Recently as I was hauling bags of fresh vegetables to the house, I was reminded of a garden memory from home. My mother was many things; a bundle of personality; never met a stranger; always working a project; a keen business woman. She talked my father into breaking up some ground and planting a garden. We planted several fifty-foot rows of tomatoes.
The property where we had grown the tomatoes was only a few miles outside of Jacksonville which bears the appellation, Tomato Capital of the World. Growers in Bordeaux, France ,have the perfect terroir for grapes to make world class wines. Jacksonville has the same for tomatoes.
That year we had bushels of tomatoes. We ate tomatoes, canned tomatoes, froze tomatoes. Mom bought a grinder that clamps on a table (this was before food processors) and we ground tomatoes to make ketchup. We even hauled tomatoes to the farmers market in Dallas. That year, many households in Dallas had Jacksonville tomatoes on their table because of the ingenuity of my mother.
This year, I planted the usual home garden. Nothing like the size of what Mom had us do. Little did I know when I whispered a request to please bless this year’s modest garden what the outcome would be. In the dire times in which we are living, there are still some smiles in heaven. “He asked for a bountiful garden. Watch this.”
After weeks of making pasta sauce, blanching squash and freezing green beans, our freezer was packed and we still had extra produce. We tried to buy a freezer, but freezers are on back order until sometime in the fall.
We donated to a local food pantry and then resorted to calling friends to give away the harvest that just seems to keep producing. For some friends I have had to require that they take a bag of cherry tomatoes and at least one cucumber or else they don’t get the other goods. I can feel my mother smiling.
Among the produce in my bag are more yellow squashes. If you have an abundance of squash or perhaps you have put up some in the freezer, you must try my recipe Delicious Oven Squash. There are many squash recipes online.
I developed this recipe to capture the natural sweet flavor of squash and marry it with several buttery, creamy flavors. The Gruyere is a swiss cheese that, with the butter and milk, accomplishes this objective very well. However, any cheese you have on hand will work in this recipe. The entertainment crackers can be replaced with any crackers. I like using Club crackers for their buttery flavor.
As a preteen, picking tomatoes was at the bottom of my list of favorite things to do. But Mom was working her agenda and at the same time creating a memory that would stay with me for life. Now I find myself picking tomatoes and realizing after all these years, I have become my mother!
Tim Scallon is a registered dietitian nutritionist with years of experience practicing nutrition therapy in local hospitals and clinics, teaching nutrition and developing healthy recipes.
He is a Nacogdoches resident and he helped create the popular TV show Memorial Cooking Innovations celebrating the world of food and health. Memorial Cooking Innovations currently runs in 62 cities and is locally available on Sudden Link cable channel 2 in Nacogdoches.