Make an old-fashioned Bertie County Tomato Pie – The Stokes News


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They have been making Tomato Pies in Bertie County in northeastern North Carolina for more than 300 years. They are about as famous as Bertie County peanuts. My grandma in Northampton County made them in her kitchen and baked them in her wood stove oven using her homemade biscuits. It was a simple recipe, much like it was in the 1650s!
Note: You do not need homemade biscuits to make a tomato pie; hot dog buns, burger rolls or canned biscuits can be used.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Measure out a quart of tomatoes. Stew the tomatoes and when cooled, mash them up. Add about eight homemade biscuits, crumbled into small pieces. To that mixture add a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half-teaspoon apple pie spices, a half-teaspoon nutmeg (optional), one-and-a-half cups sugar, one tablespoon vanilla, a stick of butter or margarine (melted), two large eggs, and a half-teaspoon salt.
In most Bertie recipes, they add a little cayenne pepper, but a dash of Texas Pete can be used or you can just leave the hot out (my grandma did not add the heat in her pies).
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish (or two round pie dishes) sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 50 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top.
Most small towns in Bertie County have cafes and dining places that feature tomato pie and almost every restaurant will have its own special recipe.
Take care of roses
Hank Williams always sang his song about “Faded love and summer roses.” Love may be blind, but we can certainly do our part to keep the summer roses from fading. One way to promote colorful rose blooms all the way until frost is to deadhead all spent blooms and rose hips as well as long canes. Spray the foliage with a mist of liquid Sevin mixed with the proper amount of water. Feed roses every 20 days with Rose-Tone organic rose food and use your water wand in “shower ” mode to water around the base of roses once a week, or more often if there is no rainfall.
Deadheading zinnias
The zinnias of summer are still blooming, even during the heat of August. To keep promoting of blooms, continue to deadhead flowers after they fade. Clip them down to the foliage to promote new blooms. Continue to water the base of the plants to prevent powdery mildew.
Dainty Queen Ann’s Lace
Along the country lanes and the byways of Stokes County we are graced with the simple majesty of Queen Ann’s Lace in pure snowy white. This wild perennial thrives in most of the United States. My mother loved Queen Ann’s Lace and she adorned zinnia and marigold arrangements with it to place on the altar table each week during summer. The Queen Ann’s Lace gave a regal touch to the floral offerings. It’s simple, but makes simple things of life better as well as pretty and dainty!
Cooling off the birdbath
As the sun shines its rays down on the water in the birdbath, it does not take very long to heat up the water. Change the water a couple times a day when the temperatures are in the 90s so birds can enjoy a cool drink.
Purple top turnips
The middle of August is here and purple top turnips can be sown in beds or rows. In a furrow about four or five inches deep, apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and a layer of peat moss. Sow the turnip seed thinly and cover seed with another layer of peat moss and then apply some Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and cover the furrow by hilling soil on both sides of the furrow. Then tamp down soil with a hoe. As soon as they sprout, apply another application of vegetable food on each side of row and hill up soil.
Turnips are a root crop that requires along season to produce large turnips and they should be sown soon so you can enjoy a harvest all during winter. (Broccoli, cabbage, and collards can be planted in September because they are defiantly cold weather vegetables.)
Subtle signs of autumn
There are subtle hints of autumn as we reach mid-August. The days are getting shorter by one minute each evening. We’ve lost 52 minutes since June 21. Dews are getting heavier each morning. Even though autumn is six weeks away, leaves on some trees are showing signs of stress. Many flowers are producing seed pods and many crops are slowing down. Crickets and katydids are signaling us that autumn is closer than we think.
A man walked into a restaurant in a strange town. The waitress came over to take his order. The man said, “I’ll have meatloaf, potatoes, green beans and a kind word.” When the waitress returned with his meal, the man replied, “Where is the kind word?” The waitress bent over and whispered “Don’t eat the meatloaf!”

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