Friday, August 19, 2011

Ripe Tomatoes

Ripe Tomatoes

A person can show his religion as much in measuring onions as he can in singing Glory Hallelujah. 
A Shaker

A walk to the end of her street provides a view of an Amish neighbor’s farm. The Lady of-the-House likes to view the progress of their large gardens. They are a big family - generations living together - and use their land (with big horses) in a big way. Agriculture is their livelihood. The Lady-of-the-House keeps a couple organic tomato plants, a few zucchini, a handful of bell peppers and an assortment of herbs in and around the flowers. She is rewarded with the gift of growing things – even if in a small way.  

Chapter Two of Lessons at Blackberry Inn begins with:

Emma’s garden was overflowing with a bumper crop of tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes of all sizes filled every spare bowl, bucket, and nook of the kitchen. We skinned, boiled, and strained these “love apples,” as they were once called, for most of the morning. Perspiration beaded on our faces as the heat in the kitchen rose. The windows let in too little breeze to cool our brows.

The Lady-of-the-House admires the frugal canning activity of a friend - especially when she receives a jar as a gift. Her friend preserves nature’s bounty like her storybook characters. All summer as each fruit (Is the tomato a fruit?) meets its time of ripeness, she puts a carefully chosen recipe to work, turning it into sparkling bottles of delicious preserves for her family.

In this photograph, taken last month by the Man-of-the-House, one enterprising mother’s bottles are for sale.

Like her character Carol, the Lady-of-the House is fabulously fond a ripe tomato. Can you tell?

Next [Emma] sliced some bread and the biggest reddest tomatoes that had been set aside for our tomato sandwiches. One thick slice made a perfect sandwich. Piling the hot corn, buttered and salted, and the sandwiches on plates, we joined the children outside to eat.

“Nothing is redder than a ripe tomato,” I said after a juicy swallow.

“I think the tomato sandwich is my favorite,” said Emma. 

In August tomatoes big and small hold a place of beauty and taste for the Lady-of-the-House. These three ripe, organic, crimson beauties were purchased at a farm stand. They are grown in a large greenhouse that seems an acre in length.

This summer she only grows grape tomatoes. Two plants are providing an on going supply.

Grape tomatoes are just the right size for snacking on like grapes, cutting in half to add to an olive-and-basil pasta salad, or for dotting a broccoli quiche.

Sometimes the Lady-of-the-House will make a tidy breakfast quiche or two a day ahead when overnight company is anticipated (like today).

When newly married, she used to dream of her ideal herb garden - an expansive Colonial garden divided by a pebbled footpath, housed inside a quaint picket fence, with a gate that closed on its own by a weighted chord – in historical style. Out her kitchen door are a few fragrant herbs – not a museum garden. But she is satisfied.

Like the thyme some are in pots.

Like the oregano some are tucked in among the flowers.

She is happy - although the broken pot of sweet basil is too shabby to be chic.

Do you see the china teacup among the tall daisies? It is secured on a copper pipe. When this whimsical ornament fills with rainwater thirsty flying creatures visit it. It seems to have the added benefit of being an unsuspecting Japanese beetle trap. (More beetles – not pictured- met their demise inside the cup).

She bought her garden cup at Main Street Manor B & B in Flemington, New Jersey. Donna’s father makes them. Donna more charitably keeps birdseed in hers.

The garden teacup is a little touch but it makes a difference to the Lady-of-the-House. When she spies it through her front window or passes it when walking to the mailbox she is reminded to “sit for a bit.”

Sometimes she feels silly when she compares big things to her little things. Then she remembers that little things have a place, too, because they can make a big difference.  

Importantly, little kindnesses, little gestures, little courtesies, tact and attentiveness, in relationships, make a big difference in the atmosphere of home. We cannot know which big things - or which of the myriad of little things we mothers do - will have the most meaningful or lasting affect. Never mind. Day-by-day, in good faith we “measure our onions” in our work and in our relationships - to God’s glory. And entrust Him with the outcome.

Benjamin West, “The Father of American Painting,” the 10th child in a Quaker family said, “A kiss from my mother made me a painter.”

I marvel at his tribute.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola 


  1. Dear Karen,
    Your tomatoes (a fruit:-) look divine. We eat ours with fesh mozzaella and basil with a dash of sea salt and olive oil. Oh heaven! I too, have small patches of this and that and they are indeed satisfying. Enjoy your day, it is a lovely cool one with lots of sunshine here in MA.

  2. Oh Karen, what a sweet post. And so filled with the thoughts of ripe and delicious tomatoes! I love that. Our hot and humid climate means the tomato growing season is now over for us, so I can only be happy that somewhere folk are still enjoying their tomatoes! Your breakfast quiche sounds and looks so appetizing - if you ever care to share the recipe, some of us would be delighted. Oh, and another way that we enjoy grape tomatoes in our household is to simply saute them whole in a skillet with a little olive oil, a bit of sugar and salt and pepper. These are so wonderful as a side dish with almost anything - just bursting with juice and flavor. Finally, let me say how much I love that quote from Benjamin West. That is beautiful. Enjoy your day, dear friend!

