A Sweet Start

L’Shanah Tovah! It’s Rosh Hashanah and time to start the new year. As we cast aside our regrets, apologize for our mistakes and set new goals for the coming year we will celebrate the abundance of the season with sweet treats. Typically this has involved dipping apples, which we picked from a local orchard, into honey we purchased at the farmers market.

This year, however, we have not yet gone apple picking. I am too excited by the organic peaches and plums that the local farms are now selling. For this reason, I was very pleased to read about a new take on the Rosh Hashanah tradition (reprinted from the Chicago Tribune in my hometown newspaper). The author, Laura Frankel, suggested that it was perfectly acceptable to celebrate with another type of sweet fruit. Especially if it was one you could only get at this time of year .

Farm fresh peaches and plums for the new year treat

Farm fresh peaches and plums for the new year treat

Lucky for me then. I had just purchased a quart of what my grandmother called Svechuan plums. I think you would identify them as prune plums. They are oblong and less juicy as well as more tart than regular round plums.They only are available in September and my grandmother used them to bake pies she called Svechuan Kuchen. I fondly remember sitting around the table with my extended family while we each had a slice or two of pie. Of course, my grandma always served it with ice cold freshly whipped  cream.

So, now that I feel affirmed to expand the holiday tradition because of the author’s suggestion, I plan to bake a plum creation of my own – a Svechuan Buckle. I will probably throw in a peach and some raspberries from my own garden to make sure it is moist. And a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top will make it the perfect sweet dessert for our new year celebration.

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If this photo made you wish you could share a piece with us, I included the recipe below. Enjoy!

Svechuan plum buckle   all crisp and golden on top

Svechuan plum buckle all crisp and golden on top

Svechuan Plum Buckle

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Online Book Shopping

Image representing Barnes & Noble as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

At the end of June, almost a year ago, I received a teacher appreciation gift card to Barnes and Noble. It was a lovely thought; what teacher would not enjoy some good summer reading? The only problem is that I am a library girl. I visit my public library once or twice a week and always have piles of fiction, non-fiction, travel guides, cookbooks and magazines on my nightstand.

I do enjoy my Kindle. Downloading digital books makes packing reading material for vacations light and easy. I try to borrow my e-reads as much as possible; because if I do buy a book, it has to be through Amazon. I know they won’t take my gift card.

Third generation Amazon Kindle

So now I have held onto this gift for close to year and I am concerned it will expire shortly. I have read many book reviews in my quest to find something which I feel is worthy of purchasing.  Those qualifications would include: an author whom I enjoy and possibly have another book by, a book that had fabulous reviews, one that covers a topic of interest to me, something I could pass on to friends or family when I am done.

I came up with a list and decided to finally buy my books. Part of me still felt guilty about buying from an online chain, rather than supporting the local, privately owned shop. I suppose the compromise could have been to drive to the big store at the mall, but I rarely head out in that direction.

The Book Shop With Wigtown being named The Boo...

I decided to approach the owner of the independent store and see if we could work out a deal. I figured if I had her order the books for me and I purchased enough extra material over the gift card value that she would be happy for the business and I could finally unload the card.

I was disappointed that the owner could not figure out a way to make such a plan work- even if she offered to buy it from me at a discount and I bought books she already had in stock. You would think that in an attempt to attract customers she might have been willing to find a creative strategy. Instead she suggested I either gift the card to someone else or buy online. Imagine that- an independent store, struggling for business, yet encouraging me to shop online!

I still could not bring myself to do that; so in order to ease my disappointment,  I went to the library. I found one of the books from my wish list on their well-stocked shelves. I also located the next book I will be reading for my book club. I spontaneously grabbed one of the books which they had cleverly displayed near the front desk. While I felt badly that I couldn’t do business at the local shop, at least my public library was there for me.

Then I went home and placed my order online. The package arrived today. Now I have plenty of summer reading lined up for the next few months. I am only a year behind.