Thursday, August 08, 2013

Plum Popsicles

The circling of the wagons, for the umpteenth time. Thank you, so much. And please forgive me for not responding to the comments, all of which I read and treasured (except for, you know, the hateful ones). I got a little emotionally bogged down, and, also, we were somewhere (cough *my parents’* cough) with only dial-up internet access. I admit to being surprised that, in support of niceness, people would think to call my heartbreakingly kind and wonderful 10-year-old daughter a “snotty little bitch.” And, also, that it turns out we *should* be encouraging our kids to interact with leering strangers. Who knew? Okay. Letting it go. Breathing. . .  Thanks to a friend of mine, I was reminded of this piece I wrote when Birdy was two. She has always been herself, that kid.

Moving on to. . . Plum Popsicles!

And let me say this: if you are a little ho-hum about popsicles? As I typically have been? This recipe will change your life. These are absolutely the best popsicles I have ever tasted. They are fragrant, bursting with plummy flavor and plummy chunks, perfectly sweet-tart, tender-textured, and stunningly gorgeous.

These are the yogurty ones. Pretty, no?
Full disclosure, we only thought to make these because the plums we got were so, so good: red and juicy and full of flavor. (I cannot recommend red plums enough. The yellow-fleshed black ones I do not understand.) In fact the plums were so good that I could hardly bring myself to cook them. But it always seems, with a new cookbook, that you should follow exactly the first recipe you try, and I’m so glad we did.

If you're waiting for it at the Amherst library, I am *so* sorry! Almost done!
Fuller disclosure: I requested People’s Pops from our library because last year, on the High Line in New York, we bought and ate a sour cherry-plum pop from their cart. And I said, like the Sesame Street Jew Grouch I can be, “Three dollars for a popsicle? It better be good.” And it was. In fact, it was the best popsicle I had ever tasted. Until now.
The High Line, back when Birdy had long hair and my mum was almost as gorgeous as she is now.
Two more things: we made half Roasted Plum Popsicles and half Plum Yogurt & Tarragon Popsicles, and they are both fantastic.
I’m only putting the plain one here because, beyond that, don’t you think you should get your hands on the book? I do! Next up we are trying Raspberry and Cream. Then Blackberry and Rose. Oh, and also Peach and Bourbon. And Peach and Jalapeno. And. . .

That was only one thing. The other is that I finally bought this popsicle mold, after keeping it unbought in my shopping cart on Amazon for so long that they actually changed the material of the lid from metal to plastic. I am overjoyed and only wish I'd sucked it up to buy it sooner. They are real popsicles, with real sticks, and the molds are BPA-free. Totally worth it.

Roasted Plum Popsicles
Makes 10 pops

This recipe is from the People’s Pops cookbook. We followed it to the letter, and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Plus, the recipe made the exact right amount of mixture, which I love.

1 ¼ pounds plums (about 12 small or 5 large), halved
1 cup simple syrup

Heat the oven to 350. Place the plums cut-side down on a cookie sheet, then roast until the skins and flesh have significantly softened, 20 to 40 minutes. [Our plums were so fragrant and beautiful, that we stopped at 20. Also, I lined my cookie sheet with foil and then parchment, because I wasn’t confident about its non-reactivity, and the recipe was not for Plum & Rust popsicles.]

Once the plums are cool enough to touch, removed and discard the pits, and whiz the plums, skins and all, in a food processor, though feel free to leave the puree somewhat chunky. You should have about 2 1/8 cups of puree.

Transfer the pureed plums to a measuring pitcher with a pouring pout and stir in the simple syrup. The mixture should be sweet yet slightly tart.

Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once.

Simple Syrup
Makes 1 cup

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is transparent. Turn off the heat and let it cool.


  1. Angela12:50 PM

    Gasp! I want those popsicles! Now we just need some plums, there aren't any here yet...

    I remember the piece about Birdy, and how I laughed (especially at yours and Ben's response!). My daughter has been known to have similar reasons for a tantrum, and then there was my son and his "I absolutely must HAVE DONE THAT YESTERDAY!" mega-explode. It reminds me of what a friend said when our sons were little: "You know, these kids are going to entertain us for years to come - there is no danger of us being bored!". And, whichever way you look at it, she was right ;)

  2. I know that there was something poetic about the old piece about Birdy compared to the new piece, but I got stuck on this: "I've offended her dignity, and there is, well, heck to pay.." Heck to pay. Heck to pay. This is not the writing with which I am familiar. The Catherine I know and love would say hell and probably any other things. And so, even though it's not the point, I am so glad you are done your Disney days!

