Category Archives: fruit

plum acorn1

Plum and acorn custard tart

As I write this, I have my back turned on my office and kitchen, both of which have been completely devastated by my tornado-like working methods, which go something like this: ‘start one thing then another then another then another then forget what you were doing, make a snack, then decide to write a blog post and if you don’t look behind you then the mess doesn’t exist, right?’. I might not be the most efficient person in the world, but I don’t think that was ever a question.

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Apple-rosemary coffee cake

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.)

Rosemary divides people. Not quite like cilantro does (word on the street is that some peoples’ taste buds are *different* and that cilantro tastes like soap to them), but still, if you say the word ‘rosemary’ there is a group of people (I call them, originally enough, ‘rosemary people’) who’s eyes will light up and they’ll say ‘oh I LOVE rosemary!’ Rosemary people. Often sweet of voice and soft of face. Often dreamy-eyed, and slightly sluggish. Look for a slightly grey tinge in the skin (this is often more of an intuitive thing), or a general feeling of ‘blah’ and lack of movement. Or look for signs of bad circulation and coldness combined with liver stagnation- moodiness, crampiness, bursting into tears for no apparent reason, blueish fingers and toes, trouble digesting meats and fats, hardness, coldness, being overwhelmed by inertia easily and often.

Rosemary people love rosemary because it gets things moving. I like to liken it to a little old Italian grandma with her hair pulled back tight and a broom in her hand. She’ll smack you on the butt then sweep out the cobwebs in all the corners before you knew what hit you. There’s also the common phrase ‘rosemary for remembrance’ and, while it’s actually referring to remembrance of the dead, there’s actually something to rosemary’s ability to help folks remember anything. Think of that little old broom-wielding Italian lady, and now think of your foggy, sluggish brain, and how much better it’d function if someone beat out all the dust and crud. Yep. Rosemary for remembrance, indeed.

I’ve made this cake three times now. Twice at home, then once when I arrived in Palm Desert this last weekend to stay at my friend Alysa’s house- I thought it’d be a nice thing for her to come home to after a long day at work. The flavour, my friends, will woo you from the get-go. The sprigs on top are important- as the cake cooks, the aromatic oils from the rosemary will seep into the crust.

A note about using gluten free flour: depending on what mix you use, this cake could end up very dense. I used a boxed cake flour for my third version and, while it was springy enough fresh out the oven, by the next night it was like a brick. My recommendation (as discovered by the genius Alysa) is to toast slices of this day old brick-cake, and slather it with butter. Not only will you get your butter rations for the week in one dose (hooray for healthy fats!) but the rosemary in the cake will help you digest it!

Rosemary Apple cake

Adapted loosely from Nigella’s Rosemary Remembrance Cake recipe

For the apple mush:

2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped into wee chunks

2 sprigs rosemary for flavour, plus another bunch for decoration

1 tsp sugar

 For the cake: 

2 sticks butter

3/4 cup sugar (I use sucanat)

2 cups flour (I use gluten free all purpose plus 1 tsp extra baking powder)

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

2 tsp baking powder



Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a pot on the stove, simmer one chopped apple with a teaspoon of sugar, the rosemary, and about 1/4 cup water, with the lid on, for about 8 minutes. The apple will become mush. This is good.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Throw in the sugar, and keep beating, then the eggs, one by one. Next add the vanilla, and then the apple mush mixture. Then, in three parts, on a slow setting, add the flour and baking powder. When its incorporated, spoon into either individual muffin tins or a loaf pan, or, in my case, a cast iron pan. Make sure this pan is well-greased with butter.

Before cooking, decorate the top with sprigs of rosemary. In the case of the muffins, I found it easier to de-stem the rosemary and just sprinkle it on top.

Cook for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean, and the tops are golden brown. Tastes best on the first day.





basil 2

Santa Rosa Plum and Basil Jam

(…on basil. and India. and opening.)

