I’m mostly recovered from the long overnight trip back from Alaska, and in the kitchen today using up some great produce from my backyard garden. We had a great time in the Kenai Peninsula with great weather and good fishing most days. I am thoroughly whipped from hours of fishing and processing our catch. I’m not complaining about the processing as there is no processing if there are no fish caught. We each brought back about 45 pounds of salmon filets frozen and packed in special wet lock boxes for the long flight.
Being on vacation usually means eating a richer diet and different foods than we do at home. After all that is part of being on vacation. It’s not like we eat cake and ice cream daily, but we did eat the amazing fish and chips at Homer, Alaska’s Lands End Resort one day even though we rarely eat deep fried foods. Ah, Lands End is one incredible place to watch the fishing boats and seagulls pass by, and we once saw a bald eagle grab a fish and fly to the roof of Lands End while dining there in years past.
Picture the most amazing mountain, glacier and ocean scene you can imagine and a lovely deck with brand new outdoor furniture to sit and view it from and you have Lands End Resort. Top it off with the fish and chips using fresh halibut, served with great tasting seasoned french fries, and a starter of steamed clams with bread that delivers the ultimate in outdoor dining in Alaska.
Some other goodies we had were from my brother who brought along his special molasses cookies for some naughty treats, and I did buy Tillamook Huckleberry ice cream at the local grocery store that is only available in a few western states. Other than those goodies we ate fairly healthy there. We had some sort of fresh salmon daily, like salmon salad wraps, teryaki grilled salmon, and salmon mixed in brown rice. There were a couple of other regional seafood delicacies we had to have, like sauteed razor clams and steamed side striped shrimp. How could we forget the king crab feast at the cabin on the last night all four of us were there? Now that I’m back home I don’t miss any of those wonderful Alaskan foods because I have my garden full of quality vegies that are very hard to find in Alaska.
The best thing my garden produces is by far the heirloom tomatoes! If you aren’t familiar with heirloom tomatoes they are tasty tomatoes of yesteryear that the The Big Food Machine doesn’t bother with. They don’t ship as well as the tasteless types of tomatoes you see in your grocery store so it’s not worth the bother for most grocery stores to carry heirlooms. The seeds can be found at seed companies that want to save these heirlooms from disappearing. I get mine from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, but I also buy the starter plants at my local farmer’s market in the spring.
I picked three types of heirlooms tomatoes since coming home. I got about 8 yesterday and 5 today. One of my favorites is the Cherokee Purple. Talk about a large, juicy, beautiful tomato! This one has flavor, color and large size going for it. I weighed one of the big ones yesterday and it came in at one pound two ounces. They can get even bigger than that sometimes.
There are many things one can do with these beauties, like a nice Caprese salad that is nothing more that sliced tomatoes drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with sliced fresh basil leaves. I also like to cook and toss them with pasta and fresh basil like I saw while in southern Italy. For the best fast and furious cook way to use fresh heirloom tomatoes I like the simple avocado and tomato sandwich with a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. Put that on your favorite hearty bread and you have a winner. A bit of lettuce is a good addition, or serve with a side salad.
Today I sliced a medium sized Cherokee Purple and put it on my home baked wheat bread I had sitting in the freezer since the last baking session in July. I served it with my black bean and corn salad on the side that also had some garden fresh tomatoes in it. With less than five minutes of prep I had a wonderful lunch with most ingredients from my garden.
Now don’t pout if you don’t have these heirloom tomatoes in your garden. Many upscale grocery stores are selling heirloom tomatoes these days. I’d recommend several types like, Brandywine, Mister Stripey, Cherokee Purple, or even one of the yellow varieties like Taxi. Be sure and eat them soon after making the sandwich as they are so juicy they don’t pack well. If you can’t find these type of tomatoes in your local grocery stores then find a farmer’s market nearby and chances are good they will have heirloom tomatoes. Good luck and good eating!