Flavor and FIRE!!!!!!!!!


About 40 pepper lovers and those who like to watch people suffer attended our third pepper tasting on Saturday evening.  The Local Pig was our gracious host this year and they provided a pitcher of chunky and flavorful bloody mary, some great pickled beans and peppers and some of their amazing habanero sauce.  We had over 30 types of peppers available ranging from the sweet Purple Beauty to the mean and nasty Carolina Reaper.


Many of the attendees brought delicious things for folks to sample including a great pot of “Triple Threat Chili” that my mother brought, two different kinds of brightly colored pepper jelly, several amazingly flavorful and smoking hot sauces, and salsas, hummus, and some lovely desserts including an eclair cake!

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The peppers were the star of the show as the brave tasters worked their way around the table of peppers ordered by their Scoville Heat Unit ranking.  Some made it all the way around the table to the SUPER HOT Chinese Naga, Brazillian Ghost, Trinidad Scorpion, Brain Strain, 7 Pot Moruga and the infamous Carolina Reaper.  Many others tapped out before they got that hot, but made valiant efforts at taming the heat nonetheless.

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A good time was had by all and we’ll definitely do this again next year!




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Eulogy for the passing of a great gardener

The man who taught me how to garden passed away last week and we buried him today.  I had the honor of writing and reading his eulogy as well as being a pall bearer.  he will be missed, but not forgotten.
grandpaandgrandma2013Here is the eulogy:


As most of you know, I have dedicated the past 25 years or so to being a teacher.  With 19 years in the classroom, I have taught hundreds and hundreds of children how to read, write, calculate, and about the wonders of the natural world and its history.  I had years of formal training in college and in various seminars and conferences to perfect my craft.  The classes and sessions were taught by people with various degrees and doctorates who were experts in their field and they gave me a lot of useful information that made me the teacher that I am today.  However, none of them taught me anything close to what my grandpa. Big Jim, taught me over the wonderful years we spent together.

Grandpa was my mentor, my father figure, my role model, and so much more to me.  He was always there for me and taught me everything I know about how to live life to its fullest.  Grandpa was the best teacher I ever had and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for his love and devotion to my upbringing.

Here’s a few things he taught me…maybe he taught a few of you the same things when you spent time with him.

He taught me how to cast a pole, bait a hook, run a trotline, clean a fish, shoot a squirrel, deer, turkey, duck, goose, rabbit, coon, pheasant, quail, and pretty much anything else that swam in the water, ran across the Earth or flew across the skies.  He taught me how to blow a duck and a goose call and set a decoy spread making sure there was always a pocket for the birds to land in.  He taught me to eat what I caught or shot and to respect the game and fish that I pursued.

He taught me how to drive a nail, screw a screw, build a wall, roof a house, wire a switch, plumb a toilet, paint a room, change a tire, change my oil, change my brakes,  and fix pretty much anything that needed fixing.  He taught me the value of a set of tools and that a can of starting fluid, duct tape and bailing wire can solve a lot of problems.

He taught me how to plant a seed and grow a garden.  He taught me how to split wood and build a fire.  He taught me how to drive a stick shift and took me to get my driver’s license.  He loaned me a car when my truck was broken down. He taught me how to drive a boat and back up a trailer. He bought me my first gun and always made sure I had plenty of ammunition to shoot.  He took me for my very first haircut…I gave him his last haircut.

He taught me that a full house beats a straight and a flush, but loses to 4 of a kind  He also taught me how to call Dr. Pepper (10’s, 2’s, and 4’s) and Baseball (3’s 6’s and 9’s) as wild cards even if all the other players groaned and complained..  He taught me how to rack the balls, make a bank shot and to call the pocket on the 8 ball. That a leaner was worth 2 points and a horseshoe worth 3. He taught me how to mix a cocktail and drink a cold beer.  He taught me how to make friends and how to deal with enemies.  He taught me to respect my elders and to listen to them because they have so much to offer.  He taught me how to love my wife, because he loved his wife so very much  He taught me how important family is.  He taught me how to be a man….I hope I did him proud.

Grandpa taught me how to tell a dirty joke.  He was the first adult that let me use a few curse words without getting in trouble….he made sure that I didn’t use them around my mom or grandma though!  Grandpa told me that it was ok to bend some of  the rules, just don’t bend them too far or too often.

Grandpa taught me that if I work hard and learn as much that I can, that I can have a successful life full of good times, great friends, and a family that will always be there for you.  In my darkest days of depression, grandpa taught me that life was worth living.  He taught me how to live.  Now he is teaching me about death and grieving…a tough lesson to learn.

