Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ode to a Lovely Beefsteak Tomato

The long wait is over
   to catch a fleeting bite of your sweet, red, juicy flesh.
No other on the vine
   can compare to the beauty and flavor you bring to me in the hot breath of summer.
Tho many say they know you
   only those that sample you in this incarnation can truly be aware
of the diverseness of your nature
   between the common dry tasteless commonness that is your popularity
and what you appear to me as today
   in your succulent sweet elusive countenance.
Patiently I wait ten months
   for you to arrive on my doorstep only to have you disappear again when leaves mimic you in Fall

Beefsteak peeking out from behind
the squash as if it had any reason
to be shy!
Hee hee hee, obviously I am no poet. But the tomato that appeared in my City Fresh share last week moved me to this feeble attempt.  As soon as I spied it among the other tomatoes, I instantly thought "YES, this is a REAL tomato!"

Grandpa grew this variety of tomato in his garden and these are what most of us with food memories prior to the age of "tomatoes year 'round" recall with real fondness.  Yes, it's nice to have those hard little red orbs called tomatoes in the grocery store available to us in the middle of December, but do not make the mistake of thinking they taste anything like a real tomato. 

The sad part of this is that even in the dead of summer when 'real' tomatoes are on the local vines, we STILL end up with the variety that are easily shipped around the country in trucks to reach our stores.  And that means hard, tough as nails tomatoes with very little flavor.

This tomato inspired my dinner tonight by it's sheer presence.  For its sake I baked my own wheat bread from scratch, purchased fantastic thick-cut local bacon and selected the best of the bunch from my lettuce tub.  In short, this tomato was treated as a special guest in my home - only the best would do.

This one tomato will make several meals, mostly as the main attraction.  Tonight a BLT, tomorrow for lunch as a simple topping for my homemade bread, then tomorrow night served simply dressed with salt and pepper as a side dish to something, maybe a couple ears of fresh corn on the cob.  This is summer eating at its very best.

BAKING BREAD WORTHY OF MY TOMATO
For the most part my bread baking leans toward the artsy, multi-grain breads that are served with soups or on their own, breads that can stand on their own.  Seldom do I venture into the softer, sandwich style baking.  However for the sake of my tomato I reached out to my favorite web site (King Arthur Flour) and selected a soft, whole wheat recipe to try. 


Dinner 1 - BLT fit for a Queen!

Using a technique recommended from KAF, I turned the single larger loaf into two small mini-loaves and it baked up beautifully.  Soft in texture and a little nutty in flavor, if you're into baking your own bread for sandwiches, I highly recommend this one.  I won't bore everyone with the recipe here, but you can find it yourself on the KAF website.  While you're there, take a look around, they have hundreds of great ideas.

 The bread was sturdy enough to hold its own when toasted and still held up pretty well given the extra juicy nature of the tomato. 

One slice of tomato, one slice of bread
and a thick layer of mayo...YUM! Lunch!
So I'm off to eat some more of my beautimous, gigantic, once or twice a summer tomato.  I'm wishing you all could be here but since you cannot (because frankly even if you were I might not share), you should scout out the local farm stands for a Beefsteak of your own. 

Chow down baby!


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