Stuffed tomatoes and breaking out of the box
I imagine that while we humans see a sunflower as a complex assemblage of botanical moving parts, a honeybee sees it simply as a yellow powder-box of pollen. Those wildly breathtaking morning glories, pole-dancing up our arches, are likely, to a hummingbird, nothing more complicated than deep-throated bull’s-eyes of nectar. Ready, aim, fire.
My children, I’m certain, once saw me as simply a pair of milk boobs stapled onto two arms (soothing voice piped in from somewhere north). And now, what? Maybe a dispenser of strange meals not found on TV (soup from a roadkill deer ankle bone, anyone?). Also perhaps, a slightly annoying booster of Communication for All! (“You must be really disappointed, honey,” I told Col after having to extract him from soccer practice 15 minutes early. “That’s not working, Mom“ he sighed back).
And Dan? Well lets just say, whatever Dan sees when he looks at me has kept our relationship well-spiced for 20 years. My friend, Kristi, who has a similarly appreciative husband, agrees that having a partner who’s like a cross between a libidinous 14-year old boy* and enthusiastic canine, (“You, again! Wow! In that shirt? OMG. Pant pant. Awesome!”) is better than flowers, jewelry, or whatever else the media suggests women want.
In early Sept, I clip all tomato flowers and about 1/3 of the leaves, to encourage energy into the fruits that already exist.
But really, I want to talk about tomatoes. Because when I see my two garden beds of tomatoes, I see precisely two things: salsa and roasted tomato sauce. Even when the tomatoes are bitty upstarts innocently stretching their tender green limbs in the March greenhouse, I’m thinking only of their September future. I guess there’s the purpose-driven life, there’s your one wild and precious life, and then there’s me and my tomatoes, living the, er, pre-programmed life.
So, I was pleasantly, happily surprised when I broke out of my hierarchical tomato hoarding box to make stuffed tomatoes for our friend Sharon, who threw me for a loop, dinner-wise, being a vegetarian. And I realize this isn’t exactly the beacon of flexibility, not exactly the wildest thing you could do on a Friday night, but it felt like the smallest inroad into well-trod rigidity. Plus, they were crazy delicious.
*with the romantic finesse of a 43-yr old.
Stuffed, baked tomatoes
8 med sized tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped chard (or kale, spinach)
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup minced onion
1-2 cloves garlic
handful chopped fresh basil (or dill, cilantro, chives)
1-2 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp salt
Slice tomatoes in half. Scoop out insides carefully, trying not to make holes in the bottom (which I did and really was fine). Reserve tomato insides in a bowl. Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil on low heat for 15 minutes. Add chopped chard and reserved tomato (you will need to mash the fresh, raw tomato. I used a potato masher. A fork would work fine) and cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the chard is thoroughly cooked. Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and fresh basil. Mix. Add to scooped out tomato shells. Bake at 300F for approx 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned on top.