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Eighteen years ago Sheila Thomas started working with organizations and self-publishers helping them develop custom cookbooks. She's been intricately involved in more than a dozen award-winning cookbooks, including Recipes Worth Sharing and her latest, More Recipes Worth Sharing the second in the series. An avid cook, Sheila grows her own vegetables on a small farm in Collierville, Tennessee with the help of her husband, son, an English bulldog named Nutmeg, a cat, five goats and over-producing tomato plants--that are currently in hibernation for the winter.
I've asked Sheila to say a few words in today's column and I'm giving away a copy of More Recipes Worth Sharing. To enter the drawing, simply send Sheila an email at: email@example.com
Take it away Sheila...
I am blessed or sometimes it seems to me more like cursed, with an ex-farmer for a husband. Jimmy and his father farmed several thousand acres until the late 80s when the city expanded to the country and Pop became ill. Thomas Farms may no longer grow corn, soy beans and cotton, but when spring rolls around my husband, the farmer, emerges. Planting rows of sweet corn, purple hull peas, cucumbers, squash, okra, hot peppers, mild peppers, bell peppers, onions, potatoes and every variety of tomato he can find at the co-op. We also have plum, apple and peach trees, blackberries, grapes and most recently added blueberries and strawberries. Did I mention we are a family of three?
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for the land that allows us to grow this bounty and I love sharing where our food comes from with children who have never seen produce outside of the supermarket. Kids are amazed when they start digging in the ground and find potatoes.
While farmer Jimmy enjoys this too, his real thrill comes from working the soil, getting perfectly straight rows when planting the plants and seeds, watering, watching the plants grow--then just when the fruits of his labor start to appear, he is done! My husband announces he's tired of being a farmer, which leaves the harvesting, preserving and sharing up to me. Thankfully this year I had help.
Although we don't live in the same state, several times a year two of my best girlfriends come to visit. We gather in the kitchen, catch up on our lives and cook. This year their visit happened to be in the midst of our tomato invasion. For several weeks I had been stewing tomatoes, canning tomatoes, freezing tomato sauce and inviting everyone I knew to come and pick their own. I even took a cooler filled with tomatoes to my son's baseball game and gave out bags to his teammates and anyone who looked remotely interested in what the crowd was doing around the back of my SUV.
When my girlfriends came to visit and we were discussing what we wanted to cook, my vote was for anything that included tomatoes. So our menu for the evening started out with Roasted Garlic & Tomato Bruschetta, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and sliced heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella. Next we had Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Aioli, Pan-fried Okra, Onion & Tomato, Deep Dish Tomato Pie, Fresh Tomato & Basil Risotto with Mozzarella and Blackberry Crisp for dessert. My girlfriends and I cooked and ate from noon until late into the evening. We sampled everything on the menu and have added more fond memories of gathering together in the kitchen.--Sheila Thomas
To enter Sheila's cookbook giveaway send an email to:
Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
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