Love Thine Inspiration

I have been submitting pictures to the Life in Louisville Photo Contest ever since it first started three years ago. Ten pictures per individual, some of which may win special mention; all of which may be used in any promotional material that the city may create from time to time. Some may say that the City is crowd-sourcing images for free; we call it community involvement and giving back to the community we live in. We feel a strong sense of pride in seeing our pictures on the city's web site, catalogs and brochures.

Fall Catalog, City of Louisville Recreation Center
Davidson Mesa, 2008 - see original image

Even though we sign away our pictures to the city to do with them as it pleases, it is very endearing to see that they do give credit where it is due. The original image had won 1st Place in the Open Space Category at the very first Life in Louisville Photo Contest, 2008. (Preserved land is called open space in these parts.)

Give credit where credit is due
Due credit

Wouldn't it be great if this was a norm in the food blogging world, too?

I submitted ten pictures for Life in Louisville 2010, just as I did in 2009 and 2008. Since the City looks for local flavor and depiction of life as it occurs rather than quality of the photograph, I didn't expect to get a mention unlike the previous two years as I didn't make it to most of the local events. To my surprise, they liked one of my pictures enough to give it 2nd place in the Open Space category.

2010.02.25 Lone tree at Harper Lake
2nd Place: A February morning at Harper Lake

There might even be a theme in the images I submit: mostly Open Space pictures, with as few people in them as possible! Whatever. It's definitely a good feeling to be acknowledged.

Acknowledgement, whether direct or indirect, is a healthy practice. It puts me on cloud nine when I see my pictures in print extolling the virtues of the city I love and live in. When someone uses a recipe from my blog or reports that they tried a recipe, that too results in feel-good fuzzies. It's an even better feeling when they write about it and link back to the original recipe on my blog as inspiration. Every once in a while, I look at who's sending me traffic and more often than not, I return the favor by mentioning them in a post or linking back to them.

Links make the interwebz what it is. Hoarding your links is only going to isolate your web site, not make you an authority or increase your PageRank. Link to your inspiration, I say, it's healthy web practice and it will increase your popularity, for it speaks volumes about you. More importantly, you remain part of the community. If you haven't already, please read Anita's post where she explains how she felt, and continues to feel, when a recipe she made up was copied, with a few edits, and presented as a recipe from a torn, and now, missing cookbook. Interestingly enough, the publishers of the cookbook have no recollection of such a recipe. What makes this brouhaha even more interesting is that there is a flaw in Anita's recipe and that flaw has been copied over mindlessly. Her article is aptly named: It's the Recipe, Stupid.

It doesn't take much to fix it. But you know, a tangled web and all that goes with it often blurs foresight. It is disturbing and it is also very sad.

Anita is one of my special friends. She doesn't shut the doors till I make it for her annual Mad Tea Party. So here I am, on IST, for the Tea Party. For those of a political bent, this has nothing to do with that Tea Party. This is the real thing where tea is drunk, much food is eaten and even more chatter is heard.

Prune Plum Cobbler

We were invited to a plum picking fest in a friend's yard recently. These plums did not look like any other plums I had seen before. They were oval in shape, had a purple skin with a silvery-gray coating, yellow-green flesh and a pit that could be easily removed. Yes, we had chanced upon Italian Prune Plums.


These sat on the counter and we ate them tart, we ate them as they mellowed and we ate them even as their skin wrinkled. Until, this Fine Cooking recipe came along. (See how easy it is to link to the original recipe? Just remember to do it!) That the cobbler had a swirled biscuit topping appealed to the cinnamon bun junkie in both Medha and me. It was therefore with great haste that I put all the remaining plums into the refrigerator, on the highest shelf. What?! You forgot that we're kind of challenged on the height side here? It's true; when God was giving out height, we heard flight and we missed ours. We were going to be away over the weekend at our annual elk bugling camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park and that was the only way those plums could be saved. Their skin wrinkled a little more but the flavor was just as intense. Not much harm done.

For the filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1.5 lb prune plums (about 20-25), halved and pitted

For the biscuit dough:
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp table salt
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup almond milk or plain milk

For the biscuit swirl filling:
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Bubbly cobbler, just out of the oven

  • First, make the filling.
    1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and cloves.
    2. Melt the butter over medium heat.
    3. Stir in the blackstrap molasses, vanilla extract, and sugar mixture. Cook, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
    4. Add the plums and stir well to ensure that the plums are coated with the mixture.
    5. Bring the entire mixture to a boil over high heat.
    6. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The plums should be partially cooked.
    7. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, uncovered, until needed.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Next, make the biscuits.
    1. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
    2. Add the butter and work it into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
    3. Add the almond milk and knead the mixture together into a dough.
    4. Roll the dough into an 8in by 8in rectangle, turning it over and dusting with flour as required.
    5. Neaten the edges of the dough to keep it in as neat a rectangle as possible.
    6. Brush the rolled-out dough with melted butter.
    7. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the dough, leaving a 1in margin at the edge farthest from you.
    8. Gently roll the dough up like a swiss roll.
    9. Pinch the seam’s edges to seal. With the seam side facing down, cut the roll with a sharp knife into about a dozen thin slices.

