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Plum Mania 2: Brandy Plums 10.20.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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NOT human viscera.A combination of simple syrup, plums, and cheap brandy become something boozy and magical.  Wash and pit the plums, stuff them into a big mason jar, pour hot simple syrup over within an inch or two of the top.  Fill the remainder with a we bit more brandy than you think is needed.  Cover, can.

Then in the dead of winter, when you and your friends are craving the warmth of a sunny august day, get drunk on the memories of summer.

Adapted from a Joy of Cooking recipe for brandied peaches.  (which I feel is further evidence of two things: cooks like to drink and everything tastes better with a little liquor…cheers!)

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Plum Mania 3: Plum Engagement Tart 10.12.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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Even though I made this I STILL WANT TO EAT IT THROUGH THE SCREENFinally, we wrap up plum mania (and the last of the plums from our coworker’s tree with this mouthwatering plum tart.  Beautiful right?  Yep, sometimes I impress even myself.  This was the first time that Bread and Buttress has made pie crust…ever.

Pie crust is what I like to consider one of those “Othello” type skills.  Needless to say, daunting.  However, with some insider tips (thanks Elaine) I felt confident.  Biggest tip: everything should be hella cold.  So, after mixing the dough, I refrigerated it.  Hours later, after rolling it, I refrigerated it.  After forming it in the pie pan, fridge.  What resulted was a flaky yet strong crust. that adequately held the contents of the tart.

Anyhow, if you’d like further crust information, email me.  I’m happy to share.  The tart itself uses washed, pitted, and halved plums that have been lightly sugared (because they were super ripe already).  The plums sat on top of an almond paste painstakingly made by my skilled girlfriend.  A brandy custard was poured over carefully arranged plums.  An hour in the oven and topped with a homemade peach glaze (gives it that nice sheen).  The results:

Fuzzy enjoyment of said tart.

It deserves to be noted that this tart was fashioned at the last minute to celebrate the engagement of two dear and awesome friends.  Nothing celebrates better than food right?  Congrats Joe and Kelly!

Plum Mania Part 1: Plum Jam 09.29.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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We're going to destroy these little guys

Nothing signifies the start of Fall in Seattle like ripe plums…or rather, friends trying to dump their ripe plums in your lap.  For us, picking plums from a coworker’s tree in Sunset Hill was a welcome act of charity.  A half hour of picking and gathering of treefall yielded enough plums to poke around with a few different recipes.  First off, Plum Jam.

Always use butter on your toast.  Always.Jam comes in all different forms.  Thick, thin, smooth, chunky.  It’s perfection depends less on ingredients and more on preference.  What follows is an easy spreading jam, with no added pectin.  It depends more on the fruit solids and natural pectin for consistency.  Jam is also a great example of a recipe that depends on personal taste rather than proportion.  Let your tongue be your measuring cup.

You will need:

  • Plums (Italian pictured here.  maybe 10lbs)
  • Sugar (maybe 4 cups)
  • Lemon Juice (from real lemons only.  maybe 1 cup)
  • Big Pot
  • Drill with paint mixer attachment

Jam is a great oportunity to use treefall, or plums that have fallen to the ground.  Gather only those that have been unpuntured.  Usually that means a bird or a slug has gotten to them first.  If they’ve fallen, chances are they are super ripe.  Rinse the plums.  Pit them by shoving your thumb in and tearing them open.  Scoop out the pit with a finger and through the roughly halved plum into a deep pot.  Add the sugar.  Juice lemons, making sure to pick out or strain all the seeds before adding the juice to the pot.

What the...metal?  It's ginger.  Keep flavoring separate to maintain a consistent end product.Place it on high heat.  Stir occassionally to prevent the bottom from carmelizing.  When it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  We probably let this batch go for about an hour plus.  Note that we also added a bunch of chopped ginger in a tea ball for flavor.  This made a subtle but nice complement to the plum.  though it is not necessary because the jam is going to be friggin’ amazing without it.  Just saying.

The consistency desired here is easy spreading but not watery.  Because we’re going to be blending the plums we looked for the syrupy part of the mixture to barely coat a spoon while hot.

Enter the power tools.  Grab your drill and your (brand new from your local hardware store, and washed) paint mixing blade.  Still that sucker in and pull the trigger.  Be amazed as your plum goop turns into a beautiful crimson jam.

Just like in the Odyssey!

Here’s where taste comes in.  Once blended give it a try.  Try it again.  Ask a friend to try it too.  Does it need to be sweeter?  Add sugar.  Does the sugar overpower the plum?  Add lemon juice.  Those are your two options.  Once you’re got the taste right.  Bring it back to a boil to safely integrate the added ingredients.  Aaaaand…done!

We canned it by boiling and it looks great.  Tastes even better.  Stay tuned for part 2 when we brandy plums!

You won't eat it all.  Give it away you packrat.

10x10x10 Recap 09.29.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Reviews.
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D+A Studios San Juan Chanel House

D+A Studio's San Juan Chanel House

Well, another year and another 10x10x10 has passed.  It was a great time and a great venue.  (Confidential to no one: SPL Downtown is one of the most interesting pieces of architecture standing.)  A quick recap of the night’s highlights:

D+A Studios presented the home of their principal, Anne Hamilton.  Unique about this context driven project on San Juan Island: sustainability through program adaptation.  As the family changes, the building is flexible enough to accommodate new relationships.

Batt + Lear let us into their own home as well, in the midst of renovation.  They brought up an ominous foam insulation debate that has been going on in the NWEBG circle and showed us their plan to heat their home with…a $360 water heater.  Inspirational, and we’ll be interested to see if it works, come next year.

SMR Architects showed us the Kenyon House, green housing for the homeless in South Seattle.  Crazy that green has gotten into public projects given the overall initial cost.  We guess that these projects probable only happen in places like Seattle.  Christina Bollo did a great job of demonstrating that delegation between lots of disparate parties (the City, subcontractors, consultants, neighbors) is hard work, but really does work.

These highlights aside, the evening made it clear that green building is still based on run of the mill checklists.  Presenters were content, in a crowd of industry professionals to list off the fact that their homes had radiant heat, grey water recycling, or native plants.  Native plants?  C’mon.  These are all no brainers.  The projects that stood out were those that did something new, different, or (if you had radiant heat run off an old clunker of a water heater), exceptional.  We worry that green building is being dumbed down to satisfy checklists disguised as certifications instead of doing what it was intended to achieve, buildings that allow inhabitants to live harmoniously with nature.

Ok, off the soapbox, it was evident the NWEBG is maturing nicely.  Jim Burton, the current president has given the guild an air of legitimacy that had been lacking for years.  And, if the 10x10x10 was any indication, he’s also brought in new members.  I’m looking forward to future events, and hopefully some more guild outreach.  Good job guys!

10x10x10 This Friday! 09.21.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB, Reviews.
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Seattle designers and builders will be interested to know that the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is hosting it’s annual 10x10x10 slam this Friday, September 25th downtown at the Seattle Public Library.  10 presenters from right here in town are given 10 minutes to show 10 slides of their contribution to green building.  Also, if the event is anything like a couple years ago, it’s going to be a rowdy and wine-fueled free for all.  Is there drinking in the library?

List of presenters, here!

Tix, here!

NWEBG of Central Puget Sound, here!  Check out their monthly education classes, some interesting topics for professionals and homeowners alike.