Homegrown fruit tastes best

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

It’s time for fresh vegetables again. My husband and I enjoyed what we considered “a royal treat” at last Saturday’s mid-day meal.

It all came about after a friend remarked that our favorite curb market had reopened after its winter closure. For weeks, my mouth had been watering for real tomatoes — the homegrown ones that taste like tomatoes instead of hunks of cardboard.

Right after breakfast Saturday morning, my husband ambled into the kitchen. “Ready to go?” he asked. I didn’t have to say, “Go where?” As soon as I had told him about the curb market’s reopening, he suggested we pay it a visit the next morning.

He was as eager as I was for some tomatoes. I think he could almost live on tomato sandwiches, as long as they are fresh and homegrown.

As soon as we pulled up at the market, I saw the sign advertising strawberries, my favorite fruit. I’d been longing for some sweet, juicy strawberries. It is a treat that is hard to come by. I am sometimes tempted by those shipped-in berries. They look beautiful, but they never live up to my expectations.

I was almost like a child in a toy store when I stepped inside and saw the pretty yellow crookneck squash, luscious-looking red tomatoes, shiny green tomatoes, cucumbers, and other produce. The crookneck squash was just what I wanted to combine with some zucchini squash I’d bought earlier in the week. I could almost see breaded green tomatoes frying gently in my iron skillet. I selected several beauties and sacked them up.

Those Covington County-grown strawberries on display were beautiful. I picked up some of the clear quart boxes and turned them over to look underneath. The bottom berries were as pretty as the tops. I selected some and added them to our bundles on the counter.

As soon as we arrived home, I jumped right into my meal preparation. I washed and sliced the strawberries (they were perfect), sprinkled them with sugar, and put them in the refrigerator. As soon as I had the squash boiling on the stove, I chopped up some onion and sautéed it. When the squash was done, I put it in the pan with the onions to stew for a few minutes.

I stayed in a flurry for a while as I sliced and breaded the green tomatoes, mixed up a salad of shredded lettuce and cabbage, carrots and tomatoes, and buttered the buns and popped them in the toaster oven.

By that time, my kitchen table was littered with cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions and squash. I was prepared. I brought out some of those green produce bags they advertise on TV and sacked them all up. (Yes, I’ve tried them and they really work.)

Saturday was just the beginning. Since my husband isn’t gardening any longer, we’ll be visiting the curb market often during the season. Soon there will be peas, okra, cucumbers, butter beans … I can’t wait.