Easiest Berry Cobbler

Summer in the south means you get to eat all the cobbler. All of it. We’re taking advantage of the seasonal fruits and berries and doing it right: with lots of butter and a little bit of cinnamon. This recipe is almost too easy and can be adapted to yield a variety of tasty cobblers. Swap out the berries for peaches and raspberries, use brown sugar instead of white, leave out the cinnamon or add toasted pecans to the topping. Really, the sky’s the limit. Here’s what you need:

If you prefer more fruit to topping, cut the topping recipe in half.

4 cups fresh, local black or blueberries (Abbott and Gentry Farms)

1 tbs lemon juice

2 local eggs (Putney Farm)

1 1/2 cups sugar plus 1 tablespoon

2 cups Carolina Ground whole wheat flour

4 1/2 ounces Happy Cow butter, melted

3/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Put your fruit in an 8-inch baking dish and gently toss with the lemon juice and 1tbs sugar. Using your hands or a fork, stir together eggs, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pile topping over fruit and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm or at room temp with whipped Atlanta Fresh heavy cream or Jeni’s vanilla ice cream.

Tomato Pie

Tomatoes are in season, and we’ve got more than we know what to do with. There’s only one solution: tomato pie. We’re filling it with local tomatoes, corn and cheddar because that’s what you do when you live in the south. Make it once, and you’ll be hooked. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Here’s what you need:

1 Swamp Bakery pie crust (leave refrigerated until ready to use)

1/3 cup Swamp Kitchen mayonnaise mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds heirloom tomatoes (we’ve got local ones from JBo, Sandy Flat and Tryon Mountain!)
1 1/2 cups Silver Queen corn from Thicketty Mountain (from about 3 ears), divided in half
2 tablespoons finely chopped Tyger River basil or dill, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1 3/4 cups coarsely grated Ashe County cheddar, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

First things first: peel your tomatoes. Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, immediately transfer to an ice bath. Peel the tomatoes with your hands, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Using a spoon, remove the seeds then layer your tomato slices on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess juices. Arrange half the tomatoes in the pie shell (overlapping) and sprinkle with half the corn, one tablespoon dill or basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, generous pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and one cup of the grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil/dill, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and cheese is slightly brown.

*keep an eye on your pie! If the crust is browning too quickly cover the rim with foil.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen originally from Gourmet Magazine 2009

 

Featured #SwampFarmer: JBo Ranch

Farmer Billy! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

JBo Ranch is one of the newer farms we have added to our #SwampFarmer family and we were SO excited to have a chance to see the beauty of it ourselves! Driving to the farm through lush winding countryside, we ended up in  Honea Path, SC, where Billy and his husband Jason started the farm at its current location in 2014. On the South Carolina Certified farm, about 1 ½ acres are dedicated to pasture-raised chickens and 3 ½ acres are for growing beautiful vegetables. Have you tried some of Billy’s local onions yet? If not, then you HAVE too!

Yummy Spring Onions…Photo: Chelsea Peeples

The name JBo comes from the first letter of Jason’s name and the nickname that Billy’s younger cousin deemed him, Bo Bo! Billy and Jason have lived in the Upstate since 2005. They were in Greenville for 7 years and then moved to Greer for 2 years. While in Greenville and even before, Billy worked as a Veterinary Technician for 11 years, with a short job advertising. Needless to say he couldn’t stay away from his love of animals and nature. Billy has always raised chickens for fun and eggs! Moving to Greer meant that Billy could up his coop size to 15 chickens and even adopted a goat. The move to Honea Path provided the opportunity for JBo to grow even more! Right now Billy and Jason still raise goats and cows for fun, raise chicken for eggs, and also have a bunch of veggies, including LOTS O’ HEIRLOOM TOMATOES right now and Okra so soon! YUM!

O, HHHEEEYYYY!!! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

A Golden Comet on the Playground!

Billy takes pride in raising his Golden Comet Chickens with lots of love and sunshine! We got the opportunity to tour the barn that he has renovated to be the large space where the chickens can roost at night. He even built a chicken playground in it! He chose the Golden Comet variety of hen for the beautiful natural brown and chocolate colored eggs they produce. The yolks of JBo eggs are a beautiful deep yellow color that we learned from Billy is because of all the Vitamin D the chickens get from being able to roam outside.

 

Look at those COLORS!! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Super Cool Chicken Barn… Photo: Chelsea Peeples

To prevent predators from eating his chickens and to make sure they don’t get lost, Billy sets up fence netting to secure a large area where all the chickens get to happily wander and peck the day away. He will move this netting every two weeks so the chickens always have fresh plants and bugs to eat. Billy is currently in the works of growing a chicken garden too that will include a bunch of tasty and nutritious sources of greens that chickens go nuts over! When needed, Billy gives all of his chickens access to a non-GMO supplemental feed to make sure their bellies are always filled. Billy has never given any of his chickens antibiotics and has never ever had a problem with any of his chickens getting sick, probably because they are so happy! Try some of his tasty golden eggs on our Swamp Pizza or buy a dozen to whip up an omelet for breakfast!

