Things which have nothing to do with food that I do to save money:
I cut everyone’s hair in my house (husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs), except myself. And I’m good at it. BIG money-savings. My husband wouldn’t let me anywhere near him, despite my track record with the kids, until I was laid off from my job in 2009. Silver lining.
I run instead of going to a gym. Okay fine that’s also because I hate gyms.
I paint my own toenails. Also, good at it by now.
Thing I do to save money that has everything to do with food:
And buy fruit in season. Like these plums. It takes, like, forever for stone fruits to really really really be in season.
And you know what happens when you eat fruit that’s not in season. It costs a million dollars, and it doesn’t even taste good. Plums especially. Out-of-season plums make me make a fish face when I eat them. I blame my looks on out-of-season plums.
But now is the time. And the season. For plums.
These bars have a humble shortbread crust (shortbread = no leavener) and a slightly jazzier crumble topping. They’re what to do with your plums.
The crumble topping is just some of the shortbread with some brown sugar and cinnamon, and a bit more flour, thrown in.
Well, not necessarily thrown in, but you know what I mean.
I may not be Alice Waters or anything (a’doy), but I know when to eat plums. And, even better, I know how to bake ’em up just right. Here’s how:
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (224g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (109g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound plums (ripe, but not very soft), rinsed and blotted dry
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch square pan with crisscrossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper, each overhanging two opposite sides. Set the pan aside.
In a large bowl, place 2 cups (280 g) of the flour, the xanthan gum, granulated sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, and mix to combine. The mixture should come together as a soft dough. Remove about 3/4 cup (150 g) of the dough and transfer it to a medium-size bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 cup (35 g) flour to the reserved dough, and mix to combine. This is the crumble topping. Place the bowl of crumble topping in the freezer to chill. Scrape the remaining soft shortbread dough into the prepared square pan, and press into an even layer with well-floured hands. Set the pan aside.
Slice each of the plums in half, then remove and discard the pits. With a serrated knife, carefully slice the plums into wedges, each about 1/4-inch wide, taking care not to bruise or crush the fruit. Blot the plum slices with paper towels to remove extra juice on the surface. Lay the plum slices on top of the shortbread in 4 parallel rows, from one side of the pan to the other, overlapping them slightly in each row. Sprinkle the plums evenly with the cornstarch. Remove the crumble topping from the freezer, break it up into irregular clumps with a fork, and sprinkle it in an even layer on top of the fruit. Press down on the topping gently but evenly to help the crumble topping adhere to the fruit.
Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is uniformly light brown in color and seems set. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely (place in the freezer to speed the process). Carefully remove the bars from the pan by the overhung parchment paper. With a very sharp knife, slice into 16 equal pieces. The bars will be moist and will not set up rock hard because of the moisture in the plums, but will hold together when handled carefully.