The rich soil and temperate climate of Wadmalaw has supported farmers for generations but not just for tea production. Wadmalaw Island is also famous for its rich tomato and strawberry crops and, as such, the island is dotted with "u-pick" farms. Of all the farms on Wadmalaw, my favorite by far is Thackeray Farms.
The rates at Thackeray Farms, to me, are always reasonable and the produce is always very fresh. I can honestly say I have never had any bad produce come from Thackeray Farms and the taste and freshness is unparalleled. It truly is "from farm-to-table." Their tomatoes dubbed the "Wadmalaw Island Fuglies" (aka heirloom tomatoes) may not be pretty to look at but they sure are delicious to eat! Thackeray Farms also stocks much of the produce at my local Whole Foods so today I have chosen some lovely green tomatoes and South Carolina White Stone Ground Grits.
This makes a great appetizer, brunch, lunch or terrific side dish with Southern flare. Because the grits cook in the slow cooker, you are freed up to focus on the rest of your menu rather than standing over the stove stirring a pot of grits. Of course, you can opt to make the grits in a sauce pan if you are short on time.
This dish earned top honors, at least in my house, for being the only dish convincing enough to coerce my son into trying fried green tomatoes!! In fact, he was so wrapped up in the dish that he didn't even realize what he had just eaten was "tomatoes" and not "potatoes" until after I told him! We all had a good laugh at that as well. Enjoy. ~Ronda
Fried Green Tomatoes
3 or 4 large firm green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch rings
Salt and ground black pepper (to season the tomato rings)
Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Lay the tomatoes out and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
In a skillet, heat the oil for deep-frying over medium-high heat.
Dip the tomatoes into buttermilk, then dredge them into the flour seasoned with cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Shake off excess flour. Fry tomato slices in the skillet until golden brown on both sides.
To keep them warm an crispy, after removing the tomatoes from the oil, place them on a cookie sheet inset with a cooling rack to drain, and place in the heated oven. This will allow the grease to drain and will keep the tomatoes hot and crunchy.
Incredibly Creamy Slow Cooker Grits
Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cups half-and-half, divided
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup stone ground grits
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Creamy Slow Cooker Method:
Spray the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray (clean up is a cinch with this simple trick) and preheat the crock pot on high while you get the grits started.
In a medium saucepan, add the milk, 1 cup half-and-half, 1 tablespoon butter, and grits. Season with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to keep the mixture lump-free. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring once or twice per hour. Once you are ready to serve, open the slow cooker and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining 1/3 cup half-and-half.
Creamy Stove top Method:
In a medium saucepan, add the milk, 1 cup half-and-half, 1 tablespoon butter, and grits. Season with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to keep the mixture lump-free. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Once you are ready to serve, whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining 1/3 cup half-and-half.
The stove top method may take a little more liquid than the crock pot method due to evaporation.
To serve, ladle a portion of grits onto a plate or into a bowl. Top with fresh fried green tomato slices, shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon pieces.