Lots of things are sacred in India. Cows are sacred, milk is sacred, moments are sacred, life is sacred, and basil, most definitely, is considered sacred. The most potent varieties are referred to as ‘holy basil’, and a Hindu household is considered incomplete without a little plant somewhere. I cannot speak to the historical reasons for such a thing, but if the overall personality of the plant is anything to go by, it’s understandable. Basil is, simply put, opening and uplifting. It blasts things open, air passages, neurons, muscle fibers, digestive tracts, blockages. While all herbs by nature have more than just a physical effect, basil is one of those herbs that affects the higher reaches of the nervous system. In plain English, it can light up the synapses in your brain. In plainer English, basil opens passages you didn’t even know were stuck, and over time you will start to feel lighter, more connected to the world around you, and unreasonably content about it all. The Indian varieties (though technically basil is all native to India) are strong indeed, but garden basil opens things too, and it’s easy to come by.

A hot cup of basil tea can dispel the winter blues, or help you focus to study. It can wake you up in the morning, and help you sleep at night. Let the cup warm your hands and inhale the steam and it’ll wake up your senses. Throw in rose petals and a sprig of lavender for more happy, or mint and sage to aid digestion. The steam rising up out of a pot bubbling with basil leaves will do the same if you close your eyes and breathe deeply. It’s a subtle thing, these plants. You won’t get hit over the head by them (often), but they do work, gently and carefully, in a way that you won’t notice until its happened. Basil in a foot bath will warm your extremities and make you happy for no apparent reason. Throw in some rosemary to increase circulation and wake you up, or some lavender to make you relax a bit more. Its a good thing to have around. I make sure to always have some in the garden*.

Throwing it in with a batch of plum jam wasn’t an accident, but in the case of most happy experiments, it was just something I did because I had too much and it was passing its prime therefore I didn’t want to tincture it or put it in salads. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had plum and basil jam before, but, quite honestly, I don’t know why it isn’t done always. I used santa rosa plums because they were there, you can use the most delicious tasting variety you can find. And basil. Whatever basil you can come across. If you have Indian variety tulsi then use that, if you have Thai basil then use that, and if you have big-leaved Italian basil from a box at the grocery store, then use that. When you’ve used enough in jam, throw the rest in a mason jar and cover it with cheap brandy or vodka and, voila, your very own basil tincture to lift you up in times of need, or to slip in your miserable friend’s water when she’s not looking.

Or just cook it into things. Like jams and sauces. And when you dish it out you know its in there, and you can wink at it, conspiratorially, because you know what went in there and what its capable of.

*Tip: if you don’t have it in the garden, and buy a big bunch, keep it in a glass of water on the countertop, much like you would a bunch of flowers. It lasts longer and scents the air around it.

Santa Rosa Plum and Basil Jam

9 lbs plums, halved and pitted
15 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
15 basil leaves (fragrant ones)

De-pit all the plums. I’ve done this two ways- the first being the ‘proper’ way with a knife and abig bowl in front of me on the stoop. The second way is on teh kichen floor late at night with some plums nearing over-ripeness and a stonr set of hands, squeeezing oug the pits as I go. This way is messier. But its fun. And when you can’t be bothered with a knife it works.

Put them all in a big old pot. Add the sugar and lemon juice, then bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the basil leaves, and simmer for another 10.

Can them as you would any jam- in clean, sterilised jars. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. They’re good for a year.

elderberry 2

Elderberry Chutney

(in which I get a bit bossy)

Gathering with friends is only fun if its an enhancement of gathering alone. Because alone, gathering is a holy experience. You sink into a rhythm, a quiet calm. Snip, pluck, drop, move, repeat. That rhythm becomes a background humm, that turns into a moving meditation. By the time you emerge from it, your bag is full, and problems have resolved themselves in the recesses of your mind, and, most likely, your eyes are a shade brighter than they were before*. I do this so often that I had forgotten how nice it was to have company. Especially company that gets as excited about happening upon a bounty as I do. Like when Emily and I were out looking for currants a couple of weeks ago and just happened upon a big, heavy mama elder tree so laden with berries that the branches hung low to the ground.

