Plum Gorgeous

Plum Gorgeous, Recipes and Memories from the Orchard by Romney Steele, Andrews McMeel 2011, $25.00 hardback, 178 pages

Henry James thought the words summer afternoon” were two of the most beautiful in the English language (yes, I’m seeing the hammock too). But what about the words raspberry rhubarb rose petal jam? He might have swooned over the alliteration, the blushing tones of pink, and the flowery sweetness.

Romney Steele could hardly avoid creating such evocative recipes. She is a visual artist, working in Big Sur, California, who was looking for a touchstone and seeking to capture memories and connections in each recipe.

Steele not only offers creative combinations—Salmon with Huckleberries, Blueberry Lemon Thyme Risotto, Kumquats with Couscous and Halloumi—but always keeping the fruit’s essence, a sharp citrus bite or candy sweet plums; the reason we wait all year for fresh peaches.

But these are cookable recipes as well. Lemon Almond Cake can be a coffee-klatsch go-to and with a jar of Preserved Lemons in the pantry, you can easily spark a salad or a stew.

The book’s chapters begin with winter citrus, and move on to spring berries, summer stone fruit, and autumn apples. With this range, just as you are lamenting the last plums, crisp apples will appear to console you, along with figs, quinces, and pears. And even though it’s only July, I’m already thinking about Persimmon Chocolate Chip Cookies.

In the meantime, this is how I’m seeing it—a slice of Tomato, Grape, and Ricotta Flatbread, a tall glass of creamy iced coffee, the morning sun stretching into the backyard, and a nearly finished Sunday crossword. Perfect summer morning.

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About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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