It’s hard to find the charm in something new when every day can bring unpleasant surprises.
So maybe tonight you’re craving something reliable, something that’s soothing to make and puts those overlooked, underappreciated ingredients hiding in the back of your cabinets to use.
Maybe you’ll find a box with a final brick of graham crackers behind imported spices and specialty spreads you once smuggled home. All of them seem out of context compared with your newfound back-to-basics lifestyle — the adventurous you will be back some other day.
But right now, maybe you have plums or another tart stone fruit, like pluots or cherries, on the edge of losing their give. Sneak a bite of one to make out their sweetness and moisture, then slice them over a small baking dish to catch their flesh, discarding the pits one by one. Meet the fruit where they are in their ripeness, by adding a pinch of salt, flour to rein in their juices and enough brown sugar to offset their tang.
Crush the sleeve of cookies: It may just help relax you. Slip them into a sealed bag and bang a wooden rolling pin along the surface until they turn to dust. If you have only spicy gingersnaps or sweet vanilla wafers on hand, use them. They’ll yield different, but equally wonderful results.
Add the crumbs to a bowl with flour, a little sugar and another pinch of salt, and toss these together. Drench it all with melted butter or coconut oil — depending on what you have — then slip your hands into the warm, wet mix, tossing, scooping, compressing. Spread and press the mixture over the shimmering fruit and into an even layer, barricading the plums as if they intend to escape.
It’s hot, and heating the oven can feel torturous most days, but with about 30 minutes of your determination, this tender, self-saucing, dessert will be yours.
It’s a resourceful comfort, and a bit of structure when the outside world is in flux. It’s here to help us focus on the possibilities that exist in the simple things, reaffirming that we have enough right where we are.
Recipe: Plum Graham Cracker Crumble