Coastal Alabama Farmers & Fishermens Market


Located in Foley, Alabama

Fourth of July Brunswick Stew

Overwhelming Information and a 4th of July Recipe

Do you feel overwhelmed with information about “healthy eating?”  In spite of all the advice we receive about healthy eating, Americans still suffer from higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases caused by poor eating habits more so than ever before.  One major problem, in my opinion, is that over the years we have received so much contradictory information that we tend to quit listening.  Fats are bad.  No, wait, we need good fats.  We need high carbohydrate diets.  No, wait, carbs are bad.  High protein diets.  No, wait, meat is bad.  Lots of seafood.  No, wait, heavy metals in fish are bad.  So, we give up and go through the fast food drive-in.

What we really should be doing is following relatively simple advice: eat a variety of foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains; and farm fresh eggs and meats.  Get more exercise.  And watch how much we eat (guilty).  Stripping away some of the advice that I find difficult to believe, I have found some advice along the way that makes sense.  Sorry, I don’t remember all the sources or I would properly give references.


  • If your grandparents wouldn’t recognize something as being food, don’t eat it.
  • Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce.  (Similar to the grandparent advice)
  • Eat plenty of seasonal foods.  (Sounds like an invitation to a farmers’ market)
  • Add a variety of plant-based foods to your diet. (ditto above)
  • Eat your vegetables colorfully.  (I like this plain, simple advice.  Of course, following this advice would result in eating foods that provide a variety of vitamins and nutrients.)
  • Never eat an amount of meat or seafood larger than the palm of your hand.  (This one is the hardest for me, but it’s a good way to ration proportionally the amount I need … and no more.)


Obviously, the best place for us to find the foods we need is at Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermens Market and Forland Family Market.  Nothing makes me feel healthier than a plate full of vegetables on Saturday night after having selected foods at the Market based on the advice above.  Just not too much, I keep reminding myself.  Plus, there are a variety of farm raised meats available in unique sizes (like the size of my palm) other than the factory produced versions in grocery stores and a variety of seafood caught in the Gulf.


Another thing I love to do at the market is talk with the farmers and vendors about how they prepare foods.  They have lots of ideas and are willing to spend time telling you.  (Okay, when customers are stacked up waiting, I just come back later when they’re not busy.) Baking, stir frying, lots of ways other than, as my mother always put it, “drowning your vegetables and cooking the nutrients out.”  By the way, another thing my mother always said that I thought was good advice that she gave me, “You weren’t born loving fried chicken.  Bake it.”  But, that’s another blog.

In other matters, in my family we have our traditional foods for holidays and most of the time, the foods are not what others might consider to be traditional.  For instance, for Thanksgiving, we have gumbo or some other seafood dish.  For New Years’ Day, we have red beans and rice for good luck.   Here’s recipe for our Fourth of July meal tradition, including ingredients that can be found at the Market.  Normally, I share recipes based on foods I found that day at the Market, but this is a special holiday recipe that will take a little planning ahead and I offer to you my recipe for Brunswick Stew utilizing ingredients from the Market.


Fourth of July Brunswick Stew

“Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.”  ~ Kahlil Gibran




Whole chicken (NatureNine Farms)

2 cups of thinly sliced onions (from various vendors)

2 cups of diced celery (Forland Family Market)

1 ham hock (George Family Farm or NatureNine Farms)

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen)

¼ cup chopped parsley (plants available at the Market)

1 diced jalapeno pepper (various vendors)

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 pound potatoes (from various vendors) (Any type will do, but I like red potatoes quartered)

3 cups lima beans (from various vendors, but if not available then frozen will have to do)

3 cups corn (from various vendors, but if not available then frozen will have to do)

Sea salt

Ground pepper

Hot sauce




1.Cook a whole chicken in a large pot with water.  Slow, rolling boil about 4 hours.  Add water as needed to keep covered, but just barely. 

2.Let cool.  Pull meat, tearing into small pieces, and set aside.  Discard bones and chicken skin.

3.Add onions, celery, and green peppers to the broth.  Add sea salt and ground pepper.  Cook on medium heat until vegetables are wilted.

4.Add ham hock, tomatoes, parsley, jalapeno, and Worcestershire.  Cook on low for 90 minutes.  At this point until the end you want to let the water evaporate and make a thick stew.  Go easy on adding water as you will want a thick stew unless you are expecting a lot of company and then do as they say in Louisiana, “Baptize it.”

5.In another pot, cook diced potatoes under tender.  Drain.  Let cool.  Mash coarsely and reserve.  (Note:  I save potato water for soups and stews.  You can add this water to the stew if you need more water)

6.Add lima beans and cook for 20 minutes. 

7.Cut off any meat from the ham hock and return to the stew pot. Add chicken back to the stew.      

8.Add corn and cook 10 minutes.

9.Add potatoes and cook 10 minutes.

10.Turn off heat and let sit covered for 1 hour.  (If still watery, let sit uncovered)

11.Warm the stew to serving temperature when ready to eat.


I serve this stew with cornbread and a selection of pilsner beer and red and white wine.  Set the table with sea salt and a bottle of hot sauce for individual tastes.


I hope you enjoy.  Happy 4th of July!


See you at the Market. 

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