Side Dish: Fourth of July tomato

Photo by Montie Mitchell  --  Montie Mitchell  of Denham Springs, cut a tomato from the Denham Springs garden of Kyle Mitchell and Jessie Wheat to find the center of each slice had 'a perfect star.' She calls it 'my Fourth of July tomato.'
Photo by Montie Mitchell -- Montie Mitchell of Denham Springs, cut a tomato from the Denham Springs garden of Kyle Mitchell and Jessie Wheat to find the center of each slice had 'a perfect star.' She calls it 'my Fourth of July tomato.'

By Cheramie Sonnier

Montie Mitchell, of Denham Springs, wanted to share her “Fourth of July tomato” with Food’s readers so she sent a photo.

The celebrity tomato came from the garden her son, Kyle Mitchell and his wife, Cheri, share with his in-laws. Mitchell wrote, “Imagine my surprise to find a perfect star when I sliced it! I didn’t want to eat it but, thank goodness, I thought about taking a picture of it first.”

Getting the tomato photo reminded me of when I first worked at the State-Times, The Advocate’s now-defunct sister newspaper.

I quickly learned both
newspapers were quite willing to publish photos of enormous pumpkins, oddly shaped tomatoes and squash, or any out-of-the-ordinary animal or plant.

It wasn’t unusual to have farmers show up in the newsroom carrying produce they thought deserved a photo in the paper or readers to call in tips about unusual fauna and flora.

For example, I had been at the newspaper only a few days when an editor asked me to write about a friend’s blooming century plant.

When I later wrote, after consulting with plant experts, that the flowering aloe gets its name because it flowers only once in its life and really lives only about 25 years, the editor informed me his friend had assured him the blooming was a “once-in-a-century” phenomenon.

He wasn’t easily persuaded otherwise.

He also was the editor who wanted to use an airbrush on a prize bull’s photo — but, that’s another story.

Mitchell’s Fourth of July tomato also reminded me of a party tidbit that was a surprising hit with chefs and caterers being honored for donating their efforts for the 2002 Capital Chefs’ Showcase, a Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge fundraiser. It was the simple tomato sandwich. (See the recipe.)e_SClB Cookbook signing

Cassandra “Momma C” Gaines will release her new cookbook, “Momma C’s Soul Food Cookbook,” at a book signing and demonstration during the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

She will be in the French Market from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday as part of the French Market Fare, the weekly
series produced by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the French Market Corp.

Gaines, known as the Queen of Soul Food Cooking, will include a DVD for beginner cooks with the book.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.e_SClB Tomato Sandwich

Recipe is from Lisa Lynch.

White bread

Tomato slices

Mayonnaise

Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits

Green onions, chopped

1. Use a biscuit cutter to cut white bread into circles.

2. Mix mayonnaise, bacon bits and green onions to taste.

3. Spread mayonnaise mixture on one side of bread. Top with a slice of tomato. May be open-faced. If serving as regular sandwich, cover tomato with second slice of bread.