You say tomato…
Every year my now 88 year old grandfather grows tons of his favorite vegetables (and fruits) in his garden in Philadelphia. You can always find a tomato, tons of lima beans, string beans, cabbage or collards. He was raised on a farm in North Carolina during the 1930s & 1940s a time when many families had to grow their own food to survive.
Today the farm to table movement is booming with a whole new generation leading the charge.
Tomatoes have long been considered as a beginner gardeners friend, especially grape and cherry tomatoes. In fact, when I was in the 3rd grade one of our projects was to grow cherry tomatoes (luckily, my grandfather was able to revive my almost dead plant before it was due). And even though my gardening skills leave much to be desired, there are numerous farmers around the country with tons of tomatoes this time of year.
And such a versatile fruit that is treated like a vegetable deserves a box.
Eating them raw in salads and gazpacho or roasted in a hot soup or tomato sauce, tomatoes are great for large dishes that you can freeze or can.
All the recipes this month may call for a specific type of tomatoes but feel free to swap out your favorites or what is abundant at the markets. Maybe even branch out and try the many heirloom varieties easily found these days.
March is such a wonderful month that gets lost in the shuffle of the ending of the holiday season and the start of warmer weather. But so many great things happen in March like daylight savings time (I know, I know we lose an hour but think of all the sunlight you get to embrace!), spring officially begins and, my favorite, my farmer’s market starts back up.
From March to December I talk and learn from any and every farmer I can find. As passionate as they are about what they grow and how they grow it, they are just as passionate about cooking their fare. And like me, they love to talk about it.
You can find a wide variety of lettuces, herbs and other produce and some really great simple recipes to try at home. I’ve never gotten a recipe from a farmer that had more than 5 ingredients. Usually all 5 ingredients can be found at the farmer’s market which makes it an ideal place to try something new.
My favorite part of local farms are farm shares otherwise known as Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs. A farmer will sell shares of their farms harvest for a year to a set number of locals. Some times they will accept a person working on the farm in place of money but regardless of which a person does its the support that makes it what it is.
Search around your neighborhood, ask friends or family or visit the farmers market and ask the vendors there to point you in the direction of a CSA. They fill up fast but are so worth it. And if you miss your chance this year there is always next year and just shop weekly at your local farmer’s market.