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December 8, 2022

Homegrown Tomatoes

Alaska, where the Crows created the world

And the Ravens brought the sunlight

– Native quote

I have been in Alaska and my hometown of Aberdeen, Washington for the past two weeks and my traveling shoes are beginning to show serious wear, not to mention wear on my emotions. 

A few days ago, still far from home. I was lounging in the hot sun on my dear school chum Larry’s patio when an oh-so-familiar smell drifted past, carried by a soft breeze: the smell of homegrown tomatoes.

Guy Clark wrote and sang a song about those homegrown tomatoes:

What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.

Age has slowed my dear school chum to the point he no longer plants a garden, but in order to fill the need for his hands to still be in the soil, pots are now filled with those tomato plants.

I remember Larry’s hands and face as a young boy, soft and wrinkle-free as we picked those sun-warmed berries by the river. And as the years passed, those hands grew stronger, catching baseballs on the field behind the high school and his face took on the look of a determined and stalwart man. Today, Larry’s hands and face show the wear and tear of years gone by, years that included guiding those children under his care as school superintendent, caring for a wife while she was passing from that dastardly cancer, and, now, simply enjoying his well-earned retirement in the same town where he came as a 9-year-old boy.

We sat, the five of us, reminiscing about the good old days, who has left us and who remains.  We talked about our parents, the food they cooked and the stores where they shopped. We talked about our teachers and church socials and summer scout camps. We talked about digging razor clams at the Westport beach nearby and of the delicious clam fritters Larry had ready for us for that evening’s dinner: Clams that his hands had dug himself a few days prior.

And then we drove by our houses and schools where we lived and played. I cried looking at the site where my house and our school had been, now covered with asphalt and cedar logs from the mill nearby. More tears as we walked through the cemetery, where many of our school chums and neighbors were buried.  

And then we laughed, for we had, for a moment, become our parents—reminiscing, gone back in time, reliving memories.

Aberdeen has seen ‘better days’; its wood-framed houses, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s have taken their toll from time and weather. So many have burned to the ground and so many are simply leaning, as if they became as tired as we have, and many have been abandoned as people moved on, no longer able to support their families due to shipping and lumber contracts having been lost.

I am now home from my travels once again. The old saying ‘home is where the heart is’ is never truer for me. I love Ben Lomond and its people.

As Larry was picking his two ‘home-grown tomatoes’ I decided to make my Southern Tomato Pie as soon as I returned home, and I have included the recipe here. Pick your tomatoes and turn them into this delicious Tomato Pie. Your family will love you for it.

What’d life be without Homegrown Tomatoes?

Southern Tomato Pie

Grab three very ripe 3-inch tomatoes and slice them 1/3 in. thick. Salted on both sides. Place on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.

Then, make a homemade pie crust or purchase a store-bought Pillsbury Pie Crust. Prick dough all over with a fork and blind bake for 15 minutes in an over preheated to 400 degrees. Allow to cool.

In a bowl add:

  • 4 slices of Bacon, fried, drained and crumbled.
  • 1 well-beaten lg. egg
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup soft cream cheese
  • ½ cup diced green onion
  • 1 Tbsp. diced Basil
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Salt to taste and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In blind-baked crust, spread 2 Tbsp. of cheese mixture, add ⅓ of the tomatoes and spread with ⅓ Cheese mixture. Repeat twice, finishing with cheese mixture on top.

Bake 30 minutes and cool before slicing.


Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]

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