From the Backyard… Green Tomatoes and a Captive Audience

Green Tomatoes

In a panic, we picked all the green tomatoes off the vines. Didn’t want freezing temperatures to render them ugly and inedible. Thirty or so pounds of unripe fruit got divided up between our three households, and then the problem was: What to do with them?

I made green tomato chutney, a product I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased in my life. What is chutney, anyway? Think of it as a cross between salsa and preserves. It’s a sweet, spicy, vinegary concoction, slightly thick and gooey from prolonged cooking time. It’s a condiment meant to enhance meats or grains or crackers. I made seven quarts of it and canned the whole batch in little jelly jars. The next question: What to do with all of them?

Sometimes it pays to have a captive audience. On Monday nights I join ten others in the home of a famous and beloved writer who lets us all read our current work for group critique and commentary. This could be either comforting or excruciatingly confronting as we each expose our as-yet-unpublished stories, our various levels of expertise in the craft of writing, our most private thoughts. We ease the potential pain by eating and drinking—cake and brownies and cheese and crackers and olives and ice cream and whatever other scrumptious delectable anyone brings in, along with self-controlled amounts of libations.

We are a diverse group. We startle each other with our brief pages. We cajole and support. We accept.

So it was only natural that I bring in a dozen little jars of chutney and foist them off onto my compatriots, whether they ever usually eat the stuff or not. I’m waiting for the reviews.

About Ann Hutton

Freelance writer Ann Hutton lives in upstate New York’s lush Hudson Valley. Her work has appeared in the Catskill Mountain Region Guide, Hudson Valley Magazine, Kaatskill Life Magazine, Green Door Magazine, Upstate House and Chronogram, and in Ulster Publishing’s community weeklies: Woodstock Times, Saugerties Times, Kingston Times, and New Paltz Times. A graduate of Union Institute and University at Vermont College, Ann is currently writing a motorcycle memoir with the working title Sitting in Motion: One Woman’s Midlife Adventure on Two Wheels.

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