Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Tomato Lover

I’d like to welcome our first guest blogger here at AMFAS. It’s my good friend and fellow crime writer, Vicki Delany. Her popular Constable Molly Smith series (including In the Shadow of the Glacier and Among the Departed) have been optioned for TV by Brightlight Pictures. She also writes standalone novels of psychological suspense, as well as a light-hearted historical series, (Gold Digger, Gold Mountain), set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Vicki’s newest book is More than Sorrow, a standalone novel published by Poisoned Pen Press. In a starred review, Library Journal called the book, “a splendid Gothic thriller.”

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she rarely wears a watch.

Be sure to visit Vicki at, and twitter: @vickidelany. She blogs about the writing life at One Woman Crime Wave (

The Delany Fields
I am not a farmer. Here’s an example of my attempt to grow tomatoes.

Fortunately, I don’t have to be able to grow them.

Since moving to Prince Edward County four years ago I’ve become a staunch locavore. There are some foods now that I will only eat fresh and in season. Tomatoes are the best example. I’ll stuff myself with tomatoes of every type from August to October, make soup and pasta sauce for the freezer. The rest of the year, I’ll only buy the ones in the supermarket, and then reluctantly, if I’m going to cook with them. They’re grown for looks, and durability, not for good eating, and why spoil your taste buds on something that isn’t up to scratch?

Asparagus I’ll eat all of May, when I can buy them from the farm down the road, the rest of the year I can do without. Same for berries – mainly blueberries and raspberries. Particularly when those berries freeze so well when fresh, it’s not necessary to buy the imported ones in the middle of winter. I have a great recipe for blueberry muffins that I make stacks of in the late summer and freeze. When they come out of the freezer in mid-winter, the berries taste as good as when they were picked.

Every Labour Day weekend, Vicki`s Veggies Farm (absolutely no relation to me!) puts on two days of tomato extravaganza. The farms grow something like 350 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and for the tomato tasting, they`ll lay about 120 of them out on trestle tables on the lawn. Until a few years ago I didn`t know tomatoes came in such variety of colours, sizes and tastes.

Vicki’s Veggies’s unbelievable spread of heirloom tomatoes.
Because I’m a writer as well as a tomato eater, soon after moving to the County, I decided I’d like to write a book set here. I don’t think I considered anyplace other than on a small-scale organic vegetable farm. Vicki showed me around her farm and talked to me about running the business and growing tomatoes. That book, MORE THAN SORROW, is a contemporary thriller with a backstory of the Loyalist settlers on the farm. It’s being released this week by Poisoned Pen Press, so I took a table at the Tomato Extravaganza to get the word out about the new book. I sold a pile of books. In fact, I sold out.

Here are some links for locavores and those just wanting good food, raised or grown sustainably.

Vicki’s Veggies:

JC Nyman Farms: Where I buy my eggs, chicken, and pork. They also make maple syrup from trees I can see from my house.

Hagerman’s Farms for produce of all kinds. A family farm for over 100 years:

Portland Bridge Pickling Society: Doug and Carolann had the table next to me, and I kept sneaking over for tastes of their spreads and pickles, all made from County grown produce.

Here’s a recipe for pasta with cherry tomatoes that I make several times a week when the tomatoes are at their best:

Vicki Delany’s Cherry Tomato Linguine
Mix up the quantities depending on taste and number of people being served.

1 green onion
1 clove garlic
Copious amount of fresh cherry tomatoes. If they are large, slice in half.
Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
¼ to ½ log of goat’s cheese.
½ cup white wine (already open for sipping while cooking, I am sure)
1-2 cups of arugula, roughly chopped.

1. The sauce cooks very quickly so have the linguini started before beginning.
2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add sliced green onion and chopped garlic. Cook on medium until soft and golden in colour. Add tomatoes and cook for three or four minutes, stirring. Tomatoes will go soft and wrinkly.
3. Add basil and arugula and cook, stirring until arugula begins to shrink.
4. Add goat’s cheese and stir until melted.
5. Add enough wine to loosen the sauce (about ½ a cup). If you don’t have, or don’t want to use wine, use pasta cooking liquid.
6. Salt and pepper to taste
7. Toss sauce with pasta.
8. Eat.

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