Well, the sun has set on this year’s plum harvest. It didn’t seem like there were quite as many plums on the tree as we had that first year, but they were in better shape on average, with fewer bruises and weird spots. Most were on the large side, too, so I had plenty to work with, and got two batches (about 20 cups) of jam from them all.
Looks like I didn’t mention the Festival at all last year. That’s because there was hardly any fruit on the tree, so it was kind of a non-event. Hmm, in fact maybe this one should be the Second Biennial BryceLand Wild Plum Festival instead. Anyway, we’d had a hard storm just as last year’s blossoms came out, and it blew them all off, so the tree got hardly any insect attention.
This year I had to do most of the jam work while Riley was asleep. I was able to do some chopping with him feeding himself in his highchair, though. It’s actually a little more work than I can rationally justify, given how slowly we go through jam, but then we give away most of it. And it’s pretty satisfying to see the finished product.
My grandpa usually makes wild plum preserves too, but this year he probably hasn’t been able to, with Jeanette being so sick. I’ll send them some of mine.
I’m getting caught up with my friends page, I haven’t been on LJ much for the past week or two. I made a trip to the office last week, and picked up a new computer for work. It’s a spiffy new laptop with a docking station. Trying to get it to play nice with my LAN at home has already taken too much of my weekend. (I can get it to access either my old machine or the internet, but not both at the same time. I guess for now I only need one of those at a time anyway, though.) The best part is that since I’m not depending on my old machine for work anymore, I can upgrade it without fear.
Laura has been trying out some Indian recipes this weekend. We went to an Indian market on Saturday to buy the more exotic ingredients, like jaggery and red lentils. Looks like we’ll be back there regularly; everything’s turned out delicious.
I’m selling my car. We’re getting a used pickup to replace it. Anybody interested in a 2001 Honda Civic? Red, two-door, sunroof, 42,000 miles. It’s in great shape, it’ll last a long time.
On Saturday I volunteered at a chili cookoff fundraiser for Special Olympics. August might seem like the least chili-friendly of all the months, but the air was downright brisk this weekend for some reason. So that was good. I sold tasting kits (comprising a spoon, a napkin, and a stack of platic cups) for a while, then helped at the official judging booth, making sure the judges all had their forms and pencils and palette-cleansing stuff. The chili all but ran out with two hours left, so I think it must have been a success.
Yesterday morning I made blueberry pancakes for the first time. They were delicious, but kind of tricky. The berries kept breaking, leaking sticky juice into the skillet, which made subsequent pancakes progressively harder to make. A few of the berries totally disintegrated into purple craters. I think the problem was that the batter was too thin. It would puff up with cooking of course, but it never got as tall as the berries, so when I flipped it over, the berries had a lot of contact with the pan and ended up bursting. So I got the idea of adding batter to that side: just before flipping, pour a little batter onto the skillet (not quite half as much batter as for an actual pancake), and then flip the berry-laden pancake onto the fresh puddle. If it’s done right, the main pancake spreads the puddle out to its edges, adding a thin layer that’s just enough to seal in the berries. It makes the cakes a bit thicker than they would have been, but that’s how they need to be.
Then last night, Laura made this amazing red pepper cream soup. This could become a staple. It calls for heavy cream, added at the end, but it tasted great even before we added the cream, so we might use less next time. Let me know if you want the recipe.
Harvest time is winding down for the wild plum tree that is the centerpiece of our front yard. You can’t take a step under the tree without crushing at least six plums underfoot. We’ve had a bumper crop this year. It peaked over a week ago, when I collected this many plums from it in two sessions of halfhearted gathering:
There are still loads on the tree that continue to ripen, but the majority of plums were pretty concurrent. I wish they were more evenly distributed; it’s basically impossible to use them all before they spoil. So I made some jam with them, which turned out great. I hadn’t done any home canning before, it’s kind of fun. Dicing the plums was pretty time-consuming, but other than that it was easy. We’re also contemplating a wild plum sauce for pork, which will be more of an improvisation. We’ll see how that goes.
This has been the best year of my life so far. I am so fortunate to have the life I have. I wish I could box it up and share it.
We had what we call “birthday spaghetti” last night, and it was the best ever. It’s basically a homemade bolognese, with pancetta. Spaghetti’s been my favorite food since before I could say it. We watched Amélie. I had somehow forgotten how amazing it is. I need to start collecting Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films.
No big plans for today, just working. I’m going to Arizona this weekend, though, for my cousin Amy’s wedding. The whole family will be there, it should be lots of fun. I only wish Laura could come too, but she’s studying for her third round of board exams.