It's tomato time here on our hill. Ashley and I haven't had much success in the past with tomatoes (aside from the "Patio Tomato" variety that we used in containers at our old house) so we really weren't expecting much this year. If anything, we thought the plants might be attacked by tomato worms like last year and we could show the boys their green guts (ewww!).
Ah...but our tomatoes are producing beautiful fruits this summer so we have more to show. So far the best producers have been the Early Girl (below, on the left) and the Pink Brandywine heirloom (that whopper on the right) varities. Speaking of whoppers, our son who picks EVERYTHING noticed that huge one and kept saying, "Look at that BIIIIIIG one!" He likes to clarify sizes of front loader tires, pieces of food, etc and his favorite is always something that is big. He's right with this one...it weighed more than 1.5 lbs and is probably at least 2 cups of tomato.
Aren't they lovely? We picked them right before they were fully ripe to make sure we didn't lose them to pests (or before their skins cracked in the heat).
Our zucchini plants continue to produce (I shredded up 6 zucchini the other morning and froze them...will use for muffins in the fall and winter). And notice our okra! We're getting ready to be hit with an onslaught of okra and we're excited!
My older son loves to take pictures with my camera. I really liked these two that he took of the front porch. Our house looks great decorated for 4th of July.
There are lots of ways to use tomatoes. Some of my favorites are on sandwiches, in bruschetta mixes (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar), and as a topping on grilled pizzas. Since tonight was Sunday night, Ashley was home to watch the boys while I tackled grilling pizzas (this takes undivided attention on my part). I loosely follow Mark Bittman's guide to grilling pizzas but use dough purchased from Publix (my favorite local grocery store).
The key to grilling pizzas is dividing your grill into zones. Notice in the picture below the right side of my grill has no food on it--that's the side where I have the burner turned to high. The left two burners are turned to low.
A brief description of how I grill pizzas:
- Shape your dough.
- Place on cookie sheets that you have brushed with olive oil--this greases the dough and prevents it from sticking to the grill.
- Place the dough (no toppings yet) on the side of the grill where the burners are on low.
- Cook the dough until it starts to firm up and has grill marks on one side.
- Flip the dough, cook until it is golden brown (I usually get all of my pizzas to this point and then begin the topping adventure).
- Once all of your dough is cooked, top as you please. Keep your toppings to a minimum and make sure everything is already cooked BEFORE you place them on the pizzas (such as meat, grilled veggies, etc). My favorite pizza has a pesto base, topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella (and then basil once you remove it from the grill). You can close the top of the grill at this point to melt the cheese--or you can take your pizzas inside or place under the broiler in your oven.