September of My Years, Frank Sinatra
“One day you turn around and it’s summer. Next day you turn around and it’s fall. And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime, whatever happened to them all?”
September’s slight melancholy inspires song writers: See You in September, September in the Rain, September Song, Try to Remember—all about lost love and remembering. I slip into a mood on the first whiff of autumn and stay there until my birthday. What happened to summer? How could it be Labor Day? Where have all the flowers gone? But we all know that once firecrackers light up skies on the Fourth of July and send the poor doggies onto your lap, the next time you turn around, it’s Fall.
Any gardener knows the end is near by looking out the window at the flowers, the zucchini, and the fruit trees. Dahlias scream out in reds, yellows, and peaches; those vulnerable hanging baskets whine for an everyday watering; any squash plant worth it’s salt has taken over the garden, hiding zucchini the size of seals beneath it’s broad leaves; if we’re lucky tomato vines hang heavy with red orbs; red chard challenges the cook to keep up with its output; and if it’s that every other year, Italian plum tree branches droop with juicy purple fruit and mean wasps.
As I rely on the kindness of friends and family for plums, Ginny again graciously offered her plum bounty for jam and chutney. The mornings warn of the coming change of seasons and when I got up today I felt that exact moment when I know for sure that summer is not going to last forever. It’s dark when I get up in the morning, the sun sets later every night, I saw my first fallen red leaf the other day, the grosbeaks are gone, the spiders are busy building webs, Chipper Jones, the chipmunk, cheeks bulging with bird feeder droppings, scurries back and forth hoarding for the lean season; and mournful geese, flying in neat, V-shape silhouettes, honk across the sky.
According to our TV Weather Blonde, September will be unusually warm, but we all know what’s coming.
Plum Streusel Tart (an old City Restaurant dessert— steppy, but worth the trouble).
8 Tbs. (1 stick unsalted butter), softened
1 cup + 6 Tbs. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. salt
1 3⁄4 cup flour
In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and salt, and beat until combined. Add flour, all at once, and slowly mix until flour is evenly moistened. (Don’t mix until a ball forms around the beaters).
Transfer to a plastic bag and form dough into a 6” log. Seal bag, pressing out any air, and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Divide log in half for one tart. To roll, soften dough by pressing it with your hands until soft and malleable. Form a 4” round disk. On a lightly floured board, roll from center out, lifting dough, turning slightly, to prevent sticking. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
Fold dough in half, and lift into tart pan. Unfold and press gently into bottom and up the sides. Chill 1⁄2 hour before baking.
1⁄2 cup + 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 cup almonds (I’ve used both blanched and unblanched)
9 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
Process sugar and almonds in a food processor until fine. Add butter, one Tbs. at a time, pulsing after each addition until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 cup + 2 Tbs. flour
Cream together sugar and butter until smooth. Add cinnamon and salt and mix until blended. Add flour. Mix with your fingers just until crumbly.
To assemble tart
Roll Paté Sucre and use to line a 10” tart pan with removable bottom. Preheat oven to 350 ̊. Bake empty tart shell for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread almond cream in hot tart shell. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Cut 8-10 plums in half and remove pits. Arrange plums, cut side down, over baked almond cream; sprinkle with streusel and bake 20-30 minutes, until plums are soft and crust is golden brown.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
10# Italian plums (preferably free from a friend)
3 c. sugar (or part sugar, part Splenda)
1 c. rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar works too but is stronger)
1⁄2 c. fresh chopped ginger
3 T. chopped garlic
1 t. nutmeg
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1⁄2 t. salt
1⁄4 t. cayenne pepper
Combine all and cook two-three hours until thickened. The last hour is very tricky—I’ve ruined more than one pot by not minding the plums. Be sure to stir occasionally during the first two hours, and frequently (almost constantly) during the last hour. Process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes.
Taken in our Eugene backyard
My very own beets