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A New Twist on an Old Southern Favorite: “Baked” Fried Green Tomatoes
The food in the South is as important as food anywhere because it defines a person's culture.— Fannie Flagg
Baked to a Golden Brown Fried Green Tomatoes
Welcome to the South where
our tea is sweet, words are long, days are warm and Faith is strong.
Following in the footsteps of my good friend John aka Jodah here on HubPages in his totally awesome idea of combining a great recipe with his passion for writing poetry, I have produced this hub. John's is a hit! Please enjoy How to Make the World's Best Scrambled Egg.
I do hope you enjoy this short story and recipe too. I started out to write a flash fiction but then soon realized that I could not force this short story into a flash fiction.
So Glad to See Y'all here at Tess’s Southern Hospitality Café
Please Enjoy a Side of Fiction While you Wait
Pull up a chair and get comfortable. Please enjoy this short story while you wait for your serving of scrumptious "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes. You will love them! I hope you accept my apologies for the delay due to the large after church crowd arriving. That being the case, a short story is more appropriate this day than a flash fiction.
Savannah's Smile - Short Story
Savannah smiled every time she thought of those long hot southern summers where she spent many days with her Mammaw Ida Mae. She enjoyed helping to gather green tomatoes from Mammaw’s garden. With great enthusiasm and exhilaration, both she and Luke, Mammaw's Yellow Labrador, loved to romp down to the nearby pond on those humid summer days to enjoy a dip. Luke, with happy abandon, chased the wild ducks. Mammaw enjoyed sharing her love of the Lord God and a lifetime of living a simple life with Paw Paw Jackson; a big man well over 6 feet 5 inches in height and one of the gentlest men she had ever known, whose heart was as big as Texas.
Savannah looked forward to anytime Mammaw Ida Mae fried up a big batch of fried green tomatoes, which was just about every Sunday. Mammaw's table was never without freshly picked vegetables and warm buttery cornbread. Sunday afternoons, the entire family gathered at Mammaw's house to enjoy a satisfying meal together. Folks around town knew if they stopped by Mammaw Ida Mae's house they would be invited to fill their bellies. All praised the Lord God and thanked Him for their many blessings.
The sweetest days spent with Mammaw always included feeding the birds, especially the Cardinals, the brilliant red song birds Mammaw loved so much, and running through the grassy rolling hills of the pastures with Luke.
Luke Loved Running free in the Pastures with Savannah
It was a sweltering hot August day with fierce winds not providing any relief. Savannah ran down the country road barefoot as always to Mammaw's house, and then across the rolling grassy hills of pastureland smelling honeysuckle in the air which tickled her nose. Far off in the pasture she could hear that donkey braying. She ran up the steps to the front porch of Mammaw's house where the screen door was slamming open and closed. She heard Luke out back raising a ruckus about something. Immediately, Savannah smelled a burning odor and saw smoke coming from the kitchen. The grease had gotten too hot and was smoking up the house and burning the green tomatoes Mammaw was frying. She hollered for Mammaw. Then she noticed her through the big bay window on the other side of the kitchen running about out back attempting to catch Big Red, a Rhode Island Red rooster, for Luke was having a bit of fun with Big Red. She also saw Paw Paw Jackson in the distant pasture bush-hogging.
Savannah knew not to touch the hot cast iron skillet and she was tall enough now, being seven years old, to reach the top of the stove. She found a potholder and ever so carefully began to slowly inch the heavy skillet from the burner. She didn't want to reach over the popping grease to try to turn off the knob. Out of nowhere came a gust of wind so strong slamming both the front and back screen doors and blowing in through the open bay windows in the kitchen knocking items off shelves causing Savannah to jump and scream all at once while holding onto the iron skillet, which caused it to tip a bit splattering hot grease seemingly pushed by the wind into Savannah's lovely face. Savannah let out another scream in agony and fell to the floor while the heavy cast iron skillet slammed on the floor next to her splattering even more grease on her sweet face.
Luke heard Savannah's screams and immediately came barreling through the back screen door. Mammaw knew something was terribly wrong. She soon smelled the smoke and burning odor and saw her precious grandchild on the floor writhing in pain. "Oh, dear Jesus, sweet Lord, comfort my precious grandchild!" cried Mammaw. She opened a drawer filled with dish towels and threw them on the floor so she would not slip on the grease. Mammaw gently gathered up Savannah in her arms and placed her in the large farmhouse kitchen sink and ran cold tap water on her face, all the while praying and gently laying hands on her beloved granddaughter.
After a short stay in the local hospital for third degree burns, Savannah was released. Savannah told Mammaw that she felt comforted and loved when she was holding her in her arms and praying while the cool water ran over her face. Now, whenever Mammaw hugged Savannah, Savannah could feel Mammaw's tiny frame trembling. Mammaw repeatedly told Savannah how sorry she was for not being there, and Savannah reassured her each time, with that same sweet smile, that everything was alright and she was fine. The emergency crew told her she did the best thing in running cool tap water over her face. She also gently reminded Mammaw that she is never going to allow her light to not shine brightly in this life no matter what, which was, after all, what Mammaw taught Savannah her entire life.
