Plum Shrub

Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub
Plum Shrub

Do you ever get a weird sinking feeling stuck deep in your chest and no matter what you do or how many calming matcha lattes you drink you just can't shake it??? That's what anxiety feels for me. Actually this time, it sort of feels like I'm suffocating and stuck in a room with a million doors but none of them can open right now. Anxiety hits me in great big waves. When it's not hovering over me, I feel like the happiest person in the world. In my natural non-anxious state, I like to think of myself as a sunny and overly positive person. But then every once in a while, it just crashes down on me and it takes few days for me to bounce back. I'm honestly not a fun person to be around when I'm feeling like this. Sorry, Reuben.

My anxiety could be triggered by a whole bunch of things. It could be from an exhausting or unproductive week of work. I hate not having anything to do... it literally drives me crazy. Or it could be from experiencing a creative block with my art or developing recipes. Sometimes, it's from something dumb like posting a photo on Instagram and having no one "like" it. This time it's triggered by feeling super restless and unsure about everything that I'm doing. Like, what am I supposed to be doing with my life?!!

We all feel this way sometimes, right? Tell me I'm not the only one!

In an attempt to help get this anxious feeling out of my chest, I try my best to relax and find some hippy dippy internal peace. I take a break from developing recipes and just cook without any intent of photographing or styling. I let myself clock in some extra hours on the couch watching Netflix (we're currently watching Weeds!). I get Reuben to take me out to a new restaurant for some recipe inspiration. I try to sit outside on my lunch break, alone, breathe, and reassure myself that this is exactly where I'm so supposed to be. Hopefully this weird feeling is over in a few days because I need to get out of this funk and back into the kitchen.

Apologies if you didn't sign up to hear about the lows and only want to know about the fun things I do on the weeks or the random recipes I whip up in my kitchen. About 95% of my life and blog are sunny and happy, thankfully. But as with everyone, there is always those days when you're not feeling 100%. If you're down for 5% that's not so sunny, thank you for listening : )

Let's brighten things up now, should we?!
*metaphorically opens the curtains and sunshine comes flooding in*

You know what also helps you get out of funk? A bright, sparkly, and fruity drink! Have you had shrubs before? It is a drinking vinegar made with sugar and fruit. It's super easy to make and is a great addition to cocktails. I personally like to just mix it with some sparkling water for a quick, pretty, and refreshing drink that makes you feel fancy on a Tuesday. I had some rhubarb shrub at the photography workshop I went to a few months back and I though it was magic. I have an affinity towards anything sour and tart. I love me some sour beer, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. You can make shrubs with pretty much any fruit! Don't use bananas, I think that would be pretty awful. I used red plums because our friend, Alex, has a ridiculous abundance of plums from his tree and I'm doing my best to help a friend out! I also recommend that you play around with the types of sugars and vinegars. Maybe throw some herbs in there! Get fancy with it.

I might actually make myself of spritzer right now! 


Plum Shrub

Materials:

1 lb pitted and chopped plums
2 cups white sugar
2 cups white vinegar

Steps:

1. Combine plums and sugar in a bowl. Give it a light smash with a potato masher to help release the juice of the fruit. Cover and let the sugar and plum mixer sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

2. Mix in the vinegar. Cover and allow the shrub mixture to chill in the fridge for another 24 hours. You can allow this mixture to sit for a few more days if you want a stronger flavor.

3. Strain out the plums from the mixture and discard. Pour shrub into airtight glass containers and keep chilled in the fridge. Use shrub in cocktails or mix with sparkling water.

I make a spritzer using 1 part shrub and 3 parts sparkling water.

Black Sesame Plum Crumb Cake

Oh snap!!! Birthday week is quickly approaching! Reuben is turning the big 30 this Saturday! And I am going to be 26 on Tuesday. I'm currently planning on only eating macaroni and cheese on my birthday. Breakfast Mac, Lunch Mac, Dinner Mac, Dessert Mac (Noodle Kugel?). Reuben's mom makes an amazing noodle kugel btw. We will see if I become a ball of cheese on Tuesday. Mac n' Cheese all day seems like an appropriate thing to do for your 26th birthday, right? I'll also be making a cake this weekend, obviously. For Reuben's birthday, I've been envisioning a classic white cake with black sesame buttercream. I want it to look like a little concrete column. Real architecty. Wish me luck. 

I get a little jealous that Reuben steals most of the birthday thunder, but I actually really love that our birthdays are so close together. Two birthdays is a great reason to go on a mini vacation or spend too much money on fancy restaurants 😊  This year, our celebrations are going to be a little bit more chill. I think we are both exhausted from general life to do anything too crazy. Like, we almost forgot that our birthdays were next week. This weekend we will ride our bikes to the zoo, visit a few breweries and wineries, eat lots of food, bake a cake, and buy lots of macaroni noodles. 

We were organized enough to plan a birthday picnic the following weekend! By planning, I mean 2 months ago I remembered to book the picnic area and this past weekend I remembered to tell everyone it was happening. We had one last year and it was so fun my cheeks hurt from smiling all day. We invite everyone we know in the bay area, lay out some blankets, make a butt load of food, and pray for the fog to stay away from Inner RIchmond. My best friend Katie P flew out last year for the picnic from Seattle AND she is coming out again! I can't wait!

