Fruit of your labor: What to do with bounty

With the rather strange growing season this year, we’re now in the peak of the season for all those wonderful garden fresh fruits.

Yes, I said fruits.

Fruits such as tomatoes, eggplants, sweet corn, bell peppers of all colors, cucumbers, pumpkin, zucchini and okra are all technically classified as fruits.

It took a Supreme Court decision in the late 1800s to change the tomato from a fruit to a vegetable, all for taxation purposes.

Hey, a fruit is a fruit. And now, here’s how my tomato report (since many of you have asked).

My tomatoes finally took off and I’m harvesting the big beautiful deep orange Golden Girl tomatoes I decided to try this year. I had my first 1-pound Caspian Pink Heirloom (loved the flavor) and now I’m watching Park Whoppers and Mortgage Lifters turn into beautiful, huge red fruits.

Raising a few plants certainly makes us appreciate all our local growers and the fruits of their labor.

We recently purchased the largest garden fresh local peppers ever. Mom made her famous stuffed peppers, in the Crock-Pot, a perfect hot weather dish.

Here is that recipe along with a couple fruit-filled others.

Mom’s Stuffed Peppers

If peppers are huge, you may have to increase stuffing recipe

4 large bell peppers — any or all colors

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 16-ounce can tomato sauce and 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

Fresh basil (optional)

Slice top off peppers, clean out seeds. Place peppers in greased Crock-Pot. Set aside cheese and basil. Brown ground beef and onion; add tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce salt and water, mix, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cheese/basil, stuff peppers; place tops on. Set Crock-Pot to low. Cook 4–6 hours, depending on your Crock-Pot.

Dixie note: I use brown rice, less ground beef, sometimes ricotta cheese.

Sautéed Summer Squash Ribbons

1 each yellow and green zucchini — or try my new favorite, the light green Italian summer squashs

1 sweet onion sliced and cut in half

2 cloves garlic (or more)

Olive oil

1/2 to 1 whole pimento pepper, thinly sliced and cut in half

Parmesan or Romano cheese

Italian dressing or a vinaigrette, optional

Fresh basil, thyme, optional

Using a vegetable peeler make wide squash ribbons by stripping squash from top to bottom just like you would if you were peeling it. Keep doing this until you work down to the seeds, discard rest of squash. Sauté onion in oil and then add garlic, peppers and squash.

Stir fry for a couple minutes until squash and peppers are tender crisp. At this point you can toss with Parmesan or Romano cheese; salt and pepper to taste OR toss while still in the skillet with a couple tablespoons of your favorite Italian dressing or a vinaigrette. Add fresh basil or thyme, add ... another one to experiment with.

Burmeister Basic Tomato Salsa

My husband treasures the juice that collects in bottom of bowl.

6–7 cups chopped yellow, orange, pink and red tomatoes

Minced garlic to taste ( ours -5–6 cloves)

Finely diced sweet onions — one large or more

Minced hot peppers to taste (depends on heat of peppers)

Diced red, yellow/green bell peppers — about half of each color

Zest/juice of fresh limes

Pinch of sugar and salt

Cilantro to taste

A dash of rice vinegar

Gently mix all these ingredients; chill.


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