If growing vegetables is not appealing but buying and preparing fresh vegetables is, why not have a picking good time at one South Mississippi farm?
Charlie's U-Pik is hosting its 2016 summer season opener Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 257 Charlie's Lane, Lucedale. What started in the 1990s as Charlie Eubanks' 10 acres of tomatoes has grown to about 100 acres of Mississippi's spring and summer vegetables. Picking days are Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm is closed on Sunday.
Veggies that will be ready and waiting for the picking this week at $10 per 5-gallon bucket include snap and pole beans; slicing and pickling cucumbers; bell peppers; specialty peppers such as sweet roaster, gypsy, hot banana, sweet banana, long hot cayenne, poblano, Anaheim and jalapeno; purple eggplant; round and Roma tomatoes; red, white and yellow sweet onions; red and gold potatoes; okra; and yellow, white and zucchini squash. Watermelon, sweet corn and other already-picked produce will be available for sale under the tent.
According to the farm's e-mail, green and speckled butter beans, cantaloupes and pink eye, black eye and crowder peas will not be ready until the first week of June. Details on the U-Pik: 601-530-0548, at www.charliesupik.com/ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/charliesupik. The website also includes driving directions to the farm.
Realizing that not everyone wants to pick their own, the Eubankses also have created Fresh Harvest Boxes that can be ordered and paid for online and picked up in 13 locations from Mobile to Hattiesburg, including Moss Point, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs and Gulfport. Each box contains 22 to 25 pounds of fresh-picked vegetables and fruits. Check out that website at www.eubanksfreshharvest.com/ or call 601-247-0240.
I know there are other you-pick farms in South Mississippi. Please send me your information for a future column. I don't want to overlook anyone.
Speaking of fresh
Judi P. David has had her share of problems with growing cilantro but finally has mastered the herb.
In response to the May 18 column, David says, "I've had problems with cilantro, too. I've never been able to keep it growing for more than a couple of weeks once 'the Great Heat' descends. But I think I've found the secret.
"Cilantro is a winter herb here. It grows when turnips and mustards do, and like them, it bolts and withers in the heat. To have cilantro thrive through the summer, it needs an air-conditioned location with lots and lots of light, natural and grow-lights.
"For me, it's just easier to buy cilantro over the summer. I start seeds in August, and it produces through April or May," she says. "Be sure to let it flower so you can harvest the seeds, too, because there's nothing like the flavor of homegrown, freshly ground coriander."
David's response came just as my daughter was bemoaning that the heavy rains nearly crushed her cilantro, but this week in our garden tomatoes and poblano peppers are doing great.
Elyssa and I enjoyed some fried green tomatoes that came straight from the garden. Most readers know that I love appliances and gad
gets. Well, I finally broke down and bought a deep fryer, something I have wanted for years.
It is so much easier that frying them in the skillet. OK, so I can be lazy, but the eating was good.
Sometimes I like to make a remoulade for the tomatoes and add some boiled shrimp or fresh crab meat. This time I just did them as a side dish with a from-scratch meatloaf.
My recipe for fried green tomatoes is a simple one. I like to make a batter of flour, egg, milk and spices and dip the battered tomatoes into cornmeal that contains the same spices used in the batter. Then, the tomatoes go into the fryer or frying pan.
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
3-4 fresh green tomatoes, sliced about1/4-inch thick
1/4 to 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning
Salt and pepper, to your liking (I go easy on the salt)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cornmeal, not self-rising
Batter: Mix egg, all-purpose flour, milk and 1/2 teaspoon each of Tony Chachere's, garlic powder and salt and pepper.
Coat sliced tomato in the batter and then drop into cornmeal that is mixed with 1/2 teaspoon each of Tony's seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Drop into the deep fryer for about 4 minutes or into a skillet until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel. Serve immediately with or without remoulade.
There are two main types of remoulade with a multitude of ingredients: a white one that has no ketchup or tomatoes, and a red one that does have ketchup or tomatoes.
Patsy Switzer offers a white remoulade in her cookbook "Lagniappe: Secrets We're Ready to Share II." Emeril Lagasse, in his cookbook "Louisiana Real and Rustic," shares the red remoulade.
LAGNIAPPE HOUSE REMOULADE SAUCE
1 quart mayonnaise
1 pint Creole mustard
1/2 cup green onions, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 ounces anchovy paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in the food processor until well minced. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and process on high. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. This will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks if tightly sealed.
-- "Lagniappe: Secrets We're Ready to Share II" by Patsy Switzer
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Creole whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Use immediately or store. Will keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
-- From "Louisiana Real and Rustic" by Emeril Lagasse
Ready for veggies
"I'm hoping either you or one of your readers might be able to help me out," Lynn Tuite of Ocean Springs said. "The vegetable medley that is served with entrees at Phoenicia in downtown Ocean Springs is absolutely delicious. Seasoned well but gently, and the veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, onion and red pepper, maybe something else) are always crisp, even as leftovers the next day. But I can't figure out how to copycat the recipe, especially how they get the veggies 'al dente.' They do not seem to be sautéed. Could you please help?"
Does anyone have this recipe or a similar one?
Andrea Yeager can be reached at email@example.com or Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.