Sunday, August 11, 2019

Experiments with Plums, Tarts, and Shawls

You've got to go out on a limb sometimes because that's where the fruit is. --Will Rogers
A local lady posted on Facebook that her plum trees were overly abundant in their harvest this year and offered the fruit for free to anyone who wanted it. I love fresh fruit, and the promise of free fresh fruit is a challenge I will always willingly accept. One day after work I set off to find this promised treasure. It turned out to be more exciting than I imagined it would be...

Firstly, it took me ages to find the place. If you see me driving up and down your street peering at your driveway and your front lawn, do not be alarmed: I'm just on fruit patrol. When I finally located the house, the only place to park was in their empty driveway. The plum trees off towards the back of the house. I opened the car door and immediately felt like a thief... some strange fruit interloper with an empty canvas bag creeping around a property in broad daylight. I made my way around to the trees and found that she'd picked a big box full and stuck a sign saying "FREE" on it. My heart quickened. I stooped down and started shoveling the fruit into my bag like a pirate in El Dorado, and when I felt it would not hold anymore, I ran out of there like my hair was on fire. I jumped into the car and started it up and backed out. I'm glad the road went uphill after that because I'm pretty sure I would have been speeding if it wasn't. I'm not sure what I would have said if the cops stopped me. It would have gone down in the "weirdest car chase" books for sure.

Anyway, I took far more than what the hubby and I could possibly get through. I've been giving them away to friends for the past few days, but we still had quite a few this morning. Before we set off to do the shopping this morning, I set a few aside in a bowl in case I had some inspiration while we were away:

At the supermarket, I stopped and gazed at the frozen pastry in the freezers for a while, thinking it would be nice to make a plum tart but when I saw the price of the pastry I balked at the price. Something about the free fruit made the idea of spending extra cash on pastry positively absurd. So I went around the corner to the dairy coolers and picked up a block of unsalted butter instead because I was sure it would be much better value to make my own pastry...

... except I forgot that the only pastry recipe that works for me makes enough for six crusts. Thank goodness there's room in the freezer.

I stoned and sliced the plums and set them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of sugar while I made the pastry. I didn't really feel like pulling out a pie dish, so I sort of improvised and went the "rustic" route and laid the pastry straight onto the baking sheet. I sprinkled some almond meal onto the pastry, then spooned the fruit on top and topped it with some halved plums to give it a pleasing rounded look on top. Then I did kind of a half-assed fold/crimp thing around the edges of the pastry, sprinkled it all with some more sugar and stuck it in the oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes. I peered in at the end and decided to broil it on low for another 5 minutes, which nicely softened the top fruits and browned the edges a bit better.

It turned out pretty well. It could have used a bit more fruit and I could have left it in there to caramelize a bit more, but it wasn't bad for an improvised plum tart:

Meanwhile, the garden continues to surprise me. One of my rose bushes has continued to bloom long after the others have packed it in for the season:

And on the knitting front, I'm still working away on this experimental shawl. I'm basing the main stitch counts and transitions loosely on this pattern by Louise Roberts called Poussière de Fée ("Fairy dust"). I went through a solid few days of really not being sure I liked the look of this, but right now I'm really liking the way the colours are working together:

I used linen stitch for a couple of sections, and I'm currently working in a plaited basketweave stitch with the grey variegated yarn. I have big plans of using the two colour brioche stitch in the original pattern, but we'll see how brave I feel when I get there:

I'm a little nervous about running out of yarn because I have no real idea how much yarn I am using up since 1) it's an asymmetrical shawl, 2) I'm using bigger needles with 200 yards less yarn than what the original pattern calls for. It's a risk, but I'm hoping it'll all work out for the best. Whenever I worry about this, I usually hang the shawl up and gaze at it for a while to summon up the courage to continue. Sometimes, Seymour joins me for this exercise:

It's time to take Mr. Seymour out for his evening constitutional. Best not keep him waiting. Have a great week!

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