I can't remember a summer that we didn't have tomato sandwiches. We only had a little space at our house in Lewisville, NC so mom had them growing up the front porch posts. We moved to Mount Airy, and there was plenty of room for tomatoes. It was no surprise the crop expanded geometrically. My mom seemed to be an expert and could coax more tomatoes out of a small space than anyone I have ever seen. So when she had lots of room, we ended up swamped with tomatoes, but there were always people hoping for a few since they tasted so great.
Even when Glenda and I lived along the shore of Nova Scotia, where fog and cool temperatures were the rule, we managed to get enough tomatoes to have some very good sandwiches. At least they tasted very good in comparison to what we were able to get at the grocery stores.
When we ended up back in Virginia, we began to be serious about a tiny tomato garden, often numbering only six to eight plants but more than enough for us. This year was no different. Except I recorded the whole process on my blog, starting with a post,"The Spring Tomato Ritual," when the plants went into the ground.
The weather was pretty challenging this year, and I was unable to get my favorite variety, but we still ended up with tomatoes by the middle of July and had plenty until the last week of August. Now some late ones are coming in so our crop cannot be called a failure.
Yet this year they didn't have as much flavor as in some years so I was somewhat disappointed. However, our youngest daughter, Katie, now has a place down in North Carolina. On a lark I planted six Better Boy tomato plants for her in mid-May when we helped with the moving. Katie carefully made sure they had plenty of water through the summer and even gave them some water soluble fertilizer. The plants did very well and they actually had more tomatoes than they could eat.
In late August even her plants had slowed down so much that she actually bought a tomato. Then she had a tomato explosion. I should have taken a picture of her crop.
Since our plants aren't doing nearly as well as hers, she sent some home with us. Today for lunch we had tomato sandwiches made from her NC Better Boys. It is hard to put into words how good those sandwiches were.
There is just delectably delicious about the right combination of bread, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. Of course the tomatoes have to be peeled or my mother would come back and haunt us. Today's sandwiches were made with Pepperidge Farms Soft Oatmeal bread and Kraft mayonnaise. All I add to mine is pepper. Glenda adds salt and sometimes a little sugar if she is feeling nostalgic since adding sugar was something her dad was fond of doing. Her dad, Glenn, was one of the great tomato growers of all time in my book.
Today's tomato sandwiches showed me just how weak our tomato crop was this year and brought back memories of many other great times around the kitchen table with some iced tea, a plate full of fresh tomatoes, and a jar of mayonnaise. There is hardly a better summer lunch and certainly not a more economical one. Those mid-September tomatoes that we brought back from North Carolina were better than any that we have had this year from our plants. They were good enough to inspire me to do some serious upgrading of the soil in my tomato bed. I can't let my daughter grow better tomatoes than me.
A really good tomato doesn't need bacon and lettuce to prop up its flavor. Great tomatoes can stand on their own. So if you think the only way to eat a tomato is in a BLT, sliced as an adornment for a sandwich, or in a salad, you've never had a really good tomato. You owe it to yourself to track one down before summer is completely gone and make a real sandwich. Just stay away from my alternate supply down in NC.
If you can't grow your own tomatoes, search out some good ones. We have bought very tasty early tomatoes grown in Granger County, Tennessee. Those are the tomatoes pictured at the top of the post.