All About Tomatoes

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I LOVE growing tomatoes. I don’t have a green thumb. At. all. Mostly because I have commitment issues. So watering, nurturing, paying attention to consistently, etc. …Forget about it.

There are exceptions: tomatoes. When I started attempting my own container garden several years back I planted lots of herbs, bells, jalapenos, cukes and tomatoes. I had some hiccups with the cucumbers, but eventually they all grew wonderfully. Tomatoes were the most rewarding–I found, of all these things to grow.

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They’re also pretty forgiving. I find that the most important quality for a gardening ne’er-do-well like myself. I mean, you can’t totally neglect them. They like exactly what they like and they’re pretty straight forward about their needs: Water. Sun. Not too much, neither too little. I’m cool with that.

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How quickly they grow, that moment they start to ripen, and the amount you get in return for the small effort of making sure these beauties stay hydrated and get just a little love make them by far my favorite thing to grow.

How fortuitous since they’re omnipresent in quite a lot of my meals through October. Not to mention, the flavor of a tomato you grew yourself is other-worldly.

Gorgeous, right?

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We’re nearing the start of the thickest part of the season. That’s when things really get fun! Healthy growing and happy harvest.

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Love, Ree

Chinese Chicken Salad

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When I think about how good a dish is, I usually ask myself : Is this sellable? I mean, if in another life that reoccurring dream I have came true where I open a little café in the country up North–more North than Boston–say, Maine. I’d serve all of my favorite foods and desserts with absolutely no rhyme or reason being offered together on the same menu. Just because they’re what I love, and what I know other people would love, too. Would this be on it? Answer: Yes! Would I buy it? Oh yes. There’s a reason Chinese Chicken Salad is ubiquitous and so popular. It’s salty and vibrant and umami, and… just delicious. I ate this salad three days in a row. On the third day it was my breakfast. You’ll notice that a few of the ingredients are optional. To be honest, the vinaigrette is so killer that spooning just a bit over lettuce, maybe carrot and something crunchy would taste great.


Chinese Chicken Salad 
2 boneless, skinless breast, or 4 boneless, skinless thighs, Organic if you can, pounded so that breast or thigh are even in thickness. 
2 Tablespoons Non-GMO Soy Sauce or Shoyu
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sunflower, or Non GMO canola oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 
4 cups romaine lettuce, or a mix of two, torn or chopped (I like romaine and Boston red)
2 carrots, thinly sliced diagonally, or grated
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced diagonally (optional)
1 cup loose packed red or napa  cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
(or 1 whole medium red bell pepper) (optional)
2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced and fried wontons or chow mein noodles
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted. I used whole chopped.
1 ripe avocado, sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
 
In gallon sized Zip bag or bowl, add chicken, soy sauce, sesame and sunflower oil, plus pepper. Allow to marinate refrigerated for 30-45 minutes, turning once or twice.
Prepare salad and vinaigrette while chicken marinates.

Sesame Peanut Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy Food.com


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1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon sambal chili paste
1/8 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sunflower or peanut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to blender and mix until combined, or whisk medium bowl until combined.
Add all ingredients, except wontons, almonds, avocado and sesame seeds in large bowl. Toss to combine. When chicken is done and salad is ready to be served add almonds,  sliced chicken, wontons and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Grill chicken on indoor grill, in oven preheated to 450- 475 degrees F. approx. 3 minutes each side, or until juices run clear. Can use outdoor grill alternatively. Do not overcook. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
I like to dress salad in individual portions as you only need a very little. About a Tablespoon for each serving.
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