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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Classic BLT

It's tomato time! That means for the next two or three weeks I will be canning tomatoes, pasta sauce, meat sauce, chili sauce, salsa, soup, juice and putting up tomatoes in any form I can. At the same time our consumption of raw tomatoes will sky rocket compared to other times of the year and we eat a lot of raw tomatoes. Home gardeners will attest that tomatoes have been available from their gardens for awhile. In many cases these tend to be heirlooms, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes as well as yellow and purple tomatoes. These are the same tomatoes that are either unavailable in the stores and/or high priced.

Did you know? - One of the worst things you can do is refrigerate tomatoes. Refrigerating causes a loss of flavour as well as a change in texture causing the tomato to become mealy. When growing your own tomatoes, leave on the vine and pick when ripe just before you are ready to use. The exception to this is if you are like me with upwards of 50 tomato plants sometimes you will want to do a clean pick of all ripened fruit. This encourages more fruit as well as prevents over ripening. In this case set aside what you can comfortably use in three or four days and turn the rest into sauce. When buying tomatoes buy vine ripe if possible and only buy what you will use within two or three days. Keep the tomatoes on the counter out of direct sunlight.

Beefsteak Tomato

Tomatoes have to be one of our favourite fruits. In general tomatoes fall into one of three categories - slicing, sauce or salad. We eat tomatoes in some form almost daily if not more often. As soon as the beefsteak tomatoes start to ripen the taste buds are in high gear patiently waiting for the first juicy bite. Beefsteak are huge, firm, meaty tomatoes bursting with a rich, robust flavour.

Beefsteak tomatoes are by far my favourite tomato as they are the perfect slicing tomato. Serve the slices sprinkled lightly with sea salt and fresh ground pepper or light dash of Italian seasoning as a side. Top the slices with fresh mozzarella and lightly grill.

Classic BLT

The classic bacon, lettuce and tomato aka BLT is simply just that, a toasted sandwich made with iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato and a few pieces of bacon. Mayonnaise, salt and pepper complete the sandwich. The origin of the classic BLT is unknown but I can remember when I was first introduced to them. I grew up in a small village that had one restaurant and the Met (Metropolitan Five & Dime). I loved the Met because it had a squeaky wood floor that smelled awesome. I was probably about 7 years old when my Mom took us on the bus [Mom never learned to drive] to the nearest larger town and there was the sign I recognized! My Mom took us to the Met for lunch. They had a long counter where you could sit on stools. We ordered BLTs and milkshakes. I was hooked on BLTs with the first bite! They are still my favourite sandwich.

With rising food costs everyone is looking for ways to save a bit on their grocery bill. BLTs make for a very frugal meal especially if you grow your own lettuce, tomatoes and make your own bread. However even with having to buy lettuce, tomatoes and bread they still fall into the very frugal meal category. The most expensive ingredient will be the bacon but bought on sale and using two pieces per sandwich the cost can be kept to a bare minimum. In fact a rough calculation at buying everything the total cost per sandwich works out to be about 56¢ so a family of four at 2 sandwiches each would cost $4.48 using a price of $2.49 per 500 g or 30¢ per slice. Again if you grow your own tomatoes and make your own bread you could easily shave off a good $1.50 making the total cost $2.98 for a family of four. That is what I would call a very frugal meal! Not only are BLTs frugal but they take under 15 minutes to make and really for some fit into the comfort meal category.

I am a BLT snob! Sorry, I won't settle for those anemic, cardboard tasting, flavourless tomatoes for a BLT. Well I won't settle using those at all for anything so perhaps I am really a tomato snob. The best tomatoes for a BLT are one of the beefsteak varieties. Ideally it should be picked while still warm from the sun's kisses and sliced within minutes of picking. You really want this sandwich to be about the tomato with the other ingredients being accents. Each slice should be about ⅝ inch thick. One slice should cover almost the entire slice of bread.

Method: Toast bread. Fry or bake the bacon (not too crisp). Spread Miracle Whip® or mayonnaise on each slice of toast. Place a nice layer of crisp iceberg lettuce on one slice followed by a thick slice of beefsteak tomato. Sprinkle on sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Add two or three pieces of bacon and the other slice of toast. Cut the sandwich in half.


5 food lovers commented:

Kat said...

I've had good experiences with canning tomato sauce but I haven't found a salsa recipe that cans well. What is your recipe?

Original GRITS said...

There is nothing in the world I love better than a juicy, red beefsteak tomato fresh off the vine and still warm from the summer sun...with a tiny smidge of salt.

Oh wait, the only other thing is maybe one of those same maters (as my grandpa called 'em) on a wonderful BLT!

Mmmm, my mouth is watering.

Valerie said...

My grandmother is a home gardener and she has lots of tomatoes growing in her backyard. I love eating raw tomatoes and beefsteak tomato is my favorite too! I can now imagine myself having a juicy bite of my grandma's freshly picked tomatoes...yummy! I guess it's time for me to grow my own tomatoes too.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Kat, thanks for visiting my blog. There are several references to my homemade salsa on this blog however, the recipe remains absent as at some point I may try selling the salsa. According to my family and friends it is the best salsa they have ever tasted. Sorry about that. While my salsa recipe will remain a secrete I will share a few salsa making tips.

To begin use a T&T recipe from the Bernardin's website (homecanning.com) or from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html). Try the recipe as is first before doing any tweaking.

1. The choice of tomato is critical! I go to the extent of using one particular variety. You want a fully ripe but not over ripe plum tomato that has very little in the way of seeds or pulp.

2. Pickling salt is a must! Do not use any other kind of salt.

3. Use homemade tomato paste.

4. Adjust the heat of the salsa with the variety of hot peppers. Do not adjust with anything else like hot sauce or hot pepper flakes.

5. To be sure your recipe is safe for canning test the pH. For bwb processing the final pH must be below 4.6.

HTH

Garden Gnome said...

Valerie, there is nothing like home grown tomatoes picked fresh from the vine!