Thursday, September 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by Needleworks, Inc..

It's no secret that Thursdays at The Works is more about nesting and less about knitting. It's a day that I get out of work early and have the chance to do things like shop, cook, and blog.

I saw these dahlias as I was walking to the subway and they called to me to buy them. Flowers are a luxury item when you live in the city. You have to depend on your local deli to provide afforable greenery, rather than stepping into your garden to cut it yourself.

In the bowl are some "italian prunes," or at least, that's what the produce store was calling them. They're a small type of plum and my grandparents used to have one of these trees in their backyard.

It wasn't until I put these purchases on my table that I realized that what drew me to by them was nostalgia.

My mother's parents always had these two items in their backyard. They had a little patch of land in Trenton, NJ on which they had a pear tree and plum tree and also grew tomatoes, green beens, cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic, horseradish, and recently, eggplant and zuchinni.

The fruit and flowers undeniably remind me of my youth and my grandparents' garden. There were always dahlia's to cut at the end of summer. My mom has pictures of me as a little girl, clutching bouquets of dahlias to take to my teachers on the first week of school.

As I grew older, I loved to go to my grandmother's yard and cut the overgrown flowers to take home with me. They always cheered me up. In fact, I felt that they held mysterious cheer-ing powers. When my grandfather was sick and dying of cancer, I would cut a few every day and put them in a plastic cup near his bed. I believed that they must make him happy as they did me. They were a reminder of the garden that he spent so many hours working and weeding.

The plums and pears were consumed constantly while they were available. The plums were baked in to cakes and buckles and eaten whole. We often couldn't keep up with the pears and they would ripen and fall to the ground making the backyard a minefield of buzzing bees. When they were picked, my grandfather would feed us, cutting slices of the pears with a small paring knife.

Once the season came to an end, the fruit was stewed and canned and we would eat them all winter long with our Farina. My grandparents managed to preserve a little of their Old World lifestyle amid the concrete of their new city.

These plums won't last long enough to can them. I plan on eating them tonight. You take them between your thumb and index finger and squeeze to reveal the little pit. One you remove that, you can pop the whole thing in your mouth.

I'm using the last of my grandmother's tomatoes to make a roasted tomato soup with lentils. I have a bag full of green beans that I don't know what to do with. I think I'll freeze some so that I can eat them mid-winter. The rest I plan on pickling.

But the plums, the plums will be eaten right away. Tonight.

P.S. Thanks to my friend, Berhan, who made a lovely gift of this pitcher and bowl!


Lisa said...

Isn't it lovely to relive those memories? Enjoy!

Veronique said...

My grand-mother called these plums quetsch, and we would eat tons of quetsch tarts with cinnamon.... Hmmm. I also got nostalgic when I saw these at the green market and I grabbed a bunch and canned them! I also got the little yellow plums, which we called mirabelle and canned those too.

Anonymous said...

What nice memories and interestingly enough that you posted on the 7th and we're thinking about Dido. September 6th was 8 years since his passing...I was thinking about him alot this week too...I miss him...Love Mom

Jessica said...

What sweet and lovely memories!