Posting a cake recipe seems like the right thing to do, with birthday week in horizon. Here is the final plum recipe of the season to hold you guys over until I post Reuben's Birthday Cake (if it's cute - fingers crossed!). This Black Sesame Plum Crumb cake may be one of the best things I've ever baked. It magically tasted like a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread... very specific. This means you can eat this cake for lunch obviously! The cake was moist with a tight crumb. The nuttiness from the black sesame was well balanced with the sweetness and tartness of the plum jam. If you don't have access to an overflowing plum tree or don't have time to make your own jam, using your favorite store bough jam will work too! It's been a few weeks since I made this and I find myself craving a square of it. But the idea of cracking open my bag of frozen plums makes me a little anxious. I'll hold off on the plums for a few more months... until I'm 26.5! For those of you who haven't ate 1 million plums, I highly recommend you make this magical cake! 


Black Sesame Plum Crumb Cake

makes one 8" square cake

Plum Jam Materials:

3 C plums - pits removed and chopped

1 C white sugar

1 orange 

pinch of salt

 

Crumble Materials:

1 C all purpose flour

1/3 C brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

 

Cake Materials:

12 Tbsp unsalted butter - room temperature

2 C all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 C white sugar

3 Tbsp sesame seeds

2 eggs

2 Tbsp tahini

2/3 C milk

1 cup Plum Jam

Steps:

1. Combine plums, sugar, zest and juice of one orange, and pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, it should start to thicken. While it boils, use a wooden spoon to mash and break up the plums as they soften. Transfer the jam into a glass container or jar and allow to cool in the fridge.

2. Make your crumble by mixing together flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter with a fork. Mix until you have a pebble like texture. Set aside.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grind the black sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until you get a fine texture. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and ground black sesame seeds in a medium bowl. 

4. In the large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter with sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in 1 egg at a time and then tahini.  

5. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk. Beat until combined and scrape down the sides when needed.

6. Spray a 8"x8" baking pan with non-stick spray. Line with parchment paper. Pour batter into baking pan. Smooth batter with an offset spatula until it looks leveled. Spread the plum jam evenly over the top. Top the whole pan with the crumble.

7. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center, it should come out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 mins, then remove from the plan and allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

adapted from this martha recipe!

Plum Soda

Hi there! Stopping in for a quick hello and a plum soda recipe during this long patriotic weekend. Lots of things to do! Wednesday morning can stay super far away from me. I have already consumed a hot dog and some potato salad, so I feel like I've fulfilled my American duty. I think this is my 4th Fourth of July in San Francisco and every single year it is cold. I'm looking outside my window right now at the fog and grey skies... while wrapped in a blanket. I wore a turtleneck to a dinner part last night. So not super Fourth of July-y over here. Reuben and I going to an Oakland A's game later today so maybe it's hot and sunny over on that side of the bay!

This weekend has been pretty low-key so far. A lot of studying (for reuben), painting (for me), ordering Thai food, seeing various friends around the city, and eating a lot of plums. I went over to our friend's parent's house in Inner Richmond to pick up my body weight in plums. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some snippets into their gorgeous backyard. I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE. It was so freaking beautiful and full of vegetables and fruit. I would rent a closet in that house if I could. If you closed your eyes and envisioned a classic, sunny, San Francisco home this would be it. AH. We also went to dinner at another friend's gorgeous apartment last night and now I have a huge urge to dust and organize our whole apartment.

Back to the plums. I took home maybe 5+ pounds of ripe red plums. They tasted like candy. I separated them between intact plums and ones that had bursted from falling to the ground. The bursted ones have been cut up and live in plastic bags in our freezer. Sounds creepy out of context. Not that seasons really matter in San Francisco, but I like the idea of making something in the fall or winter with these sweet summer plums. If you check my browser history, you'll probably only see plum recipes. I've been researching interesting ways to showcase these plums. On my list are plum shrubs, plum sorbet, plum jam, and plum coffee cake. Oh, and this plum soda obviously! I'm in no rush to overdose on plums. They are restfully napping in the freezer until I need them. 

I'm just going to clarify that I am by no means an expert on drinks or cocktails. This is technically a soda... until you had your own kick to it. I have the alcohol tolerance of a child. I do love a fizzy and fruity drink though! I would drink this soda every day. I'll probably go make myself one once I finish writing this post. The plums were so sweet that I barely had to add any sugar to it. If your plums aren't quite super ripe yet, just add some more sugar to taste. This plum soda is bright, bubbly, slightly sweet, and tangy from the ginger and lime. If you don't like ginger, feel free to remove it, but it does add a nice layer to the drink and makes it taste a lot like ginger ale.  It would be the perfect drink to sip on during your hot Fourth of July BBQ. It was 58 degrees yesterday and I still enjoyed it! 


Plum Soda

makes 6 sodas

Materials:

1 1/2 C pitted and halved ripe plums (frozen plums work too)

1 lime

1 tbsp fresh ginger

2 tsp white sugar

sparkling water

blackberries - for garnish

basil - for garnish

Steps:

1. Combine ripe plums, the juice of 1 lime, ginger, and sugar into a blender or a vessel for an immersion blender. Mix for about 30-45 seconds until you have a consistent puree.

2. Add about 2 tbsp of the puree to a glass of ice. Pour 3/4 cup of sparking water into the glass. Mix with a long stirring spoon (or chopstick if you're unsophisticated like me).

3. Garnish with a sprig of basil and blackberries to be fancy!

* Add a splash of gin or vodka to make it a lot more exciting! 

Hello, World!