Seasonal Recipe Guide: Plums / by Alexa Arnold

Staying consistent with this blog and working full time is hard. I've found myself on either side of an internal dialogue –– feeling an urgency to create consistent content that readers can rely on weekly, versus feeling at peace with writing and cooking at my own pace in order to create thoughtful posts that people really want to read. Realistically, the latter is what works for my life right now. I've spent most of August living out of a suitcase, so I've been particularly neglectful of this space lately, but I'm excited to spend more time in the kitchen, just as all of the late summer crops have finally arrived at the market. 

Before I left for 3 weeks of traveling, I met up with a couple of fellow Brooklyn-based food bloggers, Julia and Claire, for basil-lemonade at a favorite spot in the neighborhood. We chatted about what to do with an abundance of plums, our shared passions for ramps, and how writing about food has become something we love more than we realized we would. They asked about where the name of this blog came from, and it made me realize I've never shared that story here. It's a fairly simple story, but it seems timely to share during a post that's dedicated to plums. 

I'd been thinking of starting a food blog for a while and had been mentally trying on a handful of different names that I hoped would capture my ambitions for this space. None of them had felt quite right. Inspiration struck on a snowy Saturday last winter, while Grayson and I were curled up on the couch with a long queue of films we'd planned to spend the day with, and a big batch of shakshuka warming in the oven. The protagonist rattled off the line, "being with you was like eating the best bite of the plum", and I was over the moon in love with the meaning that sentence carried. I knew exactly what he meant. It's that feeling that creeps over you when you bite into a ripe, plump plum in the middle of summer, juices dripping down your arms and face. It's the feeling I'm constantly chasing from the first moment that spring produce arrives at the market in March, until I've eaten every last root vegetable I can possibly stomach in the winter. That rush of euphoria and satisfaction that we get from our food when we savor each bite, when we recognize all of the hard work that had to happen to get that plum into the palm of our hands, when we make something from scratch; this is my motivation for being deeply involved in food systems work, and I truly believe it has the power to change the world. The sights and sounds of a bustling farmers market at 8am, the light, fruity smell of a basket of plums, the softness of their skin before taking a bite –– these are the things that make my heart sing. Eating is so much more than something we do for survival; this feeling about food is what brings us together for hearty meals with conversation that lasts way longer than the food does, it's what's shaped our cultures and identities. This was a name that felt aligned with the aspirations I had for blogging about food. This is what I want to share.

I've been completely blown away by how welcoming the food blogging community has been, and truthfully, just simply honored by those who've reached out to share that they've tried a recipe, or that something I've written here has resonated with them. There are so many wonderful people in my life who encouraged me to give this a go, but I never really expected I'd make new friends. To those who've been following, reading, connecting and cooking – thank you. This project has been so much more fun, knowing there's a network of people out there who are just as excited about it as I am. 

If you've grown tired of fresh plums by the dozen, or sliced thinly over a big bowl of yogurt and granola, here are a few more recipes that are making my plum-shaped heart sing:

1. This perfect plum tart, with buttery, flaky crust: Plum + Almond Tart // All The Little Things
2. Plum jam, from one of my favorite bakers: Spiced Plum Jam with Vanilla Bean // Apt 2B Baking Co
3. I love the addition of tarragon, which I can't seem to resist at the market: Plum + Nectarine Crostata with Tarragon // Reading My Tea Leaves
4. Quite possibly the most beautiful cake I've ever seen: Lavender Plum Berry Sheet Cake // Adventures in Cooking
5. Because I'm also addicted to roasting fruit: Sage Roasted Plums with Balsamic + Red Wine // Local Haven
6. Rich, sugary and boozy: Rhubarb Roasted Plums with Honey Whipped Ricotta + Pistachio // With Food and Love