  3. Such a lovely post....

    And now to a practical question: how long did your tomatoes take going from fully grown but green ... to red? I have a greenhouse full of green tomatoes, and am becoming rather impatient!
    Anne x

  4. Tomatoes are the most delicious when eaten right out of the vine.

    We eat as much as we can. In eggs, with cheese, in stews. Tomatoes say summer to me.

    Grace & Peace to you,


  5. I am happy to have you as blog friends, Ladies. Thank you for your chats.

    Turn your back on your tomatoes for a while and when you return you may be surprised. My mother used to tell me, "A watched pot never boils." I wonder if this would apply to tomatoes grown in Scotland.

    Karen A.

  6. A beautiful post...I have my own Cherry Tomato plant but,have only taken a handful from it...the heat has just about killed all my herbs, even got my azalea bush that I was trying to keep watered ever so carefully. All your plants look so pretty...I like the broken pot as well :) We all sometimes find ourselves as "cracked pots" in the potters hands..are we not? The pictures are all very lovely...thank you so much for sharing. Blessings on your weekend

  7. Your tomatoes look very good...they are my favorite kind for eating. We have grape tomatoes and also this year Pink Ponderosa, Brandywine, and German Red Strawberry. There is nothing like a fresh from the garden tomato.

    It is all these small things that make up a home and a home life. You excel at it, Karen.


  8. Hi Karen,

    I'm always fascinated by the things my children remember and hold dear. Often, I will have forgotten the same incident that has become a treasured memory for them.

    I've been trying my hand at lacto-fermented saurkrauts, ginger carrots, tomato pepper relish and pickles this week. My produce comes from the grocery...maybe next year I'll try growing some tomatoes.

    Thank you for your posts. I look forward to them!


  9. ...little things have a place, too, because they can make a big difference.

    Yes Karen!

    What a lovely post. WONDERFUL photos to go along with your words.

  10. Lovely tomatoes. Ours are very behind this year, due to cooler weather in the Northwest. Your flowers are beautiful too!


  11. Beautiful Post Karen. The tomatoes look so yummy. I am just now reading Lessons at Blackberry Inn.I just love it.In fact, I just yesterday read the words you penned from it here.What timing...And yes the little things we do, matter. This posting reminded me of the words of JR Miller..."Home is the true wife's kingdom.The woman who makes a sweet beautiful home,filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies"...Thank you once again Karen,I look forward to your postings. Dawn E. Brown ps enjoyed the Mother Culture CD, passed it on to my dear daughter, then will pass to dear daughter-in-law,Blessings

  12. I have grown tomatoes in previous years with great success, but this year, oh my! I had a baby in March and I was way behind with getting seeds planted. And then in July we had a serious heat wave that seemed to be a bit much for my plants. Here it is two thirds of the way through August and I have two big bushy tomato plants--and two tiny green tomatoes. Only two! *sigh*

    I love that quote by Benjamin West. Simple, and yet very inspiring. It's so true that the little things mothers do can have a farther reaching impact than we sometimes know.

    Laura in Ontario

  13. Oh, the tomatoes! I have a struggling tomato plant. I find that Alaska is rather unwilling to yield the sweet ripe tomatoes that I know from my childhood in SC. Just looking at your pictures, Karen, reminds me of hot summer days and fresh garden vegetables. So, I have some small pots as well as an indoor sprouting box we've just begun. Enjoy those wonderful tomato sandwiches!

    Natalie in Alaska

  14. Lovely post Karen, it often is the little things that are the important things, isn't it?

    Beautiful tomatoes, too!

  15. I learned in my college botany class that tomatoes are fruits.

  16. I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible loving forces that work from individual to indivicual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardes monuments of human pride. William James

  17. Thank you, Ladies, for adding your thoughts. It keeps the writer of Moments With Mother Culture from the loneliness of monologue.
    Karen A.

  18. Your tomatoes are lovely! We have grape tomatoes and some Roma tomatoes. We have had a nice steady stream. We too have herbs planted here and there.

    We have Basil,Oregano, Parsley, Sage,Thyme, and a HUGE Rosemary bush!;o)

    I LOVE a tomato sandwich. Yummy! One of my favourite summer dishes is tomato, basil,Feta pasta!

    You live in a very beautiful part of our country. I love your tea cup in your garden. I will have to be on the lookout for something like that for my garden.

    Love, Heather

  19. Karen, I have four little ones and every thing I do takes so much longer because of their curious questions and interruptions. However, your post really spoke to me in many ways. Sometimes as homeschooling moms we may feel what we are doing is so insignificant....but that really can't be further from the truth. I need to remember to slow down and enjoy the little things. Thank you for reminding me of this truth today!!!

  20. I enjoyed to picture the tea cup and saucer on top of a copper pipe lovely! I've got a "flower bed garden" too. It is a blessing. I will have to be on the lookout for copper pipe and china cups!

  21. I have always dreamed of a colonial herb garden as well. It's on my "someday, maybe" list...

    A small herb and flower garden (also home to quite a few weeds) is what I'm blessed with now. This year, I'm content with basil, parsley, sage, and morning glories.

    A lovely post, Karen.

  22. I love the over the fence flavor of this post. A big thick slice of tomato makes a lovely sandwich, and with corn on the cob? Dreamy!