Southern Tomato Pie – The Savory and the Sweet
By: Debra Chase

Pie connoisseurs are often guilty of a grievous omission in omitting the tomato from their repertoire. Tomatoes were introduced to American households a few hundred years ago and have been a family staple and favorite ever since. When a hungry eater thinks of pie, tomatoes generally don’t come up, (except for the infamous Italian variety. These recipes hail from the southern section of the pie belt and make the most of the lovely nightshades in a sweet pie and a savory pie. One will astonish due to the use of green tomatoes, and the other because of the creative use of the cheese, both will become a family favorite.

The use of green tomatoes in culinary dishes came about out of necessity. Early frosts required early harvesting creating an abundance of the green jewels in farm kitchens. Creative cooks then developed recipes using the green tomato as much as possible.

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Smashing Cucumbers
By: Debra Chase

Baby its hot outside! This week’s early heatwave brings out the salad in most folks and there is no better place for fresh salad ingredients than the Farmer’s Market. Many will seek relief munching on crunchy chilled radishes, sweet tomatoes, or juicy peaches and plums but the coolest of them all are the cucumbers. There are many varieties to choose from and purchasing cucumbers at the Farmer’s market guarantees freshness, and there will not be any wax on the healthy skin.

For slicing use the smooth, thin skinned English, American garden, lemon or Persian varieties. For pickling use the bumpy fat Boston, an old heirloom dating back to 1880, as popular then as it is today. Size matters with the bumpy Boston; small to medium is best to avoid bitterness and large seeds.

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Recipe Books

Everyday Healthy Meals Recipe Book
English Version
Spanish Version

Flavors of My Kitchen Recipe Book
English Version


1 cup hard uncooked pearl barley
¼ cup basic vinaigrette (use balsamic or red wine vinegar)
1-15 oz can navy beans, drained
1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrot, coarsely grated
6 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
1 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1-10 oz package frozen peas, thawed
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1-3/4 cups medium or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup scallions, coarsely chopped

Place barley in a small stockpot over high heat, and add 2 quarts cold water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large, deep glass serving bowl.  While pearl barley is still hot, mix in the vinaigrette.  Allow to cool, then start arranging the layers for the salad over the barley in this order from the bottom to top:  navy beans, celery, carrot, lettuce, red pepper, and peas.  In another bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, and sugar, then spread on top of the salad.  Add the grated-cheese layer, then the chopped scallions.  Refrigerate until serving.  When serving, dig the salad from the bottom up using large spoon.  Serves 8 – 10.

Strawberry Tossed Salad

½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp paprika

8 cups torn romaine
4 cups Bibb or Boston lettuce
2-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey
Jack cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Combine the first seven ingredients in a jar with tight- fitting Lid; shake well.  Just before serving, toss the salad greens, Strawberries, cheese and walnuts in a large salad bowl.  Drizzle with dressing the toss. 6 – 8 servings