Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fine breakfasts of the past

I've written before about my fascination with breakfast.  I like to eat a good, healthy, filling breakfast, but am continually frustrated in my efforts to identify what that might be composed of -- and to find same in my kitchen when I get up in the morning.  I don't eat sweet things, which rules out a large portion of the "standard" breakfast foods: donuts, muffins, cereal with sugar, waffles with syrup. 

But every now and then you run into a delicious combination.  I found one on a cruise ship earlier this year, and to my great delight, found it repeated every three or four days.

Here's another one that showed up now and then on the rotation.  I know, I know, these would all be healthier without the bacon, but I don't think life would be worth living without bacon.

Unfortunately, since returning home I haven't figured out how to make either of these breakfasts reliably appear on my plate in the morning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good news, bad news

The good news is that our local public school system has a program aimed at low-income children who get free breakfast and lunch at school.  Realizing that many of these children don't eat well at home on weekends, the schools and our food bank send backpacks of food home on Friday afternoon, enough for six meals.  Kids bring the empty backpacks back to school on Monday morning to be refilled for the next week.

And the even better news is that the program is being expanded from 3,800 to 35,000, all the eligible elementary school students in the Jefferson County Public School System.

The bad news is what goes in the backpacks: granola bars, peanut butter, tuna, crackers, macaroni and cheese, cereal, juice boxes.  Or more to the point, what doesn't go in the backpacks: no fruit, no vegetables.

We know that many poor people live in "food deserts," areas of town without decent grocery stores.  As a result, it's difficult to get fruit and vegetables, even though we know they are essential to a healthy diet. Louisville has gotten various federal grants in recent years to help neighborhood stores install coolers so they can carry produce, so it's not that our local officials aren't aware of this problem.

Yet when it's time to stuff those backpacks, we're buying the food from Sysco, all processed and hermetically sealed products, with thousand-year shelf lives, the kind of edible foodlike substances you find in vending machines. 

How much trouble would it be to put two apples, two bananas, maybe a tomato or a bag of baby carrots into each backpack?  And maybe a nice whole-wheat roll instead of a package of crackers?

I know that crackers, peanut butter and a juice box are vastly better for a child than nothing.  And the menu is blessedly free of candy, potato chips and beef jerky.  But I also know that there's a long way to go before we hit the high end of the nutritional spectrum.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hoppin John

I am deeply and permanently in debt to George Plager, the master photographer who has taken all my quilt photos for several years and gotten me into a lot of really good shows.  Periodically I try to make inadequate payments on that debt by taking him out to dinner.  But this last time around, instead of going to a nice restaurant he wanted me to make Hoppin John.

I learned about Hoppin John on one of our many trips to Charleston SC, and then found it in The Joy of Cooking and made it at home.  Although it's humble fare -- basically just beans and rice -- it's such a wonderful recipe that I have served it for many a party, delivered it as post-funeral fare to bereaved families, and whipped it up for our own suppers more times than I can count.

If you're unfamiliar with this great dish, follow along -- maybe you'll want to make it too.

Although you get only one pot dirty, this is a two-part recipe.  First you cook up a batch of beans (in this case, the good old Southern staple, black-eyed peas) with seasonings.  You decant them into a holding bowl, where they sit while you do Part Two: a batch of rice pilaf in the oven.  When the rice is done, you take the pot out of the oven, dump in the black-eyed peas, mix, and stick them back in the oven to get everything nice and hot.  That's it.

Part One:  You can cook up the black-eyed peas early in the afternoon of your dinner, or a day or two in advance.  Your first decision is what format to purchase your peas in.  You can buy them dried in a bag (that form takes a while longer to cook) or fresh in the produce department (but in my grocery, only around New Year's).  My preference is to buy them frozen in a bag. 

Make a soup-like concoction with beans, diced onion, diced ham, dried thyme and water to cover, and cook it till the beans are as done as you like them, usually about a half hour if you start with fresh or frozen peas.  The proportions don't really matter -- heck, it's soup -- but I figure two big onions, 4 ounces or so of ham, and two 12-ounce bags of frozen beans.  Beans always need salt, but I like to use Penzey's Galena Street seasoning, which is salt plus some nice other spices and herbs.  Add plenty of thyme, maybe as much as a teaspoon, because that is the major flavoring agent in the recipe.  My recipe also calls for some red pepper flakes, but I usually omit them because the Galena Street has some heat to it.

