Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS IT? IT'S "TOO MANY PLUMS" SEASON AGAIN!



What is that woman cradling in her arms ?






A few more baskets of our plums, and the tree is still full! Now what ?

This has got to be a new chapter in the TOO MANY???? (INSERT FRUIT OF THE MOMENT HERE) series I began last year.(see post 
ACRES OF PLUMS!:NOW WHAT? from March 2011 and also TOO MANY PLUMS from August 2011)

 


FIRST, TOO MANY PEARS

Well, this year we got a heads-up when the pears started pouring in. I did my usual lazy woman's project of cooking them slowly with a bit of sugar and lemon peel, which turned them into a beautiful sauce. But with limited freezer space and a current canning phobia and limit to how much pear sauce can be eaten, that still left plenty.

Unfortunately, my neighbor in the States who made a cameo appearance in the previous "Too Many Plums" post--D, the gourmet cook--is back in her own home. She would have been whipping this fruit into ambitious creations without missing a beat.

Fortunately, for those of us who suffer from fear of dough, there is the Internet and a newly retired husband who can really bake. Just by googling around, I found a delectable sounding recipe for something called "Pear Bread," which turned out to be more yummy (not gummy) cake than bread.

I showed him one from the deliciously named site Mennonite Girls Can Cook and he improvised from that to produce a winner that incorporates a good amount of pear sauce into the recipe--just what the wife of a retired doctor ordered. Not only was it REALLY good, but I found my self thinking, hey, this discovery is going to prove very useful when too many of the next variety of fruit come in.

So next came the "Too Many Plums cake", which was also a hit. Now I can face Too Many Peaches season without trepidation. Thank you to all Mennonite girls who can cook. And I've got to say that a retired Jewish shrink in the kitchen is no slouch, either.


TOO MANY FIGS? NAH!:
EASIEST EVER WAY TO DEAL WITH TOO MANY OF ANY FRUIT

By the way, round one of what should have been Too Many Figs season has come and gone, but that was not a problem. As a certified fresh fig fanatic, I can eat enormous quantities of them, as well as come up with some nifty uses for the rest.

But the easiest way to deal with them is to dry them on the dashboard of the car in the hot Umbrian sun. I wrote about that technique before in an earlier illustrated post (see August 2011), but that system is so great that it deserves to be revisited in a post of its own.

INGREDIENTS:
1.Any car will do, but a really old, beat-up Renault with a leak in the air conditioner and in need of new wiper blades is ideal

2.Too many fruits of any type--your choice, but figs are great, especially if your husband is addicted to dried figs, which can be a very expensive habit

3. The bottom half of a foil-lined broiler pan--Ikea makes a good one

4.A hot, sunny day when you don't need to go anywhere, since it would be tricky to drive around with your windshield blocked by lots of drying fruit

QUICK AND EASY STEPS TO PERFECT DRIED FRUIT

1. Put fruit in broiler pan, either whole or cut up. (Leave each piece some breathing space for the juices to flow, caramelize, and turn themselves into candy-like fruit butter--a fringe benefit.)

2. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil.

3. Put broiler pan inside car on dashboard just below windshield.

4. Glance over at windshield after a few hours and turn over the now juicy fruit, one side of which will have browned on its way to drying heaven. To monitor the process, tasting is highly encouraged at every step of the way. But be sure to use an oven mitt, because that pan is going to get hot.

5.When done to taste, remove from car,
and VOILĂ€! BUON APPETITO!

TIP:If clouds or worse should threaten to rain on your drying parade, don't worry. Either leave it all in the car, or just store the whole thing in the oven until the sun returns.

SOME NICE SURPRISES:
You'd think that a car with a dashboard full of drying fruit would end up smelling kind of fruity, but this is not the case.

You might also think that drying fruit would be vulnerable to insects, but I have never seen any inside our hot, hot 1999 Renault on a sunny day.

There you have it! Now it's time for me to get some of those plums into the car.


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