The Power of Homegrown Tomatoes

Updated: September 5, 2017

I recently purchased a new home for my daughter and I and while it’s in the same neighborhood as the house we were renting… the thought of having new next door neighbors is quite terrifying. Will they like me? Will I like them? Will they keep their bushes cut short enough that I can see pulling out of my driveway? Do they set out “Pittsburgh Parking Chairs” in the winter time? Do they like kids? Do they have dogs that bark incessantly? Do they close their curtains before wandering around in their birthday suits? Are they more like “Wilson” from Home Improvements, “Kimmy Gibbler” from Full House, or “Mrs. Kravitz” from Bewitched?


Aside from the utter chaos of moving… these additional thoughts can weigh heavy on a girl. I mean, I was leaving who I would consider to be the PERFECT neighbors. A super funny College Professor, a kind-hearted Family Counselor slash Musician, and two little girls that perfectly sandwiched my daughter’s age. AKA the perfect play dates.  I didn’t want to leave them, but I had to.

I wasn’t in my new home for more than week before I realized that I have hit neighbor lottery, again.

The reason I felt this way? Homegrown tomatoes.

A little red, juicy, ball of heartwarming goodness.

That’s all it took to make me feel welcome. All of the new neighbor anxiety fell to the wayside once I realized that I was now part of the unspoken “tomato-a-day” and “zucchini-a-week” programs implemented by the 80-year old retired man that lives next door. He enjoys growing and giving away vegetables and if you have someone like this in your life, even if you don’t like vegetables, you’re lucky.

See, it’s not about the tomato itself. It’s the thought. It’s that he takes time to walk that tomato over to my house each and every day. It’s the initial surprise of seeing it on the front stoop when I get home from work. It’s knowing that my daughter wants to eat the vegetables that he has her pick. It’s the wondering what in the world I’m going to do with all of these! That last bit is probably my favorite part. It’s what sparks my culinary creativity.

The surprise on my stoop…


It brings out my “Bubba” from Forest Gump… you can barbecue them, broil them, bake them, sauté them. There’s uh, tomato-kabobs, tomato creole, zucchini gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple tomatoes (okay, not really), pepper tomatoes (maybe?), tomato soup, tomato stew, tomato salad, tomato sandwiches. You get my point. My favorite were probably the scallops with tomatoes and fresh basil on top. Mmm.

My latest creations were sweet zucchini muffins with vanilla glaze and a tortellini salad that included both tomatoes and sautéed zucchini. I made more than enough to share with the Tomato Man and his wife. And, shortly after I delivered the goodies to them, I received a thoughtful thank-you note that included an invitation to chat soon. I’m looking forward to it.


It comes full circle…

The power of homegrown tomatoes.




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