Saturday, September 24, 2011

Plethora


Doesn't English have the oddest words? Due to the chilly and wet spring and early summer, we had a dearth of ripe tomatoes, even in August. Dearth sounds so heavy and sad (and means a lack of or inadequate supply or [even more so] a scarcity that makes something dear) which is appropriate since the scarcity of tomatoes was a sad thing. Now, with the onset of almost a full week of hot weather, we have a plethora of ripe tomatoes!Plethora is another one of those unusual words but it is perfect for the current situation; we do indeed have an excess, superfluity, over supply, profusion and abundance of a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes.

I've been giving them away to friends, eating them at almost every meal, and still there are plenty of bright red Costoluttos, yellow-orange Persimmons, striped Green Zebra tomatoes with a yellow tinge under the stripes to let me know its ripe, big fat Marvel Stripes and dark green brown and pink Black Krims, plus a dusky plum shaped one that is twice the size of my old favorite Romas. This makes me the opposite of sad as you can imagine. The wait was worth it. Don't you just love it when you finally get something you've been waiting patiently for and it actually lives up to your expectations?

I have to boast a little. One of the plants that I fed and watered for so long produced an absolutely huge tomato. Here is a photo of it by the KitchenAid mixer paddle to give you a visual idea of just how much of a big guy it was. There have been a few more that were large, but that one was giant.



Once each season when we get to this point and there are tomatoes to choose from, each more luscious looking than the other, I make a classic BLT sandwich.


This time it took a day longer than planned because the sourdough bread I baked to use to hold the sandwich together and to capture those delicious fresh tomato juices baked up too thin. It made great toast but I wanted a nice tall sandwich bread. The next day I made some for my sandwich and some to share with friends. I tried something different. I fastened a folded parchment collar around a small spring form pan and put the dough ball in that. It rose up beautifully so I had the perfect tall sandwich loaf, even if it was round instead of loaf shaped.

Some thoughtfully cooked platter bacon from our local market (not undercooked with flabby parts where the fat didn't crisp up, not overcooked so it would be crumbly, a handful of baby lettuce leaves, light mayonnaise (the only thing I should have made from scratch instead...but the taste was still just fine), freshly ground pepper and slices of juicy tomato fresh from the vine...it made a really iconic BLT!


I ended up wiping tomato juices from my chin because the bread just couldn't soak them all up. It was like biting into the best of summer.



Best BLT
two slices bread, if possible a sourdough bread (I made a sourdough herb bread with whole wheat flour)
2-4 slices good quality bacon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 ripe tomatoes, home grow if possible
1-2 full sized lettuce leaves or a handful of baby leaves
pepper to taste

Toast the bread.
Fry the bacon until just barely crisp, turning a few times as the slices cook. Lay cooked slices on paper towels or brown paper to drain.
Spread both slices with the mayonnaise. Slice the tomato in thick (about 1/2 inch) slices. On one slice arrange the tomato slices. Top tomatoes with the cooked bacon strips. Top with the lettuce. Add pepper to taste on the other slice of bread. Freshly ground pepper is the best.
Place the peppered bread on top of the bacon. Press the sandwich together slightly. Serve at once. Be sure to have some napkins on hand to handle those fresh tomato juices that might escape the sandwich.

5 comments :

Next Sister Down said...

I envy you! My garden started promsingly this year and then petered out. I don't know whether the heat made the plants drop their blossoms or what. I put in only four tomato plants this year, instead of the usual six or eight, because last year's garden was such a bust. I'm glad I didn't plant more. From the four plants, I think I got three edible tomatoes, all small. There were a few with blossom end rot, and there were half a dozen smallish green ones on the plants in August when I went on vacation for a week. Only one was still there when I came home. I blame the squirrels and/or raccoons for making the rest disappear.

Even the hot peppers haven't produced as they usually do. The plants have been big and robust, with plenty of healthy green leaves, but they didn't start bearing until late August. By that time, I've usually had hot peppers for several weeks and even made pepper jelly. I might get enough habaneros for a batch of jelly this year, but it's been a very disappointing season. Can't blame the heat for the peppers, I don't think--they generally love heat.

The Oriental eggplants are the only things that have produced this year, right through the summer and still going. The fruit have been small but tasty.

A tip for BLT's if you feel like a little variety: I sometimes add fresh basil leaves, especially when I don't have any lettuce.

Beth said...

Congratulations on your tomatoes! That big one next to the mixer paddle reminds me of the huge ones Dad grew. One slice would be big enough to cover a slice of bread. I miss "real" tomatoes, but they're hard (for anyone) to grow here because the growing season is so short.

Next Sister Down, the basil on a BLT sounds fantastic.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

"think: underground tunnels" ... oh how I wish I could share in those tomatoes, I be ever so happy to share my little lavender eggplants and peppers with you!
Love that size compare!

Elizabeth said...

Plethora is my favourite word.

Wow!! That tomato is stunningly beautiful. Almost too good to eat (I said "almost"...).

I've stopped even trying to grow tomatoes here. Any time in the past, I've gazed over the fence at the abundance of tomatoes weighing down the vines (it's always greener on the other side, isn't it?) and yet there is a paucity of tomatoes on our side of the fence. Not even one tomato!

Elizabeth said...

Oops. I forgot to add: Tanna is quite right to suggest trading. I'll trade you some of our beautiful (but deadly) cayennes for your tomato, Elle.