Sunday, August 8, 2010

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings Geek-sters!!!

That's right, just through this (cellar) door at the farm house is where the big bucket of 'maters is kept overnight.


Well you can't leave that many 2-pound Mortgage Lifters in the kitchen or you'll have so many fruit flies the Yankee's would complain. And we can't have that happening, now can we (heh, heh...heh, heh)?

And you can't leave them on the stoop because, well...check the geo-tag on these photos. It's the COUNTRY people. Land of deer, raccoons, rabbits, groundhogs, and even the occasional bear. You don't leave food outside (the garden, surround by mom's solar-powered, Mom-installed, electric fence being a key exception).

But that's just the overflow tomatoes that need to become soup, sauce, or gifts right quick. We're not even to the serious height of the season and Mom joked that it's a five-tomato-per-meal pace to keep up with the garden. She's only sorta joking.

There are so many Cherokee Purples, German Stripeys, Mortgage Lifters, and Orange Cherries that there are buckets in the cellar, baskets on the side counter in the kitchen, bowls of cherries (tomatoes, of course) on the kitchen counter, soup and sauce in the freezer, and a gift bag ready to be dropped into the hands of any out-of-towners who happen to invite themselves over (for a GLORIOUS weekend!!). Fortunately for Mom, she had ten extra mouths at the house this weekend.

And some of them turn out so nice the only thing you can do is call them perfects. Perfectly shaped for slicing that is. Sweet Cherokee Purples and German Stripeys. Tomatoes that aren't biting, acidic behemoths. These are the guys that make you understand why there are still folks who fight "The Man" and call tomatoes fruits. They're so sweet. You really do want to make a pie out of them.

You can't get better than a plate of tomatoes that looks like dessert. Ruby red on one side and a clone for bright yellow pineapple slices on the other side.

I couldn't figure out which I wanted to try more.

Of course, that just meant I couldn't figure out which one I wanted to try FIRST. No one went without tomato this weekend. It would have been outside of the self-preservation of the species (ours) to turn down a slice when offered. They would have taken over.

And we can't let that happen. So we slice, eat, chop, eat, peel, eat, seed...nope, Mom can't be bothered. Too much effort to get the seeds out of the uber-seedy Cherokee Purples when she was making the Tomato Bread Pudding this morning.

I'm okay with that.

It was still crispy-on-top-Challah with sweet tomatoes and gobs of egg, cream, milk, and cheese. Gruyere in with the custard, Parmesan on top.

It gets filed under "make this again SOON."

I'll probably have a bowl before I head back to the lowlands later today.

If you want to make this tasty little treat, you just need tomatoes, a few other ingredients, and "The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table." You can thank Amy Goldman for writing it.  And you will thank Victor Schrager for the amazing tomato-graphs (umm, pictures of 'maters).

I would recommend going and buying this book immediately.

I would consider pilfering it from Mom but I have much more ability to control my tomato intake these days as I split my CSA and have the option to not buy more at the market.

Mom looks out her back door every day at the garden. There are no tomato-less options to choose.

Now, for a change of pace, and just so you don't think the only thing I ate all weekend was tomatoes (though that's not far from the truth) I want to show you something very impressive.

That, dear friends, is a pot of half-runner green beans.

That's what happens with four people sit on a porch with a bags full of beans and souls full of purpose.

It helps when you also have all this...

The eggplant, squash, and peppers lightly marinated with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme and grilled until charred and tender. The chicken tenders (kids here y'all, kids) grilled plain and topped as needed with Dad's BBQ sauce recipe (cookie spices, recipe at the bottom here). The Half-Runners simmered with a sweet onion.


What's in the background?

Oh, yeah, it's the arugula and romaine salad...with chopped tomatoes!

Dad's Sweet BBQ Sauce

This is not a sauce designed for easy recipe translation. I've never seen a written copy. For example, I was low on ketchup this go around so I subbed some V8 juice and went heavy on the tomato paste to balance it out. But here goes.

1 medium onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium bottle ketchup
3 T tomato paste
4 T wet mustard
1/3-1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
4 T light brown sugar
1 T Coleman's dry mustard powder
1-2t each ground cloves, ginger, and nutmeg
1 t chili power
1 t cayenne
Salt and pepper

  1. Sweat the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and almost pulping out (low, med-low heat, for a good long while).
  2. Add salt, pepper, cookie spices, dry mustard, chili power, and cayenne and coat the onions.
  3. Add the ketchup, vinegar, wet mustard, tomato paste, and brown sugar and stir thoroughly.
  4. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the flavors have combined and adjust seasoning by adding either spice, vinegar, or sugar to balance as you like.
We used to coat the chicken and grill with the sauce on, but there's enough sugar in there that by the time the chicken is cooked, there's charred black sauce. Some of us liked that just fine. Up to you, one method is to cook the chicken completely and then dunk it in the sauce before serving. We had the grilled chicken on a platter and ladled the sauce over on our plates. You could grill the chicken fully, dunk, and then return to the grill for a slight carmelization of the sauce. Up to you.

If you had enough tomatoes, you might even make and use your own ketchup...


Unknown said...

I can't tell you how beautiful I think those heirloom tomatoes look! Here in NJ they go for over $6 a pound and everytime I buy them anyway - I think they are worth it. They are just so wonderful.


kitchengeeking said...

with a 2x3 plot of ground that gets some sun you could grow a vine or two of your own!