When the beans are done, pour them through a colander or sieve to separate out the liquid from the solids.  I usually save the liquids in a big Pyrex measuring cup, and stash the beans in a bowl.  If you're doing this the previous day, stick everything in the fridge.

If you have used a dutch oven or cooking pot that can go into the oven, just rinse it out and use it for the second part of the recipe.  If you don't have an oven-proof pot, you'll still need to keep the stove-top pot for the first step of Part Two, then transfer the hot food to a baking dish.

Part Two:  This is the only time you need to measure, because you want the rice pilaf to come out fairly dry.  You'll need 1  1/2 cups of long-grain white rice, and 2  3/4 cups of the liquid you drained off your peas.  If you don't have enough liquid, add water or chicken broth to get to that quantity.

About an hour and a quarter before dinner, turn the oven to 325.  If the beans have been in the refrigerator, take them out and let them get to room temperature.

Put your pot back on the stove and cook some bacon that you have cut into small pieces.  I use about four ounces, but it doesn't really matter.  Get it brown and crispy over low heat, and then pull the bacon out and put it on a plate.  Keep the bacon fat in the pan.

Put the rice in the pot with the bacon fat and cook it over high heat for a few minutes, stirring, to get every grain of rice coated with fat.  If there doesn't seem to be enough bacon fat, add a little butter or olive oil.  (Don't worry, there's no such thing as too much.)  Before the rice starts to brown, add the pea liquid.  Bring everything to a simmer, then cover the pot and put it in the oven.

Check the rice in 20-25 minutes; when the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through, take the pot out of the oven.  Add the beans and the bacon, stir, and put the pot back in the oven for five minutes or so till the beans get hot.  Then turn the oven off and let the food sit on residual heat for at least ten minutes and as much as a half hour.  Just before you serve, add a good amount of chopped parsley.

If you have pea liquid left over, not to worry.  Put it in the freezer till the next time you're making soup; it will serve as pre-seasoned stock with whatever kind of ingredients you choose.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Price check, please

On the road last week, I stopped at a big grocery store for lunch.  I like being able to get salad and vegetables at the ready-to-eat counter, not just standard fast food, and it's usually faster and cheaper than eating at a restaurant. 

I know that pricing can be erratic in such establishments -- either up or down -- and so I often look first at the price tags and then at the actual food.  Nevertheless, my eyebrows went up a bit to find this array of food in the case, each for the same price of $5.99 a pound:

Who knew that cucumbers were just as expensive as chicken?  I bought cole slaw instead.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Secret ingredients

Don't you love discovering a secret ingredient?  Something that you would have never thought to add to a favorite dish, but after you taste it, you realize it was a really good idea?

One of my top ten in this category is black olives as an ingredient in minestrone, or any similar vegetable soup. 

I remember exactly when and where I discovered this secret.  We were in Cincinnati for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, and on the way home we stopped at Pompilio's, a venerable old Italian restaurant in Newport, KY.  In the minestrone we discovered the secret ingredient and loved it.  Since then, I've often added olives to my soup.  They add a little salt and a lot of concentrated flavor, and they look pretty.

Pitted kalamatas, which I can usually get at the olive bar in my local grocery, are perfect; sometimes I cut them into halves, other times serve them whole.  If I can't find pitted, I'll sometimes get another fancy black olive and cut the pits out; it takes a while, but you need less because the pit-full varieties tend to be saltier and stronger.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

All choked up

Artichokes thrive in cool weather and we're starting to see some beautiful ones in the market.  Our favorite way to eat chokes is the simplest -- cut off the sharp pointy ends, scrub them, stick them into a plastic bag still wet from the rinse, and microwave for a while.  On my 25-year-old oven, I do 14 or 15 minutes on high, but I suspect it would take less time in a more modern appliance.

Then eat by hand, dipping each meaty petal into some nice sauce.

