How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Whistle Stop!

The tomatoes in my garden took an incredibly long time to ripen this year, a problem shared by many of the backyard gardeners I spoke to in southeast Massachusetts this year. The wet June, followed by the way-too-hot July did not make for a good tomato year. I was able to harvest about a dozen ripe ones, a few at a time, during late August and September, and I left the remainder on the vine as long as I could, but fearing an overnight frost as October waned, I finally picked them all and brought them inside to ripen. Little by little they are turning red, but I did not wait for all to ripen before enjoying them: I selected four of the biggest ones to make fried green tomatoes. I poked around on the web, and in some cookbooks, and in the recesses of my memory to find a recipe that would incorporate the bacon fat I'd saved recently, along with some of the other farm ingredients I had, and finally just took several different ideas and created my own recipe.

I began by heating the bacon fat in the indispensable cast-iron skillet, it didn't look like enough fat to fry up the tomatoes, so I added some canola oil to it, and one diced banana pepper. I cut the tomatoes into thick slices and coated them in a mixture of corn meal, rye flour, salt, pepper, and fresh, minced basil leaves (also from my garden). The tomato slices were placed in the hot oil and fried for a few minutes on each side until they were a golden brown color. Once they were cooked I removed them from the pan and placed them on a paper-towel lined plate, and served immediately, along with a fresh green salad and some home brew beer. James declared that the tomatoes were perfect - "sweet, tart, hot, and crisp" (he added that those same words could be used to describe his sweetheart). Couldn't have asked for a better review of the meal, and the bacon fat did a wonderful job re-seasoning the skillet. It is slicker than Teflon.

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