My husband and I are accidental orchardists. When we moved into this house, the backyard was already dominated by trees — including a three-story-tall avocado tree, two plum trees, an apricot and an orange tree. The apricot stopped bearing (or so we thought) about eight years ago, so we added a small white peach tree about four years ago.
Suddenly this summer, we and other fruit growers have seen old trees come to life — we had an enormous crop of wonderful Blenheim apricots. I made pies and cobblers, froze purée for future mousses and Bavarians and put up jars of apricot butter. Then, of course, the new peach tree, which had borne only a few dozen fruits in its early years, grew up overnight (as adolescents do). And all the cliches about branches groaning under the weight of fuzzy orbs came true. I made pies and cobblers, jars of pie filling and peach butter and took baskets of fruit in to work.
Now the plums are here. They're gorgeous Santa Rosas and they make a delicious plum buckle and are wonderful out of hand. In past years I've canned and preserved them but this year my at-stove time is getting ahead of my beach time so I'm taking the free farm stand route. We get a lot of smiles and waves and thank-yous from neighbors and passers-by. Sweet.
If the Test Kitchen has time to try it out, I'll post a terrific plum buckle recipe here in a few days. It's a great coffee cake, made in a skillet in the oven, and uses up a respectable three to four cups of sliced plums. Check back.
— Susan LaTempa
Photo by Susan LaTempa