Tomato Mozzarella Melts – and our Hallmark movie road trip
We just returned from a four day road trip to Kentucky. Ricky and I had agonized for months on where we should go or what we should do for our summer vacation. I started up entire sections on the Front Porch forum and Facebook just to get ideas.
We couldn’t afford to fly four people anywhere and we didn’t want to drive more than six hours from home, but the main thing is that all four of us really wanted to do something we’d never done before but that all of us would enjoy – which leaves out skydiving, ziplining, anything to do with Nascar (sorry Ricky), and even white water rafting since I made a promise to God last time I went down the Ocoee that if He would let me live I would never do that again. ~breathes~
Don’t you just love run on sentences? I know I sure do!
So one night, just two weeks ago, I turned to Brady and said “Do you have any ideas?” He replied “You know, what if we just went all through Kentucky? We’ve never done that before. We could just go exploring.” Ricky and I looked at each other and shrugged. Why not? For some reason, other than my occasional pilgrimage to the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, we’ve never done anything in Kentucky, even though it is awfully close. So we circled a few days on the calendar and we set off to somewhere in Kentucky but nowhere in particular.
With our sole intent to connect with each other and just enjoy our family, and no agenda whatsoever, we ended up having a trip of a lifetime. We talked, we played little question games in the car, took turns deciding where we were going to eat and stay, stopped off at a few national parks, and laughed – a lot.
It was like a four day decompression retreat from the stresses of the world around us. Four days where nothing mattered beyond the most important people in our lives. Am I sounding like a Hallmark movie yet? Well, slap a “Movie – Of – The – Week” sticker on my forehead because thats just what it felt like.
Each day was filled with little miracle moments beginning with the very first day when the kids threw pennies in a fountain to make wishes. Katy turned around to us and said “You know what I wished for? I wished that Brady and I wouldn’t fight so much” Brady seemed to have a new awareness of his sister’s adoration after that. The next morning as Katy was standing looking out the window, I saw Brady walk over to her and put his arm around her to look out as well.
Yeah, the whole trip was like that. Well, except for the part where I tried Cincinnati Style Chili but we don’t need to discuss that one .
When we got back I called our friend Jason, who has been keeping Teaspoon (the kitten) for us. Jason and I go way back (He was editor of the literary magazine in high school and I was junior editor). Jason was asking how our trip went and I did my best to expain to him how four days in a car, going nowhere in particular could be so meaningful for us. I mean, our “best” vacations up until this point have always involved princesses, a mouse and various roller coasters.
I told him “I just can’t explain it but this trip really changed things for us. On the way home I pulled up a card with the question ‘What was your best vacation ever and why?’ One by one we each took our turn answering and one by one it came out that this road trip to nowhere in particular was the best vacation ever. No one could give a particular reason for it, but the look of joy and contentment on the faces of my family said it all.”
I tried to convey this to Jason by saying “I just don’t know. There was something about this trip. I mean, technically it was nothing special but it ended up being..”
Jason interrupted me and said “Sounds like it ended up being a trip that your kids are going to grow up and write about in their books.”
I know he couldn’t see me nod on the other end of the phone but that was all I could manage to do with the lump that had risen in my throat. I imagine Jason is right. Maybe this will be one of those memories they carry with them and eventually end up using as an example of how much we all loved each other. Maybe they will even write about it in a book someday. I bet they’re Mama will beat ‘em to it though… ~grins~
Today’s post is quick and easy and one I go to at least a few times a week when tomatoes are coming in. I make these as a side dish with supper sometimes but I also like them as an evening snack or a quick lunch when it’s just me here. They’re super easy, fuss free, and done in no time at all. Best yet, if you have a garden, chances are most of the ingredients are right outside your door!
You’ll need: Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil (fresh or dried), and kosher salt (or table salt if that’s all you have).
I’m using Roma tomatoes but you can use garden tomatoes if you like.
You can also just use shredded mozzarella if that is what you have on hand.
I have basil growing in my sunroom right now but I wouldn’t think twice about using dried basil or dried Italian seasoning on these. Personally, I think I could just about get by with Italian seasoning as the only herb in my kitchen. I even get the stuff that is 50 cents to a dollar a bottle.
A lot of folks will tell you that fresh herbs are the only way to go but oftentimes you’ll find those are the folks who don’t know what it’s like to look at grocery list of necessities and have to find a way to trim off enough to be able to pay for diapers and baby food. You’ll often find them in fancy grocery stores bemoaning our “ignorance” for not buying all organic and completely overlooking the fact that we’re paying our bills, raising our kids, and living on a budget. I don’t know any mother who wouldn’t love to provide her family with all of the finest grocery stores have to offer, but I also don’t know many who can afford to pay double what they currently do for groceries. Yessiree, A dollar bottle of dried Italian Seasoning tastes just as good now as it always has
Oh, I’m done with my rant now.
If using Roma tomatoes, slice them in half lengthwise. If using garden tomatoes, slice them 1/2-3/4 inches thick.
Place in metal pan and sprinkle tops with kosher salt.
Be sure you use a metal pan for this because we are going to be cooking it pretty rapidly under a very high heat and glass just isn’t designed to be cooked with in that way.
Place under the broiler on high and cook for anywhere from 3-5 minutes, watching carefully.
I cook mine until it gets lightly wrinkled on the skin.
You can just cook it just long enough to heat it through if you like though.
I love tomatoes in any cooked form but don’t care at all for raw tomatoes. I’m weird like that. Actually, I’m weird in many other ways too but today we’ll focus on my odd raw tomato aversion.
If you’d rather not cook it under the broiler like I do, you can just put it in a 500 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.
Remove tomatoes from oven and top with slices of fresh mozzarella and bits of torn basil.
(remember, you can also just sprinkle with some dried basil or dried italian seasoning)
Your attitude is the aroma of your heart. If your attitude stinks, it means you’re heart isn’t right.
~Facing The Giants film