Sweet Sorghum in Summer

When Good Foods Market & Café—aka "the Coop"—asked me to bring sweet sorghum syrup and be part of its annual Local Foods Celebration on July 6, I said "yes," with questions. First, could their good chefs reprise the spoonbread they made for a local foods tasting several months ago? Absolutely. Second, I asked myself whether sorghum would have any appeal in hot, sticky July.

Sorghum goes beautifully with autumn and winter. When I wrote Sweet, Sweet Sorghum I included Chef Ouita Michel's splendid recipe for Sorghum Bourbon Vinaigrette, hoping summer salads and slaws would keep readers' sorghum jars in use year-round.

"Don't worry in advance," says my Best Man. (Isn't all worry done in advance?) In this case, the advice worked perfectly. In the first place, the day was cool and rainy, and we hadn't seen sun in days. Much more important, chef Lynn at Good Foods produced six pans of Kentucky spoonbread, the perfect base for sorghum any time of year. Streams of people—more like a river—tasted the combo. For nearly all, a rhythm set in: slow lift of wooden tasting spoon to mouth, chew and taste, close eyes, "mmMMMMmmmm. That's GOOD." And it was. 

Spoonbread is, in James Beard's words, a "heavy soufflé," and, in mine, a kind of soft, tender cornbread people in Kentucky and the South make for Sunday dinner or special occasions. With the tenderizing, lifting power of eggs, the earthiness of corn, and the lusciousness of butter, ingredients completely grown on the farm combined to make sophisticated comfort food. Topped with on-farm sorghum, nothing could be finer.

Recently a friend shared an old Boone Tavern spoonbread recipe, bringing my collection of working spoonbread recipes to three. (Boone Tavern is the iconic Berea College restaurant; hot fresh spoonbread greets each diner.)

Good Foods treasures Ann Marx, left, and Anne Hopkins, in matching tees, led the large crew of workers supporting the Eat Local Celebration.

And this, dear readers, happened five times: we sampled the pans clean, and people mmmMMMMMed. 


Good Foods Market & Café sponsors Savoring Kentucky.