Only Two Things That Money Can’T Buy…….True Love And Homegrown Tomatoes - The Frazzled Pan - Cooking for Real Blog at - 118466

The Frazzled Pan - Cooking for Real

Only Two Things that Money Can’t Buy…….True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes 
Aug. 13, 2009 8:20 am 
Updated: Aug. 29, 2009 11:47 am
Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes.  What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?
I remember hearing that old country song as a kid in Chicago.  And boy could I relate! 
There’s just something about a tomato that’s grown in your own yard.  Bright red, still warm, slightly soft, and smelling of…..heaven.  It’s the smell of my childhood; slightly dusty, herbal, and fresh. That smell brings me back….
When I was a kid, my grandmother lived with us.  She was a quiet woman, born in the mountains of Pennsylvania in the small steel mill town of Jeanette.  She lived a simple life and had a soft-spoken, gracious and warm personality.  I loved her and cherished our time together.  She loved me too, unconditionally. With me, she shared her special gift - how to make the perfect tomato sandwich.
On warm summer afternoons, we would head out to the garden, hand in hand.  We’d search through the big, overgrown tomato plants and choose carefully from the bounty. On the way out, we’d grab a crisp green pepper. 
Back in the kitchen, sandwich making was serious business.  The tomatoes were sliced into thick slabs, and the pepper cut into very thin strips.  The bread was toasted just until it began to brown and spread lightly with the mayonnaise.   Tomatoes went on first, then the pepper strips, and just a bit of salt and pepper topped them off. The sandwiches were cut carefully from corner to corner, just like a “fancy restaurant”.
We’d pour a big glass of cold milk for me, an iced tea for her, and head back outside to eat our simple lunch under the old cherry tree. We’d eat slowly, savoring both our sandwiches and our special time together.
These days, I’m in Seattle.  It’s much harder to grow tomatoes here - the summer nights are cool, and the days just don’t get hot enough for a bumper crop. I try though, settling for small varieties that mature quickly. I watch them closely, waiting patiently for the first harvest….and memories that flood back with my first tomato sandwich of the season.
homegrown tomatoes
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on the vine
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Aug. 13, 2009 8:55 am
Wonderful story! I also can relate so much, as I can't even put into words the feeling of stepping out among those tomato plants. It's the aroma of the plant itself, and there is nothing better than a home grown tomato. I have to try that sandwich, as I LOVE just tomato, but the green pepper sounds great. I didn't put in a garden this year for numerous reasons, but truly miss it terribly. I'm already planning a huge one for next year. I have a pic in my profile of my plants a few years back :)
Aug. 13, 2009 8:58 am
In 2 words......"Simply Devine". I can completely relate to the intoxicating, ethereal, scent of a homegrown tomato. For me, it defines summer. That is a sweet memory you have. Treasure it.
Aug. 13, 2009 9:24 am
what a great story!! i live in chicago and my beefsteaks are just turning red!! i cant wait to have that sandwhich and think about gramma!!!!
Aug. 13, 2009 10:43 am
I can remember VERY clearly standing in my grandparents garden where there were maybe 20 or more tomato bushes planted. Gramma always canned plenty of veggies to help get them through winter months so the supply seemed endless to a 5 year old. I was perfectly content to stand amongst the tomato bushes with those huge bright red globes of pure summer bliss and eat them right off the vine! That, to me and to this day, defines some of my happiest childhood moments. We didn't have to worry about chemicals and having to wash them before eating. Life and tomatoes were soooo sweet!
Aug. 13, 2009 11:27 am
I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am very jealous. We have late blight in upstate NY this summer, so the only tomatoes are from the commercial growers who have been spraying who-knows-what on their plants every few days. My plants have all been pulled. Very sad. The blight also affects potatoes (as in Irish potato famine) but at least some of the potatoes can be eaten when the plants are pulled. Blancdeblanc and others, I'm glad you are taking a moment to savor your bounty and your good fortune to be free of this blight. Enjoy!
