05 February 2007

A Basket, Tomatoes and True Love

My first gifts of food were, not surprisingly, from my maternal grandmother.

I am speaking not of the Lady Baltimore cakes she made for our birthdays, but the first food gift for my home, the one that made me feel like a grownup. It was my first semester away at college, and Grandma Annie gave me a cheese sampler basket, probably from Wisconsin's own Figi's.

A humble gift, to be sure, but one that delighted me and started me on a lifelong passion for baskets. There was also a cookbook that Christmas, but that is for another post.

Recently I weeded down my basket collection to a mere dozen. Of course, the first basket stayed with me. As you can see, I filled it with cherry tomatoes for the photo above.

I will never let go of that basket.

Since I love tomatoes so much — and since Grandma Annie did, too — it is only right that I matched the basket with tomatoes.

On Jan. 30, I reviewed Laura Florand's delightful "Blame it on Paris," a book in which tomatoes (and other salad ingredients) have a minor but essential supporting role.

Let's put it this way: In Laura's book, tomatoes demonstrate the potential to stand between two people in love. Who knew?

But, I have a solution. A variation on a previous theme, you might say.

You can read about it at Laura's blog, starting Tuesday, Feb. 6.

20 comments:

cityfarmer said...

I am a very fond lover of old baskets...AND tomatoes...

They just don't make baskets like they used to...Micheal's doesn't count

Summer's coming and I can't wait for growing t'maters

Mimi said...

No they do not make baskets like they used too. Longenbergers, maybe, but they a a bit too slick for my tastes.

Lydia said...

What a wonderful gift from your grandmother! Baskets are forever, aren't they? I have favorites among my own collection; on my desk is a Micmac basket from Prince Edward Island, and in the kitchen are two baskets made of recycled candy wrappers from Mexico. I use baskets in the kitchen for my onions and garlic, potatoes, summer tomato harvest -- and fresh baked muffins, of course.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

There is romance in every basket and aren't tomatoes the fruit of love? The basket you picture looks just like one my aunt Dort had on the steps to her attic. I love that basket. I have my mother's biscuit basket which I use to gather tomatoes if there aren't too many of them.

Mimi said...

It's nice to have baskets that we use, instead of just displaying them, isn't it? Lydia, you kitchen must smell wonderful!

Tanna, I have my father's childhood Easter basket, which I keep filled with terra cotta pots.

We are lucky — blessed, even — to have these lovely baskets.

Fiona said...

I love tomatoes, in fact I rarely go a day without having one. They are full of goodness too. Loved the basket too :)

cityfarmer said...

Not one Longenberger inside this old farmhouse...if I'm to spend that much on a basket, then I'll hit the aution and buy and antique...yeh!!!

Julie said...

Those tomatoes look cheerful and summery -- just the thing for a day when the temperature first thing this morning was 11 degrees. I can only imagine what it is in Wisconsin.

Michelle said...

Love the site, Mimi. I'm going to try the tomatoes and the chicken fricassee later this week. We make our own cajun version of fricassee around here, but it is basically just chicken with a brown roux. We love capers and olives and look forward to trying a more classic version of the dish.

Mimi said...

I feel the same way, Fiona. One a day. Apples, too.

I agree CF. Those baskets bore me. Give me the old ones.

Julie it was 13 below this a.m. — and we were pleased.

Michelle, I've always suspected I might have some Cajun blood. . .

Terri said...

Add me to the basket lover list. There's just something about them that draws me closer and usually finds me taking it home to find the perfect spot to place it.
Your basket is stunning! Just love it.
And those tomatoes...are you sure you're not using Photo Shop for that vibrant red? (only kidding) I don't thing they're THAT red down here in Florida.

Mimi said...

No, Terri, I am doing it all with iPhoto.

I have Photo Shop Elements, but I have not spent any time with it figuring it out. I should, I know.

ChrisB said...

This post has made think about a much loved but very old basket (from the days when I shopped daily). I now intend to dig out from my cellar where I use it for storage and put it back into circulation.

Jann said...

There are just some baskets that seem to talk to you-this is one of them-so happy it lives in your house!

Mimi said...

Much loved is the keyword, ChrisB — I hope you will do a post on it.

Jann, wait until you see my dad's Easter Basket. It must be from about 1930, I should think. They don;t make them like that any more.

Kristen said...

I've never been a basket collector, but when I go to my sisters house, who is, I can often feel the stories in her antique baskets speaking out to me.

Love this picture and the story too!

Mimi said...

Wish I had more old baskets. Wish I had more old stuff, period.

They do speak to you, don't they, Kristen?

ChrisB said...

Mimi that's a good idea I will do a basket post in a few days have taken the photos

Mimi said...

That's great, Chris, I look forweard to that.

I will try to post a photo of my father's Easter Basket, too.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

I have a favorite basket that I bought in Mexico years ago...carried it back in my lap on the airplane (in the day before all the restrictions)
I wouldn't give anything for it!