Granted, things are slowing a bit in the garden. The drought has been tough on the winter squash and pumpkins – our irrigation towers didn’t reach far enough. The potatoes and garlic are pulled but it is too soon to harvest the sweet potatoes, celeriac, and Jerusalem artichokes. The first planting of tomatoes is dwindling; the second is taking its time ripening. The peppers, kale, and chard are coming on strong, but the beans and cucumbers peaked and disappeared. I’m not sure what the fall lettuce and spinach and arugula seeds are doing; they sure don’t seem to be germinating …
So the shorter days of September are making room for a more leisurely schedule, especially this week while my mother is visiting. One morning we had coffee and scones at Global Libations to ease into the day. One afternoon a friend dropped by and joined us for lunch. Another filled me in on her summer in Canada exercising polo ponies and invited my mother to her farm.
I have a sneaking suspicion my mother thinks there is too much gabbing and not enough working.
“You were in the shop with that customer for so long. What did she buy?”
“Oh, a dozen eggs and a pound of garlic, but we were talking about roasting peppers and freezing pesto. Then she told me about her vacation.” These things take time.
So how do I explain that one of the joys of Fleur-de-Lys Farm is gathering stories from my customers? There is no per-minute charge or 99-cents-a-download fee.
Perhaps this heart-warming story and recipe with history will do the trick. It arrived via email from a woman named Jan. We have an early connection: she lived in State College, my hometown, while she was in first grade and her father was getting his Master’s degree at Penn State. Jan is in the midst of putting together a family cookbook and she sent along a recipe and a delightful snippet of family history.
Jan’s father Joe is quite the gardener and he loves to grow tomatoes best of all. This year, he is growing 80 tomato plants, and makes weekly trips from Mill Hall to Kutztown to share the bounty of his garden with Jan. Besides tomatoes, Joe loves Penn State football and dresses for games in a white tux embroidered with various Lion designs. Jan sent this recipe for “Club Sauce”, a 1960s version of salsa that her family uses on just about everything, from eggs to hamburgers.
While the recipe is a great way to finish off the growing season (nothing from the harvest goes to waste), it also lends itself to tailgate parties. But what I like most is the tomato story that accompanies it. In the summer of 1952, Jan’s parents, Martha and Joe, planted a tomato garden in South Renovo. They sold the tomatoes they harvested that summer … to buy Martha’s wedding dress. Laurie Lynch
12 large tomatoes
3 sweet peppers
1 hot pepper
2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt (optional)
Mix together and cook slowly until the consistency of salsa.
P.S. If you’d like to share a family story and recipe with Fleur-de-Lys friends, send it my way!
Paraprosdokian: This, my friends, is a figure of speech to which I was just introduced. It occurs when the latter part of a sentence or phrase is unexpected, causing the reader to reinterpret the first part. It is often humorous and sometimes, anticlimactic. Here is a tomato-themed paraprosdokian: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Written on Slate: There is nothing finer in life than true love and a home-grown tomato. Gary Ibsen