By Cheri Sims
I have been having so much fun playing outside in the dirt that I forgot to organize my thoughts for this weeks’ column; so I am just going to have to wing it. “Just wing it” was one of my Dad’s favorite responses whenever I would complain about not being prepared for a school assignment. One of my teachers was very impressed with me when I improvised a short speech in class but another time I failed miserably and incurred that teacher’s wrath. On that occasion I reported to my Dad that I had taken his advice and the advice did not work well that time. His response was epic, “just live with it and go on to the next thing”. I made the mistake of telling the second teacher what my Dad had said and promptly received a second warning about being prepared. The topic of my redemption assignment was to define “wing it” and what it means to be prepared. I aced the paper and for the rest of my school days I was prepared.
As I wrote this first paragraph I realized that even though I was not prepared to write and was just winging it; this Sunday is Father’s Day. We no longer have any Fathers in the family but they will never be forgotten and are terribly missed. What I miss most about my Dad is his gentle presence and unquestionable love for his family. I am an only child and I am selfish about that because I did not have to share Daddy’s love and attention. I miss my Father-in-law too. Hubby was an only child until he was sixteen and he agreed that he liked growing up without siblings. He said things changed when his brother arrived but he felt he had the best of his Dad for sixteen years. Hubby was a great Dad too; I had the best of both worlds in him.
My son is taking after both grandfathers in his love for growing tomatoes and following Grandpa Sims’ footsteps with his passion for cooking. My son is currently trying to perfect making homemade pizza sauce and has decided to grow the tomatoes this year, can them and experiment with making the sauce all winter. Hubby tried to grow tomatoes but with all his efforts he never excelled at gardening. We always had enough for bacon and tomato sandwiches but rarely enough to can for the winter. Bacon and tomato combinations were also my Dad’s favorite food but he never perfected canning tomatoes for winter eating. The tomatoes he did freeze usually went into spaghetti sauce or chili; but he tried.
One time, when Daddy had to go on a diet he swore he would not give up his beloved BLT sandwich so my Mom came up with the idea of a BLT stuffed tomato. The first time she served the stuffed tomato, Daddy accepted his fate with grace and lots of laughter. The stuffed tomato became a tradition in our household and we continued making them even after Daddy did not have to watch his food intake. Mom’s version of the stuffed tomato was not an epicurean creation, she stuck to the basics of the sandwich Daddy liked but in later years I added a few other ingredients when I served them to Hubby. I recently found a similar recipe on the “Indiana kitchen” website.
Both my Father and Father-in-law loved chocolate cream pie and we have made many versions of this pie as diets demanded. One year both Dads were on heart smart diets and the women in the family decided to have a pie making contest. Each of us made our rendition of a heart smart pie and they were all three horrible BUT both Dads ate them and announced that no one had won the contest but the pies were worth our efforts. I won’t share a heart smart chocolate cream pie recipe with you because I have never found a recipe worth the time it takes to make the pie, in my opinion.
Both of my Grandfathers were very large men, one was tall and muscular and the other was shorter and more round but they had similar food preferences. They were both raised in the early 1900’s and were meat and potatoes men. I had them in my life until my teens and I never saw them eat a meal that did not consist of a huge slab of fatty meat, a couple baked potatoes or a huge dish of mashed potatoes and a couple slices of homemade bread and gravy. I just can’t imagine how my Grandmothers cooked all that food every day, because both families each had five kids as well. Both of my Grandfathers ate leftovers in the form of cold potato sandwiches for lunch but each had a different style of sandwich. One Grandpa’s sandwich consisted of cold sliced baked or boiled potato with sliced onion and mustard and the other Grandpa liked his potato mashed and spread on his bread with lots of black pepper, sliced onion, sliced green pepper and mayonnaise. Both Grandpas loved desserts and both Grandmas baked some form of dessert every other day. Oddly enough both Grandfathers favorite dessert was nutmeg custard, they had eaten it as children and both Grandmothers used the same recipe. I found a recipe on the “Food Timeline” website and made this custard last week. I think you will like it.
Happy Father’s Day!
1946 Cup Custard
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 beaten egg yolks or 2
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
“Beat the custard until it is well blended. Pour it into a baking dish or into individual molds. Place the molds in a pan of hot water in a moderate oven 325 degrees for about 3/4 hour or until the custard is set. To test, insert a silver knife of spoon. If the custard does not adhere to the spoon it is ready to be removed from the oven. Chill and serve it with Caramel sirup or fruit juice.”
—The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer  (p. 62)
* 6 slices Indiana
Kitchen bacon cooked
* 6 medium tomatoes
* 6 oz. feta crumbled
* 1/2 cup green onions
* 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
* 6 sprigs parsley
* olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 11×7 inch baking dish OR set grill to medium heat and brush oil on grate to prevent sticking.
2. Wash tomatoes and slice off stem ends. Gently scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/2 inch wall. Finely chop pulp and place 1/3 cup of it in a medium bowl. You may discard remaining pulp or use for other recipe.
3. Stir bacon, green onion, feta, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper into bowl with tomato pulp. Then spoon an equal amount of mixture into each hollowed out tomato. Place stuffed tomatoes into prepared baking dish or on grill.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with parsley sprigs.