I had meant to make this salad for yesterday’s Christmas feast but completely forgot about it — probably because I don’t like tomatoes! However my tasters do like them so it is a good time to prepare this simple Tomato Salad from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The recipe was contributed by Mrs. George Lang of Berlin Ontario.
It might be surprising to consider making a tomato salad at the end of December. I’m even in a place with snow on the ground and more coming down and yet tomatoes could be available at this time of year in 1906. I have personal experience with a special way to obtain tomatoes this late in the year. Many years ago I worked at Doon Heritage Crossroads in the Martin House and helped with the garden behind the house. The gardener had heard about an old way of keeping tomatoes and so we decided to try it. Just before frost the tomato plants with tomatoes still on it were pulled from the ground with as much of the roots as possible. They were hung upside down from the ceiling of the cellar and left. The tomatoes slowly ripened. Each week I was able to “pick” an almost ripe tomato or two from these plants and set them in the windows to ripen. The texture of the tomatoes wasn’t perfect but we still had red tomatoes at Christmas and none of the tomatoes had gone to waste like they would have if left in the garden during a frost.
I picked the tomatoes for this recipe from the grocery store but they are tomatoes on a vine. They just came from a green house. I made just a portion of this salad. I sliced one tomato and I decided to make a salad dressing I’d used before from the cook book. This one was a cooked dressing recipe from Mrs. Ph. Gies that I made on day 157 on June 5. Once the dressing was cool I arranged some large leaf lettuce in a bowl and placed the tomato slices in the centre and then poured a )bit too much dressing on top.
Mrs. George H. C. Lang (Elenora Foley) is another interesting contributor to the Berlin Cook Book. She is George’s second wife (they married in 1892) and has seven children in addition to several stepchildren. There are twelve people in the household at 76 Queen street according to the 1911 census. This includes three young housemaids. The Langs were a prosperous family owning a large tanning/leather company in the community. Every member of the household is listed as Catholic and of German ancestry. Eleanora was 42 when the cook book was published.
My tasters liked this simple salad. It is a great quick salad for anyone who likes tomatoes and it looks appealing too.
Mrs. George Lang
Peel and slice 12 good sound fresh tomatoes, the slices about 1/4 of an inch thick, set them on the ice or in a refrigerator while you make the dressing. Take one head of the broad-leaved variety of lettuce, wash and arrange them neatly around the sides of the salad bowl. Place the cold sliced tomatoes in the center, pour over the dressing and serve.