Fried Green Tomatoes
Monday (July 12) was the first year anniversary of our surprise wedding last summer. We celebrated by taking the day off from being "newshounds" and focused on being a married couple.
Well, we took most of the day off. The small fire at the old Clay County Jail postponed our lunch plans by an hour or so while we got the scoop and then went to work to write the small story and turn in the pictures.
By 1 p.m., we were out of the office and back into our anniversary plans, which were of my delightful husband's design.
"I'm taking care of everything, you just enjoy the day," he told me.
We were going to lunch, maybe do some shopping and some wishful thinking while walking around at the mall and then make a "special stop."
Honestly, I had no clue what he was up to.
First on the agenda was a visit to the store to buy some flowers and then off to the graveyard.
Although it might not sound like it, it was the sweetest part of the day for me.
My grandparents, mother and little brother, along with several childhood friends, are all buried at Calcutta Cemetery in northern Clay County. Over the past few years, I haven't had the luxury of spare time to pay my proper respects. They are never far from my thoughts, but I reluctantly have to admit that I hadn't been out to place flowers on their graves for a long time.
When my sister and I were growing up, our grandmother and mother always made time to attend to the local graves of loved ones on a monthly basis. And those relatives and friends who were buried farther away, they tried to go at least once a season to put flowers on the graves.
"They may be gone, but they were and are still part of the family," my grandmother told me once while we worked together to pull weeds from around a tombstone. "As long as someone remembers them, their memory and their impact in our family is still alive."
Afterward, we would go home and clear the gardens of weeds.
To get to Calcutta Cemetery, we drove through Carbon.
A lot has changed in the small community that I grew up in. My parent's house on Locust Street was lost to fire recently and my grandparents' brick home next to the park is showing the passage of time.
Gone are the vegetable and flower gardens, not only from my family's homes, but around other homes as well. I also spent a lot of time in the summer helping pull weeds in the garden. I hated being told to do it then, but what I wouldn't give to be able to spend time pulling weeds in the garden and chatting with my grandparents, or mother, one more time.
Memories of dirt clod fights with my sister, random discussions and fantastic food are connected to those gardens.
Memories of family are connected to those visits to the graveyard.
It's a shame, but I guess times have changed.
For my anniversary present, my husband gave me the time to remember and spend time with my memories. I couldn't have asked for a better gift.
What recipe could I possibly have to share with you?
It's mid-July, and vegetable gardens everywhere are overflowing with bumper crops.
Only one recipe comes to mind: Fried Green Tomatoes.
1/2-cup coarse cornmeal
1-cup all-purpose flour
1-tablespoon garlic powder
1-tablespoon each of black pepper and salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
4 large firm, unripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, ends removed
In a large paper bag, combine the first seven dry ingredients together.
Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk before shaking them inside the bag with the cornmeal mixture..
Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with enough oil to fry the tomatoes. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the coated tomato slices until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on a rack over paper towels.
Serve with a light drizzle of melted unsalted butter, fresh squeezed lemon juice or creamy horseradish sauce.