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highchef

Acceptable uses of home grown tomatoes

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This began with a really pissed off mil, who claimed I wasted the tomatos she brought us by making soup. First, it was a really good fresh soup, with my basil, and served with fresh bread and good cheese. But she determined that it was a disgrace to homegrown tomato farmers everywhere, and we never saw another tomato from her again. They were nice tomatos...basic big boys and such, but geeze.

But twice since we've been given creoles, and some heirlooms and were admonished for making brushetta (sp) and a chunky pasta sauce with the herbs from my garden. What is one supposed to do with 20 tomatos? There are only so many sandwiches you can eat, that and cold salads (which makes the brushetta bitch a little odd) seem to be the only acceptable way to honor a gift of homegrowns.

So now I just keep quiet and do what I want but is this common? Has anyone else been roasted for tomato abuse? Louisiana gardeners are almost as passionate about their gardens as ones I knew in New Jersey, but I don't recall anyone up there complaining when I cooked with produce they gave me. Maybe this is like having children and when we finally harvest the mystery heirlooms we're growing (right now they are solid green with deep dimples..some are getting quite large. I'm thinking they're going to be yellow) I'll become fiercely protective and enforce strict eating restrictions on lucky recepients of our bounty.

Is this a common thing?

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What does the MIL do with them? I cracked up reading this post....and I imagine she is an 'old fashioned' cook, one who sticks to the rules and never ventures into discovery. I would have done as you did, with no regrets or thoughts of anyone elses feelings. :rolleyes:

Best of luck! :biggrin:

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I have encountered this once. an old friend of mine used to grow as much and as many kinds of produce as he could fit in his garden and used to let me forage a litle once in a while. i have never had better tomatoes than his so i decided to make a fresh and simple salsa and took him some. he seemed to be slightly upset with me because he felt i had improperly handled these tomatoes. i never did find out why. im not quite sure why using tomatoes like that would offend someone. so in response yes i have encountered that but i have no idea why.

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I can only imagine that she feels piqued that by pureeing them into a soup or pasta sauce, you are not fully appreciating the lush glossy sweet flesh of her lovingly-tended orbs! Which sounds terribly double entendre-y, no? :wink:

I think it's unreasonable, but my mother has said similar things before, and she is the bastion of unreasonableness! She would say that she fertilised and tended and watered and kept warm and safe from bugs and proudly saw her tomatoes to a wondrous fulsomeness of corporeal reality and that blitzkreiging them into mush is basically a rejection of her nurturing.. (she really does talk like that.)

On the other hand, people seem especially fierce about tomatoes..she does not bat an eyelid if I puree her chillis into sauce, or express any kind of interest in what I do with all the lemons she gives me.

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Plus, she doesn't like that sauce requires using so many tomatoes at once. She describes that as 'dismissive', and prefers that we reverentially eke them out over days like they're rare treasures. :huh:

ETA: Which they are. :biggrin:


Edited by rarerollingobject (log)

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I knew I wasn't being paranoid!

Mil was a control freak. I think she just liked us to eat them in front of her and offer constant praise for their taste, size and beauty...and compare them endlessly to the supermarket varieties.

The other 2 are just gentlemen farmers who perhaps just grew too attached, spent too much time with them I guess.

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I will admit that it took me some time to accept that making salsa or sauce from the little beauties was a respectful use of them. Not sure where the prejudice stems from. Now my bottom line criterion is to use them to a delicious result rather than letting them get past their prime.

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Your MIL would HATE us, we sun dry at least 2/3 of our yearly crop so we can enjoy them all year.

Heck, sometimes I take sun dried tomatoes and make a sauce with the freshies that I'm harvesting. (And harvest began two weeks ago). "Last year's crop? Meet this year's crop!"


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Perhaps I am just way too callous but I have this attitude that once I am gifted with something, it is MINE to do with what I will.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've never encountered this in response to use of vegetables but it does immediately remind me of two incidents of 'chocolate judgement', one by me and another completely unrelated time by my son, but both in essence the same thing.

Many years ago I bought two expensive chocolates and gave one to my girlfriend who popped it into her mouth and wham! it was gone. Same pattern with son and his friend. I was so incensed at the lack of respect shown to my gift that I never bought her another chocolate. Silly of me? And silly of my son? But that's how it was.

