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On Your Mark, Get Set: Summery Southern Comfort Food

2011 June 14

by Karleen ArmstrongProvidence-market

As a girl who spends all her time thinking and learning about food, I have to admit that in the kitchen I’m much more comfortable baking with sweet stuff, rather than cooking with savory.  Spring has ended, and having just relocated from Colorado to the Carolinas for the summer, I am loving the change in seasons all around me.  I have been seeing ripe strawberries, South Carolina peaches, and fresh corn in the grocery stores and in my co-workers lunch boxes.  When I received the recipe for Portobello Cap Pizza I felt like I had hit the ingredient jackpot.  Erin and Gina had filled their pizza with an array of delicious seasonal ingredients for me to choose from.  I decided to relay off of the tomatoes, knowing that tomato season is right around the corner and that soon tomatoes will be accessible for most everyone.

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Given my comfort with baking I elected to bake something savory.  In my search for a recipe I stumbled across a tomato pie, a traditional southern summer recipe.  If anyone has stories about growing up with this pie I would love to hear them, so please leave a comment below.  This dish lends itself to endless variations, but the inclusion of mayonnaise appears to be a constant.  This made me think of Harriet the Spy and her love for tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, and, suddenly nostalgic for childhood summer adventures, I knew this was the recipe for me.  As an added challenge to making my first southern lunchtime pie, I decided I would make the mayonnaise for my recipe from scratch.

I began my search for ingredients at Trader Joe’s.  Being from Colorado, having access to this grocery store is a real treat.  While I did find a basil plant, which I hope to keep alive for more than two weeks, I was disappointed by the lack of local produce at Trader Joe’s.  The only organic tomatoes for sale were imported from Mexico!  Luckily, North and South Carolina are abundant with pick-your-own farms and farmers markets, so off I went.

I found a great market stand close to my house: Providence Produce Market. The produce looked great, and even better it was all local.  The woman who checked me out told me that the farms they get their produce from become more local as they get deeper into the season.  The best thing about this stand was the affordability.  I walked away with several pounds of tomatoes, corn, peaches, and baby eggplants all for under ten dollars.  I can support local farms and save a lot of money by buying produce at the farm stand.  I purchased the rest of my ingredients at Earth Fare, another regional grocery store with a great selection of organic products. I was ready to tackle a dish of savory southern comfort food!

Check back Thursday to see the results of my tomato pie and for the full recipe.

-Karleen

Karleen is from Denver, Colorado, but spends her summers working in Charlotte, North Carolina.  She is a professional ice skater currently pursuing a career in sustainable food.  She never travels without her measuring cups, a loaf pan, and a cute apron.