Tuesday, August 24, 2010

15 High WASP Practices For Growing And Using Tomatoes

1. Buy an organic seedling at your locally-owned nursery. You approve of capitalism, but prefer not to ravage the planet with the chemicals of agribusiness.

2. Plant said plant in your front yard. What? That's where the sun is, that's where the tomato plant is going, the neighbors will understand. And no, we don't think it's overly quirky.

3. Install simple drip irrigation. It's very nice to rough it, and grow food, and all, but we're not going to stand around with a watering can for days on end. Thank you very much.

4. Rebel against cages. Decide you are going to stake your tomato plant simply, with dignity. Drive a stake into the ground. Imagine you are done. Spend the next couple of months tying your plant to said stake with unsightly white twine, searching wildly for more stakes, and even using your kids old stilts for yet another stake. Eventually simply lay your excess tomato plant branches on top of your basil plants and hope for the best.

5. Wring your hands at the unbearable cute of your first green tomato. High WASPs like to wring our hands, it ties us to our heritage.

6. Curse the same green tomato when it takes forever to ripen, even as all around you people are forecasting bruschetta with a chance of basil.

7. Read that you need to prune suckers, those little vestigial branches that grow next to real branches. Hear that Accordion and Lace's mother's wisdom from the old world says you prune the third branch from the third branch. Realize that since you don't have an old world any more you'll do as told. Try to prune. Get lost in the scent of tomato branches on your hand, and the marjoram that you've crushed in your efforts. Go have a glass of wine. Remember France. And childhood. Back then even sunscreen smelled good.

8. Squeal when your first tomato reddens. Look at it closely. Repeatedly, like a toddler at Christmas.

9. Pluck your tomato carefully, as though it might explode. Feel the shock as it separates from its stem. Revere the process.

10. Make Fresh Bruschetta for your son. Chop your one tomato. It really is yours. Add 2 or 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic and a handful of basil leaves, shredded by hand in a surprising fit of sensuality. Add some olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Slice a sweet baguette into little ovals and toast them. Doesn't matter how. Sit at the counter and eat quite impolitely, spooning the bruschetta on to toast, and murmuring in pleasure.

11. Go outside one morning and realize that you have built it and they will come. Prepare for tomatoes galore. Go buy fresh mozzarella, (bocconcini are good) combine with more basil and call it Caprese Salad. Even if you never go near a plate.

12. Roast a bunch of tomatoes in the oven at high heat until they collapse in their own sugars. Smear the resultant jammy mess on everything.

13. Make Raw Tomato Pasta With Goat Cheese.

1 1/2 lb firm ripe tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil (leaves from as many stalks as you can grab in one hand) If you are tired of basil use some other herb. Parsley. A little marjoram.
8 tablespoons of the best olive oil you can find
salt to taste
4 oz of the best goat cheese you can find
1 lb good quality spaghetti

Core, seed, and chop the tomatoes into very small dice. Chop the basil coarsely. Combine tomatoes, basil, olive oil and salt in a large pasta bowl. Crumble goat cheese into small pieces and add to bowl. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water. When tender but al dente, drain, add to bowl, mix, serve.

Don't make cooked pasta sauce, San Marzano canned tomatoes meet those requirements perfectly.

14. Make soup. For a change-up to all-tomatoes-want-to-be Italian, try very easy Chinese Tomato Noodle Soup.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 large ripe but firm tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
2 scallions, trimmed and minced
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake
21/2 tablespoons soy sauce
5 cups Chinese chicken broth (to make quickly, combine 3 cups commercial chicken broth, 3 cups water, 1/3 cup rice wine or sake, 4 slices smashed ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 20 minutes )
1 teaspoon or less of salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 frozen peas, thawed
1/2 very fine noodles, somen, capellini, cooked until just tender then rinsed under warm water and drained.

Stir fry tomatoes and scallions in oil until fragrant (~10 seconds), add rice wine and soy sauce, cook for one minute, stirring. Add broth, salt and pepper, simmer for 5 minutes. Add peas, cooked for 30 seconds. Add noodles, cook for 30 seconds until just hot. Serve.

15. Give the rest of your tomatoes away. Stave off the end of summer with generosity. Pretend that this will go on forever. Tomato plants, like the High WASP species, end as abundance starts to decay, faintly, perfumed. With tomatoes, as with High WASP family fortunes, charity redeems most excesses.

Image: Me. My very own tomato. I grew it myself.
Raw tomato sauce pasta recipe via Pasta Fresca
Chinese Tomato Noodle soup via Nina Simonds Asian Noodles

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Blogger WorthyStyle said...

Dukes Mayo (if you can even get that in California) with some salt, pepper, and a big chunky slice of tomato is the best!

August 24, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I love your post...it is surprisingly sensual...food is love in my patch!
You've made me hungry...
BTW my tomatoes are caged in bright yellow!

I also took great delight in your words..."Tomato plants, like the High WASP species, end as abundance starts to decay, faintly, perfumed"
(an amazing picture)

August 24, 2010 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Susan B said...

