Monday, October 18, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

They’re not my favorite vegetable, but when you have three large trays full of green tomatoes, picked in fear of a frost, and it’s the end of the season, and you hate to waste the food you’ve so carefully grown, you consider them a blessing. I posted a note about the green veggies on Facebook and one coworker offered to take some off my hands – once I took some to her, a couple others wanted some too. Then I really went to town on the vines, pulling them down off the fence to discard for the winter, and found another large bowl full. So I pretty much still have three trays of green tomatoes even though I made my brother take some too.

My hope is that many of them will ripen, and that the coworkers might want a few more (bags). The rest will likely end up in the compost pile. It’s been a good year for tomatoes I guess – my six plants grew well over my head – I needed to use a step ladder to tie them up to the fence and then reversed the process when I cleaned things up on Saturday. I wish I could remember what variety they were as they were so productive – somehow in my gardening efforts of spring I failed to either hang onto the tag or record the genus and species!

I have some strong memories of helping Mom can tomatoes grown in the backyard on Standart Avenue. Apparently, there used to be chickens back there, and the garden was quite productive. I was frequently sentenced, or so it seemed at the time, to weed a row or two of green beans. One of my all time favorite vegetables, I remember taking the colander out to pick the beans, or cut Swiss Chard for dinner. At the end of summer, the extra tomatoes lined the glassed in back porch, ripening on the windowsills. We dipped the tomatoes into hot water and then plunged them into cold water to get the skins to loosen – we felt really fortunate to have a garbage disposal, as that made the slippery, messy job of cleaning up so much easier.  There's nothing more satisfying than hearing the jar lids seal after boiling them in the canner.

My Dad read my Facebook posting (I still find it hard to believe he friended me - but he’s always been a somewhat early adopter of all things technological) and responded with the following about green tomatoes:
As a child; Don’t you remember having fried green ‘maters at home?
Dipped in egg, flour, salt and pepper, fried in hot grease until golden brown – favorite of your Grandfather Peck and mine.
On Grant Ave; We had some how gotten a whole bunch of green tomatoes at the end of the season. We wrapped individual tomatoes in newspaper and put them up in the attic and they ripened…. Didn’t taste like fresh but we enjoyed for quite a long time.
I imagine the tomatoes ripening in the attic on Grant Ave. were a great blessing to my folks at the time. We had only recently moved here and they were on a strict enough budget that we didn’t have a telephone, relying on the pay phone down at the corner, or the landlord’s phone for important incoming calls. Our family lived on a policy of “Eat what’s on your plate,” and Dad was known to say, more than a few times, “It’s not what you like in this world that makes you fat, it’s what you get.” A pragmatic approach to food and life.

Guess I’ll go fry some more green tomatoes - yesterday's blessing, and tomorrow's and the next day's!

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