The Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

The glorious tomato is a bright star in the culinary universe. Think about the different possibilities that can be done with this versatile ingredient. From cream of tomato soup, an Italian sauce, a rich salsa from south of the border, or a BLT, the versatility list can go on forever.

However, the tomato conjures up one of the most perplexing conundrums, is it a fruit or a vegetable?

Surprisingly the tomato is both; it just depends upon who is going to answer the question.

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Public Domain Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

From the legal viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. The Supreme Court of the U.S. declared it to be a vegetable on May 10, 1893. A decision was necessary because of U.S. tariff laws.

From a Scientific viewpoint: The tomato is a fruit. Botanists consider all plant life to be “vegetation.” However, they classify fruit as the edible ovaries of a plant. Certainly our friend the tomato clearly fits into their fruit definition.

From a culinary viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. It can be part of an appetizer, a soup, a side dish, or an entrée unto itself. However, a vegetable can never, ever be part of a dessert.

Is it any wonder that I despise the very existence of Carrot cake?

The final definition was the determining factor of the tomato’s legal status. Although scientifically a fruit, the government classified it as a vegetable because it was used and treated like one. So go ahead and enjoy your fresh, sweet tomatoes. Just don’t try to make tomato pudding and garnish it with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a tomato?

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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My Favorite Author Blogs

I do a lot of cruising around the Blogosphere, dropping “likes” and comments in many places. However, I find myself repeatedly returning to certain blogs over and over again.

Although they are all Independent author blogs, you’ll find distinct voices and points of view. Yes, occasionally they will blog about the same particular subject, just not at the same time. After all, they’re all authors and discuss the Indie-Author World. It’s a sure bet that when you dig through the archives you’ll find posts on editing, “pantsing” or planning, and others.

I Blog About These Subjects As Well

I have never referred to myself or have tried to portray myself as some type of self-publishing guru. I’m not one. Therefore, I don’t do it. I basically discuss my journey and blog about the things I’m discovering and learning along the way, as evidenced by such categories as Diary of a Fantasy Novel, Short Story Journal, and The Writing Journey. I also like to drift away from craft posts and write about an array of subjects in Idaho Scrawl, or simply present personal anecdotes and my favorite Recipes.

The folks listed below are not braggarts. However, they have achieved a particular level of notoriety for offering quality advice or “how to” procedures for authors. Most of them have a smooth and friendly style that makes one feel welcomed to read and comment.

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Photo Credit and CC License

Here Are My Favorites

Kristen Lamb

If Independent authors have a Torch-Bearing –Warrior-Queen it would have to be Kristen Lamb. She writes passionately about the world according to the indie author. Granted, the posts are quite extensive, but they are well worth your attention. Kristen has a few self-help books out there for indie authors. Rise of the Machines is probably the most well-known and important book on the topic of indie-authoring.

K.M. Weiland

K.M. Weiland’s Blog is called “Helping Writers Become Authors.” That blog title is no lie; it is completely packed with quality information. I truly suggest opening the category button to discover the smorgasbord of pertinent subjects. The choice is yours. You can comb through this blog, or spend hundreds of dollars on craft books.

Bryn Donovan

Here’s another blog where the archives should be the first place to examine. Her “Blank Page to Final Draft” series of posts are worth reading. Also, there are lists for plots, facial and physical descriptions. She has written a craft book as well called “Master Lists for Writers,” you can find links to Amazon on her blog. I have only recently discovered this blog. However, it pulled me right in.

Nick Rossis

Nick writes about a variety of subjects, including some personal anecdotes. His blog category on marketing is a must read for any would be indie. Look no further than the list of awards for his fantasy novels to understand that this guy knows what he’s talking about.

Diane Tibert

First, in order to appreciate her blog, you’ll have to get past the colour and flavour of her exotic Canadian English :-). Diane’s “Publishing 101” series takes you from editing to cover design. I would say that it’s a good first place to start your research. Yes, she has many other tips for authors.

Honorable Mentions

Chris: The Story Reading Ape

Chris has turned re-blogging into an art form. He’ll save you tons of search and reading time by finding quality posts from authors around the world. I found Bryn Donovan only about a week and a half ago. How? Because Chris re-blogged and highlighted one of her posts. Do yourself a big favor and “Follow” this one.

Ben Garrido

Ben is an indie author, but his posts mostly offer questions and examinations of nationalism, culture, government, and religion. Perhaps I’m drawn to his postings on account of my degree in History and my Catholic faith. Many of the stories in my forthcoming collection have themes of conflicting beliefs, or what happens when the relationship between government and the individual goes awry. Ben’s scholarly posts are thought provoking and very well written.