      Swirled topping for prune plum crumble
      As you can see, I did neither.
  • Assemble and bake the cobbler
    1. Pour the warm plum mixture into a wide baking dish so the biscuits will fit in a single layer.
    2. Arrange the biscuits, cut side up, over the fruit mixture, leaving an inch between the biscuits.
    3. Place the pan on a large cookie sheet or line the rack below with aluminum foil to catch any juices which might bubble over. And, trust me, they do!
    4. Bake on lower rack for about 25 minutes until the biscuits are well browned and the juices are very bubbly.
  • Serve warm.

Invitingly flavorful

This prune plum cobbler was a huge hit. So huge that the bowls were licked clean. There wasn't a dot of evidence left that suggested that the bowl ever contained anything.

  • I used blackstrap molasses instead of the regular molasses as stated in the original recipe. I like the deeper flavor that blackstrap molasses imparts. Also, it was the only kind of molasses I had!
  • Other ingredients I skipped or substituted were: yellow cornmeal with AP flour, sour cream with almond milk. The recipe worked just fine!
Thank you, Anita, for allowing me to send in this late entry to your annual Mad Tea Party. Your friendship means the world to me!


GB said...

That plummy mixture looks so inviting!! Love your photographs too. No wonder they took first and second place. I like snow when it's white and pristine ( and only for the first couple of days!) After December 26th, I'll be wailing & whining for winter to be over, already!)


Panfusine said...

Is it Kosher to say that the dish shown qualifies as 'food porn'? it rakes up such an ardent fervor to create! It looks divinely Sinful!!
BTW: GORGEOUS pic of the lone tree. (I have such a character waving in the wind down my road in the middle of a field, Thanks for inspiring me to click it!)

Sulagna said...

Beautiful photography...Awesome dish..

Best Regards

Desisoccermom said...

Manisha, congratulations again on winning the photo contest. It is a beautiful photo.

I totally agree with you about the link karma thing. BTW, I linked your batata vada tip in my last post.

I love that prune cobbler. I don't think I have ever seen a purple prune before. The swirl biscuits add a touch of class to a regular, lumpy cobbler.

Desisoccermom said...

Oops, I meant plums not prunes.

Anjali Koli said...

Manisha First Congrats! Then second you will soon be arrested for killing your readers with those pictures of the cobbler:);)

Anita said...

Congratulations on the win!

:-) Thanks for making it to the party amidst all the other activities! And what a great contribution - a very exotic-looking cobbler!

It is not a quick recipe and if I make it, I will need to make many substitutions (the plums for one, the blackstrap molasses, organic ingredients...) and yet it is only right that I link back since this will still be the basis of my recipe!

I think I can now do the round up...the other late-comers are planning to be no-shows this time. :(

Meeta K. Wolff said...

First congratulations Manisha! I can so relate to your feeling about seeing your pictures at places where you submit them and for a something you believe in. The opposite is feeling dismayed when your work is simply take and handled with disrespect and published without ones knowledge! I am a burnt child like Anita is!

The cobbler look incredible!

Soma said...

I am so very drooling right now. Of all the desserts I love the fruity sugary warm ones like this one.

We found these cute looking prune plums last year and ate them by just fresh. haven't seen them yet. I feel like making me some of this right away and having it warm.

the picture is so beautiful.

Soma -

Mandira said...

this looks so delicious! Ameya loves plums so I will be trying this soon :)

Pelicano said...

That looks absolutely scrumptious! I want. And I want it now! I LOVE plums, and I have had these for eating before so I can vouch that they're yummerific. Unfortunately, to calm my cravings, I am now going to step into the kitchen and dig out some prunes, roll them in cocoa powder and devour them while wishing I had some cobbler with swirlies instead.

And then wash my hands.

You take pretty pichers.

Indian Food Rocks said...

GB, thanks! It's approaching snow time for us again. Last year we had several inches of fluffy white snow on the ground on October 11 or 12. It doesn't last long and I have been told that there is a measure around these parts that is as important as inches and it's called "days on the ground." You see, it doesn't last long as the sun usually comes out and melts it all away. As soon as we moved away from Chicagoland, I started loving snow!

Niv, it might even be an honor! ;-) I hope you went out and pinned that lone tree in a picture that you can hang up on your wall! Please share it with us one of these days!

Sulagna, thank you! How was your day?

Jaya, I haven't seen these in the markets either. These were from a friend's tree. Prune is not so far off as these are dried to make prunes. :-)

Anjali, kay ga! Aavadle na? Bas!

Anita, it is a quick recipe. It didn't take me long. Really. Use your best judgment and substitute with local ingredients. Yay for parties with a theme and a message!

Meeta, I hear you which is why I am being very vociferous about it. Even in my latest post. It is worse when bloggers you know indulge in it.

Soma, thanks! There is something very comforting about cobblers and crumbles!

Mandira, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Pel, yes, please! Do wash your hands. Before would also be a good idea! Maybe you should develop a recipe for chocolate covered prunes. Those would sell quicker than Metamucil. :-D