 

Homemade Lady Bug Houses! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

The vegetables that Billy grows are just as beautiful and nutritious as his eggs. Currently, his land is the perfect grade to be able to utilize water efficiently and create a landscape that allows for no need of chemicals. Most of the vegetables that he grows are completely chemical-free, including those huge, sweet, and stunning heirloom tomatoes, thanks to the soil being rich with minerals. There is a new plot of land that Billy is currently cultivating to regenerate the soil and grow even more crops. The new area of land is only spot sprayed when absolutely necessary, with Billy choosing to grow things as organically and naturally as possible. He recently had a problem with the leaf-footed stink bugs, those super pesky insects that somehow always find a way into our houses. He decided to plant Sunflowers to deter them from eating all of his newly sprouting veggies instead of spraying pesticides. It was not only functional, but made a beautiful addition to his farm!

 

In supporting JBo Ranch by buying nutritious, GMO-free eggs and beautiful local vegetables, you are not only supporting a local farm and 1 local business, but 2! We buy all of JBo’s eggs and veggies through The Farm Cart, which is a local food distribution company that follows our same passion for making local food affordable and available to all! Another fun addition is that Billy and Jason also own the Melt Pizzeria in Honea Path. All of the toppings are sourced from their farm! Did we just give you a reason to make it totally reasonable to eat pizza every day of the week? YUP!

 

PIZZA! PIZZA! And VEGGIES and EGGS!! We love LOCAL!!!

 

BONUS!! A super cool 24-YEARS-OLD Kiwi Plant! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Featured #SwampFarmer: The Happy Berry

So Lush! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Ann and Walker

Farmer Walker has created a beautiful, berry filled oasis in Six Mile, SC, and it’s one of the most calming (and delicious) farms to visit! It’s the Happy Berry Farm! When we arrived, Walker sat us down and explained the history of the area and why he chose–after searching for 4 years–the land that all of his delicious berry bushes grow on. Walker and his wife Ann moved to Six Mile in 1971 and began The Happy Berry in 1979. Located in a valley right near Lake Keowee, the land provides the perfect “microclimate” for berry bushes. This means that warm air off the lake is able to settle in the valley to create a stable warm climate that is resistant to frost naturally. So cool!

 

Yummmm!! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

All of The Happy Berry’s original bushes came from a local nursery, with varieties chosen based on climate acclimation.  Since berry bushes are perennials, they continue to grow and produce fruit every season. Walking around the rows and rows of super happy berries, Walker would point out the new growth of the bushes and tell us his reasoning for picking a certain variety. A lot of his blueberries are Centurions that are very cold resistant and grow super well in this area. Some of the bushes that Walker has are upwards of 16 years old! On the property, about 2.5 acres are devoted to blackberries, 5+ acres for blueberries, 1 acre for figs, and 1.25 acres for yummy grapes.

We could have eaten this whole gallon! Photo: Will Strickland

Berries are one of the most finicky, susceptible to disease, and pest attracting crops to cultivate. Due to these factors and farmers needing to produce enough product to make a profit, berry bushes are still commonly sprayed to prevent disease and for predatory pests. While Walker does spray his berry bushes, something that he was very transparent about, he employs new practices every year that decrease the amount of spraying he has to do. He makes sure that as many weeds as possible are picked by hand before spray is enlisted. He will only spray post-emergently, which means no spray is used until the weed is actually visible. He also has planted many pine trees around the farm, so that, as they grow, they provide shade for the bushes and deter sightings by insects and birds.

Directions to Delicious. Photo: Chelsea Peeples

The Experimental Insect Attractor. Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Walker’s knowledge of farming, plants, and berries is endless. He may be turning 80 this year, but his vivacity and hunger to continually learn is like that of someone a quarter of his age. He has amassed many degrees, such as a PhD in Horticulture, and is even a Certified Crop Advisor for the area! There is a constantly evolving array of methods that he uses in his cultivation process. Currently, he is working in partnership with USDA to hang these red balls near his berry bushes that have self contained Organic pesticides in them to attract fruit flies. This prevents the need to use any chemicals, even Organic ones, on the bushes themselves. He is also working with the Clemson Mechanical Engineering department to build an oven specifically for creating Biochar from his old berry bushes once they are done producing. This Biochar would provide an excellent source of naturally derived minerals back into the soil, reduce waste, and stop the leaching of minerals into groundwater.

Can’t wait for these juicy grapes to ripen!

The dedication that Walker has for his farm and for sustainability makes us so proud to be able to include in our #SwampFarmer Family. We will have his berries, figs, and grapes in our store until the growing season ends in September. So many delicious pies and jams in your future!! Be sure to stop in and try one of our berry smoothies or the blueberry salad that will be featuring Happy Berry’s products.