This is a messy process.  Your hands get wet from the water still clinging to the petals.  And after you've chewed the meaty pulp off, you have to pile up the stringy remains of the petal on your plate or in a big garbage dish.  We can't imagine doing anything else at the same time, so the artichokes are the first course, all by themselves on a plate.  After we've finished, we return to the kitchen, wash our hands, serve up the rest of the meal on a new plate and sit down again.

You might be wondering what's in the creamy yellow sauce.  I make this by eye, with approximately equal parts of dijon mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Shake it up to blend everything together, and it will keep forever in the fridge if you don't eat it first, which you will.  It's also good on brussels sprouts, green beans, sliced tomatoes and probably a lot of other vegetables; a spoonful peps up your regular salad dressing. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The mystery food project

We are blessed with a lot of kitchen storage space.  Shortly after we moved into this house 25 years ago, I decided we needed more cabinets, so I installed a whole wall of them in our TV room, right outside the kitchen door.  Some of that space is used for lightbulbs and paper products, but most is food. 

The flip side to having lots of cabinets is the potential for accumulation of food that has long outlived its official shelf life.  And sometimes mystery food that you aren't even sure when and why it arrived, or what you planned to do with it.  It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but today you wonder why.

For some people this is not a dilemma.  When they come upon superannuated mystery food, they throw it out without a second thought.  I am not one of these people.

Fortunately, I have had excellent experience with superannuated food.  My conspiracy theory of the world includes a section on expiration dates, which I believe to be a plot by manufacturers to get you to throw out perfectly good stuff and buy more.

Recently my husband and I were discussing what might happen in a global disaster, since the worldwide food supply chain is only a few days long.  He opined that we could eat for a year on what was in our cupboards.  I thought that was an overstatement, but had to admit that we do own a lot of food.

And I decided to embark upon a project to eat it up.

I'm not going to try to eat from the cupboard every day (although we obviously could, for a while if not for a year).  But I am going to try to use up some albatross food every week.

To start off, here's a bag of bread mix that somebody brought me as a hostess gift a long time ago. 

Yes, you read it right -- 2003.  But it baked up nicely and even rose as it should.

I thought it was kind of pedestrian as bread goes, but my 12-year-old granddaughter and all the men thought it was wonderful, and the kitchen certainly smelled of cinnamon all afternoon.  A couple of slices got Zoe through three hours of arduous math homework, and helped the guys survive till a late dinner.  To date nobody has died, which is good because now the project can continue to another week.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bad ideas in breakfast

I spend a lot of time thinking about breakfast.  I know that in my lifetime I have gone through many phases of favorite breakfast foods, adopting some product or preparation as my default and eating it every day for weeks or months.  At least before I retired, breakfast was one of the most stressful meals of the day.  Being getting-up-challenged, I was always running late, always under pressure, always willing to trade off a decent breakfast for an extra ten minutes in bed.  Even when I took the time to eat something, I rarely sat down to do so. 

I know this pattern is not a healthy one.  Now that I live a life of alleged leisure, I eat better at breakfast, if only because I can take my time about it.  But I'm still interested in (and often concerned about) the things that the Big Food Industry tries to sell us for breakfast.

Here's what I found on prominent display the other day in our deli/bakery department:

I looked more closely to see what this product was.

"A healthy and delicious way to start your day" -- well, maybe delicious, but hardly healthy.  Check out the label:

How about those carbs?  If you're trying to lose weight, this could be your entire daily dose of carbohydrate, or even twice your daily dose. 

By contrast, a big bowl of steelcut oatmeal has 27 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar -- half the fat of the breakfast cookie, and only 5% of the sugar.

One cookie has 320 calories, with 100 of them from fat.  By contrast, the oatmeal has 150 calories, with 25 of them from fat.  Even if you pour some decadent "fat-free half-and-half" over the top, you'll add 50 calories, with zero from fat.

Heck, you might as well just eat a regular oatmeal cookie -- 218 calories, 80 of them from fat, and a tad less sodium.

But of course, it's hard to eat a bowl of oatmeal in the car while you're driving.  Or to keep it in your desk drawer for days when you arrive at work unfed and cranky.

Nevertheless, I think this is on balance a bad idea.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pretty peppers

We found these peppers at the farmers market the other day -- don't think I've ever come across any that weren't flat color.  You might almost think it was an apple, with the beautifully mottled color.

