Monday, December 30, 2013

“Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup with a Soda on the Side”

First off, having a baby sister ten years my junior allows me to have experienced all the wonderful songs, YouTube videos and fun lingo I may not have otherwise been privy too.
This video and catchy tune notwithstanding, for I sing it every time I make this soup. Thank you Meredith!

I love soups, stews, chilies – one pot wonders that will fill you up and feed you for days! Often when I’ve been writing about food, having a food photoshoot for a book or magazine or discussing menus with clients, the last thing I want to do is go home and cook. Yet, cooking is my therapy too – being a foodie is a tangled web indeed.


My chicken noodle soup is simple. I think it is delicious (toot toot goes my own horn) and it cooks up fast and will feed pharaoh’s army – a highly desirable trait for a dish in my family! I also like that this recipe is basic enough to appeal to year round flavors. Of course, during the winter, I crave this warm soup with some leafy kale and carrots, but I’ve found that basil or lemon thyme are delightful additions in the summertime as are sage and rosemary in the fall and chervil in the spring.

There are two ways to make this soup – neither of which are right or wrong. There is the homemade version where you stew a hen, make your own stock, cut the kale and herbs from your garden etc etc etc and then there’s the quick and easy version – the latter I find myself preparing more often than the former! PTL (Praise The Lord for those not brought up in the Bible Belt) for store bought rotisserie chickens!

Farmer’s Note: This “recipe” is more of a read through, thus you can cook to your liking. Enjoy y’all!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (the flavor really doesn’t matter)
  • ½ a large Vidalia or red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into rounds
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups egg noodles
  • 4 cups of kale (shredded, torn or julienned)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
  • Tablespoon of Nature’s Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Like my Mimi, just about any dish I make starts with browning onions. Onions are marvelous but divine when browned. A little oil for temperature and butter for flavor, I brown the onions and season them well. Salt and pepper to your liking and add some Nature Seasoning too.

Once the onions are brown, add the garlic and celery. Also like Mimi did, I like using lots of celery – it is like parsley to me, for the flavor is often forgotten since they’re used as garnishes and a healthy addition to buffalo wing platters.

Once the garlic and parsley are softened I add the stock. Make or buy it depending on your time but a good two quarts is plenty. You can always add water and bullion to reduce or increase the stock amount. I like a little broth with my soup so you may want to increase the stock/liquid if you prefer more of a soupy soup!

Pull the chicken from the bone and add to the stock, onions, celery and garlic. Bring the soup to a gentle boil. Add the carrots. I don’t like the carrots to be too mushy, so I add them toward the end – even at the end. A bit of crunch is just fine!

Add the egg noodles then the kale. The noodles cook fast and the kale wilts just about immediately. Season further to taste and serve hot!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas from JFI!!!

Rejoice! Rejoice! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in downtown Perry! Carroll Street is festooned with greenery and lit up ever so lovingly – home for the holidays is truly a delight. We hope to see y’all downtown this Christmas season!

From all of us at James Farmer Inc, we wish the season’s blessings upon your homes – your homes and thus their stories that you have so graciously allowed us to be a part. 

Merry Christmas, y’all!

 (Jason, Sami, Stacey, James, Laura Lyn)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some are Silver and the Others Gold – Solid Gold

I honestly hate having to think about all the good things Maggie Marie Coody Griffin has done for me. The reason being is that they totally outweigh anything I’ve ever done for her! She never forgets a birthday, a special event, a thank you note, a detail – y’all the girl is just on the ball! 


During her birthday week, she threw me a party! I should’ve been throwing her a party but twas MCG hosting and cooking and decorating for me – lawdy! I was heading to Gainesville for a booksigning, thus Maggie planned a party. The girl can plan a party at the drop of a hat – one reason we became fast friends as children! She sent invites that she painted (to coordinate with the menus mind you) and even cooked recipes from A Time to Cook for her guests. We feasted on one of my favorites – a fruit and cheese plate –  pork tenderloin, Sea Island corn muffins, bacon wrapped asparagus with tarragon butter and sinfully amazing chocolate chip bars. The dessert may have been our breakfast the next day too!

