The Tomato Bucket List

The Tomato Bucket List

Say it Rah-shay By Jun 20, 2017 32 Comments

In which in spite of my poor track record of growing things, I have a dozen thriving tomato plants!

My record with green things what grow is suspect at best. I start off with the best intentions and then something happens; I forget to water the garden (yeah…those days with 100% humidity in Philly can be like walking around in a bowl of chowder and nothing but sipping water s getting done!), I don’t weed often enough (or the opposite…weeding errthing including my viable plants), or, at my last house, my gardener, in his zest for pruning, would pull everything and then tell me “I thought I smelled mint!”

Other than a few herbs and a plant the seemed to thrive from my Lil napping in it, I would dream about veggies and fruits growing and head to the market for what I wanted.

But our new home…come on!

The Tomato Bucket List

Look at this space (and my ham of a teen)!

This city girl, having grown up with asphalt and in a tight row home with the tiniest of garden, is loving this idea of open spaces and a lush area to relax and just be. Over the winter we would make some plans about what we wanted the space to look like and then we would sorta plot, sorta plan, talk about how we wanted the space to be. Once the weather broke in Philly, my friends were all talking about their gardens, the Farmers Markets in the area seemed to always have inexpensive flowers and Lowes seemed to see me coming with the sales that were so sweet, it made me like this:


One thing that gave me pause was planting directly into the ground of our property. I really feel like I remember a conversation with the seller of our home about soil contamination so I had it my head that we had to do container gardening and raised beds. Like Jon Snow, I know nothing about either but instead of not doing anything (my usual) I asked my friend Erica about raised beds, planting directly into the soil and options. She helped ease my mind, encouraged me every time I would get frustrated and now, I am watching my garden grow.

Gardeners are a great group of people. My neighbors at the library were doing experiments and have gifted me with a dozen plants to add to my garden. One of my library moms was teaching her toddler a lesson on planting and selling and sold me a plant to add to my collection. Erica gifted me with some tomatoes from her father which are supposed to bloom by July 4th!

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What’s a family to do with so many tomatoes? Because I am corny, no, I like gimmicks, no because  I can, the idea of a tomato bucket list came to be. Between my library system, the Free Library of Philly and all of the used book stores in between, I have access to an amazing collection of cookbooks. Cookbooks that have delicious and DOABLE recipes.

The Bee and The Librarian have been very amenable to home cooked meals and very supportive of using less salt (let’s pour some out for salt) and experimenting with spices. This summer we are going to create recipes using all of the tomatoes we have planted.

  1. Pizza

This seems like an easy one but we have discovered that we can GRILL a pizza. You read that right. GRILL a pizza!

My friend Stephanie used to always talk about grilling pizzas and one evening it was just too hot to turn on the oven and our favorite spot was closed so we ran to the market, grabbed some things and our grill skills have leveled up. We have been making personal pizzas so that The Bee wouldn’t get any dairy contamination on hers but as we do more and more homemade recipes, eventually we would like to make our own crust (at least once) and the pan that I got from AC Moore will be a nice way to make sire nothing slips through the grill.

2. Marinara/Tomato Sauce

When The Bee first earned that her South Philly friends call “sauce” “gravy” that was all she talked about for days. I was more interested in learning HOW to make a perfect sauce. I am no snob BUT the store bought sauces we usually buy seem to be full of sugar and salt (oh salt…!). My tastebuds seems to be changing and I want a little more savory instead of sweet. Katie Wells, The Wellness Mama, has a recipe in her cookbook that I would like to try. Hers call for cans of tomatoes but I feel like substituting fresh maters would be a pleasing substitute.


The Tomato Bucket List

The Wellness Mama Cookbook

3. Tomato Soup

I’ve made this before using a recipe from Freddy Prince Jr’s cookbook Back in the Kitchen and it’s been a crowd pleaser! Again, we used cans of tomatoes (nothing wrong with that) but I would like to put the fresh veggies to work. I found a second book, Soup for Syria, which has some beautifully photographed soup. Now, I know I mentioned tat Philly gets hot but firing up the slow the cooker before my work day and knowing that some yumminess will be waiting for me is worth a bowl of savory goodness. Carla Hall’s Cooking with Love has a chowder recipe that she made for her nephew. If no one else in the house is willing, I m the soup lady!

The Tomato Bucket List

4. Salads!

Y’all…after yes of trying to encourage The Bee to eat veggies, she has started LOVING salads. Right now it’s just a green salad but she has been sneaking peeks into my bowl when I add additional ingredients. As I prep my food, she’ll take a look at what I am doing and ask just what can go into the bowl. Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food has a few salads that I want to try. The Cobb Salad, a Caprese Salad and a pico de gallo to go with some chips!

The Tomato Bucket List

5. Grilled Cheese

Yes, yes, yes…I am watching my diet but a gal can indulge every so often! Making some substitutions to some of the ingredients means that I can totes treat myself.


A grilled cheese or creating something from the New York Sandwich book at home once in a while will be a luxurious way to entertain when the family comes over next. These books are fun to just flip through. The Grilled Cheese Kitchen offers more than grilled cheeses and The New York Sandwich books makes me want to visit The Big Apple.

The Tomato Bucket List

6. Vegan meals

Every so often I think about following a vegan diet. Then I grab some bacon and continue my life but vegan keeps popping in my mind. A meatless Monday, being educated with my meatless choices. Isa Does It has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while and I open it, take a peek and then run away. With greens literally at my doorstep, there is no excuse to not TRY something! Isa has a Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne that combines pasta (yah!), broccoli (double yah) and sun dried tomatoes, which, let’s face it, is probs gonna be what happens to a few of my tomatoes because I know I will pick a few and then forget where I put them.

