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Lew Larason: Thoughts from an Epicure -- Enjoying the fruits of winter


I haven’t liked winter since I turned 16.

We lived at the top of a hill. I had a 1929 Model-A Ford with bad tires and got stuck a lot. Also, that was the winter I broke my ankle skiing.

The only redeeming feature of winter is it’s followed by spring with lots of green and flowers, and starting seeds for the garden. I was talking to a friend recently who said she was about to start her tomato seeds.

Ever since I became an adult, during winter I miss local fresh garden vegetables, especially sweet corn and tomatoes. I can buy frozen white sweet corn without salt. It isn’t quite as good as fresh, but not bad. However, tomatoes are a different story.

So many “regular” tomatoes are picked green and gassed to turn them red. They’re tasteless and too solid with little juice, a waste of money. Several years ago, I bought tomatoes on the vine from Canada or Mexica. They weren’t too bad, but lacked real taste.

I tried plum or Roma tomatoes, solid, and I think picked when ripe. Cherry tomatoes are another flavorful wintertime tomato that is great in salads. As a treat, sauté these little gems in olive oil and serve with fresh or dried basil leaves and a pinch of salt.

Recently, I tried Tasti-Lee brand tomatoes. Generally, I don’t pay much attention to information on a package if it’s a sales pitch. However, if half of the writing is true, these are good for you and grown the way they should be.

With non-GMO seeds and being picked when they’re red, the tomatoes taste almost like our local summer ones. At this point, these are the only ones I buy except for cherry tomatoes. Unless you can wait for summer produce, Tasti-Lee is a good substitute in the off season.

Enjoy and stay safe!

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