Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Intersection of Old and New

A co-worker had a plum tree that was exceptionally productive this year – I spotted her in the hall lugging large grocery bags of heavy fruit. Much like the zucchini fairies who leave overgrown squash on one’s doorstep, she was trying to dispose of share as much of the fruit as possible. These are the plums, purply black Italians, that my grandparents grew in their orchard and argued over – (plums or prunes?) while we cousins lobbed them at each other, leaving a trail of pulp and purple stains. Kids don’t think about waste; they only think about having fun. We were soon enlightened as to the error of our ways. I was delighted to accept a sack of plums and her Plum Crisp recipe. It was excellent, but two people can only eat a limited amount of that. What else? I remember quart jars of dark, sweet canned plums emerging from my grandmother’s dark, dusty cellar. They were my favorite, probably because I had not eaten them in any other form, before Sunsweet’s marketing campaigns. I scoured the internet, and found this recipe which had received rave reviews. They are lovely – amethyst jewels with the spicy, orange-peel infused flavor of Christmas.
I also dried some, thinking they would be nice snipped into bits and mixed into a batch of granola. My friend made savory balsamic plum preserves, so I have another version to try on toasted baguettes. There is a good feeling about having some full jars on the shelf – a squirrel-like satisfaction of knowing that winter will not catch us unprepared. It’s the rhythm of giving and receiving, a nod to the traditions of preserving the bounty of the earth, made easier by easy access to instructions and recipes via the Internet and an Ipad.