What Has Your Compost Done for You Lately?

You say tomato, I say heirloom tom-AH-to."Kicking and screaming" is my answer when my city friends gasp and clarify, "You moved to the suburbs?"

When I close my eyes and picture myself in twenty years, I picture myself with a fresh haircut, slightly grey, donning uber-cool reading glasses hung from a beaded chain around my neck, walking through the bustle of Manhattan on my way to a play reading where they serve chilled Chardonnay in the lobby. But for now, I drive carpool in a crossover vehicle in suburban New Jersey and ensure that my elderly diabetic dog gets his insulin shots twice daily and that my children eat something green sometimes - and, the truth is, I'm happy. Despite all that kicking and screaming, I like living in a house. Plus, there are bonuses to a suburban life that I'd never considered.

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Like heirloom tomatoes grown from my kitchen trash can.

Stop. Ew. Gross. I know. But ... hang on. Hear me out.

When we transitioned from City Folks to Suburbanites, we decided to really go for it. We installed a white picket fence in our backyard, we removed the temperature controlled wine cellar that came with the house and opted for a primary colored playroom instead, we high-fived over our seemingly excessive storage space, and ... we decided to compost.

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Waves of Martha Stewart energy channeled through my newly domesticated self as I dumped compost-friendly leftovers into my countertop composting bin. My boys quickly learned that their peels and crusts had a new home in the compost bin in the backyard -- which was, for our first year, totally revolting.

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But cut to year two. Now, this is what I'm talking about. Fresh dirt, rich in nutrients, emerged from our compost bin this spring. Our yucky old oatmeal, eggshells, and banana peels evolved seemingly effortlessly into soil that could now nourish a garden! Hmmm ... a garden? C'mon Martha, don't fail me now!

We planted a tomato garden in the soil from our compost bin, and tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we ate the most delicious, suburban, heirloom tomato salad.

I miss Riverside Park and the Rite Aid on my old corner. I miss the ease of ordering in cuisine from any culture in under 30 minutes. I miss surprise street fairs and walking by the beauty of Lincoln Center on my way to something else. But, I have heirloom tomatoes made outta trash. And that is something you don't see every day in New York City.

I take comfort knowing that one day, I'll be that lady with stylish glasses and a fresh haircut. For now, I take comfort in tomatoes.

Photo: MNapolean/Creative Commons

Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe

4 heirloom tomatoes
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 bunch basil


Slice tomatoes right before serving, and put them on a platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and pour olive oil and balsamic over the tomatoes. Sprinkle basil leaves on top.

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