Grandpa made me the man and the teacher that I am today by teaching me and I’ll do my best to live up to his expectations and pass on his legacy. If he touched a part of your life by teaching you a thing or two, I hope that you take the time to pass it on to someone you care about.

I love you grandpa, they broke the mold when they made you.  Thanks for teaching me.  I hope you are where the food is home cooked, the fish are biting, the ducks and geese are flying, the turkeys are gobbling, the big bucks are rutting, the cards are running good, and the renters are paying on time!


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KCTT Tomato Tasting #6


80 Feet of Tomatoes!

We had a record number of tomatoes (about 100) and a record number of tasters (about 150) last Saturday for the 6th Annual Tomato Tasting.  Thanks so much to the fine folks at The Local Pig for hosting this event again this year!  We had visitors from as far away as New York, Texas, and Iowa this year.  The weather was perfect and the food was fantastic.



I don’t think we’ve ever hit the absolute peak of harvest like we did this year.  I personally brought 43 different varieties from my own garden that were ripe on Saturday.   We had so many people bring in varieties that I was unable to keep track of them all, but it ended up being 80 feet of tomatoes lined up along the picnic tables…a sight to behold!


Tomato Nerds!

I want to thank my mother for bringing so many tomatoes from her garden…all of the slicers for the sandwiches were from her backyard garden.  Thank you to Camry for all of her work in organizing the food drive.  Thank you to Todd and Julie for coming by early to help us set things up and slice tomatoes.  Thank you to anyone else who helped out as well!  A special thank you to Matt from The Local Pig for all of his support and hard work to make things run so smoothly!  Thank you to all that brought tomatoes and side dishes for everyone to sample…no one went away hungry that’s for sure!


Black Cherry was the winner this year!

We had 58 different tomatoes get votes in our entirely un-scientific voting method.  This shows just how diverse people’s tastes are and that there is a tomato out there for everyone!  Here are the tabulated results:

Black Cherry 19
Sungold 15
Lucky Tiger 11
Grandfather Ashlock 8
Brandywine Sudduth’s 7
Carbon 7
Cherokee Purple 6
Garden Peach 6
Opalka 6
Sunrise Bumblebee 6
Anna Russian 5
Black Krim 5
Boondocks 5
Green Tiger 5
Kiss the Sky 5
Snow White 5
Soldaki 5
Speckled Roma 5
Pineapple 4
Yellow Pear 4
Honey Drop – Medovaya Kaplya 3
Purple Haze 3
Blush 3
Black from Tula 2
Black Magic 2
Brad’s Black heart 2
Brandywine 2
Brazilian Beauty 2
Carolina Gold 2
Cherokee Gold 2
Cherokee Green 2
Northern Lights 2
OSH21-27 2
Prue 2
Rosella Crimson 2
Zogola 2
Arkansas Traveler 1
Beefy Boy 1
Budanovka Pink 1
Burraker’s Favorite 1
Delta Cartone 1
German Giant 1
Grubb’s Mystery Green 1
High Pigment 1
Hippie Zebra 1
Juanne Flamme 1
Kumato 1
Lithuanian 1
Marvel Stripe 1
Noire Charboneuse 1
Paul Robeson 1
Pole 1
Rumpto 1
Sara Black 1
Sun Lucky x Anna Russian 2
10-2k-7-S Variegated Line 1

We’ll taste again next year…I already have plans to make the KCTTTT #7 even better than ever!

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6th Annual Kansas City Tomato Times Tomato Tasting F.A.Q.


It seems like only yesterday that we hosted the first KCTTTT, but has been 6 years of great food, great friends, and great memories!  Some of you have been with us since the very beginning and without you, we couldn’t have continued to support and promote the unique deliciousness of the tomato.  For those of you that are attending your first time, you’re in for a treat!

Every year is a little different as we like to mix things up to keep it interesting. Please review the F.A.Q.’s below to help make your trip to the 6th KCTTTT a memorable success for all of us!

  • Where and when is the KCTTTT?  The tasting is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, August 2nd at the Local Pig (2618 Guinotte Ave, Kansas City, MO 64120)  Please click the link to get directions as it can be a bit difficult to find if you’re never been there before.
  • How much does it cost?  The KCTTTT has been and always will be a free event.  This year we are asking for a donation of at least 5 non-perishable food items per person to help the St.James Church and the Bishop Sullivan Center’s  food drives.
  • What should I bring?  Please bring labeled varieties of tomatoes if you can for people to enjoy.  We love tomato variety and want to have as many types of tomatoes to taste as possible!  Put your tomatoes in a brown paper lunch sack with the variety labeled on the sack.  Check them in with Jen at the registration table to get your tickets for the prize drawings.  Each variety you bring gets you one ticket for the drawing…bring as many varieties as you can for the best chances to win!

