Really red tomatoes are summer delights

September 10, 2023

Tomatoes were mostly a garnish to me, just a bright-red circlet on my plate or part of the stack that comprises a burger. My mother fried them up as part of a summer Sunday breakfast – the red ones, not the "Fried Green Tomatoes" of movie fame. These accompanied hominy grits and the tasty Milton sausage – the rope kind, not the links – although those, too, are delicious.

Now, all of you Lewes friends who I see stocking up on this staple at the Milton Food Lion, I have another well-kept Milton secret for you. My high school classmate Carol Ann Moore and her husband Glenn Moore, a seasoned and gifted farmer, sold the most succulent tomatoes ever at the little farmstand in front of their house on Cedar Creek Road. They are shutting it down at the end of this season, but the same red beauties can be found at their son Jeff Moore's produce stand on Route 30. Just head west out of Milton, and turn right at the traffic light at Kemp's Liquor store on Route 16, then follow the road a couple of miles and find this charming produce stand on the left.

My husband Jeff and I visited it yesterday, and I will be picking up tomatoes and "Moore" there from now on. Juicy and fire-engine red, these tomatoes feel heavy nestled in my palm, and they’re full of red, sweet juice that runs in rivulets when sliced. I slather them with Duke’s Real Mayonnaise, the Southern favorite. A recent article on tomato sandwiches in the New York Times magazine described this simple wash-day lunch.

This summer impromptu delicacy was described in "White Trash Cooking," through which I thumbed voraciously several years ago. I lost my copy somehow in moving down here; it had a fabulous photo of a real down-home Southern woman on the front cover. It was falling apart, with the rings that held it together giving way as I turned the pages on my red kitchen counter while anointing its pages with tomato juice.

A summer tomato sandwich was to be consumed over the sink, made using a tomato still warm from the sun sandwiched between two slices of the cheapest, squishiest white bread available, like maybe the iconic Sunbeam bread. I really dislike Kaiser rolls in any form as they smother the whole sandwich, be it burger, crabcake or tomato. The New York Times writer suggested an Asian form of dried seaweed to be sprinkled on top. I ask you, where are we supposed to find some of these exotic spices, etc. that they call for in recipes offered in newspapers?

I used to go out to the Jerusalem Market on Route 1 near Rehoboth. It was a fascinating store; I came home with Rose Petal Jelly, a necklace made of evil eyes, and a scarf dangling with golden coins a couple of years ago.

Anyway, now it's pole bean season again. As I called Carol Ann to interview her about this article, she was picking lima beans in her backyard. They trail up the poles like Jack and the Beanstalk. Hers are mostly, if not all, spoken for. She sometimes brings a crockpot of them to our class get-togethers because it is a well-known fact that we all love them.

It's a summer ritual for me. Green gold is what I call them, because of how expensive they are to purchase due to the intense labor to grow and shell them. Upstate, I had to shell my own from a bushel basket. Down here, a lot of vendors sell them already shelled. It's sort of soothing and tactile to shell them, a welcome change from the paintbrush I normally hold doing summer scenes. I used to gather my three children and have them join in this activity, the reward being a big pot of succotash soup for dinner and a cup or two for lunch the following day if any were left.

My mother would call them King of the Garden, and kernels of Silver Queen corn would speckle the brew along with red tomatoes, boiled and doused with cold water and squished into the stew after they had cooled down enough. A chunk of salt pork was used as the seasoning rendered in the pan first. The big, flat, velvety lima bean pillows are heaven on earth, and accompanied by a platter of sliced tomatoes and basil, drizzled with olive oil, will the perfect summer supper make. Or you could just settle for a BLT!

  • Pam Bounds is a well-known artist living in Milton who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art. She will be sharing humorous and thoughtful observations about life in Sussex County and beyond.

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