Aug. 13, 2009 11:27 am
This is a very touching story. I can not relate to this story because my family never had a garden but I do want these kinds of memories for my children.
Aug. 13, 2009 11:39 am
wow, cat lady, those plants were incredible!! I'm looking forward to your garden pics next year!
Aug. 13, 2009 11:40 am
Bonnie, I'm so sorry to hear about your tomatoes! Can travel south a bit and hit a farmer's market??
Aug. 13, 2009 11:43 am
Josephine, I've seen your beautiful flower garden pictures! Lovely.
Aug. 13, 2009 3:58 pm
Ummm...I can relate. :) There's nothing like fresh homegrown tomatoes fresh from the vine. (Fresh as in three-seconds-ago-this-was-sitting-on-the-plant fresh!)
Aug. 14, 2009 11:17 am
Oh, that sounds so good. I always forget how the simplest things can be so memorable. If I ripen another Seattle tomato, this is exactly what I'll do with it!
Aug. 15, 2009 5:04 pm
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. Villa Park is where I got my love for tomatoes. My best friend and I would sneak out at night and raid the neighbor's tomato plants. Fresh off the vine with just salt. Of course, now I feel bad about stealing tomatoes. But grow my own in front of the house so the neighbor kids can help themselves. They need to bring their own salt, tho!
Julie LaFond 
Aug. 20, 2009 9:08 pm
I can relate! My grandparents always had about 20 tomato plants. Great memories of picking the tomatoes and making our sandwiches; however we did them a bit differently. We used white bread, never toasted, with thick sliced tomatoes, mayo, salt and plenty of black pepper. That's all, no green peppers. I'm sure it is good that way, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the ones that I had with my grandparents! This year, my husband planted 1 plant in a pot and so far I've had about 5 tomatoes. Right now there are 24 growing, but who's counting? lol Actually, I wish we could remember what type of tomato plant this is, because it is the best in the world! They aren't huge, but they are so flavorful!
Aug. 20, 2009 11:38 pm
Wow, what wonderful memories you have brought back for me. When I was growing up my parents were not very rich, but we always had a vegetable garden and we were never hungry. We also had a cow which my parents milked and I used to help make the butter. But tomatoes are such a big part of my life - that might sound strange, but even now I just adore them. My father used to fry tomatoes and we would have them on toast - oh, what a lovely taste. I love to have tomatoes with chicken - I think their flavours together are great. I have a recipe that I make all the time with chicken and tomatoes, corn and bacon - yummy! I think someone else said that that they liked the smell of the foliage too - I know what you mean. Thanks for the memories. Lorraie
Aug. 21, 2009 5:12 am
I always tell anyone who has never gardened and wants to that if you do not have much room to garden, at least put in a couple of tomato plants because of all things you can grow in a garden.........nothing beats a fresh tomato!
Aug. 21, 2009 6:35 am
all of the above letters are great it made my daddy was a wonderful father and loved his garden and kids! he grew every thing. we lived in lincoln park,nj.the dirt was great there.the tomatoes were sooooooo Big and good not like that i've added years on to my self i live in i can't grow a thing.bugs ate up every thing in the garden even the flowers.the bug spray is like burning your money.maybe next year will be better!GOD BLESS the tomato!
Aug. 21, 2009 8:46 am
When I was growing up, after WWII was over, we no longer had a vegetable garden, but my Mom always grew tomatoes. My family used sugar, not salt. My mom would put a plate on the table at dinner time with thick slices of her tomatoes still warm from the vine. Yum! This year I planted my tomatoes very early (had tomatoes by July 4), but now the vines are tired and the tomatoes are not getting ripe. I'm buying fresh tomatoes at the farmers' market. Next year, I'll also plant some beefsteaks so to get a longer growing (eating) season.
Aug. 21, 2009 9:21 am
I knew there were other tomato worshippers out there! Thanks for your beautiful stories! viva tomato!
