Family farm’s charms called them back; now its meals charm others

When Laurie and Will Moore sit down to the table, almost everything they enjoy comes from their own farm or from folks they know and work with. They are the Moores of “Moore Farms and Friends” with both an online market and a presence at the Saturday morning Freedom Farmers Markets at The Carter Center near downtown Atlanta. They work with small-scale food producers to offer locally grown and produced food all year round.

A year or so ago, they decided to open up their Woodland, Ala., home for farmhouse dinners. “We’re about 90 miles from Atlanta in the southern foothills of the Appalachians. People come from the city to enjoy our Supper Club and they’re so surprised at how pretty it is in this little rural corner of the world,” said Laurie Moore.

Depending on the time of year, the Moores may host from a dozen to almost four dozen people in and around their 1929 farmhouse. Guests wander the farm and meet the goats, ducks, cats and chickens, then sit down to a four-course dinner entirely prepared from ingredients the Moores have grown or sell through their market.

Kids enjoy the experience as much as, if not more than, adults, and the Moores can tailor the menu for any food allergies or preferences.

The Moores themselves are Michigan transplants, moving in 1998 to the 60-acre farm that had been in Will’s family since 1900. His parents had retired from Detroit to the family farm, but when his dad died, they came down to the farm to spend six months getting his mom ready to move back to Michigan.

Instead, they fell in love with the family farm, Southern culture and food.

“Once we decided we were going to stay, we had to figure out what to do. We were both maniac home gardeners and we planted a large garden in the same spot where his grandmother had her garden. We had more than we could use and we introduced ourselves to Todd Immel and Tracey Bloom at Oscar’s Restaurant in College Park. I was still working for a national health care provider and would deliver vegetables, then go get on an airplane to fly off to wherever my job was taking me that week,” said Laurie Moore.

One restaurant client grew to many as the chef community embraced what they were doing and introduced them to other top Atlanta chefs such as Gunther Seeger and Gerry Klaskala. “We were very fortunate to have an entrée to some of Atlanta’s best kitchens right off the bat.”

Selling at farmers markets in both Atlanta and Birmingham morphed into the decision in 2007 to start an online market where their customers could pick up fresh produce midweek instead of waiting for a weekend farmers market. “That’s really taken off. Now about 60 percent of our sales are through the online market, another 20 percent is to chefs and the remainder is at farmers markets. We work with about 30 local food producers and are able to offer meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits and all sorts of handmade food products.”

Back on the farm, they’re constantly expanding and improving. “We’re building up our livestock, especially chickens since farm eggs are in such high demand. We added goats more or less for kudzu control and every season we buy piglets from a local farmer and raise them up. We even have a program where we set up people in the city with backyard chickens. That’s very popular in the spring. We provide ‘technical’ support and we have a rooster return policy, so it’s been fun and worked out well.”

And from February through June and then again September through November, the Moores serve those farmhouse dinners with recipes of their own creation. “We’re usually thinking about the menu up until about a week before the dinner since that’s when we know for sure what ingredients we’ll have to work with and what dietary concerns our guests have. Sometimes the menu is Italian inspired, sometimes it’s more traditional Southern. Asian dinners have been really popular. We love that it all shows off how versatile these ingredients can be.”

Helping people understand how rich and flavorful winter vegetables can be is really important to the Moores. They save scraps and peels to make the broths that are the backbone of their almost daily winter soups. “Roast some vegetables, add broth and you have instant soup. It makes a wonderful, satisfying meal. It’s easy to eat a lot of heavier, higher-calorie dishes in winter, so we like to have soup and a salad for lunch to keep it light. At least four or five days a week our meals are vegetarian and that makes meat more special when we do eat it.”

Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends offer recipes for a four-course vegetarian dinner special enough for guests. Laurie Moore says the first step in preparing a vegetarian dinner is communing with your vegetables. Rinse them well, scrubbing the ones with tough skins, and let the chopping be a form of meditation as it is for the Moores.

Roasted Roots Soup

This soup is one of the Moores’ signature recipes, published on their website and in their online newsletters many times, and often served for their Supper Club. The roasted “roots” are actually both roots and tubers.

2 cups diced peeled white sweet potatoes

1 cup diced peeled Yukon gold potatoes

1 cup diced turnips

1 cup diced rutabaga

1/2 cup chopped onion

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

5 cups vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, turnips, rutabagas and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat vegetables. Toss to make sure all chunks are evenly covered. Season with salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer. Roast 10 minutes, then stir and cook 10 to 15 minutes more or until browned and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside 1 cup for garnish.

In a large saucepan, combine remaining roasted vegetables with 4 cups broth. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture. Add more broth until desired texture is reached. Use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. Bring soup to a simmer and taste for seasoning. When ready to serve, garnish with reserved roasted vegetables. Makes: 6 cups

Adapted from a recipe provided by Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends.

Per 1-cup serving: 244 calories (percent of calories from fat, 21), 7 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 1,389 milligrams sodium.

