Both of my Grandma’s love gardening. They both have gardens that take up the better part of their backyards, and flourish and produce beyond belief every year.
Both of my grandmas share a love of gardening, but both take very different approaches to gardening. Always on the go, my Grandma (my mom’s mom, pictured on the left) is always searching for new ideas and gardening techniques. She is always reading gardening books and never hesitates to experiment with new ideas. She talks about soilless gardening, square-foot gardening and any other new techniques coming that she learns about. My grandma always has the loveliest flowers you will see in her rock garden and in pots around her house. Grandma is the one who will spontaneously drop by with gardening equipment, from pink tomatoe baskets, to organic fertilizer and buckets and buckets of compost from the university farm.
My Nana (my dad’s mom pictured on the right) takes a more traditional approach to gardening. Everything that she knows is from years of practice and patience. As a result, all of her tried and true techniques are down to a science. While my grandma is the flower expert, my nana knows vegetables like no one else, and is full of great gardening tips. I am excited as this year she is giving me her ruby red rhubarb plant, a sweeter dwarf breed. I was at her house the other day, and she gave me buckets of dried garlic and onions to plant in my garden, along with instructions about how the garlic cycle works. She knows all the little details that only years of experience can teach you.
So how happy was I when both of my grandmas came over to see my garden? Well pretty happy indeed!
Like grandmas do, they arrived bearing delicious gifts – frozen raspberries and homemade applesauce from my grandma, and fresh raspberries and homemade canned goods from my Nana. After I graciously accepted this bounty, we went out into the yard to see my garden, and spent a great deal of time out there observing, discussing and just enjoying ourselves. I think they got the biggest kick out of my squash plant that seemed to cover half the yard! How great that I had the chance to share my garden and pick the minds of these two wise women?
That green plant on the ground is my buttercup squash … it seriously took over the yard shooting out long vines everywhere!
When they were leaving, I was proud to send my nana off with a buttercup squash. It felt nice to finally be able to give my nana something from my garden, after years of getting fresh vegetables from hers.
It was definitely a special afternoon, one that has been captured in my memory.
So of everything I planted in my garden, three vegetables were most plentiful – zucchini, buttercup squash and tomatoes. As many of you may know, I have already done a zucchini edition. This leaves tomatoes and squash, and this week’s feature is tomatoes!
With plants taller than me, I got quite the tomato harvest this year. I planted two types of tomatoes and by far the best variety was ‘Brillante’ (I am writing this down for next year.) I didn’t think a single plant could hold so many tomatoes!
So I decided this week to provide some simple and quick tomato recipes.
The first is a boccaccini salad, where the tomato is layered with sliced boccaccini and basil, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. A simple, fresh and easy salad to make. Alternatively, you can buy smaller boccaccini and chop your tomato and basil, add garlic and eat it out of a bowl. A third method of serving was an idea of Jackie. Skewer your salad! Use cherry tomatoes and mid-sized boccaccini cut in half, with the whole basil leaves.
Kudos to Lori for doing such an exceptional job plating the boccaccini salad.
The second salad is one my mom has done over and over again for years, a family staple and a nice, fresh appetizer for any meal. As we always seem to have feta on hand, this tomato salad features the delectable cheese. Like the boccaccini salad, slice your tomatoes into circles. Add salt and pepper, minced fresh or dried basil, a drizzle of olive oil and of course, crumbled feta. This is simple and tasty, and a wonderful way to get in your vegetables! (Tip: This also works great with cucumbers!) Another idea for presentation is skewers (thank Jackie for this one.) Skewer cherry tomatoes and boccaccini sliced in half with basil leaves. Colorful and delictable!
Finally, we have the classic fried green tomatoes. Like many of us, I have known about this southern special for years, but didn’t try it for myself until just recently. It’s super easy – fry up your sliced green tomatoes in butter or oil, add some salt and pepper and parmesan cheese. Lori was the one who suggested adding the parmesan cheese while the tomatoes are still frying, as the parmesan kind of creates a nice crust on the tangy green tomato. Definitely worth trying, and takes minutes to make!
So I have boxes and boxesof tomatoes. Although most of them are still green today, covered in a dark, cold room, I have a sneaking suspicion that they will start to ripen too fast for me to keep up with just eating them all fresh, so perhaps a pasta sauce or tortilla soup will be in order down the road!
Ingredient I can’t live without:
With the tomatoes I got from my garden, I won’t have to worry about living without tomatoes for a while.
So special thanks to everyone who has helped with my garden this year: My Grandma for the best compost you can get, my Nana for the advice, my mom for clearing out shovelfuls of quack grass, John for saving my tomatoes when they were all falling over, and Lily for help with the harvest! Every one of you helped make my garden a raging success this year!
Click here to view printable Word version of all 3 recipes:
Quick Tomato Recipes
3 Quick Tomato Recipes
Boccaccini salad, Tomato feta salad, Fried green tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Garlic (use in salad version)
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Requires large boccaccini
Slicetomato into round slices. Slice boccaccini into large slices. Layertomato slice, boccaccini slice and a leaf of basil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add balsamic vinegar (optional)
Requires smaller boccaccini.
Cut tomatoes into chunks. Slice boccaccini into small bite-sized pieces, depending on the size you buy. Add minced basil, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
Tomato Feta Salad
Salt and pepper
Slice tomatoes into round pieces. Lie pieces flat on a plate. Top with basil, drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add crumbled feta.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Oil or butter
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Slice tomatoes into round pieces.
Heat pan, and melt butter or oil in pan.
Add tomato circles to hot pan, fry flip and fry on other side.
Add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Fry until tomatoes are ready to eat. The parmesan cheese should form a nice crust on the tomatoes.