There’s a glut of green tomatoes from the organic farm I have just started working on. My mind turned to the wonderful Mrs Nugent (A.K.A Yvonne) in Nova Scotia and her Green Tomato Chow that Cass and I had whilst we stayed with her this summer. I’ve tried recreating it following her recipe, which she has kindly sent across to me.
“Take down my address and send me a postcard” says Michael as he dropped us off at the ferry terminal to Newfoundland. “And….take my number too, then give me a call when you’re on your way back and I’ll come and pick you up and you can stay with me and my wife”.
Michael had picked us up somewhere north of Whycocomagh in Nova Scotia and driven us to Sydney where the ferry for Newfoundland leaves from. He was on his was there anyway to visit his mother. The whole time in the car together we had chatted freely, ranging from his holiday home down in Florida, to Trudeau and oil.
Michael is in his mid 60’s, has strong opinions that he doesn’t mind sharing, has a crazy Cape Breton accent that makes him sound a bit like Sean Connery, and is a soft-hearted rebel. The whole time he worked on the Little Narrows car ferry in Nova Scotia, Michael didn’t charge a single person. It was only about a 15 second crossing after all. When the local radio station were running a competition to find out who the best Cape Breton resident was, and it was looking like American born Alexander Graham Bell was going to get the prize, Michael spent four hours trying to get through to the radio station and give them his pennyworth. His big bug bear in life is that the Cape Breton flag is not correct. Similar to the Bell shenanigan, there was another island wide competition for someone to design the best flag. The winner was chosen, but the flag that has ended up on the poles and postcards is actually the flag that took second place. He is furious about it. Michael also has diabetes.
His wife, Yvonne, is the epitome of Nova Scotian hospitality, generous, warm and modest. Like her husband, she has a fantastic sense of humour. It’s not long into our stay with them before I realise why Michael might have develop diabetes, Yvonne is an amazing baker. As we arrive at their house she is busy cooking us a roast, which we eat later with veggies fresh from the garden and of course, the green tomato chow. The previous day she had just finished making a big batch of blueberry jam, but the stash had almost all gone already as she kept giving them to neighbours and others (ahem, Cass and I!).
As Cass and I leave the following day, Yvonne has not only packed us off with blueberry jam, green tomato chow, blueberry muffins and molasses cookies, but she has also lent us her car! My mind boggles at her generosity. But she insists that we should drive it south a few hours and leave it at her sister’s house in Antigonish.
As I tuck into my own homemade chow, my mind wanders to Michael and Yvonne sunning themselves down in the Floridian sunshine – hopefully with a cold rum and coke in hand. Fingers crossed we will meet again someday.
Green Tomato Chow
READY IN: 27hrs YIELD: 6 pints UNITS: US
9 lbs green tomatoes
6 lbs onions, peel and slice finely
1 cup salt
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1⁄2 cup pickling spices
2 1⁄2 lbs white sugar
2 1⁄2 lbs brown sugar
1⁄2 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 red pepper, cut fine
Soak the tomatoes and onions in the first amount of water and the salt over night.
Drain well in the morning. Put the spice in a cloth bag, tie shut and crush with a rolling pin.
Put the vegetables in a pot with the vinegar and second amount of water, putting in the bag of spice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour. Add the sugars and simmer another half an hour.
Stir together the cornstarch, dry mustard and tumeric. Add a little of the simmering liquid to make a paste, then stir it into the tomato mixture. Add the chopped pepper.
Simmer for 1 to 2 hours til thick.
Spoon into prepared jars and seal according to manufacturers directions.