Tag Archives: mint

Friends and neighbors will drive you “plum crazy”!


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


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?!


For those who know me personally, I have recently left my job off two-and-a-half years to finally pursue my passions.  So, as I sat in Mamela’s kitchen two Tuesdays ago, contemplating why the world spins and why I had quit my job, I decided that I needed to finally DO the things I keep SAYING I will get around to.  Staring at me was a copy of Jamie Oliver’s cookbook “The Naked Chef”, a book by a person I greatly admire and relate to in food philosophy.  Unfortunately, this specific book of his had always been on my to-do list.  So with an hour before dinner to kill, I cracked it open to page one and was immediately immersed until I reached page eleven.  Then, I simply became inspired.

We can’t keep buying those small packets of fresh herbs from the supermarket.  Quite often we are paying high prices for substandard herbs, and not much of them either…the idea is that fresh herbs are to be picked and used in cooking for a really natural, fresh perfume, not sweating and wilting in plastic.”  (Excerpt from “The Naked Chef Cookbook” page 11.)

Jamie managed to put in ink what I always have thought – that store-bought herbs is nearly tantamount to “cruel and unusual punishment”.  Before you dubb me “Rachel’sDramaticDelusions”, hear me out.

Many are all too familiar with the high costs of packaged fresh herbs that are only good for two days, forcing you to only buy herbs when you know that you will immediately use them.  I do not know about you, but I do not like being told when I can have my favorite pesto gnocchi.  Enter the genius argument for home-grown herb plants.

“Whether you live in the city or the country, whether you’re rich or poor, whether you live on the sixteenth-floor or in a basement flat, it doesn’t matter!  Just stick them in your garden, window-box, flower pot, bucket – anything that doesn’t move!”  (Excerpt from “The Naked Chef Cookbook” page 11.)

While this rules out my wheelbarrow, my family and I have definitely not let the lack of fresh arable land to hold us back or constrain our eating habits.

Mamela interrupted my delusional daydream to ask what kind of starch I wanted with my grilled steak.  Leaving her confused, I rand out to the back of their house to our shared garden and began snipping away.  Just like Jamie said, the perfume of fresh mint and rosemary on my fingertips gave me a calm feeling as dusk settled in and a warm summer breeze rustled through my dad’s tomatoes.

In an hour, I was sitting on Mamela’s terrace under the twinklelights and listening to my dad rant and rave about the refreshing sensation my roasted potatoes gave his palette.  I sat there, sipping my g’n’t, and thanked “The Naked Chef”.



Our sweet rosemary doing its best to keep up with its herbal friends.


Our mint that came back with such a vengeance this season that we had to exile him to his very own and larger pot.












Yukon gold potatoes tossed in mint and rosemary pesto before baking.

Roasted mint and rosemary potatoes ready to be savored.

It’s Not Just for Toothpaste: Roasted Rosemary and Mint Potatoes