August 6th, 2003



So the tomato plants did not die while we were gone. The drip irrigation system, on the timer, did its job just fine. When we got back the plants (which are indeterministic, yeah, like the problems...) were already at the top of their five foot cages, and there were exactly two ripe current tomatoes on them. I even recognized them as the first fruit I'd seen before we left. Wow.

There's something entirely and unexpectedly satisfying about picking my own tomatoes, going out and crouching down in the summer heat and searching through the cool, green foliage for the tiny red or yellow fruit. The brightest colors seem to trigger something primal, and, indeed, when bit, the really deep gold ones or the brilliantly red ones burst in a cool flood of sweetness in the mouth. The big tomatoes came a bit later, but they're just as good, and John made a tomato salad for his potluck meeting the other night.

Summer Tomato Salad
8 big tomatoes, sliced thick and arranged on a platter
1/4 red onion, sliced paper thin scattered on top of that
3 stalks celery, sliced paper thin scattered on top of that

salt and pepper to taste

mix together:
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/3-1/2 cup) both white and green
3/4 cup current tomatoes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pour on top of the arraigned veggies.
Scatter as much crumbled bleu cheese or feta cheese as you can stand or like on top.

I liked letting it marinate together for about half an hour at room temperature before serving. It seemed to marry all the flavors better, and the textures still remain distinct as there's no vinegar to break anything down.

The big tomato plants have dozens and dozens of big, green fruit hanging from them and are forming still more, so I think I'll be trotting this recipe out quite often as it uses a lot of them very quickly. Our neighbors have a ton of zucchini that they don't eat, so I've picked a few, with their permission, and am making zucchini chocolate cake, simple sauteed shredded (and squeezed in a dish towel to get rid of excess water) zucchini (Best Recipe) with onions and garlic, and the thousand and one zucchini recipes that Isabel gave me that she uses to handle her crop of the squash.

Eating for 'free' has this odd appeal. Especially eating, for free, fruit that I can't even get in a grocery store is really appealing. Truly vine ripe tomatoes, that are red all over when picked, are such a symbol of summer. I remember my parents' vegetable garden in Indiana and the hot, lazy summers filled with Hungarian wax peppers, garlic chives, sugar snap peas, and tomatoes, most sweet when stolen. *grin*

Jet likes picking the current tomatoes as they're small enough to fit through the cage mesh. I do bring out the bolt cutters, occasionally, to widen some of the holes to get the big tomatoes through; but the current tomatoes can be picked without any such fanfare, and he has been eating them with aplomb. Yay for summer food!
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