Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tower of Tomato Power

Anyone flying over Altadena could spot more than a hundred seven foot cylindrical towers, including five in our back yard. Aliens might wonder about the concentration of tall towers in our foothills community.

Altadenans may have a reputation for being independent and quirky, but the tall cages aren't an attempt at inter-planetary communication or an art installation, ala Christo.

They're the result of a group effort by our local produce-sharing group, COFE. Earlier in the spring, we constructed more than 100 cages from seven foot fencing, and now they're providing support for thousands of tomatoes.

After cutting the fencing, we didn't need any special equipment to connect the ends together into the shape of a tall cage. You can see in the photo below how a horizontal piece of wire was wrapped around a vertical length of wire. Some ingenious gentleman even figured out how to use a six-inch piece of pipe to bend the wire into place.

I purchased eight-foot stakes from OSH, wove them through the fencing and then pounded one-foot of the stake into the ground. Those cages aren't going anywhere.

I'm still enjoying the fruits of our collective labor. Today I made panzanella, a traditional Tuscan bread and tomato salad, for a lunch for one. It was a good way to use up the rock-hard chunk of baguette and the bounty of heirloom tomatoes.

You really don't need a recipe for this, but the basics are:
- Cubes of stale country bread
- Fresh chopped tomatoes
- Chopped basil
- Dressing of olive oil, red wine (or balsamic) vinegar, salt and pepper

Other delicious add ins:
- Chopped pepper
- Diced cucumber
- Sliced kalamata or nicoise olives

Toss and let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes to soften the bread and mesh the flavors.

A chunk of stale bread + garden tomatoes, pepper and basil = satisfying lunch

And for more ideas on what to do with those bushels of tomatoes, check out this article in the Food Section of the LA Times, Got Tomatoes? We've Got Recipes.


Desiree said...

It's delovely, it's delightful, sounds delicious--

Sue G said...

Oh, yum. This looks so good and sounds wonderful. If only my chemo mouth could enjoy the taste of things these days. Sigh.

I will keep this recipe for future enjoyment.

Chow and Chatter said...

yummy and great job growing them

Margaret said...

Is there anything better than a homegrown tomato?

The Blog Comment Authority said...

I havent flown over Altadena lately but I will do next thing tomorrow!

Jean Spitzer said...

Okay, time for bread and tomato salad, tomorrow.

Mary said...

What a wonderful community undertaking. The best part - a well grown perfectly ripe homegrown tomato is one of life's great pleasures. Your salad is gorgeous.


i can't believe i used to hate tomatoes as a child. i was so stupid.

The Food Librarian said...

Soooo many tomatoes! What a great summer!

Susan Carrier & said...

Dez, Delovely, delightful, delicious and DE-siree.

Sue, Oh do I remember those days when nothing tasted right. A bottle of Siracha (aka Rooster Hot Sauce) became my best friend because everything tasted bland.

C&C, Thanks!

Margaret, I don't think you can beat a homegrown tomato. I feel so proud of all of my babies.

BCA, How was the fly over?

Jean, Let me know how your salad comes out. It's impossible to go wrong.

Mary, Yes, a wonderful community undertaking. Exactly why I adore Altadena.

Actor, "I was so stupid." Ha - me too. I didn't start loving fresh tomatoes until adulthood.

Food Lib., Yes, tomatoes and summer are synonymous for me. Now I have to get to work on those figs and make that fig tart.

JCK said...

I'm with Margaret. There is nothing like a homegrown tomato. I need to get my act together and plant some...

The pictures look wonderful!

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California Girl said...

Looks and sounds dee-licious. I can almost smell that.

Susan C said...

JCK and anyone else in the area: The tomatoes, especially the heirloom yellows, are ripening faster than I can eat or give them away. (I shared eight small bags with COFE friends recently.)

Hit me up if you'd like tomatoes. Don't be shy!

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful towers. I lost my back-up round of tomatoes. Just didn't have time for them. My poor garden needs a lot of tending. It's critically dry.

white on rice couple said...

Seeing all these amazing tomato plants makes me wish that summer would never end!
COFE is doing great things and encouraging one another to feast off our harvests is true eating "power"!
Thanks for sharing the tomato photo's and great recipe!

April Williams said...

That looks absolutely yummy! Too bad I'm all the way in DC, maybe they'll create a way for us to email food or at least the aroma. Thanks for the post!