GARDEN GOURMET-- September 2008
Well, it’s here. This is what we’ve been gardening
for since early last spring (a lousy one, at that) Now it it here. I am
thinking in terms of Labor Day . . . and the month of September, which
translates into HARVEST.
Sure, it is sad. We would like to keep putting
seeds in the earth and see plants break through the soil to deliver for
us the produce we have come to count on. But as sure as Jack Frost will
spell doom for those same plants, we will have another go at it next spring
(about nine months from now) and the wait is our time for planning . .
. and dreaming. Gardening is like that.
Sure, in this Mid-western location, we have a
few weeks of grace during which our current plants will continue to yield
their produce. But, in most cases, while the late bloomers will still offer
a good taste, it will be smaller--nubbins (if we may use the word to represent
many forms of imperfect growths).
Still. As I have just indicated, those various
forms of imperfect produce can (usually are) very good to the taste buds
. . . and to nourishment.
Here, again, the infernal weeds that plagued our
gardens throughout the summer, give us a last hurrah by protecting the
plants they have hidden all summer, from the early appearances of Mr. Frost.
And these conditions may be with us right up to the first hard freeze .
. . maybe longer. They ward off the vagaries of the coming winter.
So don’t be too quick to destroy the remnants
of a once-productive garden. Hang on as long as you can. And, when you
must pack it in for another year, put the garden “leftovers” to good use.
One of those uses is chow-chow. I don’t believe
my procedure for making chow-chow, a sort-of relish with a green tomato
base, is quite as good as that made by late sister -- Maxine Chandler.
But it is a reasonable facsimile thereof, and it goes really well on sandwiches
or a plate of boiled beans. In the absence of having her recipe, I concocted
my own (it can be found on www.bayoubill.com). Do a search on “chow-chow”
with the search engine at the bottom of the opening page. The ingredients
are headed with green tomatoes and peppers.
Green tomatoes, if saved from freeze and frost,
may also be wrapped individually in newspaper and kept at 40 degrees to
ripen later in winter, Their taste does not quite measure up to vine fresh,
but they are a treat on Christmas Day . . . or thereafter.
Any kind of green pepper can be salvaged and frozen
in pieces for winter cooking. As a garnish helper they are superb. They
also may be strung on a strong thread and dried.
The last hurrah of green beans can very well come
in the form of “shellies.” Green beans may be allowed to mature on the
vine expressly for this purpose. A third or fourth crop is often destined
for this use.
I know of nothing more pleasant than sitting in
the November sun to shell a basket of beans.
Pumpkins may be your finale crop, along with turnips,
which should have been planted in late summer. Pumpkin butter or pies will
put a gleam in all eyes.
And for those over-the-hill ears of tough sweet
corn, there is the little-known practice of buttering and roasting slowly
in an oven. Pick off the browned grains of corn for a snack. Rather waxy,
and they cling to the teeth, but tasty.
new feature of this column--it makes its debut with this edition is derived
from the incredible sandwich. There are millions of them about the world
and we would like to give them some ink.
Our first entry in this category is the so-called
“Mater Sandwich” of Terry “Terrible Terry” Shive of Salisbury, North Carolina.
Terry, a fishing friend of mine, is a farmer who specializes in beef cattle
(cows). He is also an avid gardener and one of his prime garden products
is the Mater (tomato) Sandwich although he fashions many gastronomical
delights from the plants he grows.
Here, in his words, is how he makes it: “yes BB,
the mater sandwich . . . a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.
I think I was put on them when weaned. Simply two slices of bread . . .
I grew up on white . . . Merita . . . but Louann (wife) has had us on whole
wheat now for years . . . either is good. Dukes Mayonaisse is the
only spread for me to use though . . . now (the light lower fat). Spread
it onto one side of bread . . . (the lower one) . . . with a knife
(amount? probably a heaping teaspoon . . . nothing precise). I slice
the mater rather thick . . . between a half inch and three quarters (depending
on my supply of maters) and then salt and pepper (I go easy on the pepper)
. . . put the other slice of bread on top and have at it. I usually
leave the tomato skin on except later in the season when it tends to get
tough . . . then I peel the mater before slicing it . . . yum, yum!”
MY MATER SANDWICH--I
make a “mater” sandwich in much the image of Terry’s, but I get a little
more hoity-toity with the whole affair by adding at least a light coating
of mustard on the inside of the top slice of bread and who knows what else.
I don’t know until I get started.
Now and then I add a thin slice or two of cucumber,
some dried beans (cooked, of course), some canned tuna, or even thinly
sliced radishes (if I have them). I have been known to replace the mustard
with a thin coating of peanut butter. The tomato and mayo dominates, of
Actually, as Terry points, the only items necessary
are tomato slices, mayonnaise, and bread for a really tasty treat. I think
having a chilled tomato is a good start.