Winter Farmhouse Salad

A “farmhouse” salad is a mixture of whatever’s plentiful and in season. When the Moores serve this salad in January, the lettuce and beets come from Rise ‘n Shine Farm, the pecans from Pecan Point Farm, the radishes from Ups and Downs Farm and the apples from Beech Creek Farms. They like Pink Lady apples in this salad. It’s a late-season variety that stores well and gets sweeter while in storage.

The vinaigrette is made with olive oil from Georgia, local honey and their homemade purple basil vinegar. They steep purple basil in apple cider vinegar to make a flavored and beautifully colored condiment. If you don’t have purple basil vinegar, use your favorite flavored vinegar or plain apple cider vinegar.

2 beets, ends trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup purple basil vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper

2 heads lettuce, torn or chopped into bite-size pieces

2 apples, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup pecan halves

5 watermelon radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced

Put a 1/2-inch of water in the bottom of a small saucepan. Use a steamer insert and arrange beet slices on top. If you don’t have a steamer insert, just add the beet to the water in the pan. Bring water to a simmer and steam beets until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cut into 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.

To make vinaigrette: in the jar of a blender, combine olive oil, vinegar and honey. Blend until mixture is emulsified, then season to taste. Set aside.

When ready to serve, divide lettuce between serving plates. Top with diced steamed beets, apples, pecans and radish slices. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve immediately. Serves: 8

Adapted from a recipe provided by Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends.

Per serving: 259 calories (percent of calories from fat, 75), 2 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 23 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 1 milligram cholesterol, 18 milligrams sodium.

Veggie Carbonara

When pasta is served at the Moores’ it’s always homemade. When you’re preparing this dish, you can make your own pasta or serve your favorite store-purchased brand. You want a long noodle for this dish. Spaghetti or fettucine are the most commonly used in pasta carbonara dishes, and the Moores prefer fettucine.

When they’re serving this dish, the kale, carrots, oregano and eggs come from their farm. The rest of the ingredients are local as well. They use Georgia olive oil, shiitakes from Sparta Mushrooms, cream from Atlanta Fresh and Asiago from Wright Dairy.

If you’re not inclined to make meringues from the leftover egg whites, do what the Moores do. Feed them to your dogs. “It’s really good for their skins and coats,” says Will Moore.

4 tablespoons olive oil

10 lightly packed cups Tuscan kale, stems removed, cut into bite-size pieces (about 1/2 pound)

2 cups shiitakes, stems removed and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups matchstick-cut carrots (about 4 carrots)

4 minced cloves garlic

2 pounds pasta noodles

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated or crumbled Asiago

6 egg yolks

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano, for garnish

Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kale and stir until greens cook down enough to make room for shiitakes. Add shiitakes and soy sauce and cook until liquid is reduced and vegetables take on a crisp texture similar to crisp cooked bacon and liquid cooks off. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, add carrots and garlic and cook until carrots are tender but still crisp. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl, combine cream, Asiago, yolks and oregano. Set aside.

When pasta is al dente, drain and return to cooking pot. Immediately add reserved kale-shiitake mixture, carrot-garlic mixture. Toss together then add cream-egg mixture and stir to coat everything. The hot pasta and hot pot will cook the egg yolks. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately. Serves: 8

Adapted from a recipe provided by Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends.

Per serving: 742 calories (percent of calories from fat, 34), 24 grams protein, 99 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 28 grams fat (12 grams saturated), 213 milligrams cholesterol, 502 milligrams sodium.

Citrus Yogurt Trifle

Farmhouse trifles are made with Greek yogurt from Atlanta fresh and organic citrus from Uncle Matt’s in Florida.

6 tangelos, separated

3 pink grapefruits, separated

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

16 Butter Cookies (see recipe)

1 quart vanilla Greek yogurt

Juice 4 tangelos and 2 grapefruit. You should have 2 cups of juice. Save extra juice for another use.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups juice with honey and whisk together. In a small bowl, stir together water and cornstarch. When juice comes to a simmer, stir in cornstarch mixture. Continue heating, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool until mixture is just warm to the touch.

While juice mixture is cooling, peel remaining 2 tangelos and 1 grapefruit and separate fruit into segments. Roughly chop segments. Set aside 1/2 cup for garnish.

To assemble trifle: crumble cookies. Divide half the crumbled cookies between eight individual serving glasses or bowls. Divide 2 cups yogurt between serving dishes. Divide half the juice mixture between serving dishes. Divide the chopped fruit between serving dishes. Repeat, layering remaining cookies, yogurt and juice mixture. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight. When ready to serve, top each parfait with a sprinkle of chopped fruit set aside for garnish. Serves: 8

Adapted from a recipe provided by Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends.

Per serving: 519 calories (percent of calories from fat, 24), 10 grams protein, 91 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 14 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 53 milligrams cholesterol, 154 milligrams sodium.

Butter Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until mixture is light. Add egg, vanilla and salt and beat until well combined. Add flour and beat until well combined. Remove dough, put in small bowl, cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scoop out 2 tablespoon balls and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until cookies have set and are just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes: 30 cookies

Adapted from a recipe provided by Laurie and Will Moore of Moore Farms and Friends.

Per cookie: 124 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 1 gram protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 6 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 24 milligrams cholesterol, 39 milligrams sodium.

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