Speaking of guests, Maggie is so good at assembling a great group. She invited friends of ours in Gainesville as well as new friends to be made that night. We laughed and ate until too late on a “school night” but had a blast anyways! And speaking of a good time, as fun as a dinner party is a la Chez Griffin, the slumber party just may rival the soiree; for, Maggie and her husband, David, have both been friends of mine since childhood. We three can simply talk and laugh and tell stories all night. Add a precious, beautiful baby in the mix is that much more fun!  Being “Uncle Jay” to Baby Henry is just gravy!


The three of us end up staying up way too late telling and reliving funny stories from elementary school to college! A piece or two of Buttermilk Pie’s famous  pecan, chocolate/peanut butter, coconut or, well, buttermilk  (or all the above), is usually consumed with a glass of milk to keep us well nourished during our late night laughs. There is hardly anything better for the heart and soul than to laugh – especially with friends you’ve shared your heart and soul with most of your life.


The menu, the food, the fellowship, the décor – it was all fabulous! Maggie’s sister-in-law is my office manager. Laura Lyn has told me that if I’m “good for one thing, it’s picking up sticks and flowers.” Well, not to disappoint the family, I proceeded with my “good for one thing” so I could at least be somewhat useful for Maggie’s party.

Sticks and flowers I can do! The Griffins live in a beautiful wooded, lakeside neighborhood that was ablaze with fall color. Branches of hickory, oak, abelia and dogwood filled Maggie’s Mama Doris’ butter churn as well as some of my favorite blue and white jardinières on the mantle. Dried blossoms of limelight hydrangea mixed delightfully with cotton bolls and pampas grass plumes and fall foliage along the tabletops in a mix of mercury glass and woven-wicker glass jars. 


Being at a party like this, the nursery rhyme song of making new friends but keeping the old plays through my head – and this song is Maggie Griffin to a tee! Some are silver and some are gold, but, y’all, I’m here to say, that this friend is solid gold!!! Mr. Griffin ain’t too shabby either! Thank you Maggie and David for being my friends to me today, yesterday and for years to come! I hope I can only be as kind, generous, thoughtful and supportive to you as you have been to me. The standard is set, y’all, and the standard isc nothing short of solid gold!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

This age old question has beguiled our brains for centuries – what does the fox say? Thankfully, a brotherly duo from Norway has quelled this quandary – thank you Bård (the blonde one) and Vegard (brown hair).

Upon hearing their catchy tune, I thought about Friederich, the trophy fox my brother-in-law Zach had mounted earlier this year.  My sister Maggie adhered to the good ol’ Southern expression quoted in Steel Magnolias, “… either shoot it, stuff it or marry it.” Maggie happily stuck with the latter.

Just what was Friederich trying to tell me? What does he say? Well, leave it to me to translate his desires as the following: “I wish to be the Thanksgiving centerpiece!”

I granted Friederich his request and even placed him as the centerpiece on the grown-ups’ table – not the lowly kids’ table. Our family’s new rule of order is if you have issued a child, you are granted an elevation from the kids’ table to “big table.” Yet, Baby Napp sat at the “big table” and not with Brubbs, SissyMama and the other “chillrun”… how did he swing that? I digress… 

There is no denying my love for a taxidermy, or “taxidermy-chic” if you will. Antler mounts, stuffed trophies, turtle shells and feathers all find their way into my design schemes and tablescapes. Quite fortunately, I have a brother-in-law, cousins, uncles and friends who are mighty hunters and provide me with a gracious plenty for my designs. 

