for half of September. Luckily, real fall was right here waiting for me. The weather, the light, the leaves all waiting for me to slow down and wander through them.
The real kick off to being back home and present on my farm was a beautiful four-course brunch we hosted last Sunday. It was the first of its kind. A fundraiser for a local non-profit that supporters farmer and helps get local veggies into schools. A meal completely outdoors intruding on none of my parents’ spaces. And a meal that I, for once, had the foresight not to take on too much of, and instead had three of my most talented friends do the cooking.
My dear friend Shannon started us off with the most elegant cheese course you could ever imagine inspired by her Nordic roots. She’s a chef and artist and that was apparent immediately as we watched her play with color and composition just as much as she played with flavors and textures. Then my newest friend Jenny (who is in the planning stages of a restaurant and market all her own in my tiny town of Evansville to arrive fall 2018!) balanced us out with something light inspired entirely from what was available out in the fields. Jenn, the sweetest, friendliest, most wonderful pie shop owner, dove in next with what she does best: tasty treats served up in perfect pie crusts. Her course was a quiche filled with everything yummy. And then things ended with a parfait of sweet potato mousse, maple yogurt, salted bourbon caramel and candied pecans that was all Jenny’s genius. (Yeah, you’ll be hearing more about that dessert in upcoming weeks too). It was a lovely meal made all the lovelier by the fact that I got to enjoy from the table alongside my farming better half and a lovely blend of new friends and CSA members (and my amazing grandma).
Other than eating and brewing the coffee, I was in charge of the Bloody Mary Bar. And I, of course, took my role very seriously, making the Bloody Mary mix from scratch (recipe below) and preparing most of the pickles with goods from the farm that would have been otherwise wasted. I cut up some carrots and celery from the field, quartered some lemons and limes, packed up all my hot sauces and Worcestershire sauce, bought some locals cheeses and sausage (and a jar of cheap olives), and ta da: Bloody Mary Bar ready for adding life to any party. Then all you have to do is wait for the friendly farm horse to try and knock it over in the hunt for carrot sticks. Oh wait, maybe that was specific to our particular event.
I had so much fun putting it all together with a cute wood crate, frilly tablecloth and these adorable little stickers. I don’t think it will be the last Bloody Mary Bar you will see from me. In fact, I’m pretty sure several more jars of Bloody Mary mix will make it into my freezer before our tomato season finally says goodbye. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of football to watch every weekend that demands a tomato-y, peppery, spicy beverage.
Hope you enjoy!
P.S. I am so immensely honored to be up for this year’s Madison Magazine Best of Madison Awards in the Local Blogger category. Thanks to everyone who nominated me during that first phase of the process. I so greatly appreciate your love of my writing and rambling and endless support. Now it is time to VOTE! You can only vote once per category so if you’ve been loving The Leek & The Carrot and all the silly stories I share with you, please take a moment and vote for my blog ❤
BLOODY MARY BAR
As with all build your own situations, this is an idea list, not a recipe list. Use what you have for your bloody mary bar, but don’t stress out if you don’t have something or don’t feel like making so many pickles. I am always quick pickling things when I have too much and storing the jars in my fridge until I’m ready to use them. Most quick pickles store in the fridge for 6-12 weeks so if you are making pickles throughout the summer, it is absolutely safe to wait until football season and the accompanying Bloody Mary bars to enjoy them!
Serves 10-15 depending on your drinking habits
Takes minimal time to assemble, but lots more time if making everything from scratch
24 cups Bloody Mary Mix, homemade (recipe below) or store bought
Pickled beans (dilly beans!)
Pickled cherry tomatoes
2 lemons, quartered
4 limes, quartered
Cubed cheddar cheese
Cubed pepperjack cheese
Summer sausage, halved and sliced
An array of hot sauces (we had Cholula, Frank’s and Sriracha)
Vodka (feel free to infuse it with peppers first!)
Mason jars for everyone
- Put everything into jars or bowls.
- Stick cute labels on all the things that don’t have labels.
- Serve the Bloody Mary mix chilled with plenty of ice and your booze of choice.
Bloody Mary Mix
Exact quantities are in no way necessary. I’ve eyeballed these quantities on several occasions and loved the end result every time. I think if you are using yummy fresh produce and make sure not to miss an ingredient, the ratios don’t matter too much. If you are like me and broke your scale two years ago, don’t stress out about it.
Makes 12 cups Bloody Mary mix
Takes 1 hour
20 cups quartered tomatoes (about 8-9 pounds)
6-8 fresh celery stems, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 colored bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
2 poblanos, seeded and roughly chopped
3 jalapenos, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 cup roughly diced parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, combine all vegetables, ginger, garlic and parsley. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to keep tomatoes from scorching while waiting for things to boil.
- Reduce to low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and add additional ingredients (lemon and lime juices, sugar, salt, pepper, fish sauce and Worcestershire). Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Strain with a sieve, juicer, fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. You want just the juice and none of the pulp. Store in the fridge until ready to use or in the freezer if you don’t plan to use within 5 days.