Shoulda asked Sheila: A Winter Tomato tale

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Sheila McCrindle and Kate Aley


Shoulda Asked Sheila takes your burning food issues of the day, chops 'em up and serves 'em hot and satisfying

Kate asked: Sheila, what is with these tomatoes? The seeds have germinated inside the fruit! Ugh!

Sheila replied: Yikes, where did that come from? Did you buy those?

K: Yes, from Costco! What does it mean? Some of them had even developed the first two leaves; I was briefly considering putting them in a peat pot to see what happened next! But I fed them to the chickens instead.

 S: I found this at Treehugger: “As creepy as it looks this isn't all that uncommon. This condition is called vivipary, and it's prone to happen in some tomato cultivar more than others. When the natural hormone, abscisic acid, is reduced in an overripe tomato the mature seeds can break dormancy and sprout. The moist environment inside of a tomato allows the seedlings to grow for a while without drying out.” Costco is a good company and I have no quarrel with it. The answer to the problem is to basically avoid buying tomatoes out of season or pay premium for greenhouse ones.

K: Are tomatoes one of those types of produce that gets picked green and sprayed with some kind of unmentionable chemical so it stays in good shape when it’s travelling? Can they even do that anymore?

S: The tomatoes we get in the shops have been bred for hardiness and long shelf-life. Producers need them to be tough enough to travel long distances and still look lovely and blemish-free when they sit in pyramids at the grocery store. Sadly, the resulting tomatoes taste a lot like wet napkins. I came across what, in my opinion, is a scandalous situation in an article in Slate which describes the efforts of a tomato breeder to come up with a tasty, easily grown tomato. He succeeded, but the tomato sellers want nothing to do with it. Their point - and it is probably a valid one - is that the tomato-buying public only care about price.

K: So, you are saying that if I want what tastes like a real tomato, I need to wait ‘til real tomatoes can be grown?

S: The short answer is: grow your own. Or at least wait until they are in season.

K: And tomatoes do grow here.

S: They do. And the payoff for planting and harvesting your own is well worth it. The other option is to find local market gardeners who are growing delicious varieties and enthusiastically purchase from them. But really, if you grow only one plant in your vegetable garden, make it a tomato.

K: But what if I need a tomato in the frozen depths of February?

S. I’m not going to be a hard-ass about seasonality; more sanctimonious guff has been spouted on this subject than just about any other. Sometimes you really do just need a fresh tomato. The Manotick greenhouse producer Sun Tech produces a greenhouse grown tomato that is not too bad. Their small tomatoes are quite nice indeed. In fact, I have found that most small, sweet grape-style tomatoes are tasty enough over the winter months, although not really equalling their fresh picked cousins.

K: Thanks for your help. Have to go. I feel a tomato sandwich calling.

The take away message: Get off your lawn chairs and grow yourself some tomatoes this year.

Sheila and Kate would love to argue over your food-related queries. Leave your questions in a comment box... or just ring us up.

 

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

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Kate Aley

It's smooth and it's quiet with internet access, a 36" flat screen TV and reclining seats and it leaves Allumette Island at 10 minutes to 5 am every day. This is the new coach that runs Route 148 and you can be on it. This week, riders taking the Campeau Bus Line to the city were treated to a brand-new luxury coach, a demonstration vehicle in service before the permanent vehicle becomes available in about a weeks time.

Slipping back: background facts

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Kate Aley

Welcome back. While I wait for my file on the accident (December 4) to be retrieved by the MRC des Collines police, I placed calls to two local people, experts on the trucking of manure. For those who are coming in late to this, see my previous "slippery" stories archived here.

Slippery story: the update

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Kate Aley

On Monday December 4, a serious accident was caused by some kind of slippery fluid being splashed all over the highway in Luskville. Many people commented on the unexpectedly deep puddles, the effort it took to stay on the road and the horrible stink of it. There was so much, a snow plow was called in to strip it off the road. What was that stuff? Where did it come from? I managed to find someone to talk to from the MTQ within two days. But as yet, my attempts to get information about this incident from the MRC des Collines police have been unproductive. 

Warming up for Christmas at the Santa Claus Parade

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Kate Aley

Once more the Quyon Lions' Club Santa Claus Parade, held Saturday December 9, was a great success. Warmly-dressed families lined the streets to enjoy the decorated floats, horses and of course, St. Nick himself. As the Beach Barn is conspicuously absent this year, the parade's normal route was reversed, with participants gathering at the Ste. Marie's Catholic church parking lot and walking down the hill to the intersection with Clarendon. From there, the parade continued to the Onslow Elementary School gym where hot food and drinks were served as kids lined up to speak to Santa about a few important matters.

Slippery sh*t: unidentified effluent causes accident

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Kate Aley

A serious single-vehicle roll-over was caused early morning on December 4 by a deep slick of some kind of waste matter spilled on Highway 148 near Parker Road in Luskville. Pools of what appeared to be septic waste or liquid animal manure were at least two or three meters in length and possibly 4 cm in depth, according to witnesses.

Christmas House Tour lights up the night

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Kate Aley

The houses on the Quyon Pastoral Charge Christmas House Tour warmly received 150 visitors this year. Five family homes in Quyon and Luskville were decorated to perfection to the appreciation of all. Above, the Draper homestead in Luskville.

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