Last week our circulation manager, Diann Wright, asked me if I wanted any tomatoes from her garden. She had canned numerous quarts of tomatoes and didn't really care if she saw another tomato for months.
Of course I wanted homegrown tomatoes! You know what the song says-"There's two things that money can't buy. That's true love and homegrown tomatoes!"
I have actually had a hankering for (I am sure that is not proper English, but no phrase quite describes that any better.) for creamed tomatoes lately. My mother made creamed tomatoes from time to time and while I wasn't crazy about them as a kid, I have been wanting some as an adult.
Well my mom isn't here to make them for me and I never have tried to do it myself. But I can always make an attempt.
So I googled "creamed tomatoes" and found a few recipes. Interestingly, I also found that almost every hit included some sort of reference to West Virginia. Either they were made by their grandmother who lived here or the poster had grown up in rural West Virginia. I wondered if I had stumbled onto another uniquely hillbilly food--like the pepperoni roll.
After some more browsing and discussions, I am not sure that it is exclusive to us, but we might hanker for it the most. Or we might be the only ones who call it by that name.
I found out that in other parts of the country-mostly south of our state's borders, they call it Tomato Gravy. Now that just doesn't sound appetizing to me. But they might think Creamed Tomatoes sounds equally unappealing.
Whatever you call it. Wherever you make it. I call it yummy.
So after perusing some recipes and suggestions, I set out to make my first pan of Creamed Tomatoes.
Here is how I made it: 2-3 tomatoes cut up in chunks, with juice, and 1/2 c. water
Bring that to a boil in a deep skillet.
Then add a smidgen of baking soda, which is said to keep the milk from curdling. This will make your concoction foam up a bit; don't be afraid.
Shake together 3/4 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of flour. Pour it slowly (straining out any lumps) into your tomato mixture, stirring.
Then add 3 tablespoons of butter and the part that makes the creamed tomatoes extra tasty, this is where you can experiment to your tastes: a bit of salt, fresh ground pepper, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, a couple shakes of Tabasco, and 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
Cook, but probably not at a boil, until desired thickness, always stirring with your spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
I ate my creamed tomatoes, which turned out very well if I do say so myself, over fresh biscuits. You can also eat it over toast, dried bread chunks, or even a boiled potato as one of my friends said she likes to do in a true hillbilly fashion. The point is to eat it with a carbohydrate, or as a real hillbilly would call it-a starch.
It is an easy and economical meal. Some believe it was born of the Great Depression. That sounds likely to me. The thriftiness of it explains why my mother, though not during the depression, made it-particularly so often when my brother was young that he does not think of the concoction fondly. It does not qualify as a comfort food for him.
Ahhh, but it does to me. In fact, I liked it so much and had so many tomatoes from?Diann that I made a second pan of it the following day.