You can learn so much about a person just by seeing what he/she eats. It can tell you about someone’s heritage or their stress level; it can tell you what makes them feel comforted or what inspires them; it can tell you about who they’ve known or where they’ve been. It’s the way people take care of themselves. It fascinates me.
The way people feed themselves when they are alone can be particularly interesting. If you’re similarly
nosy curious, I highly recommend the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. It’s a book of short personal stories by all these wonderful writers about the weird, random, embarrassing, and/or comforting ways that they feed themselves when they’re not feeding or impressing anyone else.
So here’s a glimpse into what I made myself one quiet night at home. I had the baking itch, but no one to share treats with. I also had some plums sitting around from a slightly disappointing batch I had bought earlier in the week, so I was inspired to turn them into a mini fruit crumble.
(my apologies for the poor photos from this point on)
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t bake up adorable little pastries for myself every time I’m alone. But I do think there is something to say for treating yourself to a little luxury. For a lot of people (myself included) cooking and baking are appealing because of their nurturing quality. I don’t bake all the time just to feed my uncontrollable gluttony. I love spending time to make something delicious and special for someone else – putting time and love into a recipe and turning it into an expression of something bigger.
Once in a while, though, it can be just as soul-soothing to put that time and love into something for yourself. There’s no one to impress or please or disappoint. Just your two hands, the ingredients in your kitchen, and your own creativity.
I found this recipe on a Southern cooking website. I hesitate to call it a plum crisp, because it lacks a little bit of the lightness of a crisp. Rather, it is fresh and naturally sweet, but also rich, with a heartier crust covering the top.
I had exactly 5 tiny plums, so I completely messed around with this recipe (haphazardly and unscientifically), and it turned out just perfect. Recipes like this one are not fussy. I’m including the full recipe here, since my little one was so inexact. Let it serve as inspiration for you.
Plum Crumb Dessert
recipe from Taste of Home
Note: I’m choosing to leave the full recipe unchanged here, since I didn’t test out the exact measurements myself. I do think the amount of sugar is a little excessive, though. I would recommend cutting the sugar in both the dough and the fruit mixture. Decide according to your own taste.
Also, I realized halfway through that I was out of eggs. So I used a little butter to bind the dough/topping together, and I skipped the 1/2 cup butter that is poured over the top.
7 large plums, pitted and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup all-purpose flour (divided)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried mace (mace is the membrane around nutmeg. you can try substituting cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg, but start with 1/8 teaspoon and add to taste from there.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
In a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Spoon into a greased 2-qt. baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, salt, mace and remaining flour. Add egg; stir with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over plum mixture. Drizzle with butter.
Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until plums are tender and top is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.