I find myself thinking of my grandfather lately.
My desk at work is the same one he sat at in his later years with the company, sorting through mail and talking with customers.
How, at one point, he was growing more tomatoes than I thought possible. At harvest, he would package them up and distribute them to friends and family. A thin pellet gun made its home near the back door of his home for as long as I can remember. I used to feel bad for the little rabbits that stole nibbles from his garden. They’re only rabbits, I used to think. They only want a little lunch! And how fuzzy, and how cute! Poor little bunnies. But then I had a garden of my own. And one of those cute, fuzzy, poor little bunnies ate a hole through my plastic fencing and made a filling lunch of my green bean plants. Sometimes, in moments of weakness and bunny hatred, I think back on that pellet gun with more affection than I care to admit in such a public forum.
I recently picked up a fishing pole for the first time in possibly twenty years. He was the man who taught me to fish on a small stream running through town. We dug worms from the garden, caught small fish and wished them luck as we released them back to the waters. Filled a paint speckled bucket with water and watched the larger ones swimming confused circles in their new home. He taught me how to clean the fish and how to enjoy the fish.
These tomato and Swiss crackers were ever present during my childhood. They appeared on the kitchen counter before family dinners, sat next to the deviled eggs at Thanksgiving and family reunions, and my grandfather even passed these around the office during the week.
They’re simple in the traditional form: Swiss cheese, fresh garden tomato, ranch dressing. No frills. I find I like the herby freshness of chopped chives and cracked black pepper.
Which transformed into two additional, fancier crackers: roasted asparagus with prosciutto and shaved parmesan, and sliced peaches and tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese.
I think he would approve.
Tomato with Swiss
Top cracker with slice of Swiss cheese and tomato. Drizzle with ranch dressing and sprinkle with freshly chopped chive and ground black pepper.
Prosciutto with Asparagus
Trim woody ends off asparagus and drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400F for 30 minutes. When cooled, chop into 1 inch to 1.5 inch pieces.
Top cracker with sliced prosciutto, then roasted asparagus and a sliver of parmesan cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Peach and Tomato
Top cracker with sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella, sliced peaches. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme. Salt and pepper to taste.