What About You?

Do you already follow some or all of these blogs? Did I miss a great blog somewhere? Tell me about it.

***Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of Ragged Souls***

Pasta Carbonara

This is the dish that can make chefs scream at each other. The original recipe has come a long way and has gone through many adaptations in different regions in Italy and since crossing the Atlantic, gracing the menus of Italian restaurants and trattorias in America. I can hear some of the purists already glaring at me on account of ham and bacon. Ahem, just try finding Guanciale.

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1 lb. of pasta (use a long pasta that needs to be twirled)

½ – 1 cup of grated parmigiana cheese (the amount of cheese depends on your taste)

4 eggs (room temperature)

½ onion, finely chopped (most recipes don’t call for onion, but I love it)

1 tablespoon of garlic

¼ pound of ham* (optional)

10 slices of thick-cut bacon**

A handful of frozen peas (optional)

3 tablespoons of heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)

 

*I buy a quarter pound of ham at the deli counter and ask for it as one thick slice.

** Guanciale, pancetta, or bacon? Use whatever pleases you or what is available. If you’re using bacon from the supermarket, make sure it’s plain bacon. Don’t use anything like Apple Hickory smoked or other flavorings.

Step 1: Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta and salt as per the box directions.

Step 2: While the water is waiting to boil, cook your bacon and drain on a paper towel. Retain 3 tablespoons of the drippings.  Dice the bacon.

Step 3: Cook the onions in the bacon drippings. Add the ham, garlic, bacon and peas to the pan after the onions are cooked.

Step 4: Beat the eggs and add the cheese and cream. You can also temper the eggs with 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Step 5: Drain pasta. Add it to the skillet and toss for a minute. Remove from heat, add the egg mixture a little at a time, and keep tossing the pasta.

Removing the pan from the heat is critical. You don’t want the egg to scramble. This can also happen if you add all of the egg mixture at once.

Step 6: There is no step 6. Bring that pasta to the table and eat it while it’s hot. Enjoy!

Got My Eye on a Cottage Pie

Pining for a cozy cottage with a warm fire in the English countryside? I don’t have one either, but this recipe helps me dream about it.

 

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Ingredients for the meat filling:

1 cup of small diced onion

½ cup of carrot (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

½ cup of celery (peel, chop, two or three pulses in a food processor)

1 pound of ground beef or lamb (or a combo of both)

3 tablespoons of oil (I prefer olive oil…feel free to use your favorite)

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1 cup of beef stock (use chicken or vegetable if preferred)

½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon of Jugo or Bovril (beef flavor booster)

Cheddar cheese (optional – as much as you want)

Ingredients for the Mashed Potatoes:

1 ½ pound of russet potatoes

¼ cup of heavy cream, Half n’ Half, or milk

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

2 tablespoons of butter

Step 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or a large cast iron frying pan (the best). Put the carrot in first because it takes longer to cook.  After 3 minutes, add the onion and celery, and cook until the onions start to look soft and translucent.

Step 2. Start heating a second large skillet OR transfer the vegetables to a soup bowl.

Place the beef or lamb into the hot skillet and let it cook. It’s best to leave meat alone for 2-3 minutes before turning or moving it around. You want to get some color on it. If you have large clumps of meat, break it up. Once the meat is cooked, add the veggies back into the skillet.

Mix the meat and veggies together and then sprinkle in the flour. Mix and leave it for at least one minute.  The flour has to toast or else the finished pie will have a pasty raw dough taste.

Step 3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the cheese), bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.

Step 4. Peel and quarter the potatoes and bring to a boil until fork tender.

Step 5. Bring the butter and cream to room temperature (microwave if needed).

Step 6. Drain potatoes and mash (I use a ricer).

Step 7. Add the butter, cream, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and beat with a hand mixer.

 

Putting it All Together:

I prefer to make individual servings. Spoon the meat mixture into a single-serving croc until its half-full. Then place the mashed potatoes on top.  Don’t press the potato into the meat mixture; you want it to float on top, creating two distinct layers. Use a rubber spatula to create a potato seal around the edges.

If you’re ready to eat right away, preheat your oven to 325 and place the crocs on the middle rack for 20 minutes. If you’re going to use the cheddar cheese, place it on top of each croc for the last 5 minutes of baking.  If you’re not hungry yet, the crocs can go into the fridge instead, ready to be heated up whenever you like.

Yield: 4 servings