Mom’s stewed tomatoes

Raise  your hand if celebrating Mother’s Day made you think about a favorite food she cooked for her family. Me, too.

My mom grew up on a farm in Harford County, Maryland and brought her rural upbringing with her when she moved to her Baltimore kitchen. She appreciated vegetables fresh from the farm and garden and loved serving them to our family and company. Hearty meals at our table, both the everyday variety and special occasion ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas, invariably included a shallow, oval-shaped serving dish brimming with her stewed tomatoes. Eye-rolling delicious, I mean, go back for seconds good.

Sad to say, her tasty recipe has been lost to history, if ever it was written down in the first place, which is doubtful. My sister Peg, who is now 88, doesn’t remember what Mom put in this wonderful dish. Our brother Jack, who died several years ago, wouldn’t have known. He sure loved to eat it, though. We all did.

Stewed tomato recipes abound on the Internet, many with other veggies added: okra, peppers. Most include some onion. Mom used fresh tomatoes if they were available but was content with those coming from a can. She always added something to thicken the mix, and that’s the big mystery to us who would love to be able to reconstruct her recipe. I think she laced it with diced stale bread and might have added some baking flour. Possibly both. Whatever it was, the results were wonderful and memorable.

Facebook exchanges I’ve seen in the past couple of days have focused on a casserole called Johnny Marzetti. One writer said that one has to be from Ohio to know about it. It’s a delicious, hearty pasta-based dish loaded with cheese, tomatoes and ground beef. To this non-Ohioan it looks like mac and cheese mixed with tomatoes and hamburger plus some onion and mushrooms. It looks great. Maybe we’ll try it.

But I miss Mon’s stewed tomatoes. They were the best.

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