By the time we left, my backpack was so full and heavy that the ones on top started crushing the ones on the bottom and the juice started seeping out the bottom of my backpack, down my back, onto my pants. The top of my pants, by the time our walk was over, were stained blue. I think this would go into the category of ‘forager and herbalist problems’. And I’d guess that, if you see someone out in the world and the back of their pants, from waistband to butt, have a slight purplish tinge, then you know what happened, and you can throw them a high five and say ‘what’s up, elderbutt!’.

But back to those berries. There are lots of reasons to go out and find some elderberries this year. The first is, of course, elderberry elixir (or syrup). You MUST make a batch (if you cant, then you should probably buy some, as a medicine cabinet devoid of elderberry preparations is like a fortress devoid of a wall). Your immune system will thank you, as will the rest of your family when they never get sick again. As will your cabinet, for finally feeling complete (cabinets are known to be very insecure).

The second is this chutney. There are plenty of other things you CAN do with a big batch of elderberries, from jams to wines, to pies, to juices, but as far as I’m concerned, this chutney is the business. Its best application is on top of something bread-like, like oat cakes, alongside something tangy, like goat cheese. It makes lovely hors d’ouvres when you have people over, but it’s even nicer for a summer lunch, with a bottle of something crisp and cold (Ginger beer. Definitely ginger beer.) and a nice shady spot outside. Bring some crackers, bring some cheese, and a knife, and a little container of chutney. Take a cracker, then a slice of cheese, then a dollop of chutney, and munch on it while you survey what’s around you and listen to the birds chirp and the bees buzz. And then lie back and relax, and let all those little elderberries go to work strengthening your immune system, improving your circulation, tonifying your blood, and generally making you stronger and more resilient. And reflect, with a full belly and a full heart, on how you are ingesting something from the land around you, and what that means for your soul, as a whole, to be connected to the earth, and a part of the life cycle. And if you feel like it, maybe even do all of this with a friend.

Elderberry Chutney

5 cups elderberries

1 cup elderberry juice

2 onions

1 cup raisins

1 apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp coriander

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 inch ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mustard seed

2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cup sucanat

In a big pot, put all of the ingredients, then turn on the heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce to simmer immediately, and do so for about 3 hours. Once the liquid has reduced dramatically (you still want SOME, but not a soup), and the whole thing looks like a big mushy mess, sterilize your mason jars. Spoon the hot chutney into your hot jars, leaving a half inch space at the top. Seal with fresh lids, and process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. They’ll keep for a year. Refrigerate once opened.


*Not to give too much of an impression that wildcrafting is an idyllic experience- it’s not. You get stratched up, scuff knees, ruin favourite skirts, break nails, get sharp things under nails, get whacked in the face by branches, bitten by ants and spiders and bugs and scared by rattlesnakes. You come home with dirt in places you didn’t think it could reach, and twigs in your hair. In other words, it’s really fun.


Rhubarb-almond tart

We’ve been busy round here. Next Wednesday is my 30th birthday, and we’re throwing a Dia De Los Muertos party in the back yard. I basically wanted to recreate the graveyard in San Miguel De Allende that we spent my birthday in last year, and I’m one of those annoying people who will try and make everything myself, so we’ve been building Katrina statues and gravestones and hanging paper cut outs and gathering flowers. No mariachi bands or actual dead people, but the former we can simulate and the latter I don’t ACTUALLY want at my birthday party…

And it’s been cold. Cold enough for central heating and for steaming mugs of coffee and wrapping up in blankets. Cold enough for the light to get crisp and bright. Cold enough for tarts that are piping hot and fresh out the oven after a roast dinner.

I call things like this mid-week tarts. Because they’re delicious and rustic and the kind of thing that’s nice to have around in the fridge for snacking on or in case guests come over. It could be diner party food, or leftovers-for-breakfast food, or lunch, or afternoon tea break, or anything you want really. And, yeah, I know, it’s fall. And that rhubarb and fall go together like beer and liqueur. But I live in Southern California, where I can get rhubarb at the farmers market. And rhubarb pretty much always excites me. There are tons of things that ARE available that would be delicious in a galette- pears (drizzles with brandy!), apples, persimmons…

What are you guys doing for Halloween or Day of the Dead? Dressing up? Parties? Switching all the lights off and hiding?