Thanks for these receipes and ideas! I planted cherry tomatoes this year, as I'm the only one in my household who actually eats tomatoes (unless one counts ketchup). Now I wish I'd planted some heirlooms too. Next year.

August 24, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Tish Jett said...

This is EXACTLY the ticket. And yes, I too get weirdly and wildly excited over the daily progress. Isn't the "Daily Progress" something WASPy?

Here's the thing though. In this household, much to my dismay everyone (that's one person because I honestly don't care and two dogs who do not eat vegetables) likes HIS tomatoes PEELED (!) I just bought a special peeler. In this way I am told by people I know who really know how to cook as opposed to moi meme, everything is better that way.

Let me know if you have an opinion on the subject. I refuse to go the boiled water, burn the fingers route -- been there, done that waaay too many times.

August 24, 2010 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Muffy said...

Yesssss. Tomatoes! The ultimate home grown indulgence! Sweeter, better, OURS.

August 24, 2010 at 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get terribly excited from anything that comes in from the garden be it flowers, herbs or produce. I've just made rosemary and black olive focaccia, I want that tom!

August 24, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

that striated heirloom purple is gorgeous, lisa - a fine tomato crop indeed!

August 24, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Susan Tiner said...

I love "Imagine you are done. So true. Agree about the San Marzanos. Thank you for the recipes -- printing now!

August 24, 2010 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Adventures Along The Way said...

A couple weeks ago, I ate the first tomato off of my very first tomato plant and now am eagerly awaiting the four still-green tomoatos. I will have to try some bruschetta...yum.

And my plant was gifted to me with a nifty green velcro thing that is used to tie it to the stake. It blends in pretty well to the stalk. :)

August 24, 2010 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger mette said...

I´m willing to try that raw tomato sauce pasta! It sounds simple enough for me, healthier too. Thanks for an interesting post!

August 24, 2010 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Adorable post! I grew a giant heirloom black tomato plant this year and you would think those t'mater are golden eggs the way I squeal with delight over them.

August 24, 2010 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Miss Janey said...

Yum... Miss J's are doing so poorly, much of this will never come to pass.

August 24, 2010 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jan said...

This Low WASP already has basil, tomatoes, bocconcini and some obscenely expensive olive oil waiting to become Caprese Salad.

The rest of the tomatoes? Are becoming salsa, tomato sauce, and just plain peeled and canned, whatever I can manage to do with them. I would take all of YOUR leftover tomatoes, if I could, but it would kinda defeat the whole "local and sustainable" thing, wouldn't it?

August 24, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger elle said...

I love that High WASPs squeal at the first reddening of their first tomato. That is an extremely endearing quality.

August 24, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like a farmer when I harvest off my three plants. One great way to eat them? In hand, like an apple, while still holding the sun's warmth. Extra points for standing in the front yard while one does this.


August 24, 2010 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jessica Ryan said...

I want to eat now. Tomatoes. Raw. Cooked. In pasta. On toast. As a sauce... or soup... gazpacho... that's it!! I'm off to make some gazpacho with my tomatoes!!!!

There is simply nothing better than a homegrown tomato!

August 24, 2010 at 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this post! Love!

And I learned something about pruning... which would have helped by extremely leggy tomato plants produce better!

Thank you.

August 24, 2010 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

@Worthington- OMG. You are talking my language. Talk about a great summer sandwich.

August 24, 2010 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I love a post about homegrown tomatoes. Although a squirrel keeps making off with our Roma tomatoes about a day before they're fully ripe, which is making me INSANE with rage. Tomatoes inspire so much passion in me.

August 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger QueenBeeSwain said...

yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! passing along to Dadley, he goes overboard with his tomato garden each summer!


August 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Maria | Vintage Simple said...

Fantastic! I loved your description and the sweet crescendo of anticipation... :) And your son is back from Buenos Aires, I see. I'll have to scroll down and find out if you've written about that already.

much love,

August 24, 2010 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger materfamilias said...

I'm so very envious -- very little beats vine-ripened tomato, sun-warmed -- and with the addition of basil, olive oil, bocconcini, and some balsamic vinager . . . ah! perfection!!
besides that, I love fried green tomatoes with my bacon and eggs -- I've never seen them sold green, and I assume the only way to get this treat is to grow them yourself -- and you did! Hooray!

August 24, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger North of 25A said...

I think I could handle #12, 13 and 14 by going to an Italian market...which I will need to do tomorrow since I am now in desperate need of some smeared tomato jammy mess!

August 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Faux Fuchsia said...

What a lovely post.

In my Old Testament Conditions Style Garden tomatoes are eaten by possums and other varmints before I can get my mitts on them to make exciting products like salads and bruschetta, but you will be happy to know I grow them front centre in my front garden.

August 24, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Semi Expat said...

A great post - and congratulations on your Very Own Home Grown Tomatoes... I am most envious. Great recipes too. x

August 25, 2010 at 5:06 AM  
Blogger Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

With your magic tomato thumb, can you come to South Florida and grow amazaing tomatos for me? They don't grow, they're awful and the stores are not worth buying (even stand/organic markets).
We're heading to Kentucky for a last minute trip this weekend and my MIL has a basket of tomatos just for me, to eat like apples.
Can't wait.

