Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tomatoes, I will eat you even if you refuse to ripen up

The tomato crop this year was, in a word, lousy.  They smelled musty after a couple of days, they just didn't taste as good as they do in most years, and they fell prey to things like rot.  It was a frustrating year for tomato lovers.

(Just as a ranty aside, this is why I roll my eyes and bark at people who lecture others that they should just garden because it's good for the earth or because it will save them money or whatever.  You do not just throw seeds into the ground and harvest truckloads of delicious produce.  You have critters that get to them.  You have blight.  You have cool wet summers that the vegetables don't like so much, or hot dry summers that make them wither on the stalks.  You have weeds--especially if you don't use a tarp or have enough mulch.  It is hard, back breaking work.  Though I immensely enjoy it--even when the crops aren't great--not everyone does.  And sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just won't get a good crop of something.  Not to mention the fact that you can get carried away and end up spending way more on gardening than you would have just buying your produce if you're not careful.  One thing about gardening: it makes me realize that if I had to rely strictly on my own abilities to get food, I'd either be dead or dangerously skinny.)

But I did not let this stop me.  At the end of the season, there were a lot of green tomatoes to be had.  My mother urged me to come over and take whatever was left in my parents' garden--I got a lot of cherry tomatoes and green tomatoes, and the remaining ripe romas, which I canned.  I made pickles out of the cherry and green tomatoes, but that's another post for another day.

I did want to try fried green tomatoes.  I figured it had to be similar to fried zucchini.  At any rate, I did this myself and didn't follow an established recipe--I just sliced the green tomatoes, dipped them in flour, dipped them in egg, and coated them in bread crumbs (I put salt and pepper in the flour and the bread crumbs had Italian seasoning in them).  I fried them until they were brown on both sides.  I brought these to church for coffee hour and also brought some salsa in case people thought they were a bit bland.  Everyone liked them--they didn't need the salsa for them.  I liked them as well; they were good even cold.

That is the thing about gardening and eating a little more locally--sometimes, you have to try new ways of eating things.  I'd never had a green tomato before (unless it was an heirloom and it was green when it was ripe).  Not fried, not pickled, not in any way.  But I was not getting truckloads of succulent, tasty and bright red tomatoes, and I was determined to get something out of these.  We had a cool and rainy June and I think that just made the plants cranky.  Or I have a cyanide thumb.

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