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Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing. Today’s writer/gardener guest is Emma Lane who will be talking about cherry tomatoes and how she uses them on a snack cracker or for a quick summer meal. Welcome, Emma.

Inside Greenhouse Three there are vigorously growing hanging nursery pots of tomatoes. These are cherry tomatoes and they come in red or yellow. Medium-sized, these fruits of the vines are just ripe for popping into your mouth without a smidgeon of preparation. Don’t ask me how I know; I’ll never tell.

Hanging Baskets of Tumbling Toms go out of the greenhouse for sale around the first of May and disappear quickly. They may need to be brought in at night, but they are already in bloom with some tiny tomatoes showing. It’s a way to get a jump start on the season for a delicious tomato taste.

Lately I’ve learned to use them in several different ways that liven up a quickly thrown together summer meal. Below are a few ideas. You’ll spin off into your own vivid imagination, I’m certain, adding salads and main dishes. This is quick and easy fixing that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine outside.

Party Picks   Crackers of Choice

There are tons of choices for the bottom of your snack which will wind up being topped by half a cherry tomato. I like plain old saltine, but I do experiment with any and all of the offerings. I need to mention that a homemade loaf of bread makes a fantastic “cracker” cut into small squares. Also, just plain toast cut into squares works well.

Next the Spread

These are just a few of the spreads I’ve used:

(1) Canned potted ham (or a chicken spread) mixed with mayo or a touch of mustard. Occasionally I use a pear relish mixed in that is delish. Mix and spread on your crackers lightly. Don’t glob or your cracker will collapse. Still taste good, but not esthetically attractive so soggy.

(2) I’m mad for the whipped cream cheese. ‘Nuff said about that. It’s pretty simple to spread on your crackers. You can add any old spice that strikes you as interesting. I’ve used Season all Salt, cinnamon, Italian seasoning or just a piece of fresh basil. All good. If you use the basil leaf, add a swipe of creamed cheese to glue it to the cracker else it’ll slide right off.

(3) I’m wild for ricotta cheese, but hubby isn’t so we get to ‘decorate’ our crackers individually.

Meat?

Here I use whatever I’ve got in the kitchen. Sliced ham bits are lovely, a sprinkle of the sausage you had for breakfast is great, a bit of corned beef (just a bit because it’s strong), another cheese either cut to fit the cracker or shredded and sprinkled over. Like the crackers, cheeses come in a great assortment chosen to taste.

You’ll find your own preferences for thickness. Slice the cherry tomato in half or into four slices and top your masterpiece. Use a bit of spread to stick it if toppings tend to slide.

Now is the delicate operation that remains a mystery you might keep to yourself. A very small dot of “Zesty Italian Salad Dressing. Shake first and I promise you, you must use only a very small dot on top the tomato. Voila!

A plateful of these colorful snack crackers will disappear in a flash. Be sure you get your share. Enjoy!

ABOUT THE WRITER/GARDENER

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her website . Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

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The Duke and Miss Amabell Hawkins

By Emma Lane

The Duke and Miss Amabel Hawkins: Bonus short story: The Duke Comes Home by [Emma Lane]

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

Available from Amazon