Y’all may have seen my Southern Living Thanksgiving spread last month, and so my Big Mama’s (Mimi’s grandmother, thus my great, great-grandmother) turkey plates are a mainstay at our family table. As Mimi always said, “We eat with our eyes first…” so I find it important for the table and food’s presentation to be the first feasting. With Friederich keeping watch over the flock of turkeys, I interspersed some of Aunt Kathy’s Italian painted plates depicting other woodland and water creatures. Upon our tables, one could find a raft, a brace and a flush of ducks; a skein, a gaggle, a herd and a corps of geese; a pack of wolves; and of course, an earth, a leash, a skulk or troop of foxes. I absolutely adore the nomenclature of animal groupings!

Pumpkins, Granny Smith apples, pine boughs and nandina berries scattered the table too, thus creating a Southern, autumnal plank of foliage and fruit for Friederich to pose. As for the candlesticks, I found a bunch of old spools from a textile factory to serve as the pillar candle bases on the “big table” and my trusty antler candelabra for the “kids’ table.” Yet, for the kids’ table, I veered away from the traditional autumnal palette and stuck to my all-time favorite color scheme – blue and white.

To me, blue and white is neutral. The sky is blue and white most of the time and I find this classic pairing bodes so well in any season, pattern, color scheme and setting. Mixing more of Aunt Kathy’s blue and white painted plates with some Blue Willow “blue plate specials” was an easy choice for me. If you’ve ever wondered where the “blue plate special” came from, well take a gander at these divided dinner plates and you’ll learn. Often, the special of the day at a restaurant was served on a blue plate, many times a Blue Willow plate mind you, and thus the term became synonymous with a dinner or lunch special. Like myself and my family, no one individual is perfect. We all have our scars, chips, dings and dents, so if your plates do too, then welcome them still to your table.

Blue plaid and blue striped linens, a mix of mine, Mama’s, Aunt Kathy’s, Mimi’s and Aunt Irene’s silver, amber hued tumblers and goblets, bubble glass tumblers and jelly jars all melded together with the dinnerware and décor to create a tableau of generational and aesthetic delight. This year we knew was going to be different and bittersweet without Mimi, yet we managed. We held Thanksgiving on Friday which gave us an extra day to set tables and cook and keep our minds busy more so.

Mimi, though was there. She is now like the silver, some of the plates and linens – not necessarily present as a whole but positively tarnished, chipped and frayed into the very fabric of each one of us. Thanks and giving – that is what the day is truly about; and, for me, setting the tables allows me to share the bits and pieces of my legacy, my heart really, at each place setting. From this Farmer’s table to yours, thanks for giving me the chance to share a little bit of my family with y’all. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what the fox is really saying after all.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tablescape for Turkeys!

I love setting a table, period. Setting just for dinner, for a grand soiree or for an event proper, setting a table is a quick fix for flexing your creative prowess. It is also a conquerable task, as opposed to waking up at three in the morning and deciding you want to redo your living room – the latter also a battle this Farmer faces regularly.


The conquerable task portion of table setting is that the urge to create, craft, complement and decorate all meld together and gives a scratch to the itch to do something  fun with design. For the entry table in my shop, I had the itch to bring together some of my favorite elements and set the table for my favorite season – fall. 

An antique set of fish plates, Aunt Kathy’s fabulous Provvista dinnerware, grasscloth chargers, amber hued tumblers and goblets, a pumpkin centerpiece and candles too, were, of course, highlighted with some brown and white gingham linens and faux bois flatware. My antique French mutton leg chairs with their original green velvet were just too yummy not to pull up to the deep English cherry round table. 


The tones and textures of fall all fell together onto this tablescape. I’m thinking red and green now but just wanted to savor the season with this particular cornucopia of elements. Thanksgiving is behind us, but I hope as the generations gather at your table in years to come, you find some inspiration from mine. From my table to yours, happy fall y’all and Thanksgiving too!

Monday, November 18, 2013

FARMER'S DOZEN with the Farmer

My buddy William Nash reversed my Farmer's Dozen on me! Y'all check it out here! I can't wait for my time in Jacksonville!