There is something about excellent and expensive chocolate that calls to me for respect for the chocolate experience. Doesn't extend to anything else as far as I know. I'll have to think about it..... :hmmm:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I also laughed while reading this - I am perhaps too fond of my own and have a difficult time doing anything with them except caprese salad or just slicing them and eating them. It's indefensible, really - better tomatoes make a better sauce, or salsa, or whatever, and homegrown ones shouldn't be limited to just dishes where they are the raw, featured attraction.

And yet I still can't bring myself to do anything but that with them ...

I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that everyone thinks the best tomatoes in the world are the ones that he/she grew, and should be treated as such.


 

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Oh, but a sauce made with good tomatoes tastes SO much better than one made with dull supermarket maters. Ditto salsa. It's really not worth making salsa with produce out of the supermarket, at least once you've tasted the homegrown stuff.

But I agree about lack of respect for the chocolates -- that's a totally different thing.

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This reminds me of food historians explaining why American tomato sauce is so different from Italian sauce; cooks in America started doctoring it up with tomato paste, etc. because they didn't have access to the vine-ripened tomatoes they were used to in Italy. The perfect garden tomato used to be the standard for making sauce and soups a century ago!

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I've never experienced this in my life! Then again, I'm usually the one handing out the homegrown tomatoes, but still. Once a gift is given and thanks is expressed, I really couldn't care less what the recipient does with it. My favourite thing to see is somebody just pop a gift tomato in their mouth and go "yummm" but if their final destination is salsa or sauce, good for them! I'd only really be upset if the tomatoes I grew were wasted or allowed to go moldy on the counter awaiting that perfect raw use, when they could have easily been added to a cooked dish.

On my own side, I tend to use the homegrowns for sandwiches more often than the market-boughts, but that's just because the market tomatoes are all of one, uniform type - watery and basically disappointing when eaten fresh. They're great for sauce bases, though, and then a few nice homegrowns can shine over the base of more "generic" tomato. Of course, that's just until the Pomodoris ripen....


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Personally, I think it's relevant to consider how many home-grown tomatoes one has access to, and whether or not one grew them him/herself. If you grew them yourself, I don't think it's anyone else's business what you do with them, even if all you want to do with them is to throw them into the backyard for the birds to eat.

But if you don't grow them, and you know someone that does, and you indicate you'd like some, the chances are that everybody else they know also is hounding them for some. That's certainly been the case with me. I never have had the space for a large garden - just a few plants in pots on a terrace. So I apportioned out my gift tomatoes with some considerable thought, denying some relatives/friends a few tomatoes in order to share them more widely. I guess I probably did hope that they were sliced up to serve adorned with only salt as a side for that night's dinner, or sandwiched between two pieces of white bread slathered with Duke's mayonnaise, or stacked with fresh mozarella for an Insalata Caprese, or chopped up as a topping for bruschetta (which I find puzzling that somebody upthread objected to as it is one of my very favorite things to do with homegrown tomatoes and something that requires fresh tomatoes and something I never do with tasteless store-bought ones).

But I never did really give what they actually did with the tomatoes a moment's thought until this thread. And in truth, have no idea. And agree with Andie that once they were gifted, their destiny was no longer in my hands.

But thinking this over, I can see how someone might feel as though, if they had only, say, twenty tomatoes, and they figured they'd keep ten, and give out ten, and they denied their neighbor, who loves to simply sprinkle them with sea salt and then eat them while standing over her sink and rolling her eyes heavenward in orgasmic rapture, an extra two or three, and instead had given those two or three to somebody else who then whizzed them up in a blender with a bunch of other herbs and spices and/or cooked them to make soup or something, it would be a little discouraging.

I suppose the gardener might think to herself, "If I had known he was going to do that, I'd have just given him a couple of cans of Muir Glen or some other really fine canned tomatoes."

There are, after all, many ways one can use canned tomatoes, but standing over a sink and eating them fresh isn't one of them. For that, you need a good, fresh, tasty, homegrown tomato. So I guess I can understand how someone that had parceled out a precious few of her very limited crop of good, fresh, tasty, homegrown tomatoes to somebody that she believes could just as well have used good-quality canned tomatoes, might feel as she would if she had traveled to Mexico for several weeks, and the neighbor had watched her house, and in gratitude she used her entire alcohol import allotment to haul back a $200 bottle of fine anejo agave tequila to thank the neighbor, and the neighbor had whizzed it up in a blender with some margarita mix and several handsfull of crushed ice.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Count me as a Louisiana gardener firmly in the camp of the M-in-L. I grow backyard tomatoes to eat them raw. Uncooked salsas, bruschetta, gaspacho, sliced, eaten like an apple: these are the highest uses of a fresh, vine-ripened creole. When I have a ridiculously large bumper crop (not happening this year due to drought), I give them away long before I bother to freeze or process in other ways. I will admit to the occasional shrimp creole w/fresh tomatoes, but mostly I use them raw. Quality canned, aseptic packaged, or jarred (like Cento's passatta) are plenty good enough for cooking.

