One of my summer inspirations has been Romney Steele’s Plum Gorgeous – Recipes and Memories from the Orchard. This book combines recipes, writing, reminiscences, poetry and lots of lush photos of fruit, food and people. Although some of the recipes use fruits and ingredients that are hard to find in Vancouver (persimmons? quince?) most of the recipes are fairly simple and straightforward.
Easy recipes. The four recipes from the book that I made so far include marmalade, marmalade chicken, preserved lemons, and most recently, slow-cooked apple butter from our own apples. The recipes are written in a narrative form and also include variations, warnings about possible pitfalls, and instructions for what to do if things go wrong. For me, this is like someone standing next to me in the kitchen, guiding me through the recipe, imparting expertise and knowledge.
Learning to can. Although the recipe book doesn’t have a lot of specific canning instructions, I had to learn to can in order to make the marmalade and the apple butter. Now I have started to correctly preserve jam and fruit sauces instead of just freezing everything.
Next: vanilla apple butter. The apple butter recipe that I made featured both cinnamon and nutmeg. As our apples continue to ripen, I plan to make at least one more batch, this time with vanilla beans. I am going to try to experiment with a few of the other apple recipes in there as well, and also find something creative to do with the rhubarb.
Final verdict: Fabulous. This is one of my most cherished cookbooks and has led me in new culinary directions. Also, the photos and the format of the book really are gorgeous. A big thanks to my friend who gave me the book: lots more apple butter is coming your way dude!