Food: Walking through the plums
One of the ways I like to exercise is walking. I’m not a speed pacer by any means, more like a poke-along, but for me it’s about enjoying all the sights and sounds of being outdoors.
When I start a walk from home I always take Homey and Bubs who look forward to this outing every day. Once the leashes come out they go into spirals of ecstasy, dancing and hopping around like they are about to embark on the biggest adventure of their lives. This is the time they water the trees along the way and they love getting out of their familiar yard and seeing something new. Just watching them trotting happily along beside me puts a smile on my face.
And I really miss my little companions when I decide to take a break from my work duties and stroll throughout the neighborhoods of Rhinelander. I have to admit, this is a very different kind of experience than a country jaunt and not because my pups are missing.
Sometimes I wander up Brown St. accompanied by the aromas of whatever is cooking in the area restaurants. Seems like there’s always the smell of burgers in the air and many times delectable fragrances I can’t quite put my finger on wafting over the block. I love looking into the windows and checking out all the interesting shops that downtown Rhinelander has to offer.
However, more times than not, I head into the historic district where I often marvel at the beautiful and stalwart architecture of the old and grand homes around the courthouse area. This is where my pace really slows as I take in the many beautiful flower gardens or unique lawn ornaments that surround these places. I love the homes with old fashioned porches, where you can just imagine sitting on a cool night watching the evening fade away.
But there is one street that always beckons this time of year. It is the street where a plum tree grows that for many seasons has fascinated me.
In the spring it has the most delicate and fragrant blossoms but it is this time of year that this little tree is covered with beautiful orchid-colored fruits. And the way this tree grows.
It isn’t planted in a yard but rather in the area between the sidewalk and the street. A little trellis holds it up out of the way of pedestrians but still when you walk underneath it, you get a feeling of being surrounded in a canopy of small dark-pink globes.
Their sweet smell hits my nose long before I come upon the little tree and it takes every restraint I have not to start swiftly plucking these fruits and stuffing my pockets. However, I have snuck a couple just to eat as I go and they are so sweet and juicy, so perfect, that I want to walk around this block several times just so I can keep grabbing them.
These fruits also remind me of a recipe that I got from my grandmother shortly after I graduated from college. She used to make this treat about this time of year and of course share it with her grandchildren. When I went off to school, I often dreamt of this cake when plum season was upon us and now I make it at least once a year. That’s the recipe I’m sharing this week.
With the beautiful fall weather that is slowly changing our landscapes, it’s a good time to take a stroll no matter where you live. And if you find a plum tree or two to walk beneath do it. Or better yet, grab a handful. They are some of the sweetest bounty of the season.
Plum Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
8-10 very ripe small red plums
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking pan. Halve and pit the plums. Cut into quarters.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla. Sift in the nutmeg, flour, salt, baking soda and powder. Beat until smooth. Pour half the batter into the pan and smooth it out. Place the plum quarters cut side down on the batter. Pour the other half of the batter over the plums, and layer the rest of the plums on top. Mix the butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon until crumbly and sprinkle over plums. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool for fifteen minutes.