INCHING TOWARD SELF-SUFFICIENCY

About Us

About us

We are Matt and Amanda, two "neo-hippies" living in the Pacific Northwest, where we are trying, one little step at a time, to work our way toward the good old back-to-the-land goal of self sufficiency.

We're stuck on a third of an acre until this lovely recession lets up and we can secure some acreage, but we're learning and practicing what we can anyhow. This blog is where we share the pitfalls and triumphs of learning to make what we need and do for ourselves.

Why call our blog Love Apples?

Amanda's paternal grandfather is second from the right -- next to the kid who looks like Eddie Munster.
Matt and I have rather interesting families, in our own biased opinions, full of colorful characters: loggers and long-haul truckers, police and criminals, soldiers and daredevil car drivers. Some of the best stories in my family are about my paternal grandfather, who died when I was still quite small. So much lore abounds about him, though, that I don't always remember that he was only physically in my life until about the time I had progressed from toddling to running. One such story takes place after my grandfather returned to Arkansas from a trip to California.

I've heard two versions of how tomatoes came to be called love apples: 1) According to the website FoodReference, when they were first sent to Europe in the 1600s, they flopped. Someone tried marketing them as an aphrodisiac, calling them "pommes d'amour" (apples of love) and they took off. 2) According to several other sources, among them the merchandising arm of Monticello, they were dubbed love apples because of their botanical relation to mandrake (regarded in antiquity, as a guarantee of conception, among other things). Either way, they are definitely related to mandrake, tobacco, and deadly nightshade, all of which are very toxic, so it's no wonder that some people found this a turn-off. In fact, skeptics remained in rural areas of the US until at least when this story takes place in the late morning of the 20th century and there may still be folks who, like my grandfather's folk, grow tomatoes for ornamental reasons only.

Having been to California, I imagine my grandfather had passed through quite a bit of territory that was unlike his native Arkansas, and had no doubt seen tomatoes being widely consumed. From what I've heard of this man I don't doubt that he was clever and adventurous enough to give it tomatoes a chance, even if he'd been taught that they were killers. After a nice, juicy hamburger with a thick slice of tomato not followed by death who wouldn't be converted?

Not one for half-measures or passing up an opportunity to be humorous, my grandfather decided to relay his newfound knowledge by a demonstration. When he arrived back home he went to the garden, picked a big love apple, (and, we imagine, fixed his audience with a meaningful look) and proceeded to take a big slurpy bite out of it. Those watching were appalled none more so than his mother, who was just as sure as everyone else that he had gone off his rocker or was making some sort of public suicide attempt.

This was our inspiration for the name of the blog because a) it had a nice ring to it, and b) we, like my grandfather, are frequently met with the response “Are you crazy?” And we can just as confidently reply “Like a fox.”

-- Amanda

P.S. I had to share this excerpt from my beloved 1957 edition of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia:
“In the old-fashioned gardens of our great-grandmothers there grew a bushy sprawling plant with brilliant scarlet pulpy fruit, much wrinkled and distinctly smaller than the tomatoes of today. These were called 'love-apples,' and if you had suggested eating one your great-grandmother would have held up her hands in horror; for the plant belongs to the same family as the deadly nightshade and it, too, was thought to be poisonous. It was not until well into the 19th century that this idea was proved false, and tomatoes began to be cultivated for their agreeable, slightly acid fruit.”