Friday, April 20, 2012

Three Ways with Plums

I was at a meeting this week and someone made a (reasonably tasteless) joke about getting cancer from a power line.  People laughed awkwardly.  So did I.  I looked around at the meeting attendees and it struck me.  No one here knows I have had cancer.  And they can't tell by looking at me (although why they think I would choose to have hair this short I don't know but there are lots of women around with Voluntary Short Hair and they look great)If there is one thing I have loathed over the last 16 months it is the occasional look of pity or shock or embarrassment I have received when people realise I am being treated for cancer (the wig was a giveaway).   This is a good place to be in, I can tell you.

Something I have done in the last five years which has improved my life by an amount I can even measure in percentage terms (I would say 5%), it would be using one of the duopoly supermarket people to home deliver all my heavy horrible groceries like milk, mineral water and nappies.

In an attempt to further limit pointless driving around I have just started using these people to deliver organic fruit and vegetables to me. The delivery includes a mystery box of what is in season (and presumably cheap).

I think this is something people do perhaps more in the US than here, but I am loving the surprise of it. So what to do with two huge eggplants? Or other vegetables I don't otherwise usually buy like mushrooms. Last time round I got a big batch of plums. Plums remind me of my childhood, I think the plums we had then we a bit different - purple inside rather than orange, but nevertheless, I love their juicy sweetness.

(chopped plums, mint, chilli and spring onions)

The first thing I made was plum tabbouleh, with burghul (ie the traditional way).  The plums contrast very well with the grain.  Lots and lots of olive oil and lemon juice and salt and you can eat a whole large bowl No Problem At All.

This idea came from Nigel Slater' Tender Volume II, which is a cook's guide to fruit.  I have written before about Nigel, and his brilliant cookbooks.  (Nigel is on my dream dinner party list. He would be joined by Anthony Bourdain, Ian McEwan, Malcolm Turnbull, Henri Bernard Levy ands the lead singer of Muse (yes, all men. Why not, it's my dream.)).

Then I made a pudding-ey cakey plum cake with cinnamon and honey.  This was okay but not amazing but I think I may have overcooked it.  A variant on his recipe is here.  

Finally, plum chutney.  Very easy - chopped up plums, onion, cover with splash of water, some malt and apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds and cinnamon.  Cook slowly for an hour. You may need to add more water and check at the end to make sure it is sufficiently sweet \ sour.

Brilliant with pork.

Happy chutney eating to you all. 


Mary said...

New to your blog and really enjoying taking a look around. You've gone through a remarkable journey. Thanks for sharing it!

Faux Fuchsia said...


Firstly I LUFF Nigel Slater! Have you read Toast??? I'll never forget how he felt when his mum died and his dad remarried.

Secondly, I luff chutney and make it all the time. Mainly with quince. My dad will be bringing a carton up on Monday when he is coming to action a new pergola arrangement. Hooray for cold climate dwelling parents.

Thirdly mystery fruit boxes send a chill down my spine and fill me with unmitigated fear and dread.

Fourthly I luff online grocery shopping esp to avoid lifting those heavy nappy boxes.

Fithly, that story about the cancer joke makes me sad.

Well done on surviving your journey with a sense of humour.


Jane said...

FF - Toast is my favourite autobiography. So poignant. Don't be sad re the cancer joke people often joke about what they fear. Xo

posie blogs Jennie McClelland said...

You are so gracious, i am also a tad over correcting people's ignorance, i often wonder if they would even have a clue after my life lesson talk, possibly not. Good for you for taking it in the fasion of 'i don't look like i've had cancer', bravo to you!!
Now plums, glorious. When we visit my husband in Brisbane, we have organic fruit delivered, he wants to try the vegetable ones next time. I'm excited, so far (over Summer holidays) it was insanely fabulous & we were loving every surprise fruit they popped in.
Love to you & your family Jane, love Posie

Jenny said...

Good for you...being creative with the grocery box. They do that here in Holland. YOu order a box from the green veggie stand on Wednesday and they fill it for you. Like a box of never know what you're going to get. It can really be strange in Holland when you're used to cooking Texas and Southern (US) food. This is where I am really learning to cook, from scratch. I scratch my head a lot and wonder, what the...? I have spent the morning making English Stilton soup with my own veggie base, yes from Dutch vegetables. :) Jenny

Mise said...

I'd be ever so grateful, Jane, if you could squeeze me into that dinner-party, even on a separate table to the side, listening pathetically to what is going on and humming all my favourite Muse tracks under my breath as I eat the lovely plummy food.

A Farmer's Wife said...

Every now and then you can find the plums that are purple inside. So yummy.

The one thing that I always makes me envious of people in cities is grocery delivery. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend live in Copenhagen and not only do they get groceries delivered they are all made up into little meal packs and recipes so all the ingredients are there and someone else decides what you are having for dinner! (My other pet hate is thinking of what to have for dinner when it is 4pm and I am scratching around for inspiration....)

Take care Jane.

helen tilston said...

Hello Jane

What a lovely surprise to open the box of organic produce and then have to decide on menus. I plan on doing that this summer when the farmer's market returns.

Congratulations on becoming healthy and cancer free - yeah

Helen xx

debra@dustjacket said...

The mystery box would certainly make us go outside our usual cooking routine...great idea.

It was lovely to get your have had quite the unwelcomed journey (huge understatement) since I last popped by.

Jane Birkin's hair ... here we come ;)

kit and nancy. said...

will you look at that cake? will you!? amazing. so inspired, thank you! xx

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Jane:
We have discovered you quite by chance via our delightful friend, Helen Tilston, and we are so pleased to have arrived.

Your posts are so beautifully written and carefully presented that they are a positive joy to read. And, you have so much spirit, which is so inspirational. Your love of life is infectious and you have clearly faced immense challenges in your life with a positivity which is an example to us all.

We are lucky that we can buy our fruit and vegetables at the local market fresh every day. We love the idea of not knowing what will be available and much prefer the seasonal offerings than the endless availability of everything in the supermarket.

We have signed ourselves as Followers and hope that we may welcome you to our blog at some point soon.

Anonymous said...

felt the same thing when someone the other day said "and i could have slit their throat when they said THAT" and someone looked pointedly at a certain throat (ours) and it all went Rather Silent ;-)

quite enjoyed it actually.

oh gosh - changing the subject - LOVE NIGEL SLATER - miss his columns from the observer when living in london all those years (11!!!) ago.

waving to you with love from manhattan.

_tg xx

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