Rhubarb galette with an almond crust.

This crust recipe comes from Sarabeth’s cook book. I modified it a bit, switched in gluten free flour, changed the quantities a touch, but that’s it. 

For the almond crust:

1/2 cup sliced almonds (or 1/4 cup almond meal)

1 cup plus 1 tb all purpose flour (or gluten free flour)

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

8 tb butter

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 tb very cold heavy cream

For the tart:

1 lb rhubarb

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup sugar


To make the dough:

Grind the almonds in a blender until like a coarse meal. In a big bowl, dump the flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt. Break the butter (very cold butter) into chunks, and start to mix through with your fingers. Start pinching the butter into the flour, quickly and regularly, until the butter is in pea-sized chunks, and the flour is looking quite grainy. Then, mix together the egg yolk and cream, then pour over the mixture. Using your fingers, quickly bring the mixture together, without working it too much. If it’s too dry, add a tiny bit more cream. It should barely hold together. Roll into a ball. Flatten with the palm of your hand until it’s a disc, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

To make the tart: 

Roll out the pastry dough into a big round on a Silpat or similar. Chop the rhubarb into appropriate size- I laid them out over the round and made little marks where I was going to cut each one. Then lay them out. Mix the sugar and vanilla together, sprinkle liberally over the rhubarb, and fold the edges over. If you’re not going to bake it immediately, stick it on a solid board of some kind in the freezer- mine often hangs out there for a few hours till I’m ready to cook it, that way I’m not frantically making dessert while dinner’s cooking. A chef friend once explained this to me- something about the water in the butter not getting the dough all soggy, and when it cooks it expands quickly, or, er, something. There’s a chemical reason for this. I also like that it’s out of the way. And it does seem to make the crust deliciously flaky. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Plop 4 dabs of butter (about 1 tsp each) over the rhubarb, and slide into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the rhubarb is very tender.

Cut with a sharp knife- that rhubarb has lots of stringy bits.


Pickled Watermelon Rinds

I like watching people test for good watermelons, because it makes them look crazy. I know this, because I do it, and people look at me like I’m crazy. I learned the knocking technique from an Israeli woman who claimed to be the ‘queen of vegetables’, who would bustle around the grocery store, knocking on watermelons until she’d delightedly find the right one (about which she’d then shout across the store in her loudest voice, deafening those around her and embarrassing those who were with her).

I started doing it tentatively, and then enthusiastically, and now I end up teaching a couple of people how to do it each time.

It’s easy. All you do is put the watermelon to your ear, and knock on it like you’re knocking on somebody’s door. Knock like it’s a business meeting, not your sleeping neighbour. And listen for a dull throb, not a high pitched ding. The dullest throb you find is the watermelon for you. And then teach somebody else how to do it, because they’ll be looking at  you like you’re crazy. Conversely, you could just start replying to said watermelon, and you might clear a space for yourself in the line…

Pickled watermelon rinds have caught my curiosity for a couple of years, but I was always too lazy to make them. Then, when I was visiting Butter in Boulder, we went to The Pinyon- one of the restaurants she forages for, and on their {gorgeous} menu were pickled watermelon rinds. So we ordered them, and I ate the entire jar, and fell asleep thinking about them. Most recipes for pickled rinds use just the white part, but at The Pinyon, they leave some of the flesh attached. And I tell ya, I’ll never do it any other way- having that little bit of deliciousness is crazy good, and it means you don’t need to specifically find a watermelon with big white rinds.

