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Today is National Eat Your Jello Day. It’s a big sale day (with a mathematical sounding name that sadly has nothing to do with math, other than perhaps, economics) on a HUGE shopping site. Side note: just bought my first Kindle, WOO!
And it is this guy’s birthday. I kind of have a big squishy spot in my soul belonging to the marvelous sparkle angel that is
Richard-Simmons-2
Richard Effing Simmons.

This sweet glitter doodle is 65 years awesome today, and I just realized that he has been a celebrity my entire life. He had his own show when I was quite small, has been a resident ofPort Charles, and built a healthy living and eating empire that thrives today.

I have largely ignored his principled approach to eating to establish my own pastry regimen, but whatever. My parlor trick is that I can nutritionally justify pretty much any food. That said, I think if I handed Richard one of these, he’d be pretty pleased. Plums are low glycemic index, high fiber, and heart-healthy. Red wine is delicious. And it has antioxidants. Gelatin is protein-rich. Ta-da! Nutrition!

Red Wine-Plum Gelee`
yield: Four 3/4 cup servings

1 1/2 pounds Santa Rosa plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A small pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 Tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tsp sugar, to medium peaks

In a medium pot, simmer the plums with the sugar, red wine, cinnamon, salt and a 1/2 c. water over medium heat until they are tender but not falling apart.

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Just a simmer, NOT a boil

Just a simmer, NOT a boil

Remove from heat.
Strain out all the plum chunks and reserve the juice. Puree the plums until no chunks remain. Pour through a fine mesh sieve (you may need to force a bit of it through). Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cooled juice and allow to bloom for five minutes. Return to low heat, and gently stir until the gelatin is completely melted.
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Stir in the pureed plums and remove from heat.
I need a sweater this color

I need a sweater this color


Pour into glasses and chill, covered, in the fridge until set, about 3 hours.
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Top with whipped cream and fresh plums and eat with reckless abandon.

National Sugar Cookie Day, folks!
IMG_20160709_122037I hope you’re celebrating along with me, because these are one of life’s little simple culinary pleasures. I’m not much for “secret” ingredients usually, but this recipe kind of has some; believe me, if you skip them, you’ll miss them! That teeny pinch of cinnamon and squirt of lemon juice are not obvious when you eat a cookie, but add that little extra *what* that give these soft and chewy sugar cookies a bit more dimension. Let’s get baking!

Thin, crisp, butterry, CHEWY!

Thin, crisp, buttery, CHEWY!


Sugar Cookies

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/2 c.sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.baking soda
1 heaping tsp. kosher salt
1 small pinch of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 large egg
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the butter, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Start on low speed to combine, then kick it up to medium and cream until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.

In the bowl it looks like this...

In the bowl it looks like this…


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Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and continue to cream the mixture on medium an additional 5 minutes, then scrape the bowl down again. Add the flour a 1/2 c. at a time on low speed and mix just until everything is well combined.
Roll the dough into Tbsp.-sized balls, and place on a paper-lined sheet pan. Bake until crispy on the outer edge but still pretty soft in the center, and light golden brown.
Obligatory cooling rack pic

Obligatory cooling rack pic

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Let them cool just enough so they don’t burn your tongue, then eat with reckless abandon.

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Well Hey there! It’s been a minute since the last post, hasn’t it? Have you ever noticed how fast time flies when things slow down? That’s what it’s been like over here.
What’s been keeping me busy, though, are all the plums growing, falling, and collecting in my yard. There are…lots…of plums. It’s a nice dilemma. One that lends itself to visiting the neighbors with gifts in hand, discussions on what to do when you’ve reached saturation point with jam and need some new ideas.
There's way more where that came from

There’s way more where that came from


I’m getting a lot of good ideas, and I’m starting with this one. This plum cake is plucked from David Lebowitz’s Ripe For Dessert, which I made a couple of teeny changes to. It reminds me of the kind of cakes my grandmother would make- not too sweet,redolent of her Austrian heritage, and filled with the best of the season’s fruits. Blueberries were her thing, plums are mine.

Plum Cake

1/4 c warm whole milk
2 tsp. dry yeast (not instant)
1/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
6 medium plums, pitted and cut into slices
1/2 c. raspberries
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and side of a 9″ springform pan.

Place the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir and allow the yeast to dissolve a bit. Add the first 1/4 c. of sugar and stir well, then add the vanilla and eggs. Continue to mix until the yeast and sugar are completely dissolved and the eggs are fully incorporated.
Add the flour and salt and beat on medium speed for a minute. Add the chunks of butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat for an additional minute.
Pour the dough (it will be very sticky and soft) into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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If after 2 hours the dough has not spread into the edge of the pan, dampen your hands and press into the corner and side. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the dough, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. If the fruit is too close to the edge, it could stick to the pan and burn in the oven. Arrange the plums on top of the berries.
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Sprinkle the lemon juice on top of the fruit, then sprinkle the sugar evenly atop the fruit and exposed dough. Just as David Lebovitz states in the original recipe, it looks like a lot of sugar. Keep on sprinkling.
I know it looks like a lot. TRUST.

I know it looks like a lot. TRUST.


Let the cake sit, covered, for an additional 1/2 hour, to allow it to rise one more time.
Remove the plastic and bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the center is golden and slightly firm.
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Allow the cake to cool a bit before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, and eat with reckless abandon.

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