  3. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Looks like you're exploiting your kids again - forcing them to make delicious treats in your kitchen. Oh the terror! (JK - wish you could ship your kids to my house to teach my kids all their kitchen skills).

    I agreed w/ all of your supporters - and having read your stories since before Birdy, agree with those who commented that we were given the gift of feeling "normal" - because we all have kids who do something unexplainable - and we aren't perfect parents - but in the end we love our kids before everything else, and in spite of everything (and everyone) else.

    You've touched so many - we appreciate you and your family - and all your game and book and food ideas. But really your honesty trumps all.

    p.s. we're anxiously awaiting the next poop movie!

    Amy M from Illinois

  4. Birdy seems like the most amazing kid ever. Next to Ben, maybe. I would be proud to call either of them my own. I admire how you've raised them to be true to themselves. More people should be like Ben and Birdy.

  5. Every time I hear or read something from Brene Brown about wholehearted living, Catherine, I think of you.

    "The capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace — not in that self-help-book, motivational-seminar way, but really, deeply, profoundly embrace — the imperfections of who we really are."

    I've read you since the very first BabyCenter blog, and know what kind of courage it took for you to write that piece. I totally get what you're saying, and I love you for it. What you's a good thing going out into the world. It's honest and authentic and good.

    Just as an aside, I've never really cared that much what people think of me, either. In fact, I would imagine that, at ten, my mom would have described me much as you have described Birdy (although I suspect less generously; I think she would have preferred I at least *had* a game face to put on, but alas, I never got one of those.) But it's a fact I've become very glad of, after hearing from all the women who carry that constant burden. I have plenty of other neuroses, but the need to try to make everyone happy all the time is not one of them. And yet, I've still managed to form great friendships and a marriage that's lasted for 28 years. No one has called me a snotty little bitch in quite a while. I think Birdy's going to be just fine being exactly who she is.

    Bought the popsicle molds and the book. I don't usually click immediately over to Amazon to buy, but today I did. Those popsicles look amazing.


  6. My five year-old niece got very excited when I told her about this recipe- she's a popsicle aficionado, so she knows what she's talking about!

  7. These sound wonderful, but I think I will make a separate batch of plain-old 'frozen juice' popsicles for the kids and pretend we're eating the same thing. Because I don't think I could handle the inevitable moment when the popsicle breaks off and falls on the ground! Although the wonderful absorbed concentration with which my girls eat something really good may just make that moment worth it. Well, we'll see if 1. there are plums available at the farm stand tomorrow and 2. if so, if enough plums make it home to make these. Sadly (or is it happily) plums usually do not even last until we get home. YUM, plum juice running down chins and pits getting heaved out windows.

    Maybe we can restrain ourselves if plum popsicles are the reward. And maybe this would also be delicious with peaches!

  8. Not sure if you saw your piece referenced on xoJane...

  9. Oh, and I have a six year old who is such a people pleaser that it makes me VERY nervous. Sure we get lots of compliments on her friendly manners, but would she risk being rude to a grown up who asked her to get into his van and help find his lost puppy? Or will she choose her clothes and career based on what will make her happy or please society? It's something I coach her on, but sometimes it's hard for nurture to trump nature...

  10. Anonymous12:53 PM

    Another great piece. I love hearing about your life. But why do you have to say something anti-Semitic? Is it part of the "I'm a member of this group so I can disparage it" phenomena? Just say you thought $3.00 was too expensive, don't drag a whole religion into it. You're confirming the prejudices of real jerks.


    1. Anonymous5:02 PM

      I'm glad Anonymous (the other Anonymous, that is...) mentioned this, because it bothered me, too. And I'm truly not a "hater," I actually love almost everything you write! I'm one of those readers who's followed you since before Birdy was born. But this isn't the first time I've noticed you've written something disparaging about Jews, and it does make me wonder because in all other realms you seem so understanding and tolerant. I assume you are just writing something tongue in cheek. And I'm open to the possibility that I'm just being overly sensitive. Just thought I'd mention it, though. I (otherwise) love your work and admire how sensitively you're raising your kids!

