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: http://www.macon.com/2013/07/07/2548071/hometown-boy-turned-national-designer.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/07/07/2548071/hometown-boy-turned-national-designer.html#storylink=cpy

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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