Plum Loco

I hope you had a great Christmas, I can scarcely believe that we are already in to the new year! But even now I can’t take much of a break. You see my friend called me the other day and asked if I wanted some of the plums from her tree – of course the answer was yes. So now I have several kilos of plums to deal with and its a 30 degree plus day here in Canberra.

Having been steadily eating our way through our previous year’s bottlings of jam and preserves I’m in full agreement with TB that we really don’t need much more in the way of jam. But there will be some jam, in this case Plum, Rhubarb and Cherry.

All the ingredients ready to go (please ignore the sweet potatoes they are not part of this recipe!)
All the ingredients ready to go (please ignore the sweet potatoes they are not part of this recipe!)

I found the recipe in my Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. It was quite fortuitous as I often run out of ideas about how to use up all the rhubarb we grow and I still had the left-overs of the cherries I bought at Christmas. In all it made 10 small jars – but I had less fruit that the full recipe called for. Enough for us and our friends to share.

The finished jam
The finished jam

I’m also planning on making some adult-style plum swirl ice-cream. I got this idea from the December issue of New Zealand House and Garden, where they have a recipe for strawberry ripple ice-cream. I plan to substitute my plums for strawberries, which I have flavoured with cinnamon star anise and some dried orange peel to make a more sophisticated take on this dessert.

Theplums with cinnamon, star anise and orange peel, cooked and ready for the next step
Theplums with cinnamon, star anise and orange peel, cooked and ready for the next step

Not to be left out, TB decided he’d grab some plums to make a small bottle of umeshu (plum ‘wine’). This is so basic, just take some plain spirits eg vodka, or in this case some Chinese spirits, wash your fruit, place it in the jar and top with the alcohol. Leave it for several months to a year, in a cool dark spot, for a fruit-flavoured liqueur. We are hoping that this version will take on a pink colour from the plum skins.

Umeshu, in the bottle and just needing some time to develop.
Umeshu, in the bottle and just needing some time to develop.

Lastly I will do what my friend so sensibly suggested. Just stew the remaining fruit up, without sugar. When the cooked fruit is soft weigh, bag and freeze it ready for the time when you feel like making jam or can turn it into a plum tart.

7 days in bed

Just prior to Christmas I spent a week in hospital. While not my favourite experience overall there were some interesting moments, both sublime and ridiculous.

One positive about being sick at this time of the year is that TB bought me yummy treats like Young district cherries to eat. As I often spent quite a bit of time awake in the middle of the night they also provided a good subject for a quick watercolour sketch.

22_dec_2012lr

On the definitely weirder end of the scale were some of the snacks provided by the hospital. While these crackers were perfectly edible I did ask myself ‘whatever were they thinking’ when it came to the product’s name! All the images it raises in my mind are very off-putting indeed.

Crak_oz

Meanwhile out in the rest of the world Christmas preparations were well underway. My sister was taking the pop-cake craze and turning them into a festive Christmas tree.

Cake_large

I did make it home in time for Christmas proper. It was suggested that comfort foods were a good option for the convalescent. What could be more comforting than two eggs from ‘my girls’, tucked under cosies (knitted by friend M) with some home-made sourdough soldiers to eat the whole glorious eggy concoction.

Eggs

Cherry Picking

I’m neither a vegan, or a great fan of cupcakes, but when I saw the magic words ‘cherry ripe cupcake’ (and ignoring the word vegan that preceeded them) I was hooked. The hook came through the SBS Food website, via a ‘featured foodies’ story about a blog called Where’s the Beef?

Now as it would happen I didn’t have any of the requisite dried cherries to make these cakes, but I did find a whole lot of dried blueberries in the cupboard that were a worthy substitute. I also substituted wholemeal plain flour for gluten-free, to give the cakes some more ‘heft’. In the name of domestic harmony I split the batter in half so TB wouldn’t have to eat the coconut, which is a key ingredient for this recipe.

Vegancupcake2

Here are the colour-coded cakes fresh from the oven.

Vegancupcake3

I iced this batch with the chocolate ganache recipe provided along with the instructions. As you can see there was further ‘signage’ for the non-coconut brigade.

Vegancupcakes

Most importantly I was able to enjoy my first cupcake, along with a cup of coffee, in my newly purchased Midwinter ‘Sun’ pattern coffee set (thanks to the eagle eyes of my friend at the last Bus Depot Markets antique day).

We enjoyed these cakes so much that I’ve made them several times since. Here is the link to the recipe Cup cake recipe .

Given that dried cherries cost $10 for 200gms in the shops I bought myself two kilos of cherries for $10 the following weekend at the Southside Farmers Market. It seemed like a bargain then but now we’ve finished drying the cherries I’m not so sure. For that all that pitting and drying we had a  final weight of just under 300gms of dried cherries for our labours. Perhaps if the season continues and the cherry prices stay low it may be worth drying some more ourselves.

Cherrybowl