Eat to the Beat: Fried (and Baked!) Green Tomatoes & Paul Young

Friday, October 12th, 2012

 

The song: “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Paul Young

The foodstuff: Fried (and Baked!) Green Tomatoes

The connection: Fried Green Tomatoes!

 

2012-05-07 - Garden - 0008

A pepper plant in its infancy. Rest in peace, little guy!
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Dog help me, this year I really really really tried to save my garden from the first frost! I’ve been either too lazy or indifferent to care in years past (especially last year, when gardening proved an epic failure anyway), but this year I truly wanted to do better. Our tomato and pepper plants were alive and thriving, giving us more fruits and veggies than we knew what to do with. Since May, I’d maintained a regular schedule of watering and harvesting, rarely skipping a day. Perhaps most importantly, the garden was one of the last remaining visages of my favorite season, which this year was particularly joyful and filled with days of sun and books and dogs and ice cream and other happy things. I did not want to see it end.

Don’t get me wrong; I adore fall. Just as long as you ignore the fact that it leads to winter. Snow and cold and gloom and countless days of early darkness. Not particularly pleasant for depressive types like me. (Though I do like warm chai and hot chocolate, I must admit.)

But wait, where were we? The death of my garden! I’ve been obsessing over the weather forecasts since mid-September, with special attention paid to the frost warnings. Our first one was for last Saturday night, and again Sunday – part of a cold snap – after which the daytime highs/nighttime lows would rise back into the 60s/70s and 40s/50s. I figured that if I could protect the plants over the weekend, I’d be able to extend their life for at least a week or two, until autumn came with full force. Though I don’t have any special equipment, I planned to blanket them with all the dog bedding in the house – nothing to sniff at, considering I live with seven dogs and a cat! – and hope for the best.

Alas, I didn’t get a chance. I went out Saturday afternoon to pick one last round of ripe-ish tomatoes, just in case, only to find the plants beat and battered. Apparently it got just cold enough Friday night to damage the plants – but leave most of the tomatoes and peppers unscathed.

And there were many! As in about four paper grocery sacks worth. (Ugh, if only they’d had enough time to ripen!) Lots of little grape and cherry tomatoes, but also quite a few Romas and larger Cherokee Purples, too. I don’t plant many larger tomatoes, on accounta they’re more likely to sustain bug damage before they ripen. And for most of the season, they did. But some time around September the bugs stopped gnawing on the tomatoes, and I had begun to hope that I might actually get a few tomatoes from these larger variety plants. Not so much.

Rather than dwell, the mister and I picked what we could: red to green and everything in between. To give y’all an idea of how many tomatoes were still on the vine, we worked for an hour and only got to about half of them; I didn’t even bother with the smaller green tomatoes. The not-quite-ripe ones went into a sealed paper bag, along with a few apples, the ethylene gas from which will hopefully bring them to fruition. (Does this qualify as a pun? I can has puns?) The uber-green ones? Well, they’re the subject of today’s edition of Eat to the Beat.

 

Fried (and Baked!) Green Tomatoes (0010)

Fried (left) and baked green tomatoes.
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A last minute addition to the lineup, one borne of necessity, fried green tomatoes have been done to death this mofo. (Though I especially like veRAWnica’s “unfried” version, and Katie did a dinner and a movie menu for Fried Green Tomatoes. Good company!) But that’s okay, ’cause I did a little experimenting with baked green tomatoes, so something old, something new (also something borrowed – but sorry, nothing blue).

There are a dizzying array of batter recipes out there, so I went with a basic cornmeal one for the fried tomatoes. Since they were inspired by the baked zucchini sticks I made over the summer, I decided to use a similar batter for the baked green tomatoes.

Overall, I prefer baking green tomatoes: it’s easier, not quite as messy, doesn’t create a massive smoke cloud in the kitchen, and makes for a softer, better-tasting tomato. But that’s just my opinion! Try ’em both and be your own judge, jury, and executioner (of tomatoes! muahaha!).

Okay, my spirits have lifted a bit. Thanks for listening, y’all. Now on to the foods!

(More below the fold…)