Tomato Blessings

August 22, 2011

For Jennifer Perillo, who gives me courage.

thank you trent for capturing my beautiful tomatoes

I am a fraud.  Well, not really, but I advocate fresh food and a farm to table lifestyle and yet I have never planted my own garden.  At least, not as an adult.  Of course, there have been classroom projects that experimented with water, dirt and seeds.   The results varied.  In college there was even a brief period of growing window sill herbs.  Again, results varied.

I have been spending a fair amount of time with food enthusiasts.  Cooks and bakers who write about the soul of food; stories and anecdotes concerning the many ways food touches our lives.   Many nights have found me under the covers, browsing food blogs until the wee hours of the night.  Inspiration has been abundant.  I have been called to action.

My first vegetable garden was planted this May.  My husband found organic, heirloom tomato seedlings not too far from our house.  We planted seeds.  We watered and nourished the soil.  We waited.  The plants have been prolific.  My youngest, Eliott searches each day for the newest, ripened fruit.  There has been a tremendous sense of pride with every serving of salad.

The tomatoes are a blessing. In this house, we count blessings.

I am reminded of how the delicate process of life unfolds.

The food blogging community was devastated by the very recent passing of Jennifer Perillo’s husband, Mikey.  It was sudden.  I know it hit hard.   I could not count Jennifer as a personal friend. We followed each other on Twitter and I read many of her posts.  She is a part of something bigger than a one on one friendship.  We are community.

I heard she was making tomato jam.  I imagined our tomato plants were deeply connected, like Aspen trees, sharing the same root with new trees growing for thousands of years from the same seedling.

Only courage can guide us through loss felt so profoundly.  Jennifer has courage.  She’s taking care of her seedlings.  She’s casting light on memories and nourishing her family.  I’m guessing this batch of jam will be epic!

I’m thinking of making some myself to save for a winter evening when I need to feel the spirit of summer and remember what a blessing my tomato plants delivered.  Here’s her recipe: Tomato Jam

In the meantime, I’m donating to a fund for Jennie through Bloggers Without Borders.  It’s time to give back to the community that has inspired me to launch Soul on a Platter and gave me a space to belong to something bigger than myself.

Also, check out these other posts to find out more…

Gluten Free Girl       Joy the Baker     David Leite      Eat the Love

Please consider a small donation for this family.  Skip a few gourmet coffee drinks and send a little their way.  I promise it will come back to you.

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders


I am basking in gratitude today.  I feel loved.  I am receiving love.  I share this moment with the Perillo family.  I will donate a dollar for each comment left below. If you have a post for Jennie, leave the link.  I’d love to read your collective support and thoughts.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne Elm Hall August 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

What a gorgeous heartfelt post. So wonderful of you to share with us and support that community that inspired you.
Unfortunately I can not make tomato jam with you though … my tomato garden (one large pot) experiment this year failed miserably;( But no worries, I’ll try again next year!
Yvonne Elm Hall


Melissa August 22, 2011 at 2:53 PM

That’s the beauty. Like life, we never know what we are going to get and yet, the process itself is so rewarding.


Aimee @ Simple Bites August 23, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Beautiful post, Melissa. Thank you so much for supporting our project for Jennie. xox


Melissa August 23, 2011 at 8:12 AM

It’s the least I could do.


Dori August 23, 2011 at 8:32 AM

What a beautiful post! I am considering starting
my own blog as I am lucky to have my family support while i am living the dream
and am attending a local culinary school! I am blessed! For Jennie food and family, love and memories heal! I wish you peace as you heal and know that all of us ate sending you strength !! Xo!


Melissa August 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I encourage you to document every moment!


JenniferA August 23, 2011 at 8:34 AM

Beautiful post and so generous! Best of luck with your garden and canning.


Melissa August 23, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Thank you for sharing your site with me. That watermelon/tomato salad looks amazing and I have all the ingredients. Lunch, anyone?


Brandee August 23, 2011 at 9:06 AM

This is a beautiful post. I never met or even talked to Jennie, but through her posts I found her to be a lovely lady.


Melissa August 23, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Thank you. It’s amazing how connected we all are to each other. Jennie is a voice we can all relate to.


Andrew @ Eating Rules August 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Beautiful post, as always. I just posted as well… and I’m contributing my services for the auction.



Melissa August 23, 2011 at 5:30 PM

4 hours of Andrew Wilder knowledge is priceless for any blogger! I will spread the word.


Mindy August 24, 2011 at 7:12 AM

I just found your blog and I LOVE IT! You have me hooked!!! I am beginning my own blog to document my quest for health, continuous search for knowledge of about food, and the love I have of cooking. I can’t wait to read more of your blogs!


Melissa August 24, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Thank you. I look forward to reading your new adventure into blogging. Post the link when you are ready.


Cassie August 24, 2011 at 1:12 PM

what a lovely and generous gesture…
I wish i had seen the jam repice earlier, i just came back from visiting my home country ,Greece, where we have loads of sun ripened, organic juicy toms! I would have loved to have made same jam so i can feel the love in the middle of winter…


Melissa August 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Greece is at the heart of every great preserved tomato! I’m sure the memory of the tastes and textures of your home country will warm you well into the winter season.


marla August 29, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it with me on FB…..
I love the way our blog community comes together to help a family in need :)


Melissa August 29, 2011 at 7:42 AM

Food blogging has given us all a place to belong. It’s a magical thing to belong. Winnie the Pooh taught me.


Erica Kindler August 30, 2011 at 10:34 AM

What a wonderful post indeed! Thanks for sharing :)


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