 Akin to a baker's dozen, my Farmer's Dozen is a quantity of a dozen or so questions - a series of questions with fellow designers, authors, tastemakers, friends and Southerners alike

If you would like to read my series of posts interviewing some of the best of the best in the design world, check it out here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanksgiving with Southern Living

Here is the Southern Living article featuring my traditional Thanksgiving table setting. And in case you missed my last post you can check out the accompanying video here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Traditional Thanksgiving Table Setting

I had a blast shooting this video for Southern Living! Hope this gives you some inspiration for setting your Thanksgiving tableau.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Outdoor Decorating with Southern Living

The October issue of Southern Living is out ya’ll and it is fantastic! OCTOBER!!! My favorite month is only a few days away, and I’m pleased to share with ya’ll some decorating tips right from the pages of Southern Living. We aired these last fall too on the SL website, so here is a refresher for this autumn.

I always have a blast on a photo shoot with these folks. Whether we’re setting an entry with the splendor of fall or shooting a Thanksgiving spread or simply setting a lovely table – a good time is sure to ensue.  This video will give you some tips on gussying up your entry with fall flair and even decorating with pumpkins.

Let’s celebrate the season with its fantastic bounty! From this Farmer to you, happy fall, ya’ll!

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Video: Mint Juleps

So with mint growing wild in the summer garden, why not use it for a drink or two? Mint juleps and mojitos are my go to Southern summer drinks. I love to collect julep cups and relish in the cold silver in my hands on a hot summer day. As for mojitos, well, this south of the border flavor is perfect for a south of the Mason/Dixon line too!

A big shout out of thanks to my friends at Onward Reserve for hosting this Farmer (and outfitting too!!!) for this segment. It sure is handy to have friends whose store has a bar too!

I hope your summertime has been filled with fantastic flavors like mint. It is easy to grow, delicious in salads and the perfect drink all summer long! From this Farmer’s garden and table, enjoy ya’ll!

Athens- Part 3 from Dynes Media on Vimeo.

Monday, August 19, 2013

More of the Farmer to Table Series: Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

This is my go to summer salad, y'all! I loved making it with my pal Gena Knox, and I enjoyed this dish all summer long! It's delicious mixed with white peaches and any other peach for that matter, and this dish dresses up for fall and winter with pears or citrus or pecans in lieu of peaches! Enjoy!!

Athens- Part 2 from Dynes Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Next Farmer to Table Video and Peach & Goat Cheese Salad

Here's comes a fun talk with my friend and fellow cook Gena Knox. We filmed in her fun garden then took some greens from the garden and made a salad. Here's the video of our chat and the recipe for next week's video with the salad. I wanted y'all to have it so you could make it with all these fabulous, fresh peaches coming in now!

Enjoy y'all!

Athens- Part 1 from Dynes Media on Vimeo.

Peach and Goat Cheese Salad
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of Nature’s seasoning
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped Rosemary
Combine all ingredients in a lidded mason jar. Shake and pour!

  • 1 package of 50/50 spring mix (Butter lettuce is also delicious with this as are small heads of Bibb lettuce served individually!)
  • Handful of basil
  • Handful of mint
  • 2 peaches (sliced)
  • ½ log of goat's cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
Drizzle honey over goat’s cheese in a small bowl. Combine salad greens, mint, basil, and peaches in a salad bowl. Crumble honey goat’s cheese on top of salad mixture. Dress with lemon vinaigrette, toss, enjoy!

Farmers Note: A piece of poached salmon or grilled chicken makes this a complete meal!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Farmer to Table

Here is the next video in our 'Farmer to Table' series. We had so much fun filming these in Athens, Georgia. This is just a sneek peak to the rest of the series -- y'all enjoy!

James Farmer Sizzle Reel (Athens) from Dynes Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farmer to Table

Seed to spoon, field to fork, garden to glass –  knowing a little bit about where your food comes from is a part of the Southern mantra. We often know who grew the peaches or we may even be the farmers, growers or gardeners with a garden of our own. Food though is only a part of my Farmer to Table moxy. As my Mimi always said, “We eat with our eyes first.” So set a pretty table too and celebrate the season with your setting.