The big hit of every tomato tasting is the creative dishes people bring for others to sample.  Break out your favorite tomato dish  recipes and we look forward to devouring them!

Also,you might want to bring a lawn chair to sit in as seating will be very limited with the large crowd we are expecting.

  • I don’t have any tomatoes to bring this year, what else can I bring?  It’s ok if you don’t have tomatoes to bring, but we would appreciate it if you would bring along something to accompany the spread of food.  Fresh breads, cheeses, sweets, or anything else that you think people would enjoy will definitely be appreciated.
  • What else is there to do at the tomato tasting besides eat and eat and eat?  You will have the opportunity to vote for your 5 favorite tomato varieties, so be sure to bring a pen to write on your voting tickets.  If you’re a gardener, you might also want to bring a pad and paper to write down your favorite varieties so you can grow them in your garden in the future.  You will also be surrounded by like minded foodies and gardeners who are the friendliest people on the planet…I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about!  Also, make sure you make a trip inside The Local Pig to buy some of their fantastic sausages, bacon, steaks, and other amazing products!
  • How can I help with this event?  We are always looking for help setting up and taking down the event.  I will arrive around 7:30 in the morning to put down table cloths and start organizing the tables and tomatoes.  Jen will need one person to help with the registration.  Around 8:00 we’ll need a couple of people to help with slicing and labeling tomatoes to put on the tables.  If you would like to help out, please arrive early and we’ll put you to work!



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Shishito Peppers


If you are not growing and eating Shishito Peppers you are missing out on a true delicacy of the garden!  Shishito
Peppers are a Japanese variety of flavorful, very mild pepper.  The Japanese aren’t much for super spicy foods, so they grow these peppers for flavor with just a tiny touch of burn.  They are served in some of the finer restaurants such as the American and Gram and Dunn here in Kansas City.

They are very easy to grow and very prolific plants.


Cooking the peppers is as easy as it gets….add a teeny tiny amount of olive oil to a pan…heat on high and toss in whole Shishito peppers.  They will pop, smoke, and blister as they cook…just keep turning them and let them blister on all sides until they soften up a bit, but not too much.  Then add some salt (flake salt is best) squeeze a the juice from a lemon over them and give them one last toss in the pan.  Serve immediately.  Eat the whole pepper up to the seeds…don”t eat the stem!

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Tomorrow’s Lineup!

Tomorrow from 9-noon is my first ever “Open Garden” !  The garden is looking good and should show you what a backyard garden in peak production looks like.  The tomato plants are loaded with fruit and pretty healthy although I’ve lost a few to the curly top virus, and some are showing some fusarium and verticulum wilt, but are otherwise doing fine.  I have 4 beds that have been harvested and are in the process of preparing for late summer and fall crops.  The sweet potatoes are running rampant, the asparagus plants are ferned out, and the okra’s hibiscus like blooms are beautiful  The cardoon is doing whatever it is supposed to o I guess…I need to get it wrapped up and blanched pretty soon I think.  The bean and squash beds are looking a little rough after major harvesting, but will bounce back soon and begin cranking out more fruit right away.  The star of the show right now has to be the 8 foot tall corn stalks with their towering tassels and two ears of young corn per stalk…not ready to harvest yet, but we’re stocking up on butter for the coming weeks!

In addition to cruising around the garden, I’ll have lots of fresh veggies for you to purchase.  I am trying to keep my prices as low as I can, but they won’t be Price Chopper low, nor will they be Whole Foods high.  I think I’m at about what most true farmer’s markets are selling for…those that actually grow and sell their own produce, not the re-sellers you see at the City Market most of the time.  I think the prices are fair, but if you think I’m off my a lot, please let me know and I’ll be glad to work with you.

I’ll have the following for sale tomorrow:  elephant garlic, Russian Red garlic, candy and superstar onions, three types of kale (Dwarf Siberian, Starbor, and Russian Red), several types of summer squash and zucchini, several types of sweet and hot peppers, Armenian and Ancient Chinese cucumbers, and last, but not least Italian and Asian eggplant,

Here are some pics of the beautiful veggies…hope to see you tomorrow!


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Summer squash, cucumbers, garlic, eggplant, kale and peppers available.

I am having an “Open Garden” this Saturday from 9-noon.  I’ll have the gate open for folks to tour the summer garden and will be available to talk about gardening and will do my best to answer your questions.

I have a lot of squash, eggplant, kale, onions, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, and some other stuff ripe now and available for purchase.  You can pick them up this Saturday from 9-noon if you’d like or let me know if you can’t make it Saturday and we can arrange a time this week for you to stop by to get veggies early.

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