I wish it had tasted as good as it looked.  Somehow we've had very few wonderful sweet red peppers this year, the kind that makes you want to just eat them out of hand.  Instead we usually open them up, have a taste, and say "let's cook them."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in September

Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving early to accommodate my son's big fall vacation.   This year we did it again, again at the service of transcontinental travel -- but with a different twist.  My brother and his family, who live in Australia, were visiting, and I had the brainstorm to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for our big get-together. 

I know that they like to celebrate the holiday on its actual date with other US expats, but have a hard time finding the wherewithal to do so.  Turkey is not a popular food in Australia.  It's available in winter, but in summertime, people aren't all that thrilled about having the oven on all day for a traditional roast, even at Christmas.  To get a whole turkey in late November requires a special order and you can pay $10 a pound or more. 

So we did the full Monty with a 24-pound turkey (so big it almost overflowed my huge industrial-strength roasting pan), stuffing, mashed potatoes, eight cups of gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and of course zucchetta and fresh tomatoes, not often seen on Thanksgiving menus.  For dessert, a choice of mincemeat pie or watermelon.

And for days afterward, turkey sandwiches.  They got on the plane satisfied.  And we get to do it again in just a few months!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Small fish in a small pond

I read an interesting story this morning about fish, yet another piece of evidence in the case against eating too much (if you hadn't already come in with a guilty verdict).  Seems that farmed fish grow much more efficiently when they're young, but as they get older -- and bigger -- they get more sluggish about converting their food to mass.

In other words, the bigger the fish, the more wasteful its use of resources.

So if you buy farmed fish, and you care about sustainability, and you want to put your mouth where your mouth is, go for the smaller fillets, not the big slab.  And as a nice side benefit, you eat less protein (which we rich Americans get way more of than we need) and have more room for vegetables.  Here's a nice plate of food that I think would get me good marks on that pop quiz, even if it is an all white/brown meal. 

By contrast, if you are going for wild-caught fish, you should avoid the smaller ones, which often have not reached full reproductive capability.  Eating them would be shooting yourself in the foot, threatening future generations of fish sandwiches.

More to think about, if you weren't already ethically fraught by visiting the grocery store.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Airport insecurity

At the airport, I cleared the metal detector, put my shoes back on, looked for my bag -- and realized it was still under the X-ray machine with three solemn guys scrutinizing it.  Oh rats.  Sure enough, they had to do a bag check.

I figured I knew what they were looking for --

the small embroidery scissors.  I was ready to politely point out that TSA regulations allow scissors with blades less than four inches long.

But no.  What they found in the bag, and sent back through the X-ray, was this:

Yes, a zucchetta.  Sometimes when they grow too big we've considered using them as clubs, but never thought of them as TSA-certified deadly weapons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Art food

Don't you expect that food at an art reception will look like art?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Out of season

On Friday I received my new copy of Fine Cooking, a magazine that I generally love.  But it did nothing to raise my spirits this time.  Outside it was 102 degrees and inside we were dragging around, thankful for air conditioning but too hot and cranky to want anything but watermelon for dinner. 

But for Fine Cooking, it's Thanksgiving!  Yes, this is the October/November issue, never mind that it arrived on September 2. 

Haven't these people heard of immediate gratification?  There was nothing in the magazine that I even wanted to think about until the temperature drops 40 degrees.  Besides roast turkey, we got articles on brussels sprouts, chili and beets.  By the time fall actually comes, this magazine will be long disappeared into my piles of lost ships.

While I was leafing through the magazine I came upon a recipe that mystified me.  It called for "1 tsp. green cardamom pods, cracked, black seeds removed and pods discarded."  What's left?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Garnish your way to happiness

The other day I had some friends over for lunch and had chopped up a handful of parsley to put on top of everybody's bowl of soup.  Which I did a lot more obtrusively than I had planned, since I forgot to do the garnish as I dished out the bowls, and so had to bring my little green bits to the table and strew them into the soup in full view of everybody.  Not the savoir faire one expects from a world class chef.