Aug. 21, 2009 3:03 pm
Great story! I just came in from my garden, trying to keep the squirrels and jays out of them is a job in itself. Yes, it's my beeksteaks that the critters love the best also. Happy Eating!!
Alice nr Atl. 
Aug. 21, 2009 7:37 pm
Oh how I wish ya'll were near me, I have cherry tomatoes rotting on the vine here. Several years ago, after I'd enriched this clay, I planted ONE plant. I can't keep up with all the tomatoes! They are so prolific and seed themselves as do my impatiens. If anyone wants some seeds just let me know. Alice
Aug. 21, 2009 8:50 pm
My shed has a salt shaker ... I have already enjoyed a few warmed in the sun, perfectly ripe tomatoes already this year! There is just nothing better! For us, we celebreate the first ripe tomatoes with BLT sandwiches. I fry enough bacon so we can take them for lunch too! Just nothing better than home grown tomoatoes! We planted 24 plants this year... yup, I'll be doing some canning! That will be starting soon! I can't wait for the first batch of Salsa, V8 juice and sauce! It is worth every bit of work! By the way, you know your getting old when you would rather be in your garden than have sex... hey... did you see my tomatoes? :O)
Aug. 22, 2009 4:41 am
Hi all: Tomatoes are slow-growing in our neck of the woods this year, too much rain but I see some some green and yellow ones on my plants now, after a full week of sunshine. The first ripe one that comes along, I will pick, lick, put some salt on it and just eat it like a fruit that it is. I'll make a sandwich only with the second one, lol.
Aug. 22, 2009 7:51 pm
Wonderful story! I too remember being in the garden with my Mom and Gramma, tomato plants bigger than me! I helped as much as I could, a little more every year as I got bigger. My favorite was to eat a tomato like an apple with salt on it, juice running down my chin. I eat tomatoes with everything so I plant about seven plants every year. All different types and every year I like to try something new. Thank You to all the Grammas that made these memories possible. I know I am a child again everytime I smell a fresh tomato from my own garden or pinch that glorious foilage.
Aug. 22, 2009 8:00 pm
Louie, your story touch my heart ,I'm a farm girl and tomatoes are a big part of my life always have been too! Not strange! Your chicken recipe sounds like it is wonderful :)
Aug. 24, 2009 3:00 pm
we had so many tomatoes toward the end of the season that we developed our own recipes. One of my favorites was "Tomato parmigiana". First slice the beefsteak or any large tomato into 1/4" slices. Dip in olive oil mixed with 2 tbsp. of water. Next, roll in seasoned breadcrumbs and place on cookie sheet. Add pecorino romano cheese, basil leaf and mozzarella cheese to each slice. Bake until brown and mozzarella is bubbly. Mmmmmm
Aug. 29, 2009 11:47 am
I'm right there with you except the grandmother part....I'm the grammy but the smell...taste....and granddaughters are the best....Our tomatoes were so good this year and lots of them....Yum
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About Me
I recently returned to work full time and -- life's gotten pretty hectic. I have 2 really busy (and really hungry) teenage girls, a very active husband and an old yellow lab who really misses having me around the house. I love to cook and feel that sitting down to a meal with the family is really important. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or, frankly, the energy, to put a lot of work into meals every night. I'm determined to figure out how to get a delicious and healthy family dinner on the table with a minimum of fuss. As I figure it out, I'll post on my blog.
My favorite things to cook
I went to culinary school, taught cooking classes and read cookbooks for entertainment. Do we eat a gourmet meal every night? No way. Weeknight meals are quick and easy and, usually, nutritious. Weekends are when I have fun with my food. My weekend favorites: anything Greek, anything Italian, breads, soups and braises. I like trying new foods and techniques and love to have dinner parties.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Dolmathes (Greek rolled grape leaves) for birthdays, gnocci for Christmas Eve, pitzelle cookies with my Italian pitzelle iron, jack-o-lantern cake for Halloween and avgolemono soup for whoever is in need of comfort.
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