“The food sucks,” claimed my dad when he called from the nursing home this week.
“The tomatoes are hard and pink. Nothing has any taste to it.”
As many of you will recall, my dad is the main caregiver for his partner, who has an acquired brain injury. He has spent more than 10 years caring for her at home. Due to his declining health, the doctors advised that he was no longer able to manage at home. In the spring, his partner was moved to a nursing home. It was a long and difficult summer while we waited for a bed for him in the same residence.
Recently, Dad was reunited with his partner in the nursing home. It was the best day and the worst day. Seeing her smile when he walked through the door with his bags was priceless. He is her rock. She is his everything. Just to hear one another’s voice again in the night and to know the other is okay is what each needs. It was good day.
This was to be their new home. When I went to leave that day, I could see the fear in my dad’s eyes. His hand trembled in mine as I said goodbye. I could see Dad wanted to call the whole thing off. I couldn’t blame him. He was happy to be together again. This was what he had fought so hard to avoid, but the day had come.
I visit regularly, and always try to bring over his favorite sweet things.
We speak daily. He enjoys his food. He loves to cook. He grumbles at the quality of food in the nursing home. Today, his call is about the tomatoes. Right across the road from the nursing home is a farmer’s vegetable stand. He often visited it in the past for fresh produce. I stop occasionally and pick up flowers for their room.
“If I could I’d walk there. I’d purchase the biggest fresh tomato,” he says. “Red and juicy. I would slice it; top it with bacon for a toasted tomato sandwich. That’s all I want. Tomatoes in here are terrible. Does no one know how to tell a ripe tomato?” There is almost nothing better than a perfectly ripe tomato. With so many heirloom varieties available, knowing when to pick can be difficult. They can often be different colours, at times even stripped or speckled.
The best way to determine if a tomato is ripe is by checking the flesh, colour and touch. The skin should have turned from a dull matte to glossy and slightly shiny. Also, it should be fairly deep in colour and give a little when touched. Although, keep in mind it should be tender, not mushy and soft.
A perfectly ripe tomato, warm from the sun, tastes like heaven. As kids we would pick them from the garden and eat them right there where we were standing. They smelled like the sun and dirt. The fat juicy ones would drip down your cheek. If you were lucky, a whole handful of cherry tomatoes could be squished in your mouth before you got caught.
Like the old song goes, if we ever part it will break my heart. Dad will never leave. This is his new home. They know they need each other.
This week, I will be taking with me the best toasted bacon and tomato sandwich I can muster up, because goodness knows what the day will bring.
Dad’s Bacon Tomato Sandwich Ingredients: 2 slices of French bread cut to desired thickness.
Mayonnaise Bacon – crisped Molasses and Black Pepper bacon – by Seed to Sausage 1 large ripe tomato Salt and Pepper to taste Directions. Cook the bacon in a small frying pan or in the oven until brown and crisp. Let stand on a plate with a paper towel and pat the excess grease away.
Slice the tomatoes an inch thick. Toast and butter the bread. Spread both pieces of toast with mayonnaise. (I often add 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado to make an avocado mayonnaise.) Layer the sliced tomatoes with rashers of bacon on the bread base and top with bread or leave top off for an open face sandwich. Season with salt and pepper to
taste. Enjoy tomato season! If you have a recipe or a restaurant suggestion please email me at ladydinesalot.com or follow my blog at Ladydinesalot.com or on facebook.