As summer winds down in France (sniff, sniff...), I spent one of the last weeks of August in the countryside. While the French were savoring the last

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wild plum tart

As summer winds down in France (sniff, sniff...), I spent one of the last weeks of August in the countryside. While the French were savoring the last few days of their vacation, I was working...albeit in some rather pleasant surroundings.

office outdoors

I spent the time away from Paris concentrating on finishing up some writing projects, editing, goofing around a bit, antiquing, and scored a big bag of stuff for less than €10, which included a handful of vintage silverware, a Le Creuset orange poêlon (small covered saucepan), and two kind of odd small ceramic bowls, one with a lobster and the other with an elongated fish, on the side.

flea market finds

Since they were 50 centimes for the two, I splurged. I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. (And my friends who I was shopping with were split on if they were great, or dumb.) But then again, I have a few cabinets-full of things I've picked up at French flea markets, that I have no idea what I'm going to do with either. So the lobster and fish are going to be in good company.

I also spent the other part of that week, the part not in front of my computer, drinking coffee, in a jam. As in, I tried to fix someone's Reine Claude jam that had way too much sugar in it and didn't jell. I tried adding some lemon juice and boiling it with some green, underripe apples, hoping I could coax some of the pectin to jell it. But it was a stubborn as I was.

I kept going and unlike me, it was stubbornly super-sweet. I then added a handful of fresh ginger shreds, more lemon juice – and finally headed to the hypermarché and picked up a box of pectin in frustration (which I'd never used before) and got it to set.

(I did read up on making your own pectin, which I could have done with all those green apples still on the tree. But I am eyeing them to make apple jelly, once they are ripe.)

wild plum harvest

I was extremely fortunate to find that the wild plum trees that I had discovered a few years ago, which sadly were trimmed within an inch of their life last year (and yielded zero fruits), had sprung back and I pulled as many plums as I could from the tree. After spending the afternoon pitting, then cooking most of them into jam, I reserved a few to make an impromptu wild plum tart.

I made a rustic wild plum tart by mixing a little more than 1 cup (about 150g) of flour with a sprinkle of salt and a soupspoon of sugar, then cutting in 4 ounces (115g) of cold butter until it was in small pieces, and adding a bit of ice water, mixing it just until it held together. I formed it into a disk, wrapped it up, and chilled it for 30 minutes then rolled it out in the only pan I could find. Before adding the plums, I crumbled some leftover gingersnaps over the bottom - both to add flavor, and absorb any extra plum juices that would make the bottom of the crust soggy.

wild plum tart 1

After plucking out the pits from a colander-full of wild plums, I tossed the colorful beauties in sugar, and tucked them inside, brushing melted butter on the crust, sprinkling it with coarse sugar, and baking it until the plums were cooked and the crust was golden-brown. Vanilla ice cream alongside? You betcha. Or as they say in France...bien sûr!

And since I'm an over-achiever in the jam department (although I think my super-patient editor in the states would rather I be an over-achiever in the editing department), we spent four hours picking itty-bitty elderberries from the tree, which ended up a few hours later as two small jars of highly coveted jam.

Which I'm going to put in a locked safe, and file them under the "Too Good to Use" category.


elderberry jam 1

Paris Links

Mon dieu! The rise (or not) of the soggy baguette in Paris. But don't worry; I'm doing my part to keep the baguettes as crusty as possible. (via Wall Street Journal)
The Menace of Culinary Displacement (re: burgers, etc) in Paris by Alec Lobrano. Is there room for everyone, and other cuisines, in Paris? (via Paris by Mouth)
Food trucks were so 2012. How about Fifi La Praline, a bike-driven praline vendor? (Wonder if he makes house calls?)
Dans Ma Rue is an app, helping the city of Paris to clean-up the streets. (Link in French.) Wonder if they've had any success, or if Poople did (another app), trying to get rid of some of the - uh - well, whatever you want to call is, on the sidewalks?
Will there be a "Champagne" iPhone? Not if the French Champagne producers can help it.


Favorite Posts from August

Patty Melt: I've been craving one of these amazing sandwiches for months! And finally did something about it…
In and Near Chablis: I took a quick trip to Chablis and found enormous gougères (which I've been making weekly since my return), a pool, lots of white wine, local cheese, and a bucket o' sausage.
Paris Taxi News and Tips: Some news and tips for navigating the changes in the Paris taxi system.
Le Mary Celeste: My favorite bar in Paris with amazing food, made with multi-cultural inspiration.
Rosé Sangria: An antique store find on my trip to Chablis prompted me to stir up a pitcher of chilled, fruit-infused rosé.
Le courant d'air: If you've ever sweltered away in a bus in Paris in August, or a dinner party when the temperatures are soaring (and the windows stay firmly closed), you'll relate to the fear of drafts.


New Book News!

Just a quick note that I was surprised to see my next book is already listed on Amazon, slated to be released next spring.

Yikes! I'd better go finish it…

table and chairs
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