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Garden Lifestyle

Fall is in the Air: Enjoy the Last of Summer Bounty While You Can!

The cool weather has arrived and summer is going fast.

  • Fruit flummeries are very quick to prepare and tasty to have on hand. They are lovely for dessert, as a snack or for breakfast with yogurt and perhaps a bit of granola. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Get the last of the summer fruit while it is still available. The stone fruits--plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots--work well when cooked briefly with herbs.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The leaves of scented geraniums add a delightful flavor to summer fruit. Rober's Lemon Rose is my favorite because it combines citrus with a touch of rose flavor. If you don't have them, try using any of the lemon herbs, monarda, or basil.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

The cool weather has arrived and summer is going fast. Summer crops have stopped producing in my zone 7 garden; just picked the last tomatoes, though still have some herbs to harvest and chiles are ripening on the vine. The summer fruits–peaches and plums–are also dwindling, so now is the time to enjoy this last summer bounty. Harvest from the garden or stop by your local farmers’ market or farm stand and enjoy the last of this seasonal produce for supper–or put some up.

Here is a simple and quick English recipe for Old-Fashioned Plum Flummery using the last of the plums along with some of those leggy, scented geraniums which need cutting back. You can also use peaches, nectarines or apricots–and experiment with your favorite herbs in place of the scented geranium.

And speaking of England–I will be off to the Ozarks next week for their annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival, which takes place the first weekend of October–and is truly an extravaganza attracting herbies from around the country. This year we are featuring the British Isles and there will be everything from Irish folk music in the Heritage Herb Garden, a high tea supper, proper English tea, hats and gloves, wenches and jesters, not to mention programs on subjects from odes to old herbals, nettles, tea, wild immigrant plants, British and Scots-Irish uses of medicinal plants, and gardens of the Emerald Isle to dyes of the Scottish tartans, plant explorers, the potato and the pleasures of Irish cookery. There is still room to sign up for the two-day seminar, though the high tea supper is sold out. For more info go to https://www.ozarkfolkcenter.com/events/?isofc=1&id=1774

Plum Flummery

Flummery is a pudding made from stewed fruit that is generally thickened with cornstarch, most often berries, and sometimes has milk or cream added. Many old recipes for flummeries, which are believed to have originated in England, were cooked with oatmeal to make them thick and gelatinous. It is more hearty, though delicious if oats are used. (Generally the oats are soaked overnight to soften them, then cooked, and the fruit is added to them once they are just about done.) Later recipes were thickened with gelatin; flummeries are often flavored with a spice, herb and/or a sweet wine.

I chose Pelargonium ‘Rober’s Lemon Rose’ for this sweet, light dessert, since my scented geraniums are leggy and need cutting back. It makes a lovely flavor combination. Lemon herbs, orange mint or Monarda would all combine well with plums. Or try any of the stone fruits like peaches or apricots. A flummery is similar to a fruit compote–cook this a few minutes more if you want the fruit very soft–I like it with a bit of texture. Also if your fruit is very ripe it will need less cooking time. Flummeries sometimes have spirits in them; replace 3 tablespoons of the water here with the same amount of a sweet sherry, Madeira, white wine or even elderflower liqueur, for a spirited variation. The fruit gives off juice when cooked. Serve this plain, over vanilla ice cream, cake, or waffles, French toast or pancakes or for breakfast with yogurt.
Serves 6
6 firm, ripe plums, sliced and pitted
6 tablespoons scented geranium sugar
6 scented geranium leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
About 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Combine the plums, sugar, cornstarch, and herb leaves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and toss well. Add the water and lemon juice and place over medium heat. Bring the plums to a simmer, stir, reduce heat to medium low, and cover. Cook for about 8 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You may need to add another tablespoon or two of water if the liquid cooks down to quickly. Test with the tip of a knife for doneness. Cook for a few minutes more for a soft fruit. Serve warm or at room temperature. Remove cooked leaves, if desired.

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