The Tomato Bucket List

Don’t judge me.


7. One pot meals.

A few months ago The Librarian and I attended a cooking class at the Free Library of Philadelphia (go and get you some if you are in the area. It’s a educational date night!) We made a one pot meal called Shashuka and it was filling, rich, an amazing aroma and easy to reproduce at home.

I have not made this meal since but now that we have so many varieties of tomatoes, I have no excuse. The Bee was not a fan but she’ll come around (or no…more for me!).


I may add to this list as I add to the arsenal but this is a start. The prospect of a house filled with delicious aromas, sharing a good meal with family and friends and knowing that *I* grew a thing is making me ready to run into the kitchen and create!

Tell me…what’s your favorite tomato recipe? Let me know so I can add it to the list!

r’s note: Affiliate like are used in this post. If you click on a link and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. However, all thoughts and ideas are my own and these books are ah-maze-balls!


I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.


  1. Robin rue says:

    It sounds like you have a lot of great ideas on ways to use your tomatoes. I would be all over the pizza!

    1. Rachee says:

      I can’t wait to create one! I’m thinking of pizza for breakfast!

  2. irishred13 says:

    I love that you called this your tomato bucket list! I make my own marinara sauce but I do not grow my own tomatoes. I wish I had the space that you have! Good luck getting through your bucket list 🙂

  3. I’ve always ended up with more tomatoes than I knew what to do with and often ended up just making a bunch of sauce and canning it. These are great ideas. Now if I cold only get peppers to grow I’d be happy. We grow a lot of different things and generally have green thumbs but for some reason peppers(of any variety) have never liked us

  4. Congrats, that’s awesome!! I can’t wait to see how you use all your tomatoes, you have some great ideas already!

  5. Marcie W. says:

    These are all awesome ways to utilize your tomatoes! We make a ton of homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes, as well as enchilada sauce, and both freeze well.

  6. Home grown tomatoes are absolutely the best things ever. We always have tomatoes in our garden.

  7. Bill Sweeney says:

    This is why I love to grow tomatoes. You can do so many things with them.

  8. Jen Seislove says:

    You are so clever! Love this bucket list for your tomatoes! My favorite use of tomatoes is chopped, soaked in olive oil and kosher salt and then topped with burrata.

  9. All your ideas look great and so tasty with fresh tomatoes. I have got to try that shashuka it looks amazing.

  10. Jacqui Odell says:

    I personally really love fried green tomatoes! They are yummy!

  11. Liz Mays says:

    It sounds like you have some super helpful neighbors! Having your own tomatoes is definitely opening up a lot of cooking opportunities.

  12. Milena Barrett says:

    I don’t know what my favorite recipe is for a tomato. I have so many. This is great selection of books!

  13. I love the idea of a tomato bucket list. I need to learn how to grill pizza and toss on the tomatoes I have been growing in my garden.

  14. Emily says:

    These all sound like great ideas and use of tomatoes. I know of a few people that grow their own tomatoes and always say that they have to get creative to use them all. We love grilling pizza, it tastes amazing!

  15. Paula Atwell says:

    Love your list of cookbooks. My favorite recipe is a fresh tomato right from the garden.

  16. Everything looks great but the Grilled Cheese book….OMG. That cover looks too delicious!

  17. loisaltermark says:

    I love the whole idea of a tomato bucket list and am going to have to share it with my husband, who’s the gardener in the family! Maybe he will come up with his own tomato bucket list!

  18. I love the idea of a tomato bucket list! I have to suggest maybe considering adding fried green tomatoes to your list too! They are truly delicious…and you don’t have to wait for your tomatoes to ripen! 🙂

  19. I love the idea of a tomato bucket list! And, I have to suggest including fried green tomatoes to your list of ways to try tomatoes. They are so good and you don’t have to wait for your tomatoes to ripen! 🙂

  20. It is so funny how you mention how hot and sticky humid it gets in the Philly area during the summertime.
    We live just outside of Philly and definitely concur with you!

    I think it is so awesome that you can grill a pizza!! 🙂
    I like your bucket list!

  21. Alicia says:

    I have never had a garden of my own. This is pretty cool to think about really. My in laws have one though.

  22. Amanda Love says:

    I love it! You’re reaping the rewards from your hard work. It’s really not easy at first but it’s awesome once you get the hang of it and see your plants growing. These are awesome ways to use your tomatoes! I’m sure you’ll have a fun time eating ALL the good food!

  23. I wish I could grow my own garden like this! Nothing better than enjoying something fresh from your garden.

  24. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I can very well relate to you. I was born, raised and still living in the city. The noisy concrete jungle where every one is always rushing out to somewhere. I dream of moving to the countryside and have a huge backyard! If we did get to make this dream come true, I’d have a space in my backyard and I will grow my own vegetables!

  25. I love to grow tomato in our garden and I knew it has many uses glad that you share a post like this.

  26. kellyhutchinson37920 says:

    I love tomatoes, but I am the only one in my house who does. I should try more recipes for myself that features them.

  27. itsahero says:

    This is such a great list! 🙂 I really need to make some homemade tomato sauce!

  28. Our Family World says:

    Our backyard is not really big enough to plant vegetables in, but I do hoard tomatoes when the prices dip. Nothing tastes better than homemade marinara sauce! 🙂

  29. I would love to try growing tomatoes again in our backyard. We have a small area for a vegetable garden. Making one pot meals is something I would love to learn to do.

  30. Pingback: July Bucket List
  31. Jeff says:

    Made a tuna and egg salad sandwich with some spinach and mozzarella and a nice layer of “Rachee’s Own Homegrown Tomatoes.” The tomatoes added the zing and juice that made the sandwich Superb!

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