When I was growing up my main chores were to do dishes, dust and vacuum, and water the garden. By the time I was a teenager the outside spigot was broken. So I carried 2 watering cans at a time from the kitchen sink, down the stairs from the back deck, through the driveway, and then out into the yard. I always wondered if my dad was Mr. Miyagi-ing me because of his karate background but there were so many more reasons then just carrying water buckets to build strength and teach balance.
My dad had planted bigger gardens when I was younger but in the later years he had scaled back as pain in his spine was troubling him. My dad had helped on his aunt and uncle’s farm in the summers as a kid. He also was in the military where he became a survivalist but I think it was those early years on the farm that inspired him to grow things. I imagine this is true because my aunt is also a survivalist without the military background, so it seems farm life encourages people to learn a little about everything.
My dad taught me a ton about plants. The first thing were learning how avoid the poisonous ones. Then I learned how to identify plants other plants and what some of their uses are. (This may be why I love the Outlander book series).
There are millions of useful plants out there and I haven’t even begun to break the surface but I still have fun nerd-ing out on identifying weird plants (or bugs) that we find in the back yard. The last plant I identified was hallucinogenic!
The hardest lesson though was learning how to keep plants happy. I’m still not the best at this but tomatoes are my friends. I plant a few, keep them watered during the early season, and ignore them most of the summer. I usually choose some early girls, a larger variety like beefsteak, some yellow, sometimes a cherry, and sometimes I’ll try out an heirloom variety. I like the early girls so I don’t have to be as patient for my tomatoes to be ready. It’s close to fall and I can see some tomatoes ripening. This means I have to cut down weeds this week so I can get to the back of my garden to pick our tomatoes.
We had a lot going on this season and I fully ignored the garden and my weeds grew to record heights. I am going to need a hedge trimmer to tackle that greenery!
Even with all that neglect my tomatoes and sunflowers still came through and I am all the happier for it. When my dad grew those gardens in early years he unintentionally taught my mom and I that garden tomatoes are incredible and a store bought tomato is a less delicious stand-in. Even when we are insanely busy, it’s worth it to take time and plant a few tomatoes, as I can pretty much survive on tomatoes that whole season. My favorite snacks being tomato slices, sandwiches, and caprese salad.
I will eat tomato slices as a snack and I like to add salt, pepper, and/or chipotle seasoning. To make my tomato sandwiches, I use Italian or potato bread, add mayonnaise, and the tomato slices, then the seasonings. I don’t often add cheese but when we have my Cooper sharp American cheese I will add that too.
For Caprese salad I use either Gazebo Room Greek Dressing or Olive Garden’s Italian dressing. I cut up fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatos, toss them in a dish, and pour a heaping amount of dressing on. Then I cover it, place it in the fridge, and let it marinate for an hour plus. I will save it for a day or so if there is leftovers but it’s definitely best eaten on the same day.
I haven’t made my Caprese salad since the beginning of the summer and I am hoping to make it a few times with my own fresh tomatoes. I have both Gazebo Room and Olive Garden’s dressing and I aim to see which dressing is more popular with the family. I’ll let you know when we have reached a verdict!
I do wonder if a tomato sandwich is an old-timey snack. This is just my own curiosity about how others see something that happens to be so normal in my home. The posts that said “your grandparents snack of buttered saltines is making a comeback” have made me giggle as we eat buttered crackers with chili and vegetable soup pretty often. We might be old-fashioned in a lot of ways but we still love avocados (Are they still considered a fad or are they a staple now?). Anyway even avocados will never be as good to me as tomatoes!
Do you have a favorite tomato snack? Do you prefer to cook your tomatoes or can them?
BTW did you know tomatoes are from the nightshade family and once upon a time people thought they were poisonous? Thank you to the brave person who took the first bite and proved that tomatoes are a healthy and delicious FRUIT!
Thanks for reading with me today, and I hope you are enjoying some beautiful tasty tomatoes this season too!