Sunday Afternoon: Two Takes on Basil and Red Plums

Sunday, September 4, 2011 3comments No tags Permalink 0

Face the facts: the basil plant was about to die.

I love herbs, flowers, and vegetable gardens. But a green thumb? No luck there. We keep cacti at home, and fresh flowers that never last more than a few days. But once in a while, especially when summer is just so green and vibrant, I’ll take home an herb plant, determined to keep it alive and growing. I’ve yet to succeed but that doesn’t stop me from trying. This is our basil plant, two days after I bought it from the Greenmarket.

You need to use it up,” Pierre said.

I shook my head, “it will live! It’s going through a down stage, but things will perk up.

No really, this one isn’t going to make it either.

A day later, when it was all but black and wilted, I faced the facts. Better to use what was left now, than to let the basil die without a single dish to show for my efforts. I made us pasta using sweet plum tomatoes and this recipe from Scarpetta. Two nights in a row. And then we were tired of pasta.

Look in the fridge: odds and ends and a dozen red plums. What to do? A bit of flipping through cookbooks and searching on the web left me with two ideas: Plums Poached in Basil Syrup…and…Plum and Basil Cocktail.

Water + sugar + vanilla bean pod + basil. I made the poached plums first in order to use the resulting basil syrup for the cocktails.

No cream to whip at home. So. Eat it plain…

…or with a big spoonful of yogurt. A little bit of the reduced basil syrup drizzled on top. Such a lovely and simple afternoon snack.

Save the syrup! Basil syrup, tinted a deep red from the red plums.

Now. Time for cocktails, a carefree and fun summer number.

Diced plums + basil + gin + basil syrup + lime + seltzer. I used this recipe from Saveur as the foundation, tweaking to suit personal tastes.

Cheers! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.

3 Comments
  • Julie
    September 6, 2011

    Those plums look awesome! Your poor basil plant, though–it looks overwatered to me. If you try again, a larger pot with good drainage might help with moisture control.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    September 6, 2011

    Hi Julie! I'm always so paranoid of UNDERwatering that OVERwatering never occurred to me, ahaha. Thank you for the tip! Will definitely give it another shot before summer is over. How often/how much do you water the basil?

  • Julie
    September 16, 2011

    Frequency and amount depends on the pot size and ambient temperature/climate of your apartment. I have two little houseplants I water once a week. They're planted in a liner pot (like the pot they come in when you buy them) that I put in a decorative pot that doesn't have holes. I just pull out their liner pot, which should already have holes already punched into it, straight into the sink, drech it through with tap water, wait til it no longer drips when I pick it up, then put it back in its decorative pot for a week. I also test the soil–sometimes, you can tell by looking at the top that it looks dry, but otherwise, you can just press into it with your finger or keep a stick (like a wooden lollipop stick or something similar) to see if moist soil sticks to it when you pull it out. I hope that helps! If so, you can run with it. A lot of herbs do well indoors, and they make a huge difference to everything you prepare in your kitchen–salads, teas, etc. Good luck!

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