Homestead with Pond
Sunday dinners at Mammaw's were different from then on, for Mammaw never fried green tomatoes again. She had no desire to even tend to her garden to gather tomatoes. This broke Savannah's heart. Savannah took it upon herself and gathered the green tomatoes. She would take them to her Aunt Tess's café in town. Savannah told Mammaw how much she missed eating her fried green tomatoes, but all Mammaw did was lower her eyes and try to hold back tears.
Although Mammaw knew in her heart what happened was an accident, she could not bear to think of her darling granddaughter experiencing such pain and her beautiful face being scarred possibly for life.
Rolling Verdant Pastures
Early one morn, just at the break of dawn while Savannah slept, she felt the familiar, gentle and loving hands of Mammaw softly caressing her face and whispering everything is okay now my precious child. Savannah woke with a jolt and leaped out of bed and yelled to her Momma and Daddy that she must run down to Mammaw's. They tried to yell after her but she was already out the door. The fog was dense that morning hanging low above the pastures. She felt dew on her feet while running through the pasture. She had a terrible sense of urgency like never before. The closer she came to Mammaw's house, the sweet fragrance of lilac growing all around her house filled the air. Finally, she leaped up the steps to the front porch and ran through the screen door calling out for Mammaw, running from room to room. She saw Paw Paw Jackson just getting out of bed and asked him where Mammaw was and that she needed to find her. Paw Paw Jackson told her to slow down, but then they heard Luke howling a lowly howl out back.
Savannah's heart pounded ever so hard in her chest that she could hardly take a breath. The fog was still dense as she pushed through the back screen door. Savannah cried out to Mammaw, but all was silent except for Luke's whimpering. She followed the howling and then slowly her eyes grew wide with shocking innocence in seeing her Mammaw lying on the moist grass. There beside her was Luke with his head on Mammaw's chest. Savannah's feet became entangled with tomato vines chopped on the ground and smashed green tomatoes all about.
Listen for the Dog and then Child in the Background
Sweet Little Song
Savannah fell to her knees beside Mammaw and cried and cried for her beloved Mammaw. Paw Paw Jackson knelt down wrapping his arms around Savannah while his body heaved with grief, groaning for his cherished wife of 56 years.
The fog suddenly vanished and in the midst of sobs of grief, a sweet little song could be heard. Savannah looked up and a brilliant red flash caught the corner of her eye. Right there was a beautiful red bird looking down on them singing a sweet song. Savannah remembered what Mammaw told her about the red birds appearing to families who lost a loved one, reassuring them that their loved one was fine.
Savannah felt a calm fall down upon her like she had never known before, and she began to thank the good Lord for blessing her with such a precious Mammaw in this life.
Every day thereafter, Savannah actually had the sweetest dream before she woke. She would feel her Mammaw's gentle hands caressing her face and hear sweet whispers of love in her ears. She smelled the sweet fragrance of lilac fill her room. Each morning when she looked in the mirror, it seemed the scars on her face had faded just a bit.
The town folk and even those coming through town, never seemed to really notice the slowly-fading scars on Savannah’s face, for they were always drawn to her bright smile, sparkling eyes and gentle spirit. Savannah still tended to Mammaw’s green tomatoes but never ate one more fried green tomato the rest of her life. However, she did enjoy a wonderful healthier recipe she came up with by baking the green tomatoes, which soon became a big hit in town, as well as far and wide.
One gusty day, after Savannah had just finished up a big batch of “baked” fried green tomatoes, the front screen door of the café blew open and slammed closed again. Then she heard the lovely sound of a song bird and saw a red one sitting on the windowsill watching her.
Savannah loved to meander to and fro through the meadow each day at dawn and dusk, especially with the red song bird following along singing sweetly.
© Faith Reaper, April 19, 2015
Life is Beautiful when We Remember to Cherish each Moment
New Twist on an old Southern Favorite: "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
Enjoy their mild tartness and crunch.
Let's get Cooking These Simple yet Scrumptious Delights - "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes
Please Rate This "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
Sliced Green Tomatoes
Slice of Green Tomato in Mixture of Flour, Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
"Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe Ingredients
- 4 large and firm green tomatoes, sliced thick 1/2 inch slices
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- Olive Oil Cooking spray or olive oil, for drizzling
Floured Slice of Green Tomato Dipped in Mixture of Greek Yogurt and Buttermilk
Instructions for Making "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes
- Slice tomatoes 1/8 or up to 1/2 inch thick. (I like to cut my thick.)
- On a large plate mix flour, salt, and pepper.