My friend Felice, while waiting for her parsley to be sprinkled, told a great story about a young friend who just happens to be a world class chef, or at least a guy who owns three restaurants, which is pretty accomplished in my book.  Some time ago he was chatting to her family about his life in the food biz, and announced, "Chicks dig guys that garnish."  That remark impressed the family so much that it became a mantra.

My son the cook might appreciate this concept, except that his wife and daughter are already sufficiently thrilled by the simple fact that he cooks, let alone garnishes.  And my unmarried son the non-cook, whose fridge hasn't held actual food since he bought the house seven years ago, wouldn't know a garnish from a radish so I won't even bother passing it along.

I'm not that hot on garnishes per se, at least not the kind you find in restaurants, which often strike me as gratuitous, if gorgeous.  For instance, you're not going to eat the leaf out of this magnificent bento box.

But I do love parsley, for its taste as much as for its greenness.  We're having a good crop of it this year, and it's such a pleasure to keep a bouquet on the kitchen counter ready for improving whatever I'm cooking.  In a bit of water, it will keep for days, thus sparing me a trek into chiggerland in the 100-degree heat.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Iron food for iron men

We had the Ironman Triathlon today, and I happened to be wandering about near the refreshment stand shortly before the first competitors ran past.  Perhaps you wonder what kind of portable food is available for athletes who start a race at 7 am and may not finish until midnight: not just ice water or Gatorade, but lunch and maybe even dinner.

Here's what I saw:

Bananas and grapes.  Pretzels and cookies.  Power bars (the volunteer confided, "Looks like mystery meat to me!").  Several kinds of drinks, including cola.  Not a bad spread, but I wonder how you run and peel a banana at the same time?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A glimmer of hope from the garden

We've been having a lousy year in the garden -- still only a couple of tomatoes and zucchetta instead of the huge bounty that you're supposed to have in August.  A week ago we scored big -- my friend K got sick of me whining about my tomatoes and brought me a huge haul of goodies from her garden (and even a bit from her neighbor's garden).

That got us through the week very happily, but now we're back to whining.

But we did have one good harvest: enough basil for a big batch of pesto.  I wrote last fall about how I process basil and freeze it.  It was nice to get a good pesto/pasta meal out of the garden, plus extra to put away for later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More watermelons

I told you last week that we were going back to the farmer's market, and that one of us would stand on the curb with TWO seeded watermelons this time.  That's exactly how it worked out, and the watermelon is excellent.  (Peaches and eggplant in the plastic bag were excellent too.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

A formerly favorite restaurant

Some restaurants you love because you never know what you will eat -- the daily special will be something exotic and wonderful, or the regular menu is so varied that you order something different each time you go.  Other restaurants you love because you know exactly what you will eat.  I have one restaurant like that where I always have the hamburger, another where I always have the steak, a third where I always have the chicken salad sandwich.

And we have our favorite Chinese buffet, where we go to eat vegetables.  Or at least we used to.

I've always been proud of my resistance to fast/junk food; I am not tempted by a quarter-pounder or chicken nuggets, not fooled by the salad offerings, able to go years without an order of those marvelous McDonald's french fries.  I guess my fast/junk food susceptibility has been transferred to the Chinese buffet.  When we're on the road, searching for a place to have lunch in an unfamiliar town, we always go for the Chinese buffet over the Burger King, and at home, when we feel the need for a lot of vegetables prepared by somebody else, we always go to Jumbo.

I know that Chinese food can be bad for you if you try.  Some dishes have a lot of fat, especially faux-Chinese stuff like crab rangoon, egg rolls and fried rice.  White rice isn't particularly nutritious.  But we've always believed that if you go for the vegetables, and pass up the sweet-and-sour pork, you can eat a fairly nutritious meal at a Chinese buffet.

still the best hot and sour soup in town, and I didn't take any of the fried noodles

Our favorite Chinese buffet became our favorite because of the bok choy.  They always had a tray of baby bok choy, steamed without sauce.  You could put five or six of those little guys on your plate, bathe them with a little sauce from the Mongolian beef and a couple of bites of chicken, and chow down with maximal health benefit.  Most days there was a tray of sauteed green beans, and you could augment your plate by picking some cauliflower and onions out of the spicy chicken or the seafood delight. 

a healthy meal from the past

But we haven't seen any bok choy at our formerly favorite restaurant in months.  Last week there were no green beans either, and not even a tray of vegetables with tofu.  I took lots of broccoli out of the chicken with broccoli, but the meal was a big disappointment in terms of vegetables.

