Tuesday, September 9, 2008

15 Reasons to Move to California

1. Peaches
2. Plums
3. Pluots
4. Pears (Asian and standard
5. Figs
6. Apples
7. Meyer Lemons
8. Melons
9. Dates
10. Strawberries
11. Blackberries
12. Raspberries
13. Nectarines
14. Pomegranites
15. A California law which states that any fruit on branches above public land (regardless of where the tree's roots rest) is fair game for foragers. Did someone say paradise?

In the meantime, I'm striving to bring the Fallen Fruit ethos back to Georgia. I began by sampling the "camouflage" apples that draped across our neighbor's fence. (Then I got permission to pick and found a ladder and a bushel basket). Shortly thereafter, I discovered pears in a friend's backyard--they are now ripening on my kitchen counter. Chef Nick at the Farmhouse informed me that there were figs on the property, so I wandered through their gorgeous gardens until I finally found my prize, down by the goats. Despite much bleating on their part, I did not share. And as I biked home with my figs, I pulled over for the first persimmons of the season on the edge of the woods along Hutchinson Ferry.

Maybe Georgia isn't so bad after all...

I brought a sampling of plum varieties back from California and put them to good use this week. Admittedly, as the Georgia plum season has come and gone, this isn't the most local of recipes if you haven't just gotten back from Eden (aka California). Still, it is the season for Cali plums, so I won't begrudge you some awesome sorbet and a killer salad.

Beet Salad with Plums and Goat Cheese
12 2-inch-diameter beets, shredded
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup walnut oil or olive oil
1 1/2 pounds firm but ripe plums, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium-size red onion, sliced into rings
9 oz. fresh greens (I used arugula, beet, and sweet potato greens)
8 ounces soft fresh goat chevre, crumbled

Saute the shredded beets in a bit of olive oil until tender.

Combine vinegar and sugar. Gradually blend in vegetable oil, then walnut oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss beets with 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Toss plums and onion with § cup vinaigrette in another large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine greens, beets, onions, and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette and serve.

Red Wine Plum Sorbet
This sorbet recipe is my response to a posting by Freakonomics economist Stephen Dubner against the need for more locavores. Maybe he can't make good sorbet, but I certainly can.

1 pound ripe red, black, or prune plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2 (3- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
8 black peppercorns

Stir together all ingredients and a pinch of salt in a heavy medium saucepan and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until plums fall apart, about 25 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and zest. Purée in batches in a blender until very smooth. Force purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered, until cold, at least 2 hours.

Freeze purée in ice cream maker, then transfer sorbet to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

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