"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Recent Rambles
DNR Doings
Wild Recipes
Recent Rambles
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

THE 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.

SANDWICH SHOP--a 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 course.

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.

Bookmark us and stay in touch . . . come back for next month's new "Ramble," a regular feature of this website.



All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

Return to beginning of document
Return to Bayou Bill's Home Page