Saturday, August 25, 2012

Too many goodbyes

There have been a lot of goodbyes in my life lately. My parents left on Sunday, as did my friend Shayna, who had been in Israel doing research for the past half a year or so. On Tuesday, another friend left the country, and slowly, slowly my network of "can I borrow a cup of sugar" friends are moving to neighborhoods farther out and less accessible for last minute sugar borrowing. But the biggest upcoming goodbye will happen next week when my sister, who has been my roommate for the past four years will up and move to Tel Aviv and this little home will be a different sort of home. That will be the hardest goodbye of them all.

But we live in a wondrous age; one in which my one-year old niece gurgles in recognition when she sees my face on Skype; one in which I can hold almost daily conversations with an old friend from college who just happens to live across an ocean; in which my mom can email me from a cab to let me know she and my father have landed safely; one in which I can message my friend Shayna, who has been my eating partner, my recipe supplier, my fellow watcher of Olympic swimming to tell her that I am making homemade ginger-ale and despite the fact that she is currently in New York, within a second I will get her reply: YUM.

Still, it has been hard and it will be hard and if you ask me how I'm dealing, I would like to say, well, I'm marshaling my courage, concentrating on what is in front of me and putting one foot in front of the other. In reality, I have been drinking ginger-ale. And beer. But mostly ginger-ale.

I was pointed toward this recipe from my friends Yosef and Yael, who thankfully, are not moving. Yael is great cook but is pretty reticent about it. It is usually Yosef who gets geekily enthused by food. So when it was Yael who told me that they'd been making their own ginger-ale and it was "awesome", as she put it, I knew that I just had to try it and I knew that I had to share that fact with Shayna, because she would inevitably say: YUM. This ginger-ale is sweet, but it's also loaded with ginger and packs a punch. It's also easy as pie to make- it's a essentially a simple syrup infused with a hellalota ginger, thyme and sage, mixed with seltzer and squeeze of lime, and that's it. And yes, it is awesome and it is yum and I will be drinking a whole lot more of it in the weeks to come.

Homemade Ginger-Ale
Adapted from Biggirlssmallkitchen

1 1/2 cups (or more, if you'd like) peeled, sliced ginger
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sage fresh sage leaves
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 quart seltzer
lime (lemon will do if limes are not available)

1. In a saucepan combine the ginger, herbs, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Discard the herbs and ginger.

2. Pour about 1/4 cup syrup into a water glass. Add 3/4 cup seltzer and a squeeze of lime. Stir and taste. Add more lime or more syrup, as needed. Drink. Share with friends or hoard it all for yourself.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Due circumstances beyond my control (read my folks are visiting) this week's blog post has been delayed. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

But also changed

I lost a poem this week. I wrote the poem, oh, maybe ten years ago and set it aside. This week, for various reasons, I went looking for it and could not find it. I searched through every scrap of paper and every flash drive I had saved from high school through college and beyond (and in the process discovered that I wrote a lot of bad poetry in high school and college. Though, I suppose if ever there is a time in your life when you should be writing bad poetry, high school and college is it). I could remember fragments of the poem. I could even remember the shape of it on the page, but I could not find the poem itself. So I was left with no choice but to try and reconstruct the poem from the little bits and pieces that remained in my memory. It was the poem redux but also changed.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of fiddling with old things out of necessity, as above, and also out of my own need to fiddle. For instance, I wasn't satisfied with how grainy and granita-like David Lebovitz's chocolate sorbet came out using only water and the lack of an ice cream maker method, but I wanted to keep it a non-dairy sorbet and not a sherbet. So I simply swapped one cup (the cup you don't boil, as coconut milk doesn't like be boiled) of the two cups of water with coconut milk. The resulting sorbet was perfect-rich and smooth, with a slight coconut undertone.

Likewise, I have started fiddling with my plumble recipe, not because it needed fixing, God no- it is pretty perfect the way it is- but because I have been making it a lot this summer and I was getting a little bored. I wanted to move beyond the holy trinity of plums, vanilla and wine. Perhaps this is sacrilege, but I've never been very good with dogma.
 I had been thinking a lot about plums, cinnamon and almond. Yotam Ottolenghi has a beautiful looking recipe in his Ottolenghi cookbook for plum muffins with marzipan in which he makes cinnamon-seasoned plum compote that is then folded in to a muffin batter that has been studded with marzipan. I haven't actually made the muffins, though I intend to eventually, but the flavors intrigued me. I decided to see if they would play nicely in plumble. So, hoping to mimic Ottolenghi's compote, I left the usual wine out of the fruit and added some cinnamon. The muffin recipe doesn't call for any vanilla, but I couldn't part with it, so I left it in too. For the topping, I went whole wheat flour for the simple reason that I had no white flour in the house. I also added some almond extract to the batter, hoping to gain some of that marzipan-like flavor. The resulting plumble was kinda great. Without the boldness wine, the cinnamon was allowed to shine and the combination of the whole wheat flour and almond gave it a sweetness with a mild almond grace note. It was a different, gentler version of plumble. Like the poem, it was plumble redux, but also changed.

Plumble Redux, but also changed
A note: a friend of mine recently told me that when making plumble, he swapped some of the vegetable oil for coconut oil, which made the topping more crisp-like. I think that sounds fantastic. So if any of y'all wanna play around with that, please do, and let me know how it turns out.

The Topping:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 oat flour
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbl soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

 Sift together dry ingredients. Add the soy milk, almond extract and vegetable oil. Mix until crumbly.

The Fruit:
8-9 plums, sliced into about 16 crescents
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (or a 4 inch vanilla bean, if you have one)

Combine  ingredients in a bowl.


Place the fruit in a 8 inch baking dish. Scatter the topping in clumps over the fruit. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbly and the topping is browned.