The book on farmers markets

Jim Hillibish

It was the nastiest of February days — gray skies, penetrating cold, a wintry mix — when I discovered the “Farmers Market Cookbook” from Southern Living.

Opening the book was like crossing a threshold in time. Photos taken at open-air markets throughout the South could easily have been shot last summer during my visits to farmers markets in my area. It may have been sleeting outside, but with this book in hand, it was a sunny Saturday morning in my mind.   

Over the following months, I practically petted the pages while looking at the brilliant fruits and vegetables intermingled with close-ups of mouthwatering recipes such as crunchy skillet-fried corn cakes and blackberry iced tea. Every single recipe looks to be a winner, and I could not wait to get cooking with goods purchased from local markets.


8 12-inch wooden skewers

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

2 pounds peeled, medium-sized raw shrimp

Basil vinaigrette, divided

6 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

1 1/3 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

Grilled cornbread (optional)

Basil vinaigrette

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (about 1 cup packed leaves)

4 large shallots, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup olive oil

Soak skewers for 30 minutes. Cook green beans until crisp tender, plunge in ice water to stop cooking, drain and pat dry. Set in large bowl.

Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees. Combine shrimp and 3/4 cup vinaigrette in zipper-top plastic bag. Chill 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove shrimp and discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill shrimp 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp is pink. Remove from skewers. Toss with green beans, bacon, Parmesan, almonds and remaining vinaigrette. Serve over hot cornbread. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

“Farmers Market Cookbook” from Southern Living.


3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Pinch of baking soda

4 cups boiling water

3 family-sized tea bags

2 1/2 cups cold water or sparkling water

Garnishes: Fresh skewered berries, fresh mint sprigs

Combine 3 cups blackberries and sugar in large container. Crush blackberries with wooden spoon. Add chopped mint and baking soda. Set aside.

Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags; cover and let stand 3 minutes. Discard tea bags.

Pour tea over blackberry mixture; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour tea through a wire mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding solids. Add 2 1/2 cups cold water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Yield:  About 7 cups.

Blackberry garnish:  Thread fresh blackberries onto small wooden skewers.

“Farmers Market Cookbook” from Southern Living.