Feel free to stop by The Happy Berry yourself to meet Walker and see all of his super happy berries! Don’t worry, if you happen to snack while at the farm there is a “Sin Jar” that you can contribute to if you are feeling guilty! It’s a magically delicious place in the world!

 

Guilt Free Snacking!

The Bird Call speakers to deter birds from eating berries

Staff Snack Break!

Featured #SwampFarmer: Crescent Farm

Such a Beautiful Day! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Margie (L) and Holly (R)! Photo: Jon Hedden

Margie is the Swamp farmer that we all wish that we could adopt into our family! We love her and we love all of the amazing, beautiful Certified Organic produce that we are able to get from her throughout the year. We also love that Margie’s whole family is involved in creating the most sustainable and efficiently run farm possible. From Margie’s daughter, Holly, helping to plan out the creative and sometimes tricky strategy of crop rotation to Margie’s super cute grandchildren, Emma and Henry (who Margie deems as her best Instagram marketing team), the whole family plays a role!

 

Freshly Tilled Field, Ready for some Sweet Potatoes. Photo: Chelsea Peeples

Crescent Farm is on the same land that the Certified Organic Parson Produce Farm used to exist on. When Margie moved here in 2011, she actually worked for Parson Produce! She eventually took over the farm in 2013 and is currently in her 4th growing season as Crescent Farm’s fearless leader. It takes 3 years and a lot of time, money, dedication, and effort for a farm that grows produce to become Certified Organic. Luckily, since Parson Produce had already acquired the Organic certification, the 6 acres of beautiful and rich soil was ready to rock when Margie took it over.

 

Yummy Organic Onions!

In order to maintain the Organic certification, Crescent Farm undergoes regular soil testing from Clemson University Extension and follows strict guidelines for plant care. Only Organic approved natural fertilizer is used, when necessary, with Margie preferring to forgo chemicals completely. There are Certified Organic herbicides and pesticides that farmers are allowed to use on their land, but these can also kill beneficial insects. Margie told us that she has found that they don’t work as well as her “Catch and Squish” method!  

 

Happy Maters!

Crop rotation is a key element that Crescent Farm enlists to minimize pests and weeds while maximizing nutrient return in the soil. The farm consists of 19 fields that are each a ¼ acre in which thousands of Certified Organic plants are grown during a season. Margie, with help from Holly, meticulously plans out which veggies should be grown on each plot of land based on what was previously planted in that soil. For example, beans and other legumes are nitrogen-fixing crops and will redistribute nitrogen back into the ground. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient that many other crops need to grow, such as tomatoes. So, after a season of beans being grown on one plot, the next season tomatoes will be grown in that same soil and have the nutrients they need to grow without the use of fertilizer. Crop rotation also prevents soil erosion, is a natural form of pest control, and prevents diseases from being able to spread. The amount of care and time that Margie, and her family, put into the farm make us appreciate all of the beautiful veggies she brings us so much more!

 

Tobacco Planter

Crescent Farm takes their eco-consciousness a step further and tries to reuse as many of their materials as they can. It can be tricky operating a Certified Organic farm because a lot of the biodegradable products available are made from corn. The corn that is used is neither non-GMO nor Certified Organic, so therefore the product cannot be used on Crescent Farm because it would taint the soil as it broke down. Margie and Holly are also always on the lookout too for farming equipment that has been discarded or forgotten about. They then refurbish it themselves and use it on the farm. We got to see the really cool, old tobacco planter that they use to transfer all of their starter plants from their greenhouse into the ground!

 

The Garlic Wall!! Photo: Chelsea Peeples

All of Crescent Farm’s veggies and herbs are hand-picked and inspected by Margie or one of her two helpers. Have you met Ryan, with the luscious locks of curly hair, that works in our cafe?? He is actually one of Margie’s helpers in addition to a Swamp employee! Fun tidbit of information: Margie’s favorite veggies to pick are leeks and garlic because they are so yummy and her favorite thing to grow is swiss chard because it’s so beautiful! She also loves good craft beer and chocolate in case you are ever wanting to get her a Christmas present!

 

Margie Washing Beets Photo: Jon Hedden

Visiting Crescent Farm was seriously like visiting a family member’s home. We got to pick and eat carrots right out of the ground and Mary’s son, James, got to play on the tractor! Just to make our hearts turn to mush even more, Margie made cookies for us and had delicious fresh-cut watermelon waiting to be devoured. There really is no better way to get to “know your food” than getting to see where it actually comes from.

How could you not LOVE this Face?!

We use Crescent’s kale, chard, carrots, and so much more in our cafe and our yummy pizzas to give you a chance to know your farmer and fill your belly! Our trip to Crescent Farm was an absolutely delicious dream!