an endless summer...

Welcome to 2018, and for me it is continuing to be an endless summer. Having escaped from winter in Australia to a European summer, we got back after 3 months in time for the warmer weather of late spring and now into the throes of another hot Australian summer. It has been strange being in shorts and T shirts for almost six months!
It is good to be back and eating healthily again after holiday excesses.
One of the joys of a summer in England was indulging in all that lovely stone fruit and berries as well as garden fresh tomatoes, beans and vegetables. My illustration for summer is of Mirabelle plums from the garden of my mother-in-law. She has a lovely tree in her garden and whenever we visit, one of my duties is to prune and shape the plum tree. It produces bunches of the sweetest plums that are the loveliest colour, pale green fading into a golden yellow tinged with pink and blotched with crimson with a very delicate bloom shrouding the fruit. In summer the tree is laden with bunches of fruit and the branches heavy with the weight of the fruit hang down low almost reaching the ground. It is a prolific producer and neighbours and friends are given bags of these delicious plums.
I always enjoy going out into the garden in the morning with my coffee and picking and feasting on these plums straight off the tree. They are as lovely to eat as to look at and unfortunately we were told that the tree is now coming to the end of its life and there is very little that can be done for it. So I decided I had to illustrate these lovely fruit as a memory and keepsake of this tree and the happy summers we have spent in that garden.
I also love cooking with these plums, particularly making them into a tart with a frangipane base, eaten while still warm out of the oven with dollops of cream, custard or ice cream – delicious. Check out the recipe for this delicious summer treat. You can make your own shortcrust pastry or buy a packet of frozen, and the frangipane is very easy to do, and using any available fruit. Stone fruit are a summer speciality and favourite and I love all the varieties available: peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots and the different types of all of these. They are great eaten fresh, cooked, baked or stewed, in a fruit salad or even pickled. So however you like stonefruit, make the most of them while the season lasts as even though they are available tinned or dried, nothing beats the taste of a sun ripened fresh juicy fruit.
2017 was an eventful and busy year, with lots of cooking, classes and travel and this year is looking as busy if not busier. I have 2 culinary tours to Sri Lanka planned- one in April and the other in August – read all about it as well as some feedback on the blog.
I wish you all a very happy 2018.

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