They’re easy to make. Ridiculously easy. And delicious. Ridiculously delicious. Crisp, tart, sweet, wateremelony. Great served with a rare steak and a glass of wine. Great in a sandwich with chicken and arugula. Great on their own or with cheddar when you’re wandering aimlessly into the kitchen in the afternoon trying to figure out what to do next.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

1 large watermelon

2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups water

1 cup sugar


Using a vegetable peeler, peel the watermelon as best as you can. Cut it in half first (so it doesn’t roll all over the place) and go at it. For hard to peel parts you can use a paring knife, but try to use a peeler as much as possible so you get as much rind as possible.

Cut the half in half. Then, delicately, cut out the flesh, leaving about an inch of red flesh attached to the white rind. Then, slice the flesh-deprived quarters into 2-inch-wide strips. You’ll have a little triangle left over. Slice each of those strips into thin strips that are 2-inches long. I made all of mine about 2 milimeters wide, but you can go thinner than that if you prefer them less crunchy.

Now you have a pile of strips of watermelon rinds, stuff them into jars, however you want. You can be pretty about it or quick about it- I did some of both. The pretty ones have been given away, the quick ones are being devoured by the day…

Bring the water, cider and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat, and start ladling the liquid into the jars filled with watermelon. The liquid must be boiling hot. Put the lids on- they should seal (if not, eat those ones first). Wait for them to cool, then refrigerate.

I’m sure you can pressure can these so that they’re shelf-stable but I figured we’d go through them all so fast it wasn’t entirely necessary. If giving them away as gifts, a little ‘please keep refrigerated’ label probably wouldn’t go amiss though.


Blackberry and elderflower mojitos

I’ve been getting into this whole ‘drinking’ thing lately. I’m not a big drinker in general, usually- I mean, 4oz beer is enough to make me start acting very silly. Last time I had 2 beers I think I danced on a table. And the last time I had 3 beers I actually threw up for about 2 hours. Plus then there’s the foggy head and all the new friends that you make and I think that in general, I am better just having my quarter-glass of wine and let be at that.

But that was before I went to my friend’s wedding, where I had what can only be described as a ‘fuck it’ moment, and tried something that was called a mojito (which for the record is not pronounced ‘moh-jeye-toh’).

My lord.

Mohjeyetos are good.

I mean, regardless of the fact that I put on mouse ears and stole somebody’s bow-tie and danced for about 6 hours straight. Regardless of the fact that I ended up at a wedding afterparty. Me (and Jam) who kept looking at each other saying things like “WE’RE AT AN AFTERPARTY- WE’RE SO COOL!”, which, I know, negates any coolness. It was still delicious. It was minty and sweet (but not too sweet) and fizzy and made me think that I was sitting on a beach in Cuba, where they pronounce it right, and that I could actually speak Spanish (which I’d really like).

And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

So when Friday was swelteringly hot, I decided that I could think of nothing that I wanted more than to try making my own mojitos. Fancy flavoured mojitos at that. With elderflower and blackberry syrup.

By the way, this is easy.
And it turns out that I am quite lame, because when Lu came over to try my invention she said it tasted more like a delicious soda with a splash of rum. I had thought that was what a cocktail was but it turns out you’re supposed to be able to taste the alcohol. So she made her own. Which tasted like rum and made me feel sick. You can make whichever version you like.

Elder-blackberry syrup.

1 cup elder flowers

1 cup blackberries

2 cups water

2 cups sugar


Bring the water and sugar to a boil, add the blackberries and elderflowers. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the elderflowers. Steep until cool, then strain and bottle. It’ll keep in the fridge for months.


Elder-blackberry mojito

Makes 4, 16-oz glasses

4 tb elder-blackberry syrup

light rum- add to taste. For my lightweight version I used about a tablespoon. Lu used about 1/3 cup.

4 tsp light brown sugar

fresh mint leaves (about 8 fresh leaves for each drink)

4 limes, quartered

soda water

crushed ice


In the bottom of the glass, add a teaspoon of sugar, 4 quarters of lime, and the mint leaves. Using something sticky and poundy- I used my wooden thing for my juicer. The end of a spatula would do, as would the end of a thin rolling pin- start mashing it all together. You want most of the juice out of the lime, and the mint to be pretty beaten up so you get the flavour out. Then add the syrup. Fill the glass with ice, then add the rum, and top up with soda. Garnish with a straw and a warm evening.



