What do stuffed tomatoes and a tribute to Nana have in common you might ask? Well, after 94 years filled with incidents, my dear mother-in-law passed away on March 1st in her sleep. I will always remember the stuffed tomatoes she cooked, they were my favorite when she visited. She was an inspiration to me in more ways than one. She stood for what she believed in, her most famous quote was “I will always call a spade, a spade”. She was a diligent worker, spent most of her working life teaching Special Education, and had a passion for music. She still practiced the piano in her 80’s, played scrabble and boggle and enjoyed card games. She was an avid reader, at 86 she wrote her memoirs and had a canny sense of humor. We will be publishing her memoirs for the extended family in the next few weeks. She was generous and genuine, always worrying about the person who had less than her and always helped those in need.
Her full life spanned a few continents, India, UK, Canada, Australia. Her memoirs recall her time in India, then moving to England when India became independent in 1947, another move to Canada and again another to Australia when she married again at 72, after being widowed for a few years. I will always remember her letters to our children from Australia. Such vivid descriptions of the country, how she heard the kookaburra, saw kangaroos in the wild, the beautiful colored birds and wrote about the fragrance of the stunning tropical flora. We were fortunate enough to have taken a trip to Australia when she lived there. It was a trip that she planned for us, covering Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, that trip will be etched in our memories forever. She could debate on any topic and had an opinion on everything – she could discuss Margaret Thatcher and Saddam Hussein in the same breath, she was in tune with the affairs of the world and was never afraid to give her take on it. A couple years ago we were at her bank helping her with some of her accounts. They asked if she could make up a password, without batting an eyelid she said “Hitler”, like I said, her humor was extraordinary! The girls and I were blessed and fortunate to have had her in our lives for 35 years, may she live on in our hearts forever!
Tomato cutlets, as she referred to them was my absolute favorite among other dishes. Today, I made them in her honor accompanied with tomato rice pilaf (also her recipe). I scooped out the tomato first and set aside the fleshy parts for the rice. I used ground turkey and an array of spices that I had ground in a blender (masala). The spices included a large bunch of cilantro, green chillies, cumin, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamom, tamarind, cinnamon, tumeric and a good splash of vinegar. I usually make up a batch of this and refrigerate it, using it on anything and everything really. Roasts, hamburgers, shepherds pie, baked fish, curries etc. After I stuff the tomatoes with the ground turkey, I sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top and flip it over in a hot skillet to get the tops brown – I then bake it in the oven till the tomatoes are cooked. For the rice, I use basmati rice, I fried some onions with whole spices, chopped up the scooped tomatoes and let it saute with the onions for a bit, I added cilantro, chicken stock and let the rice cook till ready. Here are some pictures to give you an idea.
I’m off to our virtual party at Fiesta Friday, a happening, bopping party that takes place each Friday. Our ever gracious host Angie@TheNoviceGardener is always so warm and welcoming. Her 2 co-hosts Jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and Mila@MilkandBun will be on hand to meet and greet. Have a look at their blogs for extra ideas and inspiration. Thanks ladies for taking us on. Much appreciated.