I hope y’all enjoy this video series. We’ll open up with a sizzle reel introducing y’all to yours truly and some Southern goodness. Whether its poundcake, chicken salad, pimento cheese or setting the table, I hope y’all are inspired as I am by the bounty our lands and gardens provide. From this Farmer’s table to yours, enjoy Farmer to Table!

James Farmer Sizzle Reel from Dynes Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hometown boy turned national designer, author opens store in Perry


James Farmer could have opened up shop almost anywhere. But he chose to stay close to home in the small town of Perry.

It’s where people know him, not as an acclaimed designer or editor-at-large of Southern Living or a frequent guest on national television shows, but as just James. That is one reason he decided to open his first design and antique store, James Farmer Inc., on Carroll Street.


The store, which recently opened for business and will have a grand opening in September, sits in a brick building with large windows and red doors. It’s another step in Farmer’s career and another hat for Farmer himself, who along with shop owner is also a garden and interior designer, an author, a speaker and an editor.

Now he hopes his downtown shop will become a staple in Perry.
“I’ve got big dreams for downtown Perry,” he said.

Inside, a diverse collection of furniture and decorations sits throughout the shop. There are sofas, tables and chairs. There are vases, decorative plates and mirrors. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling near an ornamental whisky jug and a frozen custard sign.

Summertime generally is the slow season for interior design, but Farmer said he has been pleasantly surprised by the steady stream of customer traffic. Lamps and pillows seem to be the most popular so far -- Farmer already feels that he needs more of those items, he said.

“It adds a lot of interior decorating to the area,” said Kaylee McCullough, shop and office assistant. “People come in, and they’re ... just blown away.”

When looking to open his first retail store, Farmer knew he wanted to give back to a community that has given so much to him. Growing up in Perry and Hawkinsville, he always knew what he wanted to do with his life.

“I wanted to make things pretty,” he said.

He was inspired by an architect from Moultrie, who became successful while living in a small town. Farmer believed he could have the same success in the same way. And he did.

After graduating from Auburn University, Farmer established his design career and gained national recognition. At age 31, he has published five design books and is working on publishing his sixth. He has made appearances on national television shows, including “Today,” and he has landed some big design jobs, including the old Governor’s Mansion in Kentucky, parties in New York City and show houses in Atlanta and South Carolina.

But, he always comes back to Perry, which is no longer just his hometown but his retail business headquarters.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” he said, “and this is a good way to repay the village.”
Farmer looked at several spots for his shop, but he was drawn to the corner building on Carroll Street mainly because of its history. Most recently, the building housed a beauty parlor, but it’s also the former location of the Houston Home Journal, which is appropriate because Farmer is a writer, and he sells his books at the store, he said.

It’s not only a boost for Farmer’s career, but he also hopes it benefits downtown Perry. Not only will it hopefully make Perry a destination for a slew of design customers, but it’s also important for young entrepreneurs, such as Farmer, to invest in the area, he said.

“What’s so important for a community is the multi-generational effect,” he said.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Setting and Filming

I love to take pictures, set up for photo shoots, and even pose for a picture now and then; but, filming is a different ball of wax! Thankfully, I leave the filming proper to the pros, like my buddy Bobby McCullough. So when I need to have something filmed, I know that Bobby can work his magic with this ol’ boy and a fun video about my “Farmer to Table” mantra ensues! For the intro to this Farmer to Table series, we started with what I know best – chicken salad, pimento cheese, poundcake and setting a table! Especially when peaches are involved! 

A summer tablescape must involve the fruits of the season. I think there is hardly a flower arrangement as pretty as a basket or bowl of produce. Mixing the two together makes this Farmer weak in the knees! So, for this summer setting, I merged the two and gilded the lily with some – or shall I say fern?

