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One of my favorite podcasts is The Thomas Jefferson Hour. On April 23, 2018, the program featured three tomato experts: Craig LeHoullier, author of Epic Tomatoes; Pat Brodowski, Head Gardener at Monticello; and Harry J. Klee, Ph.D. from the University of Florida.
A New Line of Heirloom Tomato Hybrids
Klee explained that while everyone loves the taste of homegrown tomatoes, they can be challenging to grow. Therefore, in an effort to make it easier and tastier for home gardeners to grow tomatoes, the Horticultural Science Department at the University of Florida has developed a line of heirloom hybrids: Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, and “W” Hybrid Tomato.
The new lines are a cross between the very best flavored heirloom tomatoes and a hardy, modern parental line. Klee says that these hybrids are just as delicious as their heirloom parents with several times the yield.
How to Get Heirloom Tomato Seeds for Your Vegetable Garden
While seeds for these three new varieties are not yet available commercially, The University of Florida Horticultural Sciences Department is offering them as a gift with a contribution of $10. All the money donated goes back into their new variety development research. In addition, the donation is tax deductible.
Once the heirloom tomato seeds are planted, the University wants to know how they performed. Record your observations. Let them know how they did and what you thought about the taste. I started my seeds indoors and they have been planted outside in the garden for about a week now. So far they’re doing great. I will touch base with Klee in the fall with a report of their success.
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This classic cake is made in a cast iron pan. The banana, butter and sugar topping is amazing, especially the crunchy bits that get caramelized. Terrific served on its own, even better with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on the side.
Ingredients for the banana topping
4 Tbl (55g) salted butter
1/2 cup + 2 Tbl (110g) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl rum
4-5 medium bananas (565g unpeeled)
Ingredients for the cake
1 1/2 cups (175g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbl (115g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Start by making the topping
- Heat the butter and brown sugar in a 10″ cast iron skillet on the stovetop.
- Stir until butter and sugar are liquified and start to bubble.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in vanilla extract and rum.
- Peel the bananas.
- Slice them in lengthwise into three long pieces.
- Arrange the bananas over the brown sugar topping in the skillet.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Then start working on the cake
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Stop the mixer between the additions to scrape down the sides.
- On slow speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients.
- Next, add milk and vanilla.
- Now add the remainder of the dry ingredients.
- Mixing just until incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
- Scrape batter over bananas in skillet.
- Bake 30-35 minutes. Cake should feel done when the center is pressed. Insert toothpick into the center. It should come out relatively clean.
- Remove cake from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the outside of the cake to help it release from the pan.
- Wearing oven mitts, turn cake onto a serving platter. Be careful of dripping caramel. Spoon any caramel bits still stuck in the pan over the cake.
Best served the day it’s made, preferably warm, but can be served at room temperature.
Approximately 332 calories per serving