We had a really great, low key summer. We spent hours in the swimming pool, rode our bikes along the Santa Monica bike path, played tag games with the neighborhood kids, and stayed up way too late. Hanging with friends this summer was an everyday occurence. The originally scheduled 3 hour playdate generally turned into an overnight, extending itself deep into the following afternoon.
Isaac spends a lot of time with one of his really good friends whose family has a vast property, nestled in between two canyons in the heart of B.H. Driving up their winding driveway instantly makes you feel as though you are far, far away from anything remotely urban and instantly casts you into “relax” mode. As soon as the car is unpacked and I’ve perched myself under one of their many trees, I feel as though I am sitting outside one of the perfect little bungalows at San Ysidro Ranch. But then I hear the faint cries of 7 children and the dogs and then I am reminded that I am merely miles from the hustle and bustle of Wilshire Boulevard.
This property is like no other. It is truly spectacular and my fantasies run wild when ever I take the time to roam the grounds. Beyond the main house are the care takers quarters, horses stables, chicken coop, goats, herb and vegetable garden and man made hiking trails. Lining these trails are the most gorgeous and lush fruit trees. One day at the beginnig of summer, late in the afternoon we took a leisurly hike. The plum trees were full and the plums, perfectly ripe. The kids competed on who would get the most. I cannot remember who won the contest that day, but what I can tell you is that I left that day with a huge bag of perfeclty, delicious plums.
As day turned into night and as we drove down their winding driveway, I waved, blew kisses, and shouted my “thank yous”. But shouting thank you just didnt seem good enough. What better way to really show our gratitude then by bestowing upon them a homemade treat. So, as I drove through Coldwater Canyon, on my way home, I contemplated on what to do with the plums. Jam kept swirling around in my head. With an overabundant amount of fruit, jam is the perfect way to utilize several pounds of freshly picked fruit.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tsp. pectin
1 pound ripe plums (about 3 medium), halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
• score an “x” in each plum and submerge plums in boiling water for 30-45 seconds. when the skins start to peel back, remove them from the boiling water and place under cool water. peel and seed all of the plums and then give them a rough chop. set aside.
• stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves(similar to making a simple syrup).
• scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pod to the sugar water.
• bring to a boil and cook until a candy thermometer reads 260*F. don’t walk away from the mixture, swirl the pan from time to time. whisk in the pectin.
• off the heat, add the cut up plums to the and coat evenly with the sugar water. turn the heat up to high and cook plums until they have started to break up. cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the jam has thickened.
• transfer hot mixture to a glass container, cover with plastic wrap, and refigerate until cool. place in individual ball jars and store in the fridge. Enjoy!
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com