Tomatomania!

IMG_9022Here it is! Tomato season!  A season that is so anticipated, and shorter than the holiday season in this area. This season comes but once a year, and unlike Christmas in July sales, you can not recreate tomato season at any other time of year.

Every one of us has our own favorite variety, shape, size and color of tomato.  In addition,  there are the favorite recipes…So specific. So personal.   It’s summertime discussion amongst friends, neighbors and colleagues.  Tomato sauce, tomato salad, salsa or pie, you name it!  We all have our “go to”, “gotta have” way to enjoy our in-season tomatoes. There is no right or wrong way during tomato season and we shouldn’t judge.   Again, it’s a personal choice.  (Still trying to not judge my mom for putting half a tomato in the freezer.)

With that in mind, I decided to go to the boss, the owner and founder of Cox Farms, Eric Cox. The master and commander of the tomato sandwich!  He was willing to divulge his super secret recipe.  A dream assignment if ever there was one!

My “lunch date” with Eric was spontaneous and delightful.  A loaf of soft multigrain bread, a  plate, a cutting board, a tomato knife to die for, salt, pepper and mayo.  It has to be mayo. Oh, and the juiciest, ripest tomato around, sliced thick. I snapped away with my camera,  but I was all ears the entire time!

IMG_9006“Don’t toast the bread.”  “Don’t go light on the salt.”   “Really meant to be eaten over the sink.”

Any recipe with a tomato in peak season is worth a go.  However, on this day it was just about simplicity.  In all honesty, I went to the store afterwards, bought the same bread, a jar of mayo and, along with my tomatoes from the Corner Market, devoured 4 open-faced tomato sandwiches in 3 1/2 days.  It’s all about the in season tomatoes…and the salt.

Here is the recipe for Eric Cox’s Summertime Tomato Sandwich:

1 slice of soft bread, cut in half, untoasted

1 super juicy tomato, sliced thick

Real mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

Spread mayo on the bread.  Add tomato slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper, more salt than pepper.  Lean over the sink, take a bite, and then another and another.  Enjoy! IMG_9018IMG_9014

What is the one tomato recipe that you call your favorite?  Please share it with is!

Salsa Time!

I remember back in the late ’80s-early ’90s when salsa went mainstream.  It was the “it” food.  Whether it was from a jar, or hours spent consuming “authentic” salsa and chips at the nearest Chi Chi’s restaurant, salsa was the new ketchup.  I had a recipe for mango salsa that I made once a week, at least.  It was served with chips, chicken, fish – pretty much anything and everything.

After several years, I was suffering from salsa burnout.  The last thing I wanted to see or eat was salsa.  Especially if it came in a jar.  That said, even fresh salsa lost its appeal. Then, last summer, my neighbor, Torrey, gave me a mason jar filled with his homemade salsa and  I fell in love (with salsa) all over again!  It was such a hit that my kids, who rarely let a vegetable pass their lips, were eating it with a spoon!

So, because my neighbor was kind enough to share his recipe with me, today I will share it with you!  Salsa is very personal thing, so feel free to adjust it to your liking; parsley instead of cilantro, or add more heat.  Be sure to consult the Great Chile poster at the Corner Market.  Just give it a try, and hurry, because it’s a “summer only” kind of love!

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Here it is, copied and pasted from the Facebook message in which is was given to me.  Torrey, thanks for sharing!

Torrey’s Salsa

1) 5-8 medium to large tomatoes. I have used all kinds

2) 2-3 jalapenos (seeded if you want it mild, with seeds for hotter)

3) 1/4-cup of diced onion

4) 1/2-cup of cilantro lightly chopped

5) 1 teaspoon of salt (more to taste)

6) 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar


Core tomatoes and roast them with the jalapenos at 400 degrees. Roast for about 20 minutes. Some parts of the tomatoes should be brown/black, but they don’t need to be charred.
Mix the tomatoes and jalapenos in a food processor or blender. This should come out like tomato juice. You do not need to peel the tomatoes or seed them.
Add the salt, vinegar, and cilantro and blend together. It should be tasting good.
Finally, add the onion and process to your desired consistency. You can leave some chunks or blend it to oblivion.
It is a really forgiving recipe so you can leave out onion and cilantro, but it is not quite as good.

Enjoy it with chips, on eggs, chicken, fish, a bagel with cream cheese… the options are endless!  Remember, get your homegrown tomatoes and chile peppers at the Cox Farms Corner Market!

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Keep ’em Coming, All Season Long!

The cold, wet spring is in the rearview mirror and summer is full swing.  The tomatoes, cucumber and peppers are ready or just about ready to harvest.  YES! Time to enjoy the 60-70 days of waiting and dive into your summer garden treats.  Did you know that there are still seeds to sow?  Plants that you can enjoy for months to come through succession planting?  Here are a few examples:

LETTUCE!  It’s just so darn easy and never wasted in my house, even if I’m the only one eating it!  During the hot days of summer, you can grow it in the shade and you don’t need a garden, either.  You know those disposable, aluminum roasting/baking pans from the dollar store?  Just poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage, fill it with potting soil and toss in the seeds.  Water when needed.  That’s it!  As you see that lettuce start to grow, throw down more seeds.  Keep this up through the fall.

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Lettuce Round 1, on its last leaves…

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Lettuce (with cilantro), Round 2

HERBS!  Despite what you may have been told, certain herbs will only last so long, as a plant.  Pinching or cutting won’t make them last longer.  They will get thin, flower and go to seed, meaning that it’s over and done, as an herb. Once herbs have bolted and gone to seed, the intensity of the flavor is weakened.  Cilantro and dill are great examples of herbs that should be planted over and over again in a season.  They can be replanted every 10-14 days, but will bolt faster in the hot, summer sun.  That’s why container gardening is so great!  Just move the herb pot into the shade!  If you are feeling adventurous, you can let some of your herbs go to seed.  At that point, snip the seeds off, stored in a bag and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant them.  FYI-cilantro seeds are called coriander and have a completely different flavor, but can be crushed and used in cooking.

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Cilantro that has bolted

 

coriander

Cilantro that has gone to seed becomes coriander

 

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Dill that is DONE

VEGETABLES!  Cucumber seeds can be planted every 3 weeks, squash every six weeks and if you planted carrots in the spring, or even if you didn’t, plant them now for a fall harvest!

Other than enjoying the taste of freshness as long as possible, each planting endures different temperatures, water conditions, etc.  That means that your chances of success and having a successful harvest are multiplied.  Who doesn’t like those odds?  Good luck and tell us how your garden is doing!