BONUS: Here’s a cute handmade video she did for They Might be Giants.
Last week, in On Inheritance we talked Heirloom tomatoes; their origins, beauty, roots in the land and the way such a simple fruit can connect us with our ancestors, the generations past. This week, we’ll take a more practical look at the summer’s most coveted bounty with some of the best recipes from around the web.
After decades of conditioning to the acceptance of dull, pale, supermarket varieties one of the biggest questions people have about heirloom tomatoes is what to do with them. Sure, they’re pretty, but how do we eat them? Everyone knows they’re great for slicing, but a rare few know the true breadth of a good heirloom’s culinary possibilities.
Prior to the relatively recent industrialization of our food system however, heirlooms were all that existed and as such the possibilities for their uses extend as far as our imaginations. From salads to sauces, pizzas to pastas heirloom tomatoes are the perfect accompaniment to just about any dish and even make great waves as the dinner table headliner themselves. That said, without further ado, some of the best heirloom tomato recipes I’ve found to date:
Food Network gives a well-received template for creating an heirloom tomato salsa, my only tweak to their system would be to encourage you not to limit yourself to one variety of tomato. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different textures, colors and tastes to find the blend you enjoy most.
Martha Stewart offers her rendition of the all-American Friday night dinner with her Oven-Dried Heirloom Tomato Pizza and there’s really no sense in trying to improve a recipe from the master, especially when it doesn’t get any simpler. I love how she lets the tomatoes flavor take center stage in this one with just a dash of pepper to spice things up.
Sea Salt With Food’s Grilled Corn and Shrimp Salad doesn’t specifically call for heirloom tomatoes, but substituted for the conventional grape tomatoes the heirloom would really make it pop.
And last, but certainly not least, one I have not tried but that I couldn’t help but be fascinated with; Cheddar Cheese Pancakes with Heirloom Tomato, Avocado and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette — yes, I said warm bacon — from Sippity Sup. Try it and let me know what you think. It has both tomatoes and bacon so it has to be good.
Until next week, happy tomato eating!
* Heirloom Tomato Art in this column is by Big Bean Photos, f2 Images and Darrah Parker, respectively. Because Tomatoes are not just for eating, but also good for decorating. So go get yourself a print, or ten.
Living simply is not just a nice idea on a piece of paper; it is a realistic and achievable goal.
People make the choice to live simply for all kinds of environmental, financial and ethical reasons and I think in mine and my husband’s quest to adopt a less “stuff” obsessed way of life we’ve come to realise that all reasons of living simply seem to tie themselves up together.
When I was first married over two years ago me and my now husband, B, decided that we’d live without a TV set in our new place – and ultimately set the goal that wherever we went we’d live without a TV set.
We hadn’t lived together before we were married so there was no dry run; we went into things without any prior knowledge of how things would be since we both were used to having a TV and had grown up in a culture so steeped in entertainment in the form of television programmes and the understanding of the World around us from news programmes – and the bias that comes with these programmes.
Plus there was an added expense (and luxury) of owning a TV set. In the UK you are required by law to purchase and own an up to date TV Licence. On top of owning a TV Licence there was the cost of a cable subscription and the running costs of a TV; we just didn’t see the point. We carefully budgeted for what we needed; food, clothes, our bills and rent paid and worked out what we could live without in order that we could save up our money for when we ran into a brick wall and needed funds to fall back on.
Whether you want to cut back on funds, want to save up for something special or you want to live simply, here are a few of my own personal tips:
Always, always write out a shopping list.
This means no impulse buying, (if you have the will power to not succumb to impulse spending, of course) no frivolous spending and if you commit to your list and don’t deviate from it then it allows for budgeting. If you make calculated spends then you know the outcome of the spend; no shocks at the cash register and no shocks when you check your bank balance.
Make a weekly meal plan.
(Image: Good enough to eat but might have you burping bubbles, Dirty Ass Soaps.)
