It’s taken me over an hour to type one word, plums. I know, it’s a heady seductive one. Sour. Dark crimson. Damson plums. Sweet. Plump. Italian plums. It’s not the fruit that has me all tongue tied and unable to write a sentence. Let’s get to the real reason which is this. Don’t give up. It’s the one thing I’m certain about: what you do and make matters. To me. And to many others.
As a writer and all around creative type, I’m constantly making work and sending it out for publication and through the din of silence or the clamor of rejections, we hope for a yes. We cling to it. For what? To know that what we’re doing matters to someone out there? That we, through a collection of words, can make a difference. The thing is, nothing changes with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ because the act of writing or creating is the same, I’m staring at the computer screen with more than one word on the screen and that by any measure is a yes to me.
Here’s the thing I really want to say: Don’t give up. Ever. Period.
Whether you keep a pile of rejection letters or not is up to you. Me, I’m shredding mine and moving on. To the good stuff like those plums I mentioned. Last weekend, I made a rustic plum and walnut tart with a few pounds of sweet Italian plums and a puckering sour jam spiked with red wine. Any sweet plum variety is a nice addition for the tart. Sour varieties are equally good with an additional heap of sugar.
This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams
“I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold”
Plum and Walnut Tart
Yield about 8 servings
for the Pastry:
1 2/3 cups white spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cold
4 to 5 tablespoons ice-cold water
To make the pastry, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal, this will take 1 or 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the ice water and stir with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Flatten into a disk. Let rest, refrigerated, for 1 hour or more.
for the filling:
2 1/2 pounds sweet plums (about 5 cups sliced)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons white spelt flour
3/4 cup natural cane sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons orange zest
optional: glaze the fruit on the still warm tart with 1/4 cup of plum jam (I used my homemade wine-spiked jam)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Slice the plums into halves or quarters and discard the pits. Place the toasted walnuts, 3 tablespoons of flour, cardamom, orange zest, and 1/4 cup of sugar into a food processor and process into a fine meal.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a circle about 14 to 16 inches across. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the walnut mixture evenly around the circumference, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all around. Lay the plums over the walnut mixture, and sprinkle them evenly with all but 1 teaspoon of the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.
Fold the dough borders over the plums. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the bottom. Glaze the fruit while its still warm with plum jam (this is optional). Slide off the pan and cool on a rack.