I have a dessert set of Limoge fern plates with their coordinating cake stand. I am in love with these plates. They remind of some green and white plates of my aunt’s and the very “feel” of them is dainty yet handsome. I like to use them for dessert but for a salad plate too. Pair them with old silver, some vintage napkins and some of Aunt Kathy’s fabulous lavender Provvista dinnerware. For me, the more collected a tableau is the more luscious! Layers of heritage and history and seasonal nods are just a tapestry of delight on any table – and the story the pieces tell is that much more delightful!

Another little notion I love to see on a tabletop is a bouquet garnis or two. Yes a bouquet garnis can serve as a centerpiece all on its own, but often I find myself massing a single flower as arrangements sans greenery and allowing a separate bouquet of yummy herbs and greens dot the table. For this tablescape, mint, lemon balm and even a touch of camellia made for the gracious greenery portion. Fragrance and memory are linked, and to create a memory with herbs like mint and lemon balm for a lovely occasion like this is all the more enjoyable!

Rusty iron birds I used for Sister Maggie’s wedding also dot the table, adding a rustic, whimsical element and take the formality of the fern china down a notch or two. Mixing high and low textures, genres and looks on a table is key to a creative interpretation of your tablescape. For this summer setting, I gathered inspiration from the produce, the flora and fauna of the season, and thus recreated with the elements seen.

“We eat with our eyes first…” my Mimi always said. Before you’ve even had the first bite or taste, allow a visual feast to greet your friends and family when they arrive at your table. Farmer to table ya’ll, not just the food, but the flowers too!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Blackberry and Peach Crisp

Ya’ll, this is my go to summer dessert. Well, it may be my go to dessert period. I love to interchange seasonal fruits, but this version may be my favorite. Peaches by themselves are perfect for this dish, and I find myself throwing blueberries into the mix as well. You really cannot go wrong with this recipe!

I have this in A Time to Cook as well but this version calls for steel cut oats – I love the crunch effect they create. The tidbit of almond fairs so well with peaches since they are all in the same family. Speaking of family, yours will be running into the kitchen for this crisp! You can make it in two separate, deep dish pie pans or a good ol’ 9x13 pan – trust me, you and yours will be just smitten either way! Enjoy ya’ll!

Blackberry and Peach Crisp
  • About a half dozen fresh peaches peeled and pitted and sliced (or simply quartered with the skin still on)
  • 2 cups of fresh blackberries simply washed.
  • A ½ cup of sugardepending on the sweetness of the fruitand another ¼ cup for the topping.
  • ¾ cup of all purpose flower
  • 1 cup of old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 1½ cups of steel cut oats
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • A stick of butter (room temperature) for topping and ½ a stick for filling
  • 1 teaspoon of good vanilla
  • ¾ teaspoon of almond extract
  • Honey for drizzling
  • Pecans for added crunch (if desired)
  • Good vanilla ice cream this is a must!!!

Melt the ½ stick of butter in a baking dish (9 x 13) in a 350 degree oven – enough time to allow the butter to start bubbling.

Peel and pit your peaches and slice them into wedges.  Tip for peeling peaches…place them in boiling water for about 20 seconds then remove them to an ice bath…this stops the cooking and the skin will peel right off.

Farmer’s Note: I often do not peel the peaches – they hold together nicely with the skin on and it is that much quicker to prep!

Wash your blackberries and pat dry. 

Mix the two fruits together in the bubbling butter – this browns and “fries” the fruit before baking...yum!  Use the ¼ cup of sugar as well if your fruits are not sweet enough to your liking. Drizzle the fruit with honey and mix in the vanilla and almond extract.

Mix the flour, brown and white sugar, oats, and remaining butter until it resembles a course meal.  Add a bit more butter if need be for desired consistency and pecans for additional crunch. Room temperature or melted butter will incorporate very well.

Spread the above mixture across the peaches and blackberries and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Do serve a la mode!  From this Farmer’s garden and table, enjoy!
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