thinking tomatoes a tad early

I KNOW, TOMATO WEEK (FOOD FEST 4) doesn’t start till Thursday, when Deb from Dinner Tonight and I will be at it again, hoping to encourage you to share your tomato recipes and tips and links as you have for Pesto, Cukes & Zukes and Green Beans the previous Thursdays.  But I got started a little early, which I’m blaming on Amy Goldman, the heirloom seed preservationist and gardener and cook (and near-neighbor) whose new book is indescribably juicy and luscious…and who I have an inclination might just stop in on Thursday to join us, too.

If you’ve seen Amy’s previous books on melons and squash, which like the newest volume are collaborations with photographer Victor Schrager, you know they are somewhere between scholarly and scientific and sensuous (which means they cover a lot of ground).

You can therefore go at reading “The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table” from any angle: Dip in, perhaps, to grab a recipe (Amy’s Cream of Tomato Soup is calling to me, as are Tomato Bread Pudding and her oven-dried Tomato Chips).

At another sitting, learn to grow tomatoes as expertly as Amy does (she tested an astonishing 1,000 varieties and profiles 200 in the book), or how to save the seed for next year’s crop.

Come to “The Heirloom Tomato” one day with a supply of envelopes and stamps (or logged into your computer) and write away for catalogs from her impressive source list, which puts my own to shame.

Or just try this, as I find myself doing again and again since the book arrived: Sit down whenever you simply need to smile.

I can’t help but react happily to paging through the portraits of all these creatures who call themselves tomatoes, despite their drastic differences.  How can the tiny currant type, no bigger than a pea, and the outlandishly formed ribbed types whose lobes seem like separate tomatoes stuck together by a mad scientist, all be kin? Amy will explain it thoroughly, I promise: the history of each variety, its needs and uses, and how each one fits into the bigger story of these precious creatures that Amy’s done so much to protect, and now to honor.



Our summer-into-fall series of food fests, a cross-blog harvest party co-hosted by A Way to Garden and Dinner Tonight (the blog from Everyday Food magazine), continues Thursday with an all-tomato celebration.
All are welcome—bloggers, readers, eaters.  Come to simply share in the bounty that others deposit at Dinner Tonight’s and my digital doorsteps, or leave something behind yourself, perhaps a recipe. Either type it in its entirety right into comments, or briefly describe it and link to the complete version on your blog or someone else’s. Tomato-growing tips, news of favorite varieties, complaints about pests and diseases…all good, all encouraged.
Spread the word, and see you (and Amy Goldman, I hope, I hope) there.

  1. margaret says:

    @Brian: You have dispensation to wander and roam and weave at will. I was at the restaurant this recipe comes from with my old friend Martha last Wednesday night, coincidentally. Overwhelming after a summer of plain old home-cooking.

  2. margaret says:

    @Josh: If I can act as unofficial press agent for anyone, let it be Amy. Yes, new book. Lovely. And maybe you’d better gas up the car and drive down to her tours Saturday to get it autographed. :)

  3. josh (of "brent &...") says:

    i didn’t know amy had a new book! thanks for the scoop. just purchased from amazon. i have always love her work and dream of wandering her gardens some day. her books are transcendent.

  4. Charlotte says:

    We had our first Caprese salad this weekend — Sasha’s Altai and Prairie Fire tomatoes with the tiny basil (late start, cold spring), fresh Buffala mozzarella from the local gourmet store, a lot of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. My favorite 8-year old bogarted most of it when the rest of us weren’t looking, but the sly grin on her face when I caught her made it all worth it.

  5. margaret says:

    Welcome, Charlotte. The salad sounds wonderful. No ripe tomatoes here yet, but a friends gave me one from her garden Sunday, a Black Krim, and I ate the whole thing last night with oil and balsamic and salt. I hope we will see you Thursday, and that there will be many more great salads to share.

  6. margaret says:

    Hi, Gina…and me, too, re: the squash book. Love squash more than any other food crop, really.

    @Terra: Yes, love them warm from sun…but not enough heat right now here, either, so I have green everywhere.

  7. Terra says:

    The tomatoes on the cover look delectable. My tomatoes would love more heat this summer, in coastal California.
    Do we all love to eat tomatoes right from the garden, whilst still warm from the sun?

  8. joyce says:

    Tomatoes are starting to ripen here with a vengeance. Once they start…it is hard to keep pace with ’em. For some reason, the birds are hot on the ‘mater trail this year. One fine (feathered) gal who looks like an aged cardinal, but without a peaked head, was so intent on plucking cherry tomatoes, she didn’t care that I was a foot away from her. Early in the morning I have looked out the window to see squirrels, birds and chipmunks all happily munching away.

  9. Elaine says:

    Thank you for sharing the book with us. I just ordered it and can’t wait to get it in the mail. My heirloom tomatoes are just starting to ripen. I am going to be out of town so I will miss the tomato fest, but and looking forward to reading about the recipes when I return.

  10. Deb says:

    Just arrived in Rhode Island–my friend says the gardener up the road promises heirlooms Friday. Will have to plot what to make with them! I hope all you garden lovers will come by here and also come say hello on Dinner Tonight tomorrow when the fest’s in full swing (maybe then some of your underripe fellas will be ready? hope for heat today!)

  11. margaret says:

    @Joyce: Now you’ve got me wanting to ID your bird…hmmm…so hard this time of year when juvenile plumage is being worn like a disguise.

    @Elaine: We will miss you, but I expect the fest will continue through fall, as tomatoes are one popular topic. Enjoy the book.

    @Deb: Glad to hear you’re settled in your getaway place, and with a local stash of heirlooms to boot! Am working on my post, promise.

  12. andrea says:

    Gazpacho. Yum. Big, beefy tomatoes. A soupçon of good red wine vinegar. Perhaps a bunch of chopped cilantro or dill. Shallots, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper. Finish with a smooth dollop of plain yoghurt (Fage?) and a garlic rubbed toasted croûton., I love the tomatoes of summer! Can hardly wait till tomorrow.

  13. margaret says:

    I was thinking of “first year” I guess, maybe using terms wrong. But in the first summer (before they migrate) I see all these adult-sized birds here who are not typical colors (but not babies either).
    Is it a grosbeak of some kind? Not sure your location…

  14. joyce says:

    Margaret, that was not a juvie! It was a tad larger than the usual cardinal, and much beefier. The plumage was red and gold, the beak yellow-orange, but it did have bit of a “mask”. If it was a female cardinal, she had just came back from the salon… I tried looking her up, but couldn’t find a match.

  15. joyce says:

    ‘Don’t think it was a grosbeak, though it was sort of large and thick. Aren’t their beaks “off-center” somewhat? I’m in Baltimore, where some very unlikely birds make appearances now and then. (Today I watched a black and white (or light gray)hummingbird perch on a branch and sing his little heart out…)

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