Homegrown Tomatoes

 
 
 
 
 
 
Last Sunday the pastor at the church where I am attending, during a verbal illustration of the importance of love and a good root system offered this proclamation to the congregation… “ There are two things that money can’t buy. Love and home-grown tomatoes.” I laughed  along with the others but I couldn’t tell him that wasn’t exactly true.. Although it is a fact that there is nothing that can compare with a red, juicy ripe home-grown tomato,  they can be bought. While I was out and about Saturday afternoon I ran across three different places where folks had set up a table and had made a cardboard sign that said they indeed had  home-grown tomatoes for sale.
Slice those tomatoes up, add salt and pepper and serve alongside any summer menu and it’s delicious enough to make the strongest of men go weak in the knees. For years I have had tomatoes in the garden and always enough left over to can and even to give some away. Now that I no longer have room to have a vegetable garden of any size, I usually have to seek out those places that have vegetables for sale, or rely on the good nature of friends and relatives who ask if I want some.
Early this spring while visiting my daughter in Kentucky and browsing at a local garden center there, we both purchased a tomato plant. I had decided I could easily plant it in a large container and sit it on my patio and enjoy watching it grow while contemplating the taste of that  first succulent red tomato on a big ole bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
I watered, fertilized, pinched off unwanted leaves, and daily looked for any sign of a little green bulging tomato. Soon one appeared. And then another and another, and then there were five. I was in tall cotton.
I called my daughter and asked her how her plant was doing. “The plant’s doing o.k., but no tomatoes.” she said. “ None?” I replied. “ Not one.” Thank you Lord for giving me the fertile tomato plant. Do I need to feel guilty?
When we were kids a salt shaker went to the garden with us many times. Pull the tomato off the vine ( especially the cherry tomatoes) rub it around a little bit on your shirt to “clean” it, sprinkle on some salt and enjoy some good ole country  eatin‘. No need in my dad’s garden to worry about chemicals or anything hurting you. Maybe some manure in the dirt, but I wasn’t going to let it touch the ground. It would be gone soon!
My sister Mary Lou  has threatened to “harvest” these green  tomatoes when I go on a small trip soon. She loves fried green tomatoes. The one thing she doesn’t realize here is that we are not talking about acres of this wonderful vegetable, but a single plant on which I know the count and the daily progress of each one. I sure would hate to have a falling out over my entire “crop” of tomatoes.
So, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Oxford’s Online Dictionary has this online explanation:
 
The confusion about ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable’ arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a ‘fruit’, though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example.
As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called ‘vegetables’ because they are used in savory rather than sweet cooking. The term ‘vegetable’ is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term ‘fruit’ may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example.
So, the answer to the question is that a tomato is technically the fruit of the tomato plant, but it’s used as a vegetable in cooking. 
No matter what you call it, fruit or vegetable, in Madison County  there seem to be plenty of places to buy home-grown tomatoes, if you don’t happen to have them in your own garden. So head on out to that tomato patch with a salt shaker in hand.( Just make sure you have permission)
Below is just a little different take on a tomato side dish.
 
Roasted Home-grown tomatoes
 
Slice tomatoes and place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Top with Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Roast 15-20 minutes
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