When I think of fall I think of harvesting what is in the garden. Through the years I preserved things by canning and freezing. I even used a dehydrator for some things.
My favorite way to enjoy things from the garden though is fresh. Even as a youngster I enjoyed the produce of my grandfather's small garden. Grandpa did not plant many things, but one of his favorite things to watch grow was tomatoes. He was not interested in the very large variety. He just wanted tomatoes that he could cut up to eat.
I am not a fan of the very large tomatoes either. I enjoy a tomato that I can eat in one sitting. I like slices that are small enough to fit into a sandwich without hanging over the edge. One of my favorite sandwiches is the BLT, bacon lettuce and tomato. When it was tomato season we enjoyed these tasty treats often. They made for a simple supper that could be whipped together when the harvesters appeared. Sometimes I put the fixings on a big platter and allowed my guests to fix their own sandwiches.
The BLT is a sandwich that is best with the homegrown tomatoes. Oh, you can get them at restaurants throughout the year, but they are never as good as when there are tomatoes fresh from the garden.
My daughter brought cherry tomatoes from her garden to the fair. They tasted so good. My neighbor has had garden tomatoes at the stand in front of her home. I stop on my way past and pick up a tomato or two for lunch or supper. Elsie has had yellow tomatoes as well as red ones. She has had the plum tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes too. I usually take a yellow one and a red one. The yellow ones do not have as much acid so eating one of those in between helps my system stay in balance.
As school starts, it, too, reminds me of tomatoes. Most of the time while I was teaching I carried my lunch. Recently I had my little red Tupperware lunch set with me, and a lady commented on my container. She noted that it had been around a long time. I remember purchasing my set of containers at a home party. I especially liked it because there were so many sizes of containers. I could put my beverage in one, my sandwich in another and dessert in another. Since I brought them home each day I was not polluting the planet. I just washed up my set of containers and used them again the next day. Of course, I carried my silverware from home, too.
During harvest season I filled my containers with fresh vegetables from the garden. Lunch often consisted of cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and cottage cheese. Usually I had an apple as my sweet treat or for my morning snack. Incidentally, teachers do not get coffee breaks as other employees are so used to. I ate my snack in my classroom when the children ate theirs.
When I instituted healthy snacks for my kindergarten class I taught by example. I ate what they ate, but I did have a cup of coffee with it. If I was fortunate enough to have a special class scheduled that day I enjoyed my snack in the lunch room provided for us. Often I took my planning material along because the special teacher was in my classroom with the children.
Once again the gardens around here are iffy. If you got yours in at the right time things are fine. If you were too early you probably lost some of your plants to frost. If you got them in late, the drought most likely affected your harvest.
When I lived at home we depended on the farmers around us for fresh produce. Often right after supper we would take a ride out in the country to find fresh things for our table the next day. Homegrown cantaloupes cannot be beat. They taste nothing like the ones you buy from the store. The homegrown melons have soft flesh that is very sweet. My grandfather always used salt on his to enhance the flavor. I have gotten pretty good at picking melons that are just right. You can usually smell the melons as soon as you approach the counter. We also bought corn on the cob. I can still see Grandpa chomping into his ear of corn - even with is dentures -and relishing every bite. If grandma ate any, she cut it off the cob.
Summer squash was not as popular when I was a kid as it is today. My family ate more winter squash than summer squash. I recently bought a small zucchini and used it to make a sort of ratatouille. I cooked the squash in diced tomato along with pieces of celery and onion. I added some salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic, and it was very tasty.
People say they do not like summer squash, but I think maybe they have not had it cooked properly. It takes the taste of whatever it is cooked with. If you are a meat lover, cook the summer squash along with your meat. It will taste very much like those sweet caramelized onions that make those sausage sandwiches so good. The version I did resembled a wonderful vegetable soup base.
Just putting this column together is making me hungry. I will be enjoying another BLT sandwich for lunch. I just cannot seem to get enough of them.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.