August 25, 2010 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Sharpiegirl said...

I'm so envious of your tomatoes. Our poor tomato plants burned up in the heat wave we've been enjoying. 0ver 20 days of 100+ temps will do that.
I think we are going to pull up everything and plant a few in September for the fall garden. Hopefully those will do better.

August 25, 2010 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger tintarosa said...

Glad you had tomato success. We had loads of green tomatoes stolen by a critter in the middle of the night. I'll be ready next year witha have-a-heart trap.

August 25, 2010 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Adventures Along The Way said...

@ materfamilias: Thanks for mentioning fried green tomatoes! I haven't had those in years, but now I am eager to try cooking them myself!

August 25, 2010 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

That is one heck of a beautiful tomato, missy! Good job!

My father grew tomatoes, when I was a kid. He'd come home, take off his jacket, fix a drink and go survey his crops. Then, they would all ripen and rot while he was away in August.

August 25, 2010 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

very helpful, for those of us behind in the season.

August 25, 2010 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Worthington - I'm thinking that's a Southern exclusive:).

Hostess - Thank you. I'm dying for a shot of your bright yellow cages.

Deja - You're welcome:).

Tish - I still burn my finger or just say to heck with it and keep the skin on. Daily Progress is a High WASP thing. All the slow and steady stuff. Tortoises, etc.

Muffy - Num!

Tabitha - Rosemary and black olives? Sounds delicious.

lauren - Thank you for the taxonomy. I was always terrible at biology.

August 25, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Vintage - Yes, my son is back from Buenos Aires and already dreaming of returning. Only regrets that he spent so much time with American friends that his Spanish didn't improve quite as much as he would have hoped.

Mater - I have got to try frying some green tomatoes.

North of 25A - Wow, the only place I've ever seen an Italian market was in Philadelphia. How nice.

FF - Impunity! Vegetables out front!

Semi - Thank you so much.

Southern Living - Why don't tomatoes grow in South Florida? Is it so different from New Jersey? Too hot?

August 25, 2010 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Susan - Thank you:).

Adventures - Next year, velcro!

Mette - With good tomatoes it can't be beaten.

Preppy Pink - Ha! Golden eggs. Exactly.

Miss Janey - Oh no. Moment of silence.

Jan - I will be following your tomato recipes and stories. Avidly.

August 25, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

agirl - I am so happy to be endearing in any way at all

Stacy - Front yard 'maters! New movement. Also sunshine:).

Entertaining - I love your enthusiasm...

Moveover - Thank Accordions for the pruning advice. I do:).

Angie - If I liked mayo I would clearly have to give this a try.

Accordions - I keep checking for wildlife depredations.

August 25, 2010 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Queen Bee Swain (sorry I missed you above in order) - Eat up!

Sharpiegirl - I think that sounds good, starting again.

tintarosa - Yes, critters have other options:).

Adventures - Me too:)

Patsy - What a killer story. So Updike.

jamie - You're welcome. I would love to see you photograph maters.

August 25, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Nellie said...

Two favorite ways for tomatoes around here - and DH grew quite a few of them this season - would be simply with some of that mayo mentioned earlier on a good slice of whole wheat bread, topped with some fresh basil leaves, plus another slice of bread. Also, can't forget that BLT! So good on toast, with avocado spread on one slice and healthy turkey bacon - homegrown lettuce, too, if we're lucky.

August 25, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Captain Dumbass said...

Good thing I'm actually eating lunch as I read this or I'd be really really hungry.

August 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Miss Whistle said...

Agreed on all counts, except for the watering can. I rather love watering cans for their nostalgia value (does that sound rather queer?). You've made me enormously, gluttonously hungry.
xx Miss W

August 25, 2010 at 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So proud of your tomato! As suggested above, if you're not into homemade mayo, a little Duke's is the perfect compliment to a 'mater. Enjoy!

August 26, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Porter said...

I am here for a while now....enough re-posting my entire blog....I really do not like Picassa or picasso or what-ever-the-hell it's called.
Anyway, I have found some good juicy posts to read here so I just wanted you to know I'm hangin out, yep, me and the vines!
p.s. I think you like raising eyebrows almost as much as I do.

August 28, 2010 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I had just a few tomatoes this year, and it was such a disappointment because I was so excited for a deluge!

Next year I'm giving them more room and a separate area - I think they were crowded and some of the leafiness around them prevented them from getting all the sun they needed.

Also - a question for you - do you think it's possible to over-prune the suckers? I read article and article saying the best way to produce full-flavor tomatoes is to prune and let them grow upright only, that by concentrating the sugars into one main line of a plant you can avoid the mealiness that too many garden tomatoes have. So I did this with gusto. Only... did I unknowingly prune away the best parts of the plant? I'm going to run side-by-side experiments next year.

September 12, 2010 at 7:39 AM  

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