Who needs dates when you have a pile of green tomatoes in your cellar. Read on for a recipe for tomato matrimony cake

Come along readers and listen to my tale, I got a touch o’ humour on the Grainews trail. My two cents worth is a three-liner — direct and to the point.

Nut store clerk: What kind of nuts would you like Santa?

Santa Claus: Cashew.

Clerk: Bless you Santa! Now what kind of nuts would you like?

THE MATRIMONY CAKE

No! I’m not getting married. Quite by chance during tomato season, I was introduced to Ken and Millie Pascal from Fork River, Man., and I got to sample Millie’s matrimony cake with a green tomato filling. Thanks to Millie, her recipe follows shortly, but first a history lesson.

“O blessed man and woman, favoured by the Creator, eat, give thanks and go forth in matrimonial order.” The aforesaid and similar variations were often expressed during wedding receptions of some antiquity.

It was then applied to the mixing of different food items in tasty harmony, such as two slices of bread and butter eaten together. This was an affirmation of the bride and groom accepting one another. The feast was topped off with the sweetness of a matrimony cake.

CANADA CLAIMS OWNERSHIP…

…of the matrimony cake recipe in the form of “oat meal squares with a date filling.” Several novel variations have evolved going back many years. A Jewish cookbook of 1871 mentions a matrimony cake, as does an oldish northern England recipe. These however are thought to have been large round cakes, symbolic of the wedding ring. A cake or cakes were split in half and spread with a filling of sweetened currants and raisins, reminiscent of mincemeat. The top was put back on the cake and then cut into enough pieces for all guests at the wedding feast. Splitting of the cake and re-applying the top affirmed two lives coming together as one.

GREEN TOMATO VARIETIES

Some gardeners may still have green tomatoes on hand, especially storage types such as Mystery Keeper, Keepsake and Longkeeper. Aunt Ruby’s German Green is a true green beefsteak and one of the best greens for flavour. When ripe, it gets an amber blush on the blossom end.

Evergreen is also a beefsteak type tomato with a mild flavour. Both skin and flesh remain consistently green. Each variety is a good size too and can average up to a pound.

Tried and true organic seeds of Aunt Ruby’s German Green and Evergreen tomatoes can be ordered from Eternal Seed, 657 Pritchard Road, Farrellton, QC, JOX 1TO, phone 819-827-8881.

Millie’s recipe

I believe that sharing recipes is a good thing and so does Millie Pascal. She mentioned that green tomatoes can be cut up and briefly stewed, then drained and frozen in bags for future use. Now let’s make some green tomato matrimony cake together. This is enough for top and bottom. 2 cups oatmeal 2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup brown sugar

Spread and press down one-half of the oatmeal mixture on the bottom of a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8-inch) baking pan. Cover with the following cooked tomato filling:

4 cups cut up green tomatoes, well drained

1 cup raisins

1 cup white sugar (or to suit taste) 1 or 2 tsp cinnamon, as desired 1 or 2 tsp cloves, as desired

Bring above ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

To thicken, remove from heat and slowly stir in one tablespoon corn starch that has first been smoothly blended in some cold water. Cool and spread over bottom layer of oatmeal mixture.

Apply remaining oatmeal topping over the green tomato filling and bake at 180C/350F for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares and enjoy. It has a mellow mincemeat-like flavour.

A hot rum and butter sauce poured over top makes a nice alternate option to Christmas plum pudding. If you like, make extra cakes and freeze for a quick, ready-made dessert when company arrives.

THE SINGING GARDENER SAYS

How I love scalloped potatoes, Large slices of red, ripe

tomatoes, Matrimony cake and green

tomatoes, Now make one with yellow

tomatoes.

Let it be known you can also use yellow tomatoes in lieu of green ones when making the filling. How do I know? Irv Wegleitner who lives about 10 km north of my turf is quite adept in the kitchen and a gardener in his own right. When Irv got wind of the recipe, he came by the house with a sampling of his tomato matrimonial cake. The only difference is Irv used yellow tomatoes instead of green ones.

DON’T LAUGH…

…but seems it’s true that some perks begin once you reach 50, or are over 60 and heading towards 70 and greater. A built in bodily weather forecaster is one of them. Your joints can be a more accurate meteorologist than Environment Canada’s weather service.

GOOD GARDENERS

Every journey is an entry to somewhere. This story says it well. An elderly man with a hoe, rake and shovel sat outside the walls of a great city, famous for its gardeners. Inside was a vast area of land set aside for all inhabitants to garden.

When travelers approached, they would ask the old man, “What kind of gardeners live in this city?” The old man would answer, “What kind of gardeners live in the place where you came from?” If the travelers answered, “There are no gardeners in the place where we came from,” the old man would reply, “Continue on, you will find only good gardeners here.” But if the travelers answered, “Good gardeners live in the place where we came from,” then the old man would say, “Enter, for here too, you will find only good gardeners.”

A CANADIAN TOAST…

…to all my Grainews readers: To life, to love. To green and yellow tomato matrimony cake. And to taking time for family and friends this holiday season.

You can never love someone too soon nor too often, because you never know how soon it might be too late. Love everyone at Christmas and let it overflow into 2009. Set a plate for me at your table and I’ll set one for you at mine.

And now let me sing a tune for you. Here are some lyrics from a song I wrote titled “Happy New Year All.”

In the coming New Year may all of its days,

Bring good things to you and good things to me,

Then let them remain ’til it’s New Year’s again,

With a heart full of love, let it be!

Ted Meseyton is the Singing Gardener and Growit Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. He talks and sings gardening at his personal appearances. Ted also teaches yodeling and musical grow-your-own-garden classes to children and adults. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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