A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson

Our calendar summer is almost over.  The weather experts are threatening frost so I know that cooler weather is about to turn into even cooler weather. On the farm this was a season of great activity.  The vegetables had to be harvested, taken under cover and stored either in the cellar or canned or frozen.  Everyone had a hand in the process.

The cucumbers were picked and processed by sized.  The really big, yellow ones were cut and seeded for mustard pickles or Russian bear.  The smaller ones were set aside for sour pickles.  The medium sized ones were peeled, cut and ground for a variety of relishes or just sliced for the wonderful bread and butter pickles.  The mason jars, both small-mouthed and big-mouthed, had to scalded and filled.  Then the mixture went into the jars to be cooked in the canner.  The whole house smelled of vinegar and the ground vegetables and spices, but it was the kitchen that was especially fragrant.

Tomatoes too had to be harvested whether they were red or green.  Many green tomatoes went into boxes or paper bags to be ripened behind the wood stove. My mother had to peel the tomatoes that were to be canned for stewed tomatoes for winter meals.  This was a difficult and disgusting chore.  The kitchen always looked as though some one had killed chickens and let them run around with their heads cut off.  Well, maybe it was not that bad, but my mother always looked as though she had been involved in surgery.

Aunty, on the other hand, did not bother to peel the tomatoes.  If anyone at the table wanted the peelings off the tomatoes, the diner could take them off while eating them.  It did not matter about the peelings, though, we all enjoyed those tomatoes on a cold night.

The green tomatoes that did not ripen were processed for green tomato pickles.  Many of the tomatoes simply rotted on one side or the other.  That rotten place was cut out and the tomatoes were cooked for spaghetti sauce or fresh stewed tomatoes.  Everything was used as much as possible.  

I am sure readers remember their days on the farm when the canning took everyone’s attention.  Sometimes several of the women from a family would spend the day peeling vegetables, preparing jars, processing all vegetables, mixing spices and cooking down the mixtures.  They may not have had much money, but their cellars were full for the winter.

Today we will look at a recipe for those half-rotted  tomatoes.  This recipe is for Crumbed Topped Tomatoes.

Crumbed Topped Tomatoes 

Ingredients: 2 large tomatoes 2 TBSP fine dry bread crumbs • 2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese 1 TBSP margarine or butter melted 1 1/2 TSP snipped fresh basil oregano and thyme Or 1/2 TSP dried basil, oregano or thyme Or 1 TBSP snipped fresh parsley or chives 1/2 TSP pepper • Dash garlic salt or onion salt

Method: 1. Remove stems and cores from tomatoes. Halve tomatoes crosswise. 2. Place tomatoes, cut side up, in a two-quart square baking dish. 3. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, margarine or butter, herb, pepper and garlic salt or onion salt. 4. Sprinkle on top of tomatoes. 5. Bake in a 375 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes or till heated. This dish will be a good side dish for a cool evening. It contains only 62 calories per serving. Next week we will roll along with more healthy vegetable dishes.