Today is Things That Make Your Heart Melt Day.
The first thing that makes my heart melt is my oldest son Matthew. It’s his birthday today, but he lives far away and so I won’t see him on his birthday, though I will talk to him on the ‘phone. Matthew is such a good boy and such a smart boy and such a sweet papa, that he just melts my heart. Ouch. It hurts to love somebody so much, sometimes, doesn’t it? Actually his little boy-o Emmett is the second thing that makes my heart melt.
Happy birthday, Matthew! (And Emmett, bring your Mum and Daddy to visit Amma, okay?)
The third thing that makes my heart melt (in a different way entirely) is this marinated tomato salad. Seriously. It’s a sad fact that, after you’ve been growing and picking and eating heirloom tomatoes (I’ve been eating them every day for weeks, like a pig, by the way) (grunt!) for a couple months straight, you almost forget that once your area succumbs to a killing frost (around October 10th, in these parts), it will be a good ten months, probably, before you’ll have the delights of eating heirloom tomatoes again. Ten. Long. Months. (Sigh.)
Ten months is an awfully long time, Gentle Reader, to wait. Although now, with the hoop house up and nearly covered (don’t worry, I’m working on a post about it), with those two lovely half-grown tomato plants in there, I’m anxious to see how long we’ll have heirloom tomatoes past the October 10th frost date. The rest of my plants, in the garden proper, will die a quick and sad and blackened death, one night when the temperature dips down into the 20s. But those two plants, protected by one layer of plastic, with the warmth from the ground radiating upwards . . . who knows? I might have fresh tomatoes into November, anyway. And then in the spring, I’ll be able to again tuck a few tomato plants into the hoop house earlier than our May 10th frost-free date. I dare not plant anything as delicate as tomato plants in the main garden any earlier than that.
So there’s always hope for a few more weeks of the delights of fresh heirloom tomatoes. Next year, that is.
But for now . . . my tomato jungle is still producing a lovely plethora of beautiful, tasty, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and among the canning and salsa-making and cherry-tomato roasting and soup-making duties, I have to remind myself to enjoy eating them fresh, because the days are cruelly short during which I can do that. (Burp!)
Do I hear an “Amen” from the audience?
One of my favorite ways to eat these tomatoes fresh is in a delightful (if I may say so, myself!) marinated tomato salad. The nice thing about this salad is that is gets better and better, as it sits in your refrigerator. It’s good the first day. The second day, it’s even better. The third day . . . it’s sublime. The flavours (hat tip to my friend Anita-Clare Field, who spells the word “flavours” with the u, and just published a new cook book this week!) mix and meld and the tomatoes mingle with the herbs and–ooh, baby!–but you don’t have to take my word for it.
Jump on out to your own tomato patch (the tomatoes don’t have to be heirlooms, but there are lots of reasons that you ought to grow them next year, if you didn’t this year) or hop on down to your local farmer’s market (if you’re lucky, you’ll find them there!) and bag up a few for this salad. Pick out a nice color selection, though. There’s no fun in using only red tomatoes in this salad!
Oh! Are you wondering why there is a picture of chickens in here? As I went out in my tomato jungle this morning to pick tomatoes, these two little ladies were creeping around in there. They were so quiet . . . scratching and rooting about, I just knew that they knew that they were not supposed to be in there. I tried to take some decent pictures (as you can see, I failed) but they were a bit shy, and they scuttled off, after a fashion. Hopefully to eat the beetles chewing on my squash plants, for Pete’s sake.
Now I’ll leave you with two more gifts, from me to you, on this auspicious Things That Make Your Heart Melt Day.
First. Here’s visual proof of why you need to make this salad:
Second. Here’s my recipe:
- 10-12 heirloom tomatoes, peeled and sliced (a nice variety of colours is really beautiful, but not required. (Well. I require them, but you need not . . .)
- 1 red or sweet (I'm flexible about this, at least) onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup good olive oil
- ⅓ cup wine vinegar
- 1 Tb (or more, if you're a basil freak, like me) finely minced fresh basil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup minced parsley and/or cilantro, for garnish, optional
- 1 sweet pepper, sliced
- Combine tomatoes and onions and peppers in a big glass bowl.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients, except for the parsley/cilantro, and mix well. Pour over tomatoes and onions. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours, basting occasionally. To serve: sprinkle with parsley and/or cilantro. Side note: if you keep it in the refrig overnight or longer, it will get juicier and juicier, and you may want to pour off the excess liquid to serve. Save it for another salad or use in a stir-fry!
How easy is that? I’d say the hardest thing about it is peeling the tomatoes, and this is how I do that: I grab Amalia and ask her to do it. No, not really, at least not every time. Actually, I heat up a big pot of water on the stove, and put a big bowl of ice water next to it on the counter. I wash and cut the stems (and any bruised spots) off the tomatoes, immerse them in the water once it comes to a boil, for approximately 30 seconds or so (the skins will split, and you’ll know when to take them out) and then immediately pull them out and plunge them into the ice water. The skins will easily peel off after this treatment. It’s fun, really. Really, really delightfully fun. (At least that’s what I tell Amalia.)
Have you ever read Tom Sawyer, by the way? I don’t think Amalia has. (hehee.)
Enjoy your lovely heirloom tomato salad, while you can, won’t you? Because heirloom tomatoes, just like these gorgeous, golden fall days, will not last forever, Gentle Reader!
Oh, by the way, I’ve linked up with The Prairie Homestead’s weekly Blog Hop right here. Check it out!
- The Big Reveal: Dad’s Potato Tower comes down
- October Ultimate Blog Challenge: but why?