An Ode to Summer Wildflowers

Ashintully Gardens-Tyringham, Massachusetts

In our neck of the woods, the leaves are just starting to turn- a perfect time to remember the incredible beauty and variety of wildflowers that we saw this past summer on our walks through fields, marshes and the woods!

Going through the pictures that I took, it was impossible to pick just a few, so here is a wildflower extravaganza from early spring to late summer! I know the names of a few, but need help identifying many of the flowers- so please help me! Send your comments!

Name that flower!

Here is a short improvisation titled “An Ode to Summer Wildfowers” for alto recorder- I was inspired by a field of late August Jo-Pye weed and the idyllic summer day at a peaceful lake on Savoy Mountain in Western Massachusetts.

As the days start to shorten noticeably, I am always heartened when I see Italian prune plums at the farm markets. It’s time to make Plum Torte! The New York Times always publishes this beloved and much requested recipe: Original Plum Torte.

I decided to tweak the recipe to make it healthier. Instead of sugar I used Monk Fruit sweetener, which has a very low glycemic index. In the place of white flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour and a small amount of corn flour. For the topping I used just a sprinkle of coconut sugar, also with a low glycemic index. We thought the result was delicious, not too sweet and the tart flavor of the plums was perfect! I hope you enjoy this!

Plum Torte

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Monk Fruit Sweetener * see note

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened

1/4 cup corn meal

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

2 eggs

24 pitted Italian prune plums or fewer larger plums (I used 8 plums)

1 tablespoon coconut sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon for topping

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Add flour, baking powder, salt and beat on low speed until just mixed.

Spoon mixture evenly into a pan or glass pie dish of 8, 9 or 10 inches.

Place the plums skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with coconut sugar and squeeze lemon juice over top- I used a quarter of a lemon, but more would also be nice! Sprinkle with cinnamon- again as much as you like.

Bake aprox. 40 minutes until fruit is bubbly and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely.

Note: I use Lakanto brand Monk fruit Sweetener and I have seen it at Whole Foods and my local food coop. It looks just like regular sugar and the sugar replacement is 1:1.

This is a perfect cake to usher in the Jewish New Year which starts this Friday.

Best Wishes for a Sweet and Happy New Year! Please be safe!!

Author: Judith Dansker

Professional oboist and chamber musician- member of Hevreh Ensemble and Winds in the Wilderness, Professor of Oboe Hofstra University; observer of people, art and nature; passionate food and travel explorer.

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