Perhaps it's because our local tomato season is rather fleeting compared to the rest of the country: plants are in the ground around mid-Feb to mid-March, tomatoes are ready for picking by mid-April to mid-May. By mid to late May, the overnight lows are consistently above 70 degrees, which means that tomato production slows dramatically & the plants stop setting fruit. (Yes, some heat-adapted varieties continue to set fruit, but extreme humidity limits production even on the heat-tolerant strains.)

So while the rest of the country is enjoying tomatoes, I'm pulling up my plants. I just pulled out the Orange Jubilee plants, and the Better Boy, Beefmaster, and Park's Whopper are coming out this weekend. The Celebrity plants are still setting a few fruits, but the stinkbugs are damaging the fruit pretty badly.

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This began with a really pissed off mil, who claimed I wasted the tomatos she brought us by making soup. First, it was a really good fresh soup, with my basil, and served with fresh bread and good cheese.

I can imagine no higher calling for a fine fresh tomato than tomato-basil soup. MIL is insane.

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This began with a really pissed off mil, who claimed I wasted the tomatos she brought us by making soup. First, it was a really good fresh soup, with my basil, and served with fresh bread and good cheese.

I can imagine no higher calling for a fine fresh tomato than tomato-basil soup. MIL is insane.

You're right about fresh tomato soup of course. Ambrosial, and something you cannot do with canned tomatoes.

And wouldn't want to do with hard tasteless supermarket ones.

:smile:

_________


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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None of their damned business, I say.

While soup may not be the highest and best use of a vine ripened beefsteak tomato, it certainly beats the heck out of letting it sit until too soft and over-ripe for anything else because of over-abundance and THEN using it in a soup.

Reminds me of one Thanksgiving when we were staying with relatives. 9am and everybody else is still asleep so my wife and I start making the big mid-day holiday meal for the 10 of us (we were supposed to just be the guests but we cooks know how THAT goes). It took some scrounging around to find things but we managed.

I guess the smell of the turkey woke the rest up eventually and they plopped down to watch parades and football on TV while we kept at it in the kitchen.

Mealtime: Nice spread (if I say so myself), Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, some veggies etc - the classic feast. About half way through eating my brother-in-law says, "We didn't have any potatoes. How did you make the instant mashed ones taste like real?"

My wife and I look at each other and she tells him "Yes there were potatoes. We found them way in the back of the fridge, in that bottom drawer".

The whole table got dead silent and finally my Sis-in-law says, "Oh NO! You used THOSE potatoes!!!???"

"Uh, yeah", I reply

"Uncle Clyde gave those to us months ago. We were SAVING those for SOMETHING SPECIAL!", she came back.

Well, truth be told, we could have made a lot more mashed pots for the meal if we'd not had to throw out so many, and cut off so much bad from them. Sometimes saving for "something special" is short-sighted and down right waste full.

They should have made potato soup from them long before that day and it would have been a far better homage to uncle Clyde's hard work then letting them rot.


The Big Cheese

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That reminds me of the Bride, who was asked why she had curlers in her hair at the altar, replied "because we might go somewhere later"

Are you sure they weren't kidding? I mean, dude! Have you ever gone back?

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I'm a grower of tomatoes and usually cook the vast majority. Last year I turned 10 lbs of toms into preserves for people for Christmas. I've not encountered this opinion with tomatoes, but then I've never been given any home grown toms either.


Sian

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate, and that's kinda the same thing really."

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I lambasted a friend who used my precious home grown's in a soup, he didn't understand nor did he receive any again.

We are still friends, barely. :laugh:

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Fascinating thread. What's acceptable...only with basil and mozzarella in the afternoon in the summer in Italy?

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I'm with those that say the tomatoes are yours to do with as you please. Your MiL is just being a stereotypical MiL. Personally, if someone gives me some fresh homegrown tomatoes, I reserve their use to something that highlights the tomato -- gazpacho, salsa, tomato soup, a simple tomato sauce.

Just my opinion here, but outside of gazpacho/salsa, I much prefer the more concentrated and complex flavors derived from cooking tomatoes. If I gave someone 20 homegrown tomatoes, I'd be more offended if all they did with them was slice them for sandwiches and caprese salads!

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