Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Front Page News

How funny! My plum tree is the top story of the Seattle Times today. Plum crazy - the story takes up about half of the whole front page.

I had no idea it would be such a big deal - maybe a little thing in the local section, or the life section on a Saturday. But it's great publicity for CityFruit.org, who I've mentioned here before. They are a bit overwhelmed with the the harvesting right now, because everything gets ripe at the same time. So spreading out the volunteers and pickers, delivering the fruit to all the various food banks and organizations must be a gigantic amount of work. Good for them. I hope this helps them out in some way.

This little ol' plum tree might be famous, but it's still a headache. Even though we've gotten a couple hundred pounds of fruit off of it at least, it's still loaded at the top with stuff we can't reach. And it's over-ripe now, and dropping bombs all over the sidewalk, the yard and our heads. It's getting trimmed back for next year, so I don't have to use so many poles to keep the branches off my electric wires and internet cable.

So today's story is plums. I really didn't know how many people still read the paper - we've gotten so many calls and emails this morning. A couple of cooking tips - if you're doing any cooking with them, they get brown fast. Toss them in a little lemon juice immediately. I made a delicious salad last night with slices of plums, halved cherry tomatoes (which I also have a LOT of right now), a bit of feta cheese, and a handful of mint leaves chopped. Since there was already a bunch of lemon juice on the plums, for dressing I added a teaspoon of honey, a splash of white wine vinegar and a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Super juicy and the peak of tastiness.

Oven drying was not the best. There's a Martha Stewart recipe (and variations) all over the internet which worked out well. I substituted a spice blend with a little star anise and cinnamon for the thyme leaves. You cook them on low for 3 hours and then turn off the oven overnight. They are totally juicy and not at all dried the next day. Tasted great though, and I froze them. The second time I tried this I decided to cook them all night (at 200) like I've done for oven dried tomatoes, which come out exactly like sun-dried. That is to say, actually dry. I was aiming for more of a prune or dried fruit like thing. But they were still a bit wetter the next morning, and had a terribly bitter taste. Totally inedible. I'm sure a food dehydrator would work, but I don't have one of those.

So mostly I've cooked sauces and frozen them. Some sweet, some savory for pork and chicken later. This year I did not can them into jam. I don't like it as well - my plums just get this weird gold/brown color and it doesn't make a pretty jam. Right now I'm so sick of them, I don't want to do anything else with them. They are best just fresh off the tree, but you can only do that for so long and then you want a dang banana or an orange. Anything but another plum.

Did I mention that I fell off the ladder? Right in front of the reporter while he was taking notes for the story? No? Probably because that's the most embarrassing thing ever. Yes there was a 911 call. And a fire truck raced over with sirens blaring. Super cute guys - one named "Almond" and one named "Berry." I kid you not. We could have made a great dessert together, but they had to go back to work. I am fine. A couple of bruises, nothing major. Not even a stiff neck, no broken bones, no major head injury or body cast. I guess I got very lucky. Just a little overzealous with getting that next branch and the ladder started to tip on the un-even hill. Dumb. I know. I'm still cringeing with how stupid the whole thing was. And now there's a front page news story to remind of that happy day. With photos of my chin in color and large pixels taking up half the front section. Hoo boy.