They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
We've been going over the accounts, income and expenses, with a fine-tooth comb for the last three days, coming at each budget spreadsheet from every direction. Again and again. It had all better be right! Luckily our minds work in different ways, come at this from two different directions thus we see different things, catch errors, ask new questions, highlight what the other doesn't making the outcome surer.
If you are connected with me on Facebook, you could not have missed my teasers about a new life adventure, a huge change for JP and me. No, I cannot divulge it just yet but I write not only to share the excitement but to let you a bit into our life, to see how we are moving the project forward, how it is consuming us – the time, energy, passion, fervor and desire for it to work out. And last week had us swallowed up in budgets, assets, debits, expenses and incomes, social charges, salaries, mortgages and wondering how Marty will take to this change. I almost wrote impulsive adventure, but impulsive it is not. It has been brewing for quite some time, the idea simmering and we have been doing our research.
We should know more and hopefully move a step or two ahead this week.
And if this comes through… then not only will our life change but so will Life's a Feast. My blog will become a diary of the exciting journey.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
- Leo Tolstoy
But the end of the week brought us a very nice reward for all of our hard and serious work….
We had company! And right in the middle of plum season! My Kugelhopf Kerrin, Olivier and Chloé stopped by for dinner and then a marvelous brunch the following day (after a trip – a buying spree - to the market). This has become a once-a-year treat for us, their passing through Nantes! The brunch table was loaded down under a cornucopia of plums, so incredibly sweet, from La Maison de la Pomme La Foresterie in Vertou just outside the city; breads, mini Kugelhopf (of course) and pastries from La Petite Boulangerie of MOF Franck Dépériers and gorgeous sorbet from Vincent Guerlais.
The previous evening, JP was in charge of the main course for dinner – a fabulous lamb tagine – I made dessert. The plums at the market were too good not to use, so I made a 2-plum crisp, adding cherries and frozen wild blueberries for body and depth of flavor. I added balsamic vinegar to the fruit and topped the crisp with slivered almonds for crunch and a bit of nuttiness. It was simply out of this world.
PLUM AND WILD BLUEBERRY FRUIT CRISP
I used a variety of ripe, local Reine Claude plums, golden and purple: Reine Claude d’Oullins, Reine Claude de Moissac and Reine Claude violette; the golden plums were incredibly sweet while the purple were sweet with a slightly tart acidity, making for a beautiful balance of flavor and intensity. Once pitted, I sliced each plum in half and then each half into 2 or 3 wedges.
5 cups of pitted, sliced fruit total, about 4 cups plums if adding the cherries (see note above)
½ pound (250 g) cherries, pitted and halved, optional
1 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed and drained (reserve the juice)
¼ cup sugar
½ Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs good quality Balsamic vinegar
For the crisp topping:
¾ cup (90 g) flour
½ cup (110 g) packed or granulated light brown sugar
½ cup (110 g) packed dark brown sugar
½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
7 Tbs (110 g) unsalted butter
¼ to ½ cup slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Prepare the fruit:
Place all of the prepared fruit in a mixing bowl; add the sugar and toss to coat the fruit evenly. Place the cornstarch in a small bowl or cup and add the balsamic vinegar; stir until the cornstarch is dissolved then pour this all over the fruit and toss to mix. Pour the fruit into a baking dish.
Prepare the crisp topping:
Stir together the flour, two sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized bowl, breaking up any lumps. Cube the butter and toss the cubes in the dry ingredients to coat and separate. Then, using only your fingertips and working very quickly, rub the dry ingredients and the butter together until the mixture resembles damp sand and there are no more pieces of butter visible. Toss in the almonds until evenly distributed (or, save the slivered almonds to sprinkle evenly across the surface once the crisp topping has been distributed over the fruit). Sprinkle this mixture thickly and evenly over the fruit in the baking dish all the way out to the edges.
Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake for ½ hour then uncover and bake for an additional ½ hour. The top should be crisp – thus a “Crisp” – and the fruit syrup should be bubbling all around the edges.
Eat warm or at room temperature with ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.