Joan Thomas Ungerleider, author of the cookbook, “Cooking with the Cherry Tomato Lady,” will host a very special “Memories and Traditions” get together and book signing from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17 at the SOMC Cancer Center, 1121 Kinneys Lane, Portsmouth.
“Years ago, I dubbed my grandmother the ‘Cherry Tomato Lady’ because she grew copious amounts of the tiny tomatoes and delivered them to family and friends as healthful snacks,” Ungerleider explained. “After she was gone, I adopted the name for myself, continuing her practice and sending seeds to my grandchildren so they could grow their own crops.”
As the reigning “Cherry Tomato Lady,” Ungerleider’s goal is to bring families together in the kitchen. Her cookbook offers a grandmother’s mix of memories and recipes, dishing up more than 200 family-pleasing recipes along with nostalgic recollections spanning six generations.
“The book is a tribute to relationships kindled in the kitchen,” she said. “When I started looking back, all my memories of my grandmother and family revolved around food. And I thought, what better way to create a lasting memory than to put it in writing?”
Wife of the Cancer Center’s Dr. James Ungerleider, mother to five and grandmother of nine, Ungerleider said the concept of leaving something in writing, or the gift of memories, has always been important to her. She has worked to embed the tradition into her own family.
“When my grandmother passed away, the only thing I can remember wanting from her was something in her handwriting. From then on, I decided it would be my goal to use the written word to create a lasting bond with my family and teach them about love and health along the way,” she said.
She explained that the process could be simple, like writing a birthday letter every year, starting a memory jar or making a book of family recipes. The important thing to remember is to not put off what you can do today.
“At your next family reunion, ask those who will be attending to bring in a recipe. Have someone type them up and then send out a special family book. It doesn’t take much effort, but it will be something that your family will always cherish. And most importantly, it will be a gift that can be passed on for years to come.”
Copies of “Cooking with the Cherry Tomato Lady” can be purchased from the SOMC Cancer Center and proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Compassion Fund. For more information or to purchase your copy, please call Lisa Morgan at 356-7496.