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Sun-shiny day

April 9, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
It was interesting to read a small brief in the paper this week that said the tomato was picked as Ohio’s state fruit. The argument over whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables has been waging for centuries. Botanically it is a fruit because the seeds are contained on the inside. As such, the tomato is actually an ovary and even more precisely, a berry. But culinarily, as in cooking, it is a savory dish not used, as we would common fruits, as sugary desserts. But even with all the controversy, no one could come to a decision until 1893 when the U.S. Supreme Court determine tomatoes to legally be vegetables.

Why would the government get involved? Basically someone had to intervene because the argument began heating up after the Tariff Act of 1983. At that time, the court didn’t classify a tomato either way, but with the Tariff Act, a duty was placed on vegetables, but not fruit. After 10 years of disagreements, the court finally stepped in and settled the matter by declaring the tomato a vegetable. No one has argued the case since.

Ohio, on the other hand, did classify tomatoes as fruit, when a couple of weeks ago, Gov. Ted Strickland, signed a bill that made official the tomato as Ohio’s state fruit. It all began with a massive campaign by students at Miami Trace Elementary School in Washington Courthouse. According to the newspaper brief, after reading that the orange was the state fruit of Florida, and finding out that Ohio didn’t have a state fruit, a t-shirt and letter writing campaign ensued that ultimately ended with the state legislature.

Personally, it doesn’t matter to me if the tomato is called a fruit, a vegetable or a slab of meat. Tomatoes are good no matter what and should be grown in our own backyards and consumed with wild abandon.

On another note, a co-worker shared a particularly nice recipe with me a week or so ago and after my husband put it all together for my dinner one night, I am happy to share it with you now. It does contain tomatoes and all those nice Tex-Mex flavors that brings a tingle to our taste buds. It’s also one of those dishes that utilizes only the healthiest of ingredients, is low in calories and high in nutrition, but is tasty enough to keep us thinking about it long after our plates are empty. Since my husband is the picky eater, more for me. I measured out the servings and froze them individually for lunches. I think I have one left. The recipe is from and Amanda said she doubled the lentils, but otherwise, left the rest of the recipe intact. I hope some of you give it a try because I’m sure you will enjoy it.

I would love to show you photos of the recipe, but unfortunately, my little camera died a couple weeks ago and I haven’t yet been able to replace it, so photos for the blog will be taken with either the big camera, which takes more time and effort to download, or we might run without photos for a while. Hopefully it won’t be too long.

Speaking of recipes, I hope you are all enjoying the Tribune Cooks series that runs every other Wednesday in the Tribune Chronicle. We are enjoying cooking for you from the 2008 Taste of Home Family Cookbook. We’ll continue the series for as long as we can possibly stand it, which according to the fun we’re all having, could be a very long time.

EL PASO PILAF -------------

1/2 c. chopped onion 2 tsp. olive oil or cooking oil 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained 1 3/4 c. chicken broth or water 1 c. long grain rice 1 c. fresh or frozen corn 1 c. chunky salsa 1/4 c. dry lentils, rinsed and drained 1/4 c. chopped sweet red pepper or 2 oz. jar diced pimento 1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste Dash of garlic powder 8 tomato slices

In a large saucepan, cook the onion in hot oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender but not brown. Add beans, broth or water, rice, corn, salsa, lentils, red pepper or pimento, chili powder, and garlic powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer for 20 minutes or until rice and lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve over tomato slices. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 407 calories (8% from fat), 16 g pro. 77g carbohydrates, 4 g fat (saturated fat, 1 g), 0 mg cholesterol, 729 mg sodium, 822 mg potassium, and 13 g dietary fiber.


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