Her name was Edna Nosworthy, and she had the same birthday as I do- only eighty years difference. She had a bottomless stash of Tootsie Rolls, made a mean Snickerdoodle, and had a sprawling green lawn dotted with fruit trees- apples, pears, cherries, and Italian plums. It’s been more than fifteen years since she passed, but I still choke up when I talk about her. Every summer, the other families lucky enough to know Edna would gather in her yard to harvest her fruit, which she would then turn in to vats of phenomenal home goods- pickles, preserves, jams, and pie fillings. What I wouldn’t give to have a Ball jar in my cupboard with her spidery scrawl on it now!
These preserves are an homage to all of the “Greatest Generation” who inspire us to use what we have, and share with our neighbors. The global update is lent by the Moroccan staple, Ras El Hanout, whose complex flavors support and feature the sweet-sour plums. Any variety of plum will do- and the choices abound! A loop around your local Farmer’s Market will alert you to the bumper year it’s been for this stellar stone fruit in the Northwest, or if you’re lucky enough to have an Edna Nosworthy in your life, you’ll opt for Italian, all the way. Serve them over ice cream- as we’ve pictured- or as a dipping sauce for a juicy lamb kebab.