The best tart ever

It’s so common in the UK to see apples and blackberries together. They’re kind of a perfect combination. Alone, they’re great, but together, there’s this magical alchemy that makes you wonder if there maybe is some kind of design behind this whole existence thing. Yeah, I know… the human body is amazing, the complexities of the universe are beyond comprehension, blah blah blah. The things that make me wonder about what’s out there are food combinations; words being pieced together just-so; and colours.

Of course, it might be because it reminds me of my youth. Of picking blackberries by the side of the road, and apples from the apple tree in the garden. Of the nights getting longer. Which, in Glasgow, by the way, means getting dark before 4pm. Of walking to the school bus in the dark in the mornings. Of cold feet. And cold toes. Cold feet. I wonder what came first: the idiom or the character trait. Or maybe one day, somebody was on her way to her wedding, and her feet got so cold that she just couldn’t bring herself to go any further, and she ran all the way back home to put on some thick wooly socks and to sit in front of the fire grilling hot buttered toast on a cast iron poker while the snow fell and while her husband-to-be got increasingly nervous. I wonder if a messenger ran back to the wedding to call “Wedding’s off– the lady got cold feet.” and if that was that.

Or maybe it’s something easier. Maybe somebody was going to go swimming, but upon dipping his toes in, decided not to. “Why didn’t you swim, boy?” “Because I got cold feet, sir!” And once again, that was that. This is what I think about while I’m peeling apples. While my feet are wrapped in thick wooly socks. While a batch of lemon marmalade stews away on the stove. While the rain pelts the awning and the crack under the back door lets in that chilly air, and while Oliver the girl-cat winds herself around my [not so cold] ankles.

And I was going to make a caramel-apple tart. But I changed my mind. I had blackberries and I was nostalgic, and…

I don’t know how I’ll ever beat this.

Crispy flaky tart crust with tart apple and little explosions in your mouth of blackberry.

This tart was perfect. Even with a gluten-free crust (which, by the way, the neighbours, who got half of it, couldn’t believe was gluten-free after they’d finished it and I told them).

Apple and Blackberry Tart

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into thin slices

8oz blackberries

1/2 portion of tart crust (can be made with gluten-free flour mix)

Sugar, for dusting

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out the pastry, and line the bottom of a 9″ tart pan. Lay out the apple slices in concentric circles, to cover the bottom of the tart. Evenly place the blackberries on top (or do as I do and dump them and they’ll roll all over the place evenly distributing themselves).

With the remaining dough, cut into strips, and lay out five strips all facing in one direction on top of the tart. Lay out 6 facing in the opposite direction, and then weave them, carefully. Pinch off the edges to seal.

Beat the egg, and brush it over the pastry. Dust the tart generously with sugar, and place in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and you can’t restrain yourself any longer.

This post is shared at the HEARTH AND SOUL BLOG HOP, where Alex is giving away free coconut oil!!! And at Pennywise Platter Thursday.


Prickly Pear Jelly

Prickly pear cactus grows all over the Southwestern US. It’s a big, beautiful plant, and the whole thing is edible, once you remove the thorns. In Mexico it’s as common to eat as eggs, but here it’s a relatively unknown food item, except in Mexican communities. In Mexico it’s called ‘nopales’, and the fruits are called ‘tunas’. I was delighted, when we were in Mexico for my birthday, to see it on the menu almost everywhere. The nopales leaves are fantastic medicinally– they’ve been shown in medical studies to reduce blood sugar levels, which is really helpful for diabetics. Unfortunately you’d have to drink about a gallon of nopales juice per day to get the full medicinal benefits…

My mum lives in an area that is covered with prickly pear plants, so a few weeks ago when I was visiting, I dragged her and my little sister out on a tuna-hunting mission. And I’m so glad I dragged them along, because my mum had the clever idea of handing me rubber gloves on the way out the door. My previous method, which, now that I think about it was most inconvenient, was to take my shoes off, put my hands in the shoes, and pull the tunas off that way, rubbing them back and forth between my hands to get all of the fuzzy prickly bits off. This was problematic for 2 main reasons:

1. Walking barefoot around cacti= I must be missing brain cells. Yes, I’ve stepped on thorny bits. Yes, it hurts like hell.

