Prunes and Plums In Manhattan, By Mara L.

Copyright 2009 Mara L. -

The last couple of weeks involved a great discovery. America is the country of prunes and plums. I am stunned by the variety and quality – it feels as if every farmer here grows another kind. Each and every one I tried was fabulous. Of course, I’m a rather critical buyer. I know what to look for in plums. But since I started my baking-with-yeast project (here), I’ve discovered that there couldn’t be a better place for it. Every kind of plum and prune that I bought made a perfect filling for my little Alpine dumplings! And since they have such beautiful colors, I’ve started to also make little cakes with the plums on top.

This is a matter that goes right to my heart. It’s about my earliest experiences in the kitchen. My grandfather had a fruit orchard, where we all helped out in the summer picking the fruit. He had an almost professional kitchen (the amateur-chef personality runs in the family), and was continually cooking preserves while we kids brought in more supplies from the garden. My personal speciality were Reine Claudes, Green Gage Plum. I don’t really eat preserves, and accordingly don’t bother with it, though I guess I could make preserves while half asleep. Everyone in my family spends their summers throwing fruit and sugar into large pots and competing for the most beautiful colors and aromas (think: a little bit of Obstler can’t hurt). For preserves that look just right, see chez Pim’s webpage. What I liked most about the Reine Claudes is that you have to climb deep into the trees to harvest them, and that they have the most amazing green. Who would have thought that you can buy them in Manhattan!