Wednesday, July 7, 2010


When I asked Carol where the plums had come from, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

They had appeared, like little purple balloons from bliss, on the dryer last week before I left for California Witchcamp.  Tiny, delicate, yellow-fleshed and slightly tart, they were clearly homegrown, not the totally regular, unblemished frankenplums you find at Andronicos.

"Oh, there's loads of 'em!" Carol replied in her thick Irish accent, which I still find completely charming and novel, even though she's lived with us for three months now.  "They're right by the Bart, all over the place."

I finally made my way over to the promised plum land this morning, after a hazy post-camp day of  internet surfing, brunch with a couple of friends, e-mail, and thoughts of jam.  I was playing with the idea of updating my blog with some of my witchcamp insights, the biggest one being that I could not fully let in the love of people until I came to truly take in and trust the love that nature has for me -- Gaia, God, the divine, whatever you'd like to call Her.  It was a theme I was working all last week in sundry ways, from ritual to journeying to simply holding it in my mind as I planned path and whatnot.

But when I came home, it erupted into plums.  The love of our mother, as shown in plums -- 24 lbs. of plums, to be exact, all gathered from the sidewalk and bushes on the sidewalk side of my neighbor's house.  There was a carpet of plums, left untouched, on the other side of the fence: I have dreams of going over there, with a jar of jam, and offering to clean up her yard for her.  But alas, there's no time for that right now.

Plum jam, plum butter, plum brandy.  Here they are, in all of their radiant glory:

(from left to right: Plum & Cherrry Jam, 3 1/2 pints; Plum Butter, 6 1/2 pints; Plum Brandy, 1 gallon; Plum Jam, 7 pints)

Now, off to make some banana bread before I leave for Free Activist Witchcamp.  

Quick Chunky Plum and Cherry Jam 

Serve this jam with scones and tea, spread over pancakes, alongside grilled pork, or swirled into yogurt.
Active Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours (includes chilling time)

1 1/2 pounds dark-skinned plums (about 6 large), quartered, pitted
1 cup sweet cherries, pitted
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix plums, cherries, sugar, and allspice in heavy large saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves and juices form, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium. Cook until plums start to fall apart and preserves are thickened and reduced to 2 1/4 cups, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes longer. If desired, break up any large plum pieces. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Banana Bread in a Jar
Prep. Time: 1:15

2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening
4 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup chopped nuts - optional

In a large bowl, cream sugar and shortening with an electric mixer.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix well.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Gently stir in mashed bananas and nuts.
Grease (7) 1 pint wide-mouth canning jars with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour 1 cup of batter into each jar.  Set jars on a cookie sheet, spacing evenly.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Working quickly, wipe rim, place lid and ring on jar, and secure. Jars will seal quickly. Repeat with remaining jars.

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