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From Wellspring Charitable Gardens this Week - August 10, 2023

From the Garden this Week… Heirloom Large & Cherry & Pear Tomatoes, Roma & Early Girl Tomatoes, Heirloom Eggplant, Heirloom Summer Squash, Heirloom Jimmy Nardello & Lunchbox Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Chard, Striped Armenian Cucumbers, Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Basil, Grapes & Peaches

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno.

In the summer when we have eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and peppers, it is time to make Ratatouille. This Provençal vegetable stew has only about 100 years of documented history. Recipes can vary in cooking times, so feel free to cook the stew to your desired texture. Cooking the eggplant and zucchini separately adds time, but this gives you control over the final texture. Also, as soon as you add the tomatoes, you can cook this as little or as much as you like. I have guidelines for 5-15 minutes, but feel free to improvise to your taste.


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large eggplant, diced large

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 medium zucchini or summer squash, diced large

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 large bell pepper, large dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 large tomatoes, large dice

1/4 cup loosely packed, thinly sliced fresh basil,

plus more for serving

* Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the same pot. Add the zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, reserved eggplant, and zucchini and gently stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-15 minutes, depending on the desired texture. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and stir in the basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Tomato Time! –The English word tomato comes from the Spanish word tomate, which came from the Aztec tomatl, which translates as “plump thing with a navel.” How do you repair a broken pizza crust? With tomato paste. The scientific name for tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means “wolf peach.” To avoid smelly salsa, don’t crush a Roma. Related to the nightshade plant family, tomatoes were once thought poisonous. Europeans ate tomatoes and became ill. Their pewter plates contained lead, which the acidity in the tomatoes absorbed. Hear about the two tomatoes that walked into a bar? They were crushed and then got sauced.


Bruschetta refers to the grilled bread that is served in antipasto. You can top the bread with any toppings. In this recipe I toast the bread slices under to broiler to save time but watch carefully; they will quickly turn from toasty to burnt.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

1 baguette, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 large tomatoes, diced small

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sliced basil

1 teaspoon wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler to high. Brush 3 tablespoons of the olive oil onto both sides of the baguette slices. Toast the baguette under the broiler until very lightly colored, flipping once to brown each side, (this can go very quickly, so watch carefully). Remove from the oven and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients and top each toasted baguette slice with a spoonful of the tomato-basil mixture.

Metaphors of Soil and Soul…

Tomatoes Have Boundaries?

by Ronda May Melendez & Keith F Martin

Tomato vines have clear boundaries. They know intuitively what they will or won’t do. When their ripe fruit is left untouched, they slow or stop fruit production. It’s sensible; why work harder to produce more fruit when fruit already produced is overlooked or so undervalued that it is not picked and enjoyed? Ripe, heavy, unpicked fruit takes up valuable vine space, burdens the vine structure, and competes for vital resources the vine needs to reinforce itself in preparation for new growth. It makes no sense to keep producing more: demand has ceased, supply is in surplus, and infrastructure is overwhelmed. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations could have rightly written the “Invisible Hand” that guides the economy also shapes the vine.

If tomato vines inherently know their fruit is left hanging, so they cease producing, then why in the world is it so difficult for us to do the same? Why can we not readily acknowledge when others do not value the fruit we have produced? Why is it so difficult to redirect our efforts to reinforce our vine until others are ready to receive what we have to offer? Conversely, why is it so difficult to acknowledge the production of others when they have given so much of themselves? Their vine has produced good fruit. They offer it freely for our enjoyment. Yet, we leave it untouched to die on the vine and overwhelm the support.

After my time among the tomatoes, I walked away challenged: Recognize gifts offered by others and take them freely, but not for granted. Their good fruit required significant effort to produce and should be received gratefully. I walked away cautioned: Do not redouble your production but redirect your effort when ripe fruit remains unused. I need to willingly end my producing game, refocus energies to reinforce my core vine, and prepare for future growth. If tomatoes can do it, so can we! It makes sense. Cooperation, not competition, requires mutual respect for the fruit, the work, and the vines of others.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10


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