By writing out a weekly plan of what you’re going to eat that week you’re planning ahead and are less likely to be indecisive and pick up the phone to order pizza or any other take away food. It will also save you on the one thing we’re all saying we don’t have enough of: time.
Making a weekly plan also goes hand in hand with writing out a detailed shopping list; a well stocked kitchen with everything you need for the week is a lot less stress and hard work than dashing out to buy food every day and humming and hawing come dinner time. Decide on what you want to eat and plan accordingly. Look through cook books and on-line cooking forums for inspiration!
Host a book/clothes swap
The clothes swap seems to be sweeping the World over; we have convinced ourselves that shopping is therapy (‘retail therapy’, I rest my case) and in turn have accumulated clothes we don’t wear, need or will never work up the courage to wear – or perhaps you’re just bored with the same look.
Don’t go on another clothes spending spree in order to spruce up your wardrobe, organise a clothes swap. The rules of this are pretty simple: you, your home, your old clothes, your friends and their old clothes. Everyone must bring round suitable (not tatty/worn out/out of style) clothes they don’t have a problem giving away. You go through each other’s clothes and take out what you want; win/win all round as you get to have a clear-out and gain a new wardrobe (or at least a few added pieces to the wardrobe) in the process.
A book swap is similar but instead of clothes, you swap books. I have yet to trial either of these ideas but I’m really liking the idea of a book swap – not only because my bookshelves are heaving at the weight of my book collection but because I would get new books in the process of it all!
Join a local library.
I love to read and I know I’m not alone in this feeling. However, by joining a local library, you’re not being disloyal to your favourite author. Authors still receive money when you check out a library book. Libraries also sell off their stock at below average prices – be on the look out for a corner dedicated to selling books or notices for stock that is going up for sale.
Libraries are also a great source of information; notice boards displaying free services, groups and even garage sales in the local area. Most libraries also offer free computer, Internet and WiFi – in fact me and B used the library computers for a whole year until we cracked and signed up for our Broadband.
Children also love libraries; most children’s sections have easily accessible book shelves, reading areas and are generally kitted out for children. They also have a plethora of DVDs and CDs to keep children (and adults) amused.
Have a vegetarian (or vegan) day once a week.
In Once A Week Vegan six friends are on a journey to attempt going Vegan one day a week for a year and have lots of inspiring food ideas. Or pick up some tips on going Vegetarian for a day a week from Ask Men (UK.)
We’re a Vegan family so going vegan for a day isn’t a hardship however the savings we make on our shopping are noticeable from our meat-eating counterparts. Lentils are cheaper than steak, after all.
Gone are the days of pre-soaking foods over night for veggies and vegans and hello are the days of mock meats, tasty treats and all kinds of choice. Having a day once a week where you don’t eat meat is not only good for the bank balance, but good for the body. I know of a few families who have trialled this and have success with it.
Still not convinced? You could try having one vegetarian/vegan meal once a week and see how that works out for you.
By making small changes (and it’s always best to start small and realistically) you’ll notice that you’ll save time, money and sanity when it comes to living simply. So keep it simple, make a few realistic and achievable sacrifices (not everyone wants to live without their TV) and make room for adjustments when you’ve made changes – not everything has to stick and you’ll work out what you can and can’t live with or without over time.
I find the best stuff in the Try Handmade Gallery! Here are some simple and satisfying bath products from Green Love.
Green Love: I am a mom with two wonderful daughters (8 and 4 years old). My husband and I run Green Love together. We started making and selling natural bath and body products because we wanted only the best for our family and the Earth. We strive to use only high-quality ingredients that have real health benefits along with making you look and feel great! We are committed to protecting the environment and taking care of our bodies naturally. We do our best to live a “green” lifestyle and to reduce our carbon footprint. We even ride a bike to mail your packages! You can count on us to always have great customer service and great products – satisfaction guaranteed!