2. Sometimes you get prickly bits stuck in your shoes and don’t see them. Then you put your shoes back on. See above.

With thick rubber gloves on, the tunas come right off, and the little fuzzy thorns don’t get you. You can also rub them back and forth in your hands before throwing them in the bag. I collected as many as I could. The bag was heavy. Nobody else would carry it, and I felt like Sisyphus all the way home.

When you get home with your bag full of prickly pears, dump them straight in the sink, and don said rubber gloves again. Rub each one with a cloth, under running water. The prickles will all come right off. Like I told my sister, it’s not the little pricks you need to worry about…

Check out that COLOUR!! *swoon*

This jam is amazing. It’s sweet and slightly tart. It’s got a fresh flavour slightly remniscent of watermelon or Jolly Ranchers. It’s amazing. And unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.

Prickly Pear Jelly

makes approx 3 8-oz jars

6 cups prickly pear fruit, mashed (peeled first, then mashed)

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 tb pectin

1 tb calcium water (both come in the pomona pectin packet– if using a different pectin, follow directions according to packet)

The prickly pear fruit is filled with seeds, so first off it’s necessary to strain the seeds out. Do this by pressing the mashed fruit through a sieve. You’ll have a bright pink liquid. About 4 cups of it or so. Bring it to a boil, and add the sugar and lemon juice. Boil for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 500, and put in the jars you’ll be using (without the lids). Once the jelly is room temperature, pour in the calcium water and pectin, and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, and immediately spoon into the boiling hot jars. Seal, and process in boiling water for ten minutes.

By the way, my friend Butter just wrote a post about tunas too. Check it out here!

This post is shared at Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.


Check yo’self


I was trying to think of all kinds of cool slang puns to do with fools. Like ‘check yo’self fool’ and ‘what’s happening fool’ and ‘whatchoo talkin’ about fool’. And then I remembered one day when I was hanging out with my brother and all his friends, and one of them said “that’s dope”, and I said “yeah, that’s dope” thinking that I would try out this slang thing. Except the whole room went quiet and everyone turned and looked at me while my brother said “did you just say that?” I guess my Scottish accent and grammar-nazi status make slang sound ridiculous. So I decided not to embarrass myself again and will talk about blackberries instead.

This past weekend was the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. A day of fasting. When I was young, on Yom Kippur we’d walk to synagogue– everyone did really, as September in Glasgow is usually still sunny, and you take advantage of these things when it rains most of the year. On the way to synagogue were these blackberry bushes. It was my favourite part about the whole thing actually, I’d lag behind and gather as many blackberries as I could. I’d stuff them in my pockets until they were filled to the brim. And then, when we were sitting in synagogue, listening to the services that seemed to go on forever, surrounded by people who were fasting and hungry, I’d wander up to the very back row of seats behind where all of the other kids my age would sit and chat, and one by one, letting them pop in my mouth, I’d eat my blackberries, still warm from the sun.

A fool is one of the simplest desserts you can make. The whole thing, from start to finish, including clean-up, took me less than 15 minutes, while my fish was in the oven. And it’s delicious, did I mention that? It’s creamy and fluffy and explodes in your mouth in a combination of honey and berries and reminds you of why summers are so good. And why berries are so good. And why rebellion always makes things taste that much better. For extra effect, declare yourself to be on a diet, and THEN eat it…

Blackberry fool, erm, fool.

serves 4

8oz blackberries

5 tb honey

8oz raw cream

1tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Using a blender, or a food processor, blend together the blackberries, the honey, the salt and the vanilla. In a big bowl, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the blackberry mixture gently, and spoon into individual serving dishes. Pop them in the freezer to firm up a bit, and serve after 30 minutes.