Tag Archives: lime

Friends and neighbors will drive you “plum crazy”!

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As creatures of habit and hesitant towards change, there are times when even the most adventurous of humans struggle with giving things a chance, especially when it comes to trying new foods. For me, I have always resisted the humble plum. I have eaten plums at homes of friends with pleasure. If one were to inquire of my opinion regarding this specific rock fruit, I would reply with positivity. I would even go on to describe them as juicy, sweet, tender, and excellent for cooking. Nonetheless, each week when I go shopping at Silver Barn market, I pass by the lovely display of locally grown plums, and each week I continue pushing my cart on by. Do not ask me why. It would likely play out like a Dr. Seuss story as I would proceed to confuse you with all sorts of riddling explanations as to why I never buy this particular fruit. Pretty soon your head would be spinning, then my head would be spinning, and before we could effectively end the discussion, we would both be searching for the nearest barf bag.

However, sometimes, what one needs is a gentle push in the right direction. Or, if you’re me, with stubborn German roots, it requires something resembling…more of a kick in the pants.

Last Saturday, I stopped by my friends’ house to pick them up for a night out in Astoria. Seeing their parents in the front yard, I hopped out to say my “hellos” and get my usual “don’t get into too much trouble there, Juhl-child”. While I was chitchatting about their newest landscape project, I found my friend talking to me in the background about her recent interaction with an Ecuadorian neighbor. Trying to multi-task, I nodded along to both conversations simultaneously – (always dangerous and yet I never learn). Beware – you will ALWAYS say, “yes” to something you don’t want or need. It’s like my sister, who at a naïve 23, had to be told by her Parisian friend to stop saying “Oui” to anything she didn’t understand. “You’re going to end up married to an Arab and in the African district if you’re not too careful!” Ignoring this universal advice, I headed back to the car and realized that I had just agreed to a bag full of plums. OF ALL FRUIT – REALLY??!! Apparently my friend had similarly been bamboozled by her Polish neighbor who asked if she liked plums – “ahhh I have a tree – no can eat it all. Here four bags!” So like a good friend, she “paid it forward” and bamboozled me into my very own bag. How nice.

Fortunately, my conniving culinary brain began working and I decided to similarly “pay it forward”. I had a friend for lunch today and prepared tilapia with plum mint salsa. The funniest part of this whole story – my friend doesn’t really like plums. Muahahahahahahaha!

Friends and neighbors will drive you “plum crazy”!

My little plums all washed and ready to be married to their beautiful mint friend.

The final product which my friend and I quickly devoured with pleasure. A successful “kick in the pants” indeed!
Plum Salsa
  • 6 medium (or 8 small) ripe plums, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 20 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tb diced jalepenos
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches Stevia

Put plums in a bowl with onion, cilantro, mint, and jalepeno. Add lime juice, salt, and Stevia and mix until combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Broiled Tilapia with Plum Salsa

  • Pam spray
  • 1 lb Tilapia filets
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 1 recipe Plum Salsa (see above)
  • 4 lime wedges

Preheat broiler on High in your oven. Grease a baking sheet with Pam, then place filets on sheet. Generously sprinkle both sides of each filet with salt and pepper. Drizzle filets with olive oil. Broil until cooked to desired temperature (I prefer my tilapia to be medium-well, so I cooked mine for 8 minutes), depending on the thickness.

Transfer the fish to a serving platter and spoon the plum salsa generously over. Garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately.

YIELD: 3 servings

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Now that I have conquered my inexplicable fear of the plum, does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with my-new found gastronomical friend?!

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Gin’n’tonic – more than just a cure for malaria

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Once upon a time in the year 2004, my sister returned from her first of now countless trips to France. Like most 21-year-olds returning from their travels abroad, she was wiser and had tales to tell of the world beyond the U S of A. One practice she had adopted after her two-month stint was the custom of an aperatif before one’s meal – particularly a gin’n’tonic (or as Maureen, her adopted nanny from England would call it, a “g-n-t”). It may seem simple and uninteresting to many, but it was a cocktail that reeked of sophistication, class, and history as she told us the story of why it is the cocktail of choice for so many Brits. Some of you may know this tale, but for those still stuck in their cultural cocoon, allow me to explain.

Back in the days when the British had spread their imperial ways across the majority of Earth’s landmass, including lands plagued with malaria such as India, British soldiers needed a means to protect themselves from such deadly pathogens. Afterall, if the soldiers all died, who would enforce afternoon tea???! DEAR GOD MAN (sorry…inside joke with my sister :p )!!! So, they discovered that quinine could treat the disease, but unfortunately was incredibly bitter and distasteful. Like many things, adding a little sparkling water, sugar, lime, and gin to anything makes it go down a whole lot smoother. Thus the birth of the g’n’t!!! Now back to me.

So here my family was in 2004, sitting around our kitchen table, each with a glass filled with this sparkling crisp concoction. As the kitchen table always was the site for lively discussions about our daily frustrations, delights, and philosophical delusions, the beverage became a mainstay in the Juhl family. Much like cheese, but that’s for another blog :).

So now it’s the year 2012 and even though we don’t live together anymore, we still spend our select evenings together sitting around that old Amana table, debating life, and sipping our g’n’t’s. So, it’s no wonder that when I came over this last Wednesday night after a long and crazy day, I went straight to my parent’s fridge to grab the necessary ingredients. That’s when panic sat in…no limes or lemons. DUHN DUHN DUHNNNNNNNNNN!!! What were we going to do??? All the stores had closed. The fruit stand vendors were long packed up. But, then I had a revelation…

A month ago my sister came to town for a visit and we met up with one of our dear friends to do what every Manhattanite is doing on a Friday evening…HAPPY HOUR! As I perused the cocktail menu at Café Sprig in the Lipstick Building, my eye gravitated to a gin cocktail that included a bizarre ingredient – cucumber extract. I love cucumbers and I love gin, but together??? But then my lovely sister who freakishly operates on my same wavelength said, “I bet it’s gonna be like that “Gilmore Girls episode!”

Lorelai: “What is it about cucumber water that makes it so much more refreshing than non-cucumber water?”
Rory: “I think it’s the cucumbers.”

So I told our stunning 6’2″-Aryan waiter named Hans (well, k I don’t remember his name, but it SHOULD HAVE been Hans) that I would take a stab. And I did…twice. It was just THAT good.

So here I am now, four weeks later and in a serious state of concern. There was no way I could stomach just gin and tonic water alone. Enter my gin-cucumber revelation. Two slices of cucumber quartered and sunk in my glass later, I took a sip and had a Bogey moment, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Crisis averted and family bonding time was back on track.

Think I’m crazy??!! Grab a cuke and give it a try! If anything, at least think of the sugar you’ll save from switching to a food that is high in vitamins A, K, and C, as well as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. See – I can even make gin sound healthy ;). Take that British East India Company!

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