What to do with all those fine blue plums, and yes, they really do have a bluey hue to them:
Well, when in Rome …
The Germans love their compotes so, building up stocks for my pop-up shop at the autumn artisan market, compote it shall be, but with an English touch of course:
1 kg purple plums, halved and stoned
2-3 Tbsp. sugar
Tea leaves of your choice, in a tea bag, e.g. Earl Grey, or Green Tea with Orange, or Black Tea with Winter Spices
The tea harmonizes exceptionally well with the flavour of purple plums and you can use the compote in a multitude of ways from breakfast through to dinner.
The wobbly kind, not the jam kind:
Edibles for the landscape: packing up a basket of edibles for a sunny Saturday in the orchard. On the dessert menu:
I use the term tiramisu very loosely here as there is no coffee and no Marsala in this recipe, just lots of spring time flavours, quick and easy to transport in jars too:
Double cream 600 ml
Mascarpone 250 g
blossom essence* approx. 2 tsp
Caster sugar 3 tbsp or to taste
Sponge fingers or
stale sponge cake 175 g
Rhubarb 250 g
Honey for roasting
the rhubarb** 2 tbsp or to taste
Rosemary blossoms a handful – picked fresh on the day you are going to serve, otherwise they tend to turn brown overnight
*Wild plum blossom season is now over in these parts so the recipe for wild plum blossom essence will follow next spring, almond essence will suffice in the meantime!
** I used Elderflower-Infused Honey (infused last summer) and can strongly recommend it. Follow the link and do yourself a favour once the elderflower blossom puts in an appearance in a few weeks from now.
Last year was Cherry Plum Blossom Syrup,
this year it’s Cherry Plum Blossom Sugar:
Cherry plum blossom Ground Ivy Dandelions Wild Garlic (Ramsons) Garlic Mustard (Jack by the Hedge)
I admit it, preserves and preserving bring out the Earth Mother in me and I have been known to disappear into the cellar on occasion just to sneak a peak at my rows of jars glistening in gorgous colours…
But I am not a hoarder and so I do use them up. With snowmen and winter pruning being all that is going on in the orchard at present, all that mellow fruitfulness preserved during the preserving season is keeping us supplied with ready-made (almost) meals through the winter:
+ red cabbage
= a winner in our house from the autumn through to the spring.
The chutney has all the flavours you need for a a really fruity, flavourful dish of red cabbage (whether for a festive table or for weekday suppers to accompany some full-bodied sausages):
This recipe also works well with
which also makes a fine
is all you need.
(dilute with a dash of olive oil and/or red wine, fruity vinegar or similar according to taste)
Comprising almost 50% onion and garlic,
and I have used it in sauces and risottos as a replacement for sautéed onions.
And last but not least, spreading either
before adding the rest of the toppings is a really good idea – believe me!
The Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night, depending on which strand of this ancient European tradition, marks the end of the “Mittwinterfest”, or Yule – celebrating the rebirth of the sun as we (slowly) turn the corner towards the light half of the year again…
It is an ancient festival featuring countless legends, rituals and symbols, not to mention the many omens – each of the twelve days of Yule are said to predict the weather in the corresponding twelve months to come, for instance. In the Germanic and northern European tradition, the twelve days of Yule therefore had to be a time of peace, as well, and a time of no work so that there would be less work to be done in the new year. Spinning and weaving, in particular, were forbidden and all the flax had to be spun before the start of Yule. Only the Goddess Frig (Frigg, Freyja), the Germanic goddess of love, was allowed to weave together the threads of destiny for the coming year… No work involving a circular motion was permitted at this time either, because the wheel of time was at a standstill during Yule and so every other wheel had to remain motionless too…
The English tradition of wassailing in the orchard on Twelfth Night has its parallels in other European traditions as well when the remains of the Yule festivities (bread and cake) were laid at the foot of the fruit trees as offerings in return for a good harvest. The English tradition sees the fruit trees showered with cider while bread and cake are hung from the branches. The tree trunks were sometimes beaten with sticks in a symbolic act intended to encourage the sap to flow, while the villagers would sup on mulled cider and serenade the trees with the Wassail song:
Old Apple Tree, we wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, three bushel bagfuls
And a little heap under the stairs
Hip! Hip! Hooray!