09 June 2008

A Bit of Earth

She wants a little bit of earth
She'll plant some seeds
The seeds will grow
The flowers bloom
Their beauty just the thing she needs
~ A Bit of Earth

It is something out of a B movie from the 1950s: attack of the killer tomatoes! Beefsteak and Roma tomatoes are the latest victims in the Salmonella Wars. Yet another reason to grow your own vegetables!

Which is exactly what we did. This year's tomato plants were purchased from an organic farm right here in Northern Virginia (yes they do exist here!) and are already producing beautiful, healthy fruit. For this Southern foodie, you cannot offer two more delectable dishes than fried green tomatoes or cheese & tomato sandwhiches. I love tomatoes and I love fried food: put those two together and you have a little piece of heaven! ;-) I must give a shout out to my yankee friend Di, however. She hails from Pennsylvania but I have yet to taste an equal to her fried green tomatoes. Scandalous! But I do not complain, especially when the notion strikes her to make them and share. Mmmm!

Cheese and Tomato Sandwhiches are one of the reasons I can look forward to summer, despite the wretched heat and humidity. Store bought 'maters (besides being a health hazard these days) just do not have the same flavor as these fresh-from-your-own-garden beauties. For me, it is not only the fresh taste but the memories that come with each bite.

As I have mentioned before, I grew up on a small, "gentleman's farm." My parents grew varying vegetables on three of their five and half acres and although I loathed weeding and grew to hate the sight of zucchini and eggplant, I loved squishing my toes in the soft earth and running through the sprinklers; picking sugar snap peas right off the vine and eating them pods and all. Digging up potatoes was like a treasure hunt and I certainly inherited my father's love of the spud. And though it sounds like a quaint Americana dream, I cherish the memory of sitting out under the ancient maples, snapping green beans with my mother, sisters and at on rare occasions, aunts and cousins. I am sure there were times I would have rather been reading the latest Bobbsey Twins or Nancy Drew story from the libary. But I loved to eat green beans too much and I also loved helping my mother prepare them for canning.

As for tomatoes, we grew several rows of those as well and canning those was a hot chore. I was not a big fan of the canned tomatoes ~ they could not stand up to their fresh picked counterparts. But raw tomatoes, paired with a few slices of cheese, on bread slathered with homemade mayonnaise ~ that was a summer treat not to be missed!

I am looking forward to continuing this delicious tradition once my salmonella-free 'maters ripen. They go great with a gallon of sweet tea! Y'all comin' over for supper? ;-)

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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