    2. Angela11:31 AM

      I read that as tongue-in-cheek! ? We use a lot of sarcasm where I come from (England), and I had myriad misunderstandings while I was living in a part of southern California where sarcasm didn't go down well. Playing to stereotypes is a good way of poking fun at people using them. Fish and chips is the _height_ of haut cuisine! But I do have trouble eating them sometimes due to my very stiff upper lip.

    3. Anonymous8:09 AM

      I agree with the criticism above. For someone who seems to battle stereotypes in her writing, her life, and with assumptions about her children so frequently, I question why it's OK to continue to feed into Jewish stereotypes. I can't imagine her making a similar comment based on race or sexual preference, for example. What makes this OK?

    4. Anonymous2:49 PM

      I am the first "Anonymous" from above, the one who first mentioned the popsicle price debate (please call me Rebecca). I couldn't agree more with the comment above in that Catherine is so wonderfully progressive in every other area of her life. She delights in the fact that her children bust through tired old gender stereotypes and has never failed to support many other progressive causes. So why play up to a 6,000 year old tired old religious stereotype? Angela, of course it's hard to tell the tone of a conversation in print and of course humor has its place, but I do wish that these kind of "jokes" were kept to close company and not to the unwashed masses, who delight in furthering their obnoxious causes.


    5. Angela7:57 AM

      Rebecca, that is a good point about close company, where we can be sure that irony is obvious! I accept that, we unwashed masses are many and varied :)

    6. Anonymous2:15 PM

      I am washing now, as I type...


  11. It's so surreal to read your stories like the tantrum piece and have Ben in the role of wise older sibling. Because at our house, it's (our) Ben who is losing his tiny exhausted mind over things like attached fingers, and wise older sister tolerating and comforting. I guess what I'm saying is we both have sons named Ben. And I like that. (Sometimes nodding and smiling at the screen is just not enough, and you end up typing something like this.) Love to you guys.

  12. Your mum! Even on my teeny screen I can see how lovely she is. More mum, please!

  13. Greetings from a current Amherst student!

    Yum! I made plum ice pops too, except from leftover plum compote sauce.

  14. Thank you for sharing the piece about Birdy's tantrum. I read your NYT piece last week and found myself hoping that my 13 month old daughter will kind yet no-nonsense in a similar way when the time comes. The tantrum piece, however, is much more where we are at right now as she is learning more about the world and exerting her independence in small yet important ways. The piece made me laugh and helped give me some perspective on tantrums.

  15. I loved your NYT piece! I just went and read a bunch of the comment thread... I am still amazed by the hateful things that folks will write anonymously on the internet. Ugh.

  16. Deanna11:57 AM

    You are awesome. Your children are awesome. Isn't that why I've been reading your blog since before Birdy was born? Also, children have a sixth sense about others. Let them trust themselves, don't force them to trust evil. Well done, keep it up.

  17. The popsicles are delicious, thank you. You inspired me to make them, compote for vanilla ice cream and plum jam.
    As for Birdy if she was a boy, no one would think twice about 'nice.' Please bring your whole family to the Susan B Anthony House in Rochester - sounds like you are ready for a tour :)

  18. Tina G8:31 PM

    Birdy is only a few months ahead of my daughter, and I remember you writing about her when she was itty bitty. I recall that when you used the word 'fierce' to describe her in a scenario when she was a toddler- it was such a perfect word. The piece in the NYT ruffled some crazies' feathers. We know what you meant. But you'd think the readers of the NYT motherlode blog would be somewhat less ass-holish, wouldn't you?

  19. I'm sorry - this is not on-topic at all, and you have probably already seen it and laughed, but LOOK! FANCY pizza toast!

  20. Also off-topic, but I had to share...I found my first ever bit of purselane! I found it in my flower bed, just the tiniest little twig of it, enough for a mouse's quesadilla, maybe. And horror of horrors, I yanked it up before I knew what it was. I noticed the small yellow flower while my hand was on its way up from the dirt. I stuck it in water in the hopes that I can make a new home for it, where it will be so happy that it'll spread and spread and keep us in good supply for years to come. Thanks for bringing this plant to my attention.

  21. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Can't believe how hateful people can be on the internet. UGH. I LOVE the way you write about your children. You go Birdy (and Catherine). Keep on sharing things about your children. I wish I could be half the parent that you are, but I am too busy yelling at my kids ;)

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