November 12, 2008

12. plums

the twelfth thing i am thankful for: plums

sometimes, making a plum tart/cake is really the only way to deal with a muddled mind. i couldn't decide what to make for dinner last night, and ended up eating two string cheese, scrambled eggs, and squash soup (alas, not homemade-- i caved and bought it at trader joes. i felt like i was cheating, but at least trader joe's is cheap?...) initially i thought that this was insufficient because the entire dinner was roughly the same color. in the end, however, i was basically unsatisfied because of an affliction that comes often in my life... I REALLY ONLY WANTED PIE.

unfortunately, i am not a baker at the level of pie-making.

so i made a variation on this lovely brown butter plum cake recipe, and ate some of it. it was very worth it, and i was thankful for my tendency to do stupid things like this.

plums are a favorite family fruit. i have fond memories of a period of obsession with them in my home, especially in the case of the oldest of my brothers. my parents are the reigning champions of getting the entire food pyramid on the table at dinner, and for years my task was to cut up plums, paper thin, and arrange them in intricate floral designs on two salad plates, one for each side of the table. (come to think of it, i might have only been asked to 'cut the plums', but i honestly had the impression that it was my duty to make the presentation beautiful. i will have to ask papa.)

i also recall a summer in which the same brother and i got really into the japanese version of iron chef--then the only one on tv--and took to a few contests between our less-than-iron selves. i know plums figured prominently. i guess i should be thanking my parents for my decadent, expensive fruit-filled childhood. (we also had ample supply of berries on hand at all times.)

vacations even involved plums. when my parents took the little brood of us out to explore the world, we were lucky enough to usually lunch one of two ways: 'picnic' (urban picnic?) style, or with candy bars. we would explore foreign grocery stores, almost uniformly buying the following: salami, cheese, hunks of bread, some kind of fruit, and candy, candy, candy. i promise, this is related to plums...i remember quite vividly eating a wildly delicious, bright yellow plum in germany.

for a while, starburst came out with some really nutso flavors, one of which was plum. it had a light purple wrapper. my middle brother would save them up and let us try them. he was a generous child. he probably doesn't even remember. (they were excellent, by the way... do they still make them?)

my dear roomie brought me a plum flavored candy... i blogged about that a while ago.

when i was still in college (how pretentious does that sound) and lived in the dorms, i would spoil myself rotten and buy all kinds of food for myself and eat dorm-cooked variations on real food, ignoring the fact that i had a meal plan with the cafeteria. one of my favorite concoctions in my sophomore year of college was the following salad: mixed greens topped with cottage cheese and a sliced plum, dressed with grey poupon country dijon. (i was kind of a brat at that point.) (it was, however, delicious, and probably worth it.)

surprisingly, even after this novel, i could go on. i have lots of plum memories. but i need to go to the farmer's market, and pursue a job (or at least some volunteer work), and do some even more important things, such as find out how my friends laura and almanzo are doing after a recent tragedy. maybe i will beam them a slice of my cake through the television.



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