My mom and I helped at Tait Farm’s Tomato Festival Taste Off earlier this month. They had an array of 61 varieties, pretty good for a bad tomato summer.

Tait Taste Off by Chris Igo

Tait Taste Off by Chris Igo

The winners were:

  1. Sun Gold
  2. Matt’s Wild Cherry
  3. Mountain Magic (late-blight resistant “salad” tomato)
  4. Pruden’s Purple (of the top 5, the only full-sized tomato)
  5. Jasper

In my garden, Poona Kheera cucumbers and Zephyr summer squash are flooding the beds but our tomatoes are coming on like a droughty trickle. I’m growing several plants from seed given to me by my dad’s cousin Settimio who lives in Italy. One beautiful Cuor di Bue (Bull’s Heart) tomato yielded enough slices for BLTs for mom, Marina and me. We’ve been getting a good many paste tomatoes, but so far, none of my Green Zebras. If it is any consolation, Settimio didn’t have the best tomato season in Northern Italy. Temperatures were in the mid-70s all summer long…but, by the end of July, he had already made 100 jars of tomato sauce and 10 jars of pickled cucumbers, picked 100 zucchini, as well as baskets of raspberries and strawberries, and was looking forward to white and black grape harvest. In mid-August, he planted 300 seedlings of radicchio, Treviso’s famous chicory, which will be ready to eat at Christmas. Makes me feel like a rookie! Laurie Lynch

Belgian Wisdom: The other night we had a few glasses of Prosecco. Marina put the opened bottle back in the refrigerator with the handle of a spoon inserted into the neck of the bottle and the cup of the spoon sticking out. I questioned what she was doing, and she replied, “It’s the Belgian way.” The next evening, we got the bottle out, poured three glasses…and the bubbly was still bubbly! I’m befuddled as to why this would work and plan to make this my September experiment.

Brussels Sprouts Wisdom: A Lemont Farmers Market shopper asked if we sell Brussels sprouts leaves.   I told her we were done selling for the season, but had never heard of eating Brussels sprouts leaves. She said she likes them more than the sprouts themselves. So, the other day when I was making Chard Pie and was short on chard because we’ve been long on nibbling bunnies, I added leaves from my caged (and protected) kale and Brussels sprouts. The “chard” pie was as good as ever. Customers are often the best teachers.

I found my original Swiss Chard Pie recipe in Taunton’s Kitchen Garden magazine in the mid-1990s. Over the years I’ve subtracted a few ingredients and added others, but it remains a family favorite.

Garden 101 Chard Pie

1 bunch (as much as I can hold in one hand) of chard, kale, and/or Brussels sprouts leaves

4 cloves garlic, chopped

Olive oil

1 cup green olives, sliced

6 eggs

½ cup plain yogurt

¾ cup feta cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray lasagna-size pan with Pam.

Remove leaves from stalks, tearing into 3” pieces, and place in bowl. Chop chard stalks into ½” pieces and sauté with chopped garlic and olive oil in large pan until soft. Add leaves to mixture and place lid on pan until greens are wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and toss in sliced olives.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with yogurt. Add feta cheese and sprinkle in red pepper. Pour egg mixture over greens and stir, making sure greens are coated. Place mixture in prepared pan and bake about 45 minutes until firm. Slice into squares and serve. Leftovers make a good breakfast, hot or cold.Night-Blooming Cereus

Female Wisdom: The other night there were four (we had a houseguest) crazy ladies dancing in the moonless night at 101 Timber Lane. My mother’s night-blooming cereus (a gift from my VA Beach sister Leslie) was blooming! (Leigh insists it was because she kissed the buds the night before, coaxing them to open before she left town.) Selenicereus grandiflorus is in the cactus family and rather gawky looking 364 days of the year. But on the one night the blooms open it is a starburst of intoxicating fragrance and shimmering beauty. The flowers are so amazing that mention of the plant pops up in books, including Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Jerry Spinelli’s Love, Stargirl . After a night’s performance, the blossoms close up and hang limply, exhausted ballerinas in tulle petals of cream and pale pink.Tired


Written on Slate: “She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” –Anne Dillard



One thought on “Fleur-de-TasteOff

  1. Tasting that many tomatoes, I think they’d all start to taste the same.

    It’s been 6 years since I last had tomatoes in the garden. I don’t recall how long they took to ripen. This year, the bottoms are ripening long before the tops and then they start to rot. But that is mostly on the Old German’s. Or is that because I don’t stake them? I’ve never staked them and don’t remember so much rotting. I had a little blossom end rot at the beginning, but that has stopped.
    I have Old German, Pink Tiger, Mr. Stripey, Amish Paste, and one other kind I forget. Seven plants in all. A little too crowded for the space I made for them.
    As for staking or not, I figure, if they were meant to be staked, they would have tendrils. But I do try to keep the tomatoes up on bricks out of the wettest spots.

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