- Place yogurt and buttermilk on a second plate, and Panko Bread Crumbs on a third plate.
- Coat tomatoes with the flour mixture, then the yogurt – buttermilk mixture (you may want to put the yogurt in a small bowl so that dipping them is easier), then the Panko Bread Crumbs.
- Place coated tomatoes on a cookie sheet and spray with Olive Oil Cooking Spray liberally on both sides or drizzle them on both sides with olive oil.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes on one side then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with extra salt and serve warm.
Floured and Battered Slice of Green Tomato Dipped in Bread Crumbs
Drizzled with Olive Oil and Ready to Bake
Please Enjoy Your Double Serving of "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes!
Olive Oil Spray Actually Coats more Evenly for Baking
In lieu of drizzling the olive oil, I would have used the spray olive oil for a more even coating of the oil, which helps with the browning of the "baked" fried green tomatoes.
Fully Grown Firm Green Tomato
Olive Oil Cooking Spray is Great for This Recipe
Extra Tips for Making "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes
Be sure to use large firm green tomatoes.
I like to cut my tomatoes a bit thicker than most at about ½ inch thick.
I still would have mixed the Greek yogurt and buttermilk in a bowl until thickened, but then transferred the mixture to a plate to thin out the mixture for a more even coating and not so thick.
I love to use Parchment Paper when baking for more even baking and non-sticking. So, I lined the baking sheet with parchment paper.
In addition to drizzling the olive oil on the battered and dipped green tomatoes before baking, I realized once I started baking, that I needed to use spray olive cooking oil for a more even coating of the olive oil. This helped the tomatoes to brown more quickly and evenly on both sides.
I found I had to bake them for a good bit longer than 10 minutes on each side so that they looked golden brown. It does not hurt to bake them longer. All ovens vary on their temperatures. You will know when they are just right.
These hold their crunch, even the next day.
Benefits of Green Tomatoes
Why Green Tomatoes?
They are rich in antioxidants and B vitamins and may even help fight cancer.
A large green tomato has 43 milligrams of vitamin C, providing half the daily requirement for men and nearly 60 percent for women. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. It is beneficial to eat green tomatoes with an iron source, such as meat, poultry, fish, spinach or an iron supplement.
It also has 58 micrograms of vitamin A, giving you close to one-tenth of your recommended daily intake.
They can help protect your immune system and prevent premature aging.
They are also loaded with Vitamin K and B-Complex Vitamins. B-complex vitamins help your body use protein, fat and carbohydrates to produce energy.
They also play a role in the production of red blood cells.
One large green tomato provides about 10 percent of your daily requirement for the B vitamins thiamin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid, as well as a little less than 10 percent of the riboflavin and niacin you need each day.
A green tomato also has one-fifth of your recommended daily intake for vitamin K, a nutrient that further benefits your blood by helping it to clot properly.
They supplement your diet with 5 to 10 percent of your recommended daily intake for iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese, minerals that benefit your blood, nerve function, bones and muscles.
They also provide 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, helping to satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling full.
For only 42 calories, a green tomato supplies a wide range of nutrients.
Green tomatoes contain an alkaloid called tomatine, which may effectively fight cancer cells, according to researchers who published a study in "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2009.
Tomato plants use their tomatine content to combat bacteria, fungi, viruses and insects, but tomatine also appears to offer anticarcinogenic benefits.
Upon comparing extracts, the researchers found that extracts from high-tomatine green tomatoes strongly inhibited human cancer cell lines of the breast, colon, stomach and liver.
Resource: Healthy Eating SF Gate
Green Tomato Plants
Planning a Large Family Gathering
If you want to serve these at a planned event, such as a large family gathering, you will need to make sure they are fully mature, without turning red. To do this, you will need to spread out planting for several weeks.
Green Tomatoes are all the Rage
Nowadays, chefs everywhere (not just the South) are realizing the huge possibilities of cooking with green tomatoes.
Have you ever eaten the healthier version of "Baked" Fried Green Tomatoes?
Irondale Café - Fannie Flagg is the niece of the original owner.
Situated beside an old train station, the Irondale Cafe isn't your typical meat-and-three joint. Fans of the book, Fried Green Tomatoes — and its subsequent Academy Award-nominated film — know that this place was the inspiration for Fannie Flagg's story of love, loss and life in the South. Today, diners still take in the squeals and rumbles of passing trains, and the restaurant continues to churn out Southern favorites, frying nearly 100 pounds of green tomatoes each day.
Location of the Irondale Cafe
Y'all Come Back
I do hope y'all will be able to stop by Tess's Southern Hospitality Café on Sunday afternoons. Our apologies for we will be closed next Sunday due to a family celebration. Please do return to see what's cooking. There's sure to be an interesting side to go along with the Special of the Day. Next time, we are planning on a side of flash fiction with a satisfying dessert to please one's palette. All are welcome. God bless.