Meanwhile, what's on the buffet?  Pizza, mashed potatoes, fried shrimp, soft-serve ice cream, apple pie, non-Chinese food driving the vegetables out to pasture in the culinary equivalent of Gresham's Law.  We may well be on the lookout for a new favorite restaurant.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Watermelon heaven

Look at this beautiful hunk of watermelon.  Look at the little black things scattered through it -- children, they're called seeds.

In the olden days, all watermelons had seeds.  Dealing with them was an integral part of eating the watermelon.  Perhaps you would swallow them, causing consternation among friends who thought you would die and/or get pregnant as a result.  If you were outside, you would spit the seeds into the undergrowth, perhaps in competition with your brother for who could get the most distance.  The world record seed spit, in case you don't follow that sport, is 75 feet 2 inches.

But today, seeds are becoming obsolete.  Who even knows these days why babies' swimsuits have black spots on the red??

Even though seedless melons are more difficult and expensive to grow, they are taking over the world.  In 2003, 42% of the watermelons sold in grocery stores had seeds, but last year that was down to 16%.  Apparently people want to buy seedless because they serve melons cut up in fruit salad, not in a big hunk on the plate or in the hand.  High-end chefs like seedless too so they can serve melon in fancy preparations where seed disposal would be too time-consuming (if done by the kitchen staff) or low-end (if done by the diners).

Nevertheless, many foodies believe that the old-fashioned watermelon tastes better than the new varieties.  I agree with them.  For the last several years we watched the seeded melons disappear from our grocery store.  Some years we'd find only one or two loads of seeded all summer.  Curiously, the seeded melons were usually priced higher than the seedless, which makes little sense, but we'd buy them anyway.  Last year we found no seeded melons at all.  We'd occasionally buy a seedless melon but it was never as good as we remembered from the past.

Saturday we were at the farmer's market and asked, as we were checking out, whether the watermelons over in the corner had seeds.  The dark green ones didn't, but the striped ones did.  We took the biggest striped melon we could find, and toted it with some difficulty the long block to where we'd parked.  And it is magnificent!

By the way, I've heard people badmouth watermelon because of its high glycemic index.  Research, perhaps fueled by wishful thinking, led me past the scare stories and to the nutritionists who point out that yes, the carbs in watermelon are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, but there are so few of them -- it's mostly water -- that your glucose level will barely stir.  

So next week we'll be back to the farmer's market hoping for striped melons.  And one of us will stand on the sidewalk with TWO melons while the other one brings the car around.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Totally tomatoless

I don't know what's going on with tomatoes but we're having a mysterious impasse.  Our plants have been full of green tomatoes for weeks, but they never turn red.  We had some Sun Sugar baby tomatoes early last month, but nothing since then.  Meanwhile our big tomatoes sit there, green as grass.

We've had plenty of heat and sunshine, which I thought were necessary for tomatoes (maybe we've had too much?).  We've had plenty of rain, which we don't always get in July. The plants have set fruit (often a problem in extreme heat) and the fruit has gotten big and beautiful.  But not red.

A few of the tomatoes ended up like this one, half-eaten on the driveway, ravaged by squirrels or chipmunks or some other kind of varmint.  If they'd just eat the whole thing I'd be less resentful, but no, they only eat a bite or two and leave the rest there to taunt us.

But most of our tomatoes are sitting there waiting for some kind of signal from the universe, and I've heard similar stories from other people.  Meanwhile my friend K is drowning in gorgeous red tomatoes and I'm jealous.  If not for the farmers' market we would be totally tomatoless.

I've usually thought of green tomatoes as a fall dish, when the vines are full but you know you'd better eat them before the killing frost.  Eating green tomatoes in July always seemed like shooting yourself in the foot -- it only postponed the moment when you got to eat the first wonderful red ones.  But I may have to change my plan this year.  If we don't eat them green, who knows when or if we'll be able to eat them at all!