Plum Crazy: A Book About Beach Plums, written by Elizabeth Post Mirel, who just so happens to be my mother-in-law, is the only book you will ever need about beach plums. In fact, it just may be the only book ever written solely about beach plums. Originally published in 1973 (when my husband was just 2 years old), it has just been reprinted by On Cape Publications.
What is there to say about this wild fruit which grows freely along the Atlantic coast? While the author describes Plum Crazy as “a lighthearted miscellany” in the original, thirty-five year old introduction, today’s foodie culture will surely appreciate the seriousness in which Mirel treats her subject: the humble beach plum. After a historical briefing of the plum’s origins, some info about picking, processing and storing beach plums, Mirel gets down to business with her straightforward recipes which will take you from breakfast through dinner (or “From Hors d’Oeuvres To After-Dinner Drinks”) and may even have you climbing out of bed in the middle of the night eager to dip your finger in a jar of beach plum stew for one final taste before slumber.
Beach plums grow abundantly aroun my in-law’s summer home at Martha’s Vineyard, but as Mirel points out, any wild plums–or sour cherries–will do. This summer we are moving from Pennysylvania to Florida where the chickasaw plum grows wild. I am eager to experiment making a vegan version of Sugar Plum Drops as well as trying out the different sauce recipes from the book.
In addition to food recipes, Plum Crazy also contains recipes for making cosmetics as well as dying wool. While the idea of a cookbook dedicated to one singular, provincial fruit may have seemed quirky when it was first printed, Plum Crazy is a wonderful testimony to the fact that some people have been appreciating and eating what grows locally all along.