My Marianna Peace Tomato seeds came in the mail a few weeks ago. I distinctly remember them arriving because it was snowing a depressingly sloppy mix of sleet, rain and flakes as big as fists. But I smiled when I pulled the package from my mailbox. “Now winter will be on the run,” I told myself foolishly.
When I first saw this brand of tomato, I was intrigued for a number of reasons. One reason was simply because of their picture in the catalog. Big, giant, gorgeous red globes of fruit, dripping with juice were featured above their write-up. The catalog even announced in eye-catching letters, “Has won many taste trials!” which was a clincher right there.
In addition, I have never had a tomato named after me. Granted Marianna is a slight variation of Mary Ann, but in my opinion, close enough. And whoever decided to add PEACE to its title was smart. We could all use more of that.
So a couple of weeks ago, when once again snow was pelting out of the sky like buckshot, I slowly poured the seeds from the packet onto a paper plate and then meticulously inserted them into their soil cups using a tweezers. I felt like some kind of seed surgeon, but I was glad to be planting again. I was glad to once again smell the earthy fragrance of soil and to be doing a little gardening, even if it was only on my kitchen counter.
For a little more than a week, I anxiously peered at these seed cups, waiting to see the first emergence of growth. And when the first little shoot unfurled, I was in heaven. Then another one popped up, and another, and now all the pots have little seedlings that are being pampered like a celebrity’s dog.
When I come home from work, I peer at these tiny shoots with concern, turning the container they are in ever so slowly, so they don’t have to bend to get their sunlight, and I melt snow to use for their watering, figuring this is providing just the right natural nutrients. I check on them frequently too, looking for any abnormalities I can curtail if one pops up.
All this primping and pampering might seem a bit silly to most people, but I admit these little green shoots are providing a psychologically uplifting life-line for me these days. I often look at them from my easy chair, and sink into a daydreaming la-la land. I imagine carefully planting them in my garden; I imagine the first little yellow flowers appearing; I imagine the green fruits forming, and my favorite vision of all is the big, ripe red tomatoes I see hanging on the plants, just waiting for harvest.
Once my brain gets weary of these mental images, I start imagining all the recipes I’m going to use these tomatoes in. Like a song that plagues the mind over and over again, I am having one picture that just won’t give up-the perfect BLT.
I have decided I will hunt without exhaustion for just the right bread to use for this particular sandwich. I will grow just the right type of lettuce for this gourmet extravaganza, and the search for the bacon will be thorough and particular. It will be cut slightly on the thick side, dotted with cracked pepper, smoked to perfection. Then I will make a homemade mayonnaise, from an egg fresh from the coop. In fact, I included the recipe I’m going to use for that in this week’s column.
I guess the bottom line is, we all have to have some kind of fantasy land to retreat to these days. Living in the Northwoods does that to a person; however, I’m thinking it’s a little weird when total sanity hinges on a few, inch-high tomato shoots. But hey, whatever it takes to put winter on the run.
- 1 large, fresh egg yolk*
- 11/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup peanut oil, divided
Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Whisk until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds. Using 1/4 teaspoon measure and whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil to yolk mixture, a few drops at a time, about four minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly, until mayonnaise is thick, about eight minutes. Cover and chill.
* The USDA does not recommend eating raw shell eggs that are not cooked because of the risk of Salmonella. But if raw, in-shell pasteurized eggs or pasteurized egg products are sued, homemade mayonnaise can be made safely.