WND – Tomatoes Three Ways

September 3, 2009

fruit & vegetable

Bryn Mawr’s alumnae list serve is a weird and wonderful place full of women who can switch from talking about the current health care debate to the exact attributes of ancient Greek deities to what to do with a pot that comes with a pasta insert without blinking an eye. When the conversation about pasta inserts vs. steamers crossed over with the recent discussion about the merits of core curriculums it garnered the comment, “Obviously Mothership didn’t require a class in Pots and Pans.” This is very true. That’s entirely too practical a class for Bryn Mawr.

Currently they’re having a discussion about which kitchen gadgets are indispensible and which are just fluff. Obviously your mileage on this will vary widely. The List seems to be coming to the consensus that a salad spinner is an essential piece of kitchen equipment, whereas I think it just takes up space and its function can pretty much be replicated by a kitchen towel and some vigorous swinging*. Nor, as it happens, do I feel a particularly urgent need for a garlic press, although as it takes up significantly less space than a salad spinner I’d be willing to be convinced on the topic.

You can tell what kind of cooking people do by the kinds of pieces of kitchen equipment that they find vital. Someone whose list includes a Tupperware container for a 10lb bag of flour, a large Kitchen Aid Mixer, Silpat baking sheets and parchment paper clearly does a lot more baking than I have any interest in doing. Equally someone who finds a candy thermometer, wide mouth funnel, small mouth funnel, ladles and tongs vital is someone who engages in frequent canning which is something I’ve never worked up the nerve to do.

There are a lot of gadgets that I would probably say I couldn’t live without – my lemon zester, a cuisinart, a bench scraper – but, as far as I’m concerned the unsung heroes of the kitchen world are the lowly ice tea spoon and the grapefruit spoon.

Ice tea spoons and grapefruit spoons might not sound like kitchen gadgets, but I find myself curiously unable to function without them and since 99.9% of the time I’m not using them to stir ice tea or eat a grapefruit I think they count as gadgets rather than part of the silver service**.

The ice tea spoon is vital for getting the last bit of mayonnaise out of the jar – and as an added bonus you usually don’t get it all over your hands while you’re doing it. It’s useful for snagging a taste of stew or sauce from the pot without burning your hands on the steam and it’s the perfect size and shape for scooping meringue out of a bowl and dropping it onto a baking sheet.

The grapefruit spoon, while also the best utensil for actually eating grapefruit, is more often used in my house for scooping the seeds out of melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bananas (prior to stuffing them with peanut butter and freezing them for a quasi healthy summer treat). It’s also useful for pretty much any occasion where you find yourself wavering between using a knife and using a spoon. It’s the perfect combination of the two worlds in one easy to use utensil.

Today’s lesson brought to you by the letters P and Q, and the number 3.

* Really. Lay your washed lettuce out on a towel, gather up the four corners to make a pouch then take it outside and swing it back and forth vigorously until most of the water has been removed (nobody should stand behind or in front of you while you do this). Return to the kitchen use the lettuce you need and then lay the rest out on a layer of paper towels, roll up and reserve for later usage.

** As a side note, I can remember using my mother’s silver ice tea spoons exactly once, while the stainless steel ice tea spoons in the kitchen rotated through the dishwasher on a daily basis. What do you mean you didn’t grow up in a house with silver ice tea spoons? Didn’t everyone’s wedding silver come with ice tea spoons?

Buttermilk Biscuits w/ ham
Curried Chicken Salad
Tomatoes & Mozzarella
Hard Boiled Eggs
and tomatoes two more ways

Buttermilk Biscuits
It’s been two months since I last made Buttermilk Biscuits. That seems very wrong.

Recipe previously given: Farewell to Summer Dinner

Curried Chicken Salad
The very first time I posted these recipes was in the Fall of 2007 and I called it a Farewell to Summer Dinner. This year everyone predicted that because summer had been so late starting (by which I mean, mid-August) we’d have a really long hot Fall. However, it’s the last week in August and it’s been going down to the high 50s/low 60s overnight and I’m sleeping under blankets again. I want the Indian Summer that I was promised. However, I refuse to call this a farewell to summer this year, and I stubbornly continue to hope for a few more hot days.

Recipe previously given: Farewell to Summer Dinner

chicken salad

Tomatoes & Mozzarella
Tomato season makes me a little giddy. Just look at how pretty these are.

tomatoes & mozzarella

Hard Boiled Eggs

egg shells

Local melon y’all! My excitement cannot be textually rendered.

melons & rinds

Tomatoes Two More Ways
I was seduced by the ‘try our new products’ displays at Wilson Farms this weekend. First there were the Tomaisins – stupid name, amazing taste. They’re basically sun dried cherry tomatoes, but they taste like a little burst of perfectly roasted tomato. I eat them like candy.

Then inside there was a display of new pickles, and I’m a sucker for the homemade pickles they sell anyway. So far this summer we’ve worked our way through several jars of pickled beets, half sour pickles, garlic and salt pickles, and dilly beans. Now we’re half way through a jar of sweet pickled tomatoes – the flavor profile of a gherkin, but made with green tomatoes. So tasty. I think I need to have some hot dogs next week just so that I have an excuse to eat more pickles for dinner.

tomatoes two ways



  1. Re: Salad spinners
    I completely agree with you, they are a great waste of space, even when I have space. Mind you, I once lost control of one of the corners of the towel and decorated the terrace with lettuce.
    A tip: Use dampened paper towels to roll up your left over lettuce, which you then place in a plastic bag. It stays fresher and lasts longer.

    • Yes, well I learned it from somewhere.

  2. I’m very fond of my salad spinner–my little balcony isn’t really suited to salad-flinging. Then again, my in-laws all swear by electric tea kettles, and I can’t imagine why you would use counter space when you could use the stove.

    Also, you don’t have a garlic press?

    Also, silver iced tea spoons…ah, the South. Where your china pattern wouldn’t be complete without a deviled egg plate.

    • I find that there’s no reason to clutter my counter with an American electric tea kettle, but European tea kettles boil water about three times faster than a kettle on a stove and I would find room on my counter in a heart beat if that was true here.

      I’m not sure why European tea kettles are so much more efficient than American ones, electric current maybe?

      As for garlic presses, I find washing them more trouble than just mincing some garlic with a knife.

      • Is the lemon zester you referenced a microplane? If so, that is excellent for garlic.

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