it’s september and portland
has been my home for precisely two years
when i first moved
here i did a lot of wandering. i remember pausing in front of houses for what
felt like hours, dumbfounded at rosemary bushes the size of living room chairs,
magenta dahlias, fig trees, lavender, artichoke
i still stop every
time i see mount hood,
i can’t help it.
a few days ago, on
my walk home from a trip to the grocery store, i noticed an italian prune plum
tree in front of a small home. there was a sign out front, “for sale.” i
couldn’t help but think to myself, “i want those plums,” quickly rationalizing
my desire to steal by saying, “who is going to harvest this poor plum tree?
what’s gonna happen to all the fruit? what’s gonna happen to the tree?!”
so the next night, i
put on my cape and filled my bag high
shhhh . . .
italian prune plums
are one of my favourite end of summer treats. they’re tart and sweet, slightly
crunchy, perfect for afternoon snackin’
today, i wanted a
little bit more than just a plum, so
i turned on the oven, tied my apron and baked my favourite plum cake
billie sang for me
this plum cake recipe
comes from a dear family friend, uwe pleban. when i think of uwe, i think of
late night economics conversations after family dinner; walking near the river
spotting woodland birds; sunday afternoon football games. uwe and his wife,
sharbyn are incredible cooks. their home was always so comfortable - toasty
with dinner aromas, soft with sunshine, tucked away in the woods.
so, in celebration
of two formative years in the misty pacific northwest, with plum cake in the
oven, i’m happy to say that my home, too, feels this way
German Plum Cake
from uwe pleban, originally from his mother's dr. oetker
kochbuch from the 1950’s
for the dough, you’ll need:
one stick plus one
tablespoons butter (room temperature)
150 grams sugar
(about 6 heaping tablespoons)
one half teaspoon
pinch of salt
500 grams flour
(about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon baking
½ to 1 cup of milk (the amount depends on a number of
factors discussed later)
for the fruit topping, you’ll need:
2-3 pounds prune
plums (only prune plums will work, other plums will make a mess in the oven)
beat the butter
until it is smooth, then gradually add the sugar and salt.
add the eggs one
egg at the time
sift the flour and
baking powder into a separate bowl
add a few
tablespoons of the sifted flour to the batter, then some milk, and keep
alternating, ending with the flour. the batter should "tear" from the
wooden spoon; if it "drips", there is too much liquid, and more flour
should be added. the last two rounds of stirring the batter will require a lot
of muscle power, since the batter will be stiff.
butter a baking
sheet (i use a rectangular pyrex baking
dish). spread the batter evenly over the sheet.
preheat the oven to
preparing the plums
cut prune plums
open enough so that you can remove the pit. Spread each plum and place it in
the batter in rows. the rows will be close together. the plums should be at an
angle such that the interior light colored side faces upward.
bake for about forty minutes
after the cake has
cooled, optionally sprinkle confectioners sugar over it
serve it warm with,
1 ½ pint heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
whip with a hand held electric mixer until soft peaks form
this past week i had an unexpected, late
august visit to michigan.
it left me happier than any previous time
i’ve wandered home
for many reasons, this time around, love
let’s be honest, look at this place
photographs from my uncle ron’s film
so after a week of sticky heat and late
night swims, track walkin’ and singin’ old tunes, i’ve found myself right where
i need to be.
from one home to the other.
going and coming made me realize that
summer in portland is, indeed, all that everyone has ever told me it is:
hot, but not arid, not humid, just nice.
windy, sunny, vibrant, blue
to celebrate my labors, and the labors of
others, yesterday the grill got pulled out. the charcoal lit. chicken
there are a few things in this world i
wouldn’t want to live without:
so last night, we made jamaican jerk chicken
(stewed black beans and rice, grilled zucchini and poblano peppers and corn)
quick note before i share this recipe:
when i was in high school, a friend of
mine and her mother shared a few journeys to jamaica with me. needless to say,
these times were not only beautiful, but extremely engaging and educational.
during those days, in total they amount to twenty or so, i learned about
people. and by people i mean mankind, existence. some
of the most wholesome people in the world taught me there. reading the book of
job on benches. walking beneath mango trees into the homes of loved ones. so as i
was laying down this meat on the grill yesterday, the aromas of molasses and
allspice in the smoke, i couldn’t help but think of this:
(5 or 6 pound) roasting chicken, cut in half, lengthwise
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 habaneros, with seeds, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
teaspoons ground ginger
½ cup lime juice
salt and pepper
go to the butcher, purchase a 4-5 lb chicken, have them cut it in half for you
ii. at home, prepare all the
ingredients through molasses. combine in a blender and blend until mixture is
iii. taste it. i added about 2
tablespoons of red wine (shiraz-cab blend), just because. it helped deepen the
smokiness of the spices and enhance the sweetness. of course, this is optional.
iv. in a plastic container, or bowl,
whatever is most convenient, place your chicken down and cover with the lime
juice. now bathe them in your jerk sauce. set aside.
this should marinate overnight. my roommate and i made it on a whim, marinated
it for about an hour and a half, and i was still delicious and tender.
v. heat your coals on the grill, or
turn your fancy gas grill to medium. when it’s all ready, lay the chicken down. this is the part where you just have to watch and wait and kind of play it by
ear. after about ten minutes, i flipped the chicken. then after another 10 or
fifteen minutes i flipped it again. the outside of the meat, skin included,
will be very crispy and charred. i’d say in total, it will take about thirty to
forty minutes over medium-high heat on a coal grill. for more specific grilling
instructions, refer to the recipe i posted beneath the title, girl knows what
so what's on the cart, sides n' all?
top left: grilled vegetables quarter 4 zucchini and 3 poblanos (removing stems and seeds). half 8-10 pearl onions. toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. grill in a basket pan over medium-low heat until they're cooked to your liking.
bottom left: stewed black beans over medium heat, 3 cans of black beans (omitting juices from one can), 4 minced garlic cloves, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, salt, cinnamon, red wine, whole cayenne peppers, 3 bay leaves. simmer for an hour. add more spices to taste.
bottom right: white rice. cook how you like to, using chicken stock as opposed to water.
top right: but of course, jerk chicken. as prepared using recipe above.