Three great plum recipes

by Beth Shepherd
( August 20th, 2014 )

Greengage plums in our treeLast summer we took down five trees: two poplars that were far too big for our tiny yard, two Greengage plum trees and one apple tree. The fruit trees were horribly pruned and in a poor spot for fruit production, but I was still sad to see them go.

The last tree left standing from our “old yard” is a Greengage Plum. As much as the suckers it sends every which way drive me crazy, I couldn’t part with that tree. Why? Because its fruit is plum spectacular.

The Greengage is a European plum which was introduced into England by Sir Thomas Gage in the early 16th century. They have a Granny-Smith apple color that belies their flavor: sweet, with just a touch of tart. In fact until Big Papa met me, the fruit fell to the ground uneaten—he thought the plums weren’t ripe because they were “still green.”

Every year, when they ripen, I make a few sweet treats with our plums. This year I decided to bake a rustic gluten-free pie. I gussied it up with lemon verbena from our herb garden and a candied ginger for pizazz.

Pre-bake Greengage Plum Pie with Lemon Verbena and Candied Ginger

Gluten-free plum pie with lemon verbena and candied ginger


I bought my gluten-free crust pre-made because I have a three-year-old. You could do the same. But a homemade crust is the bomb.

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour* (or regular flour), plus more for work surface

  • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Note: Crusts with gluten-free flour will be more crumbly (homemade or purchased), which is why I didn’t fold over the edge of my crust.

Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar to combine. Add butter and continue pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces remaining. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix pie crust with your hands, two forks or knives, or a pastry mixer. Add 2 tablespoons ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. (If needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Do not over-mix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it once or twice. Then press the dough into a round, somewhat flat shape; Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Flour a large piece of parchment paper. Place dough on the paper. Roll out the dough, using your knuckles apply pressure to the edges so it won’t crack. Lightly flour the top of dough to prevent sticking. Roll out your dough (to about 14’ diameter). Transfer dough (leave it on the parchment) to a prepared baking sheet.

Egg wash for crust

  • 1 large egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (I didn’t do this with a purchased crust, but would if I made my own).

Lemon Verbena and Candied GingerGreengage plum filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds green-gage plum, or any type of plums, pitted, and sliced (I cut each plum-half into four pieces, but you can also cut them thinner)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (you can also use white sugar)

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I used Maninis gluten -free flour)

  • A few tablespoons chopped fresh lemon verbena (or lemon balm)

  • A few tablespoons of chopped candied ginger

Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together plums, sugar, and flour. Put the plum mixture in center of prepared crust, in a mound, and leave a 2-inch edge. Fold the edge over fruit. Brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle lemon verbena and candied ginger on top of the plum filling.

Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake tart until crust is brown and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature (with ice cream, in my opinion!).

Greengage Plum Pie with Lemon Verbena and Candied Ginger

Two more great plum recipes

Plum crumbleIf you’re not into crusts, then Plum Crumble might be the recipe for you. My crumble topping uses oats, hazelnuts and candied ginger (yes, I love that stuff).

Plum chutneyOr, if you’re looking for something sweet and savory to toss over fish or chicken, Plum Chutney is the way to go. I use star anise, mustard, cloves, cinnamon, Walla Walla sweet onions and ginger (fresh, not candied, for this recipe).

And if you want to make some delicious ice cream to go with your pie, here are three of my favorite recipes: Heavenly Honey Ice Cream, Bay Laurel Ice Cream, and Cinnamon-Clove Ice Cream.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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By jove, there goes our stove

by Beth Shepherd
( August 15th, 2014 )

I think every woman should have a blowtorch

~Julia Child

Old range

Today—ironically—on what-would-have-been Julia Child’s 102nd birthday, I am writing an ode to our old stove. Because, yesterday, we bid adieu. The stove predated Big Papa’s purchase of the Urban Cabin, and was at least 11 years old, probably closer to 15.

Waiting for a new stoveIts  time had come. How many times had I rotated our intended meal to ensure each side was thoroughly cooked? How frequently did large pans tip over on a burner that was too small?

Our new, swanky range arrived mid-morning. Okay, so it’s not an AGA,Viking, or Wolf, but rather humble GE (my father, a former GE employee, would approve). But it’s new, ours, and has a convection oven and a cook-top griddle. As Little Bird says: My excited.

Big Papa and I reminisced about ye old stove before the installation guys took it away (and the color of our old kitchen, revealed when the stove disappeared). Nine ‘Shepherd’s Pies’ set off fire alarms from this stove. Hundreds of meals were prepared, and a lot of water had boiled on its burners.

And then…there it was. In all its shiny new glory. I may not have a blowtorch, but I do have a new stove.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

New range

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Sippin’ on the dock of the bay: Kitsap Wine Festival

by Beth Shepherd
( August 13th, 2014 )

Wine, food, music, sun, and salt-water breeze. What’s not to like? Six years running, the Kitsap Wine Festival has proffered sips and nibbles alongside the Bremerton waterfront at the Harborside Fountain Park, literally a stone’s throw away from the Bremerton ferry dock.

Kitsap Wine Festival in Bremerton

Copper fountains, modeled after submarines, spouted water amidst lovely gardens overlooking Puget Sound. Festival-goers sampled wine and beer from over forty northwest wineries and breweries, along with tastes of food from local restaurants and purveyors.

Kitsap Wine Festival at Harborside Park in Bremerton

We savored iridescent Bella Bella macaroons, beet salad, tapas, and a lovely array of cheeses. All tasty partners for belle of the ball—wine.

Kitsap Wine Festival Macaroons

A few wineries we’ve been to, and enjoyed, were at the festival: Chandler Reach, Terra Blanca, and Forgeron Cellars (though sad to hear the news that Salsa, our favorite wine dog, had recently passed away). And we discovered new favorites like Laurelhurst Cellars, and Maryhill Winery, winner of the 2014 Winery of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Laurelhurst Cellars

Our own prize, for the most innovative grape varietal, goes to the Black Moosecat (okay, really Black Muscat) used in Stottle Winery’s Rebus Red. Our cat Maggie goes by the nickname ‘Moose’ and, on occasion, we call her Moosecat.

Kitsap Wine Festival 'Black Moosecat' by Stottle Winery in Lacey

We drank. We ate. We looked and listened. And then we purchased. A few choice bottles, selected at the wine and retail shop on site, accompanied us as we made our way back across Puget Sound.

Wine for purchase Kitsap Wine Festival

Hanging out at the Kitsap Wine Festival was a delicious way to while away an afternoon, but the best part—all proceeds went to a good cause: Harrison Medical Center Foundation. I’ll drink to that.

Kitsap Wine Festival in Bremerton wine glasses

Take the road less traveled, Beth


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