We always had a little garden when I was growing up. Not like a farm, but just a little plot behind the house, down the hill a bit, under a giant cottonwood tree with a swing tied to its branches. I didn’t really have much to do with the garden, aside from harvesting. My parents would plant potatoes and tomatoes. Probably some other things, too, but that’s all I really remember. Too busy swinging on that crappy old swing I guess, getting splinters in my booty.
When the birds or bugs would get to the tomatoes before we could – when we’d find those hard, little green tomatoes with a big hole in one side – mama would make fried green tomatoes. Cut off the bad, fry the rest, make it good. I loved them so much. And even though, yes, I know the film by the same name (and cry every time I see it still…) I somehow kinda always thought no one else ate fried green tomatoes? I know it doesn’t make any sense. Obviously, anyone with a half a lick of sense and a green tomato in their hand is gonna know about fried green tomatoes. But still…
So I was kind of surprised when several people requested the recipe from me. I don’t know. Maybe I just seem like a person who makes good fried green tomatoes. It’s true. I am. I have no difficulty writing that. But honestly, they’re easy. The hardest part is finding green tomatoes if you don’t have your own garden.
Enter, Johnson’s Backyard Garden: a 200 acre, 100% organic farm just outside Austin. We’d visited this lovely paradise last year – actually almost exactly one year ago – and had a great time taking a farm tour from Brent Johnson: Head Farmer (not sure if that’s his official title or not, but it works for my purposes). This year I contacted them about green tomatoes. As it turns out, with 30 thousand tomato plants, they had … how do you say? … a buttload of green tomatoes. So we took another farm trip!
And, DUDE! Whoa! Let me tell you, JBG is blowin’ up! They added 146 acres in the last year and have plans to build a barn and commercial kitchen on site so they can preserve bumper crops of produce when needed.
Brent is a calm, kind, hard-working person. He runs his business as if every employee were family and strives to make the farm a community in itself. His reason for farming is to feed the people. And he means all the people, not just the yuppies. Right now, JBG is awaiting finalization of 501 c-3 status for a non-profit organization called FarmShare Austin whose mission is to make fresh, local, organic produce available to people who could not otherwise afford it. By partnering with other non-profits such as the Settlement Home for Children and the Salvation Army as well as other farms in and around Austin, FarmShare will bring Brent’s dream of feeding the people to life. Knowing that there are such good and capable people in the world as Farmer Brent makes me happy to be human. That he and his organic farm are here in Austin makes me lucky to be a human who loves vegetables. And I’m not just saying that because he let me take as many green tomatoes as I needed AND gave Chris and I each a full box of that day’s produce picks. Ahem. But he did.
And it is AWESOME.
- Green tomatoes, however many you can get your paws on
- Celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt, or salt-salt
- For dredging:
- 1 egg
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, each
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- For frying:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or more vegetable oil)
- For serving, if desired:
- Ranch dressing, lemon wedges, hot sauce
- Slice the tomatoes about ¼” to ⅓” thick. Sprinkle the slices lightly with seasoned salt or regular salt.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside
- Combine the flour, cornmeal, and seasonings in another bowl.
- One at a time, dredge the tomato slices in the flour mixture, then the egg, then back into the flour and set aside.
- Once all slices are coated, heat the oil over high heat until a bit of flour sizzles when flicked in.
- CArefully lay the slices in the hot oil and turn the heat to medium.
- Cook 3-4 minutes or until golden.
- Turn and cook another 3-4 minutes.
- Drain on paper or a rack.
- Sprinkle again with salt while still hot and serve now or let cool to room temperature.
If you’re in the Austin area and would like to support local farmers and take care of your health, please consider JBG’s Community Supported Agriculture program. You can sign up for weekly or bi-weekly deliveries of seasonal, fresh-picked produce to your home or office. There is an incredible crop of amazing produce ripening out in the fields right now: 60 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, pattypan squash (my favorite!), colorful potatoes, Texas 1015 Sweet Onions, broccoli, cabbage, DELICIOUS watermelons and cantaloupes, specialty melons, plus so much more variety in the coming months.
AND… Bulk Tomato Sale! Pre-order different varieties of tomatoes for a huge discount! Personally, I’m hosting a salsa-making party thanks to this great offer. Me and some girlfriends are gonna order a mess of JBG tomatoes and make a mess in my kitchen with them. This is a great bargain! Get together with some friends and can or freeze your own salsa or tomato sauce. It’s fun and healthy.
The LEARN TO COOK Book is Here!
By popular demand, Learn to Cook is now available in print! Over 300 pages of knowledge between two soft covers.
Learn To Cook is designed to get you cooking for yourself like a civilized human being! Drawing from a lifetime of cooking and over two years experience making instructional cooking videos, author Hilah Johnson has produced a beginners’ cookbook for today’s young adults. The casual, straightforward style will appeal to anyone with a sense of humor and the focus on fresh, simple recipes will appeal to anyone who loves to eat. The book includes chapters on menu planning, knife skills, grocery shopping and more, plus a comprehensive spice chart and over 150 recipes from breakfast to dinner to snacks in between.