Palmer Home Is Near and Dear to Elizabeth Heiskell, The Debutante Farmer

December 13, 2018

Elizabeth Heiskell is a household name throughout the South. The author of several cookbooks, including her newest release in November, The Southern Living Party Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Gathering, connects with people through her fuss-free recipes, flare for style, and hilarious storytelling.

Love for children, food, and entertaining are evident in everything Elizabeth does. Whether she’s harvesting tomatoes in the garden on her family farm, Woodson Ridge Farm in Oxford, Mississippi, catering a wedding reception, or demonstrating how to make ice cream layer cake on the set of the “Today” show, the Debutante Farmer is bound to be infusing laughter and fun into every moment. Elizabeth’s spirit for family, service, and Palmer Home for Children exudes her trademark passion as well.

Elizabeth was first introduced to Palmer Home when she was a student at Presbyterian Day School in Cleveland, Mississippi. At the end of her sixth-grade year she and her classmates spent the day on the Columbus campus. They cooked supper, played games, and enjoyed activities together with the children at Palmer Home.

“It was our biggest event of the year,” she said. “It was just magical. I thought we might be sad and need to cheer up the children living there, but what was so amazing to me was how happy all of the kids were. They were so filled with joy, love, and hope. They were amazing kids.”

Elizabeth left Palmer Home with an invaluable life lesson written on her heart.

“We are not stuck,” she said. “Regardless of the situation, you can always find peace and hope when you are rooted in God. When He is at the core you can be joy-filled.”

The children at Palmer Home made a lasting impression on Elizabeth; one she would never forget.

After moving to her farm in Oxford, Elizabeth reconnected with Palmer Home and became involved with supporting the ministry that has held a special connection since childhood. She hosted a Farm-to-Table event at her farm, where the Treblemakers, Palmer Home’s children’s choir, sang for the dinner guests. She also catered the inaugural Tailgate for Palmer event on the Ole Miss campus in 2016, and has participated in our annual Radiothon over the years as well.

Elizabeth visited the Columbus campus toward the end of the summer this year where she spent time with the children at the greenhouses. She was thoroughly impressed with the brilliant agriculture program, but what captivated her most were the hearts of the children. After harvesting all of the watermelons, the students donated them to the children at the local Boys and Girls Club.

“Regardless of trials, we still have to remember to give back, to take care of others,” Elizabeth said. “This is ingrained in these kids. Not only is Palmer Home growing wonderful produce on their land, but they are also growing kids who are learning to work and to be accountable; kids who are learning to take care of the land and themselves. They are raising children who will be amazing citizens, who will know how to impact the communities in this state or wherever they choose to live.

“The reason why Palmer Home works so beautifully is because at the core of everything there, it all goes back to God. God is evident everywhere! Magic happens there. It’s miraculous.”

At Palmer Home, cottages typically include 6-8 children. Finding a recipe that everyone loves (and is easy!) can be a tough task for houseparents. But, Elizabeth knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd. She shared one of her favorite recipes that is sure to make a houseparent’s (or anyone’s, for that matter!) night a little easier: The Yoste Roast – simple, delicious, and a tried and true crowd-pleaser. Enjoy!

Yoste Roast

If my friend Julie Yoste hears you are sick, sad, or have an ingrown toenail, she is sure to show up with her Yoste Roast. When I shared this recipe on the “Today” show, friends from all over the country sent me pictures of the grocery store aisle where the shelf of pepperoncini peppers was completely empty. This roast is perfect as it is, but there is an epic sandwich just waiting to be built from the leftovers. Cut a crusty French bread loaf lengthwise down the center. Pile the roast on the bottom piece, cover with sliced provolone cheese, and broil until the cheese melts. Spread horseradish mayo on the top piece of bread and cover the sandwich. Forget Philly, call it a Delta cheesesteak. If your principles will not allow you to add a stick of butter, this recipe is just as delicious without it.

                                  Yoste Roast | Alison Miksch – Photographer | Kay Clarke – Prop Stylist | Anna Hampton – Food Stylist

Serves 8  Hands-on 15 minutes Total 8 hours, 15 minutes

1 (4-pound) boneless chuck roast

2 teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 (0.6-ounce) envelope zesty Italian salad dressing and seasoning mix

1 (16-ounce) jar pepperoncini peppers, undrained

4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) salted butter, softened (optional)

Garnish: fresh thyme

  1. Pat the roast dry with paper towels; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high; add the roast, and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place the roast in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker; sprinkle the seasoning mix over the roast. Pour the pepperoncini peppers and liquid over the roast. Top with the  butter, if desired.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW until roast is very tender, about 8 hours, or on HIGH, about 5 hours.
  4. Remove the roast from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Serve with roasted root vegetables. Garnish, if desired.

Join us #atthetable this Christmas season and help hope grow! Donate online. Your donation allows Palmer Home to continue providing superior care to children in need. Share you moments #atthetable with us on Facebook, @PalmerHome.