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Taking it Home With Me


We left for vacation on the day after I went grocery shopping in a wool sweater. June was definitively not summer here. According to everyone I talk to, it never is. And truthfully we were both just trucking along throughout the whole month, we had little time to complain or wish for something more. We had planned a mini camping trip all the way into … our backyard, but had to cancel due to chilly rain. But the second we returned to Seattle, you could sense something changed. People in the airport were tee-shirted, Brandon drove us home with the windows slightly cracked, and the next morning big, bright sun shone through the curtains in our bedroom. Summer in Seattle has arrived–and we have fruit pies, galettes, a booming garden, iced tea, and salads for dinner to show for it.
I told myself this year that I wouldn’t let myself return from vacation and just dive right back into the normal routine. I wanted to let vacation linger just a little. You know how you establish new routines on vacation sometimes? Like sitting down together and eating a real meal for breakfast, having an afternoon espresso on the porch, taking a pre-dinner walk, and playing board games late into the evening? I wanted some of that to stay. But I think that’s why vacation is magical — because all of those new routines and special glimpses at really long, full days just isn’t a reality for most of us. Add to that trying to catch up after being gone almost two weeks (!) and you’ve got a whole lot of no breakfasts together, no afternoon espressos, no long walks, and no board games. But for now, we’re replacing those with other good things: Sam’s mom flew back with us and is staying for a week. She’s hunkered down in the upstairs guest room (that we have dubbed the best napping spot in the house), and we’ve been slowly showing her around town. We introduced her to eating yogurt and granola together for breakfast and she, in turn, made a pretty incredible taco salad for dinner last night. We all get our coffee together in the morning, and she’s helped me cut things back in the garden and troubleshoot what the heck might be wrong with my basil plants. It’s true that the drawn-out pace of vacation can’t really be introduced back into “the real world.” That’s just the meaning of it: vacation is a physical and mental break from everything familiar back home. These photos were taken on our last day at my mom’s cabin, the one day we’d really reserved to hop on the computers and get a little work done and the one day where we both felt so deliciously relaxed and peaceful that instead we lounged on the porch, read big chunks of our books, and ended up going swimming in a downpour after dinner. We were the only ones in the lake. I wish I had a photo of it, but I guess I do in my mind. That night, there was nothing about the granola business, freelance writing, cookbook headnotes, or quarterly taxes at the forefront of my mind. There was only a wide gray sky, an expansive lake, and the sound of raindrops and Sam’s gentle paddling right beside me. I’ve taken that home with me.

After leaving Lake George, we rented a car and drove to New Jersey to visit Sam’s family. I’d met his oldest sister, Christa, but had yet to meet his mother, Nancy, or his youngest sister, Sara. Along the way, we stopped and Sam showed me four of the houses he grew up in as a kid. In the coming days, we played a lot of Farkle, drove to Philly where it was around 103 and humid — the perfect weather for cheesesteaks at Pat’s and Geeno’s (My vote goes to Pat’s), visited with nieces and nephews, jogged a little, and saw Moonrise Kingdom (very sweet if you haven’t yet seen it). But most of all, we just hung out with Sam’s family, shared meals together, played a few games.

I heard some small Sam stories and watched a sweet home video. I saw Sam interact with  his nephew Alex who just adores him. He calls him Uncle Sammy and calls me “Penguin,” which I love: it sort of rhymes with “Megan”, I suppose. I’d smile when we’d pull up to the house and his little voice would shine through the screen door: “Uncle Sammy, I missed you! Penguin, I missed you!” I saw the way Sam cares for his mom. I saw where he came from–the people and places that were influential in some regard.  I’ve taken that home with me, too.

And because we returned to a Seattle that’s barely recognizable to me (constant sun!), it was time to start baking a few pies. We picked up strawberries, blackberries, and nectarines at the market one evening while stocking up on a few things to have for breakfasts. The next morning I made a strawberry galette and a blackberry nectarine pie. Then I found these beautiful plums and decided to play around with my usual dough and turn them into a not-too-sweet, bright and gingery galette. One that sings summer, work or no work. Vacation or no vacation.

Speaking of which, in case you missed it a few weeks ago, The New York Times posted a smart, relevant piece on the state of being busy. Reading it at Sam’s sisters house in New Jersey a wave of guilt passed over me. I have become that person.  I never wanted to be the person who didn’t have time to meet a friend for tea or call their mom back. In it Tim Kreider says of folks who are always talking about how busy they are: ”They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence…I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.” Read it if you haven’t. I feel like what I do does matter in a small way, but I also feel like it’s so easy to get caught up in a frenzied cycle of busyness that you lose the big-picture. That’s it important to call people back on the phone and stop for tea. Or fruit galettes, as it is today.

Gingered Plum Galette
This recipe has less sugar than many galette recipes, so while juicy and naturally sweet it does come off as just a touch tart. I love this and think the natural flavor of the plums really shine, but if you think you may like your galette a bit sweeter, try 1/4 cup sugar for the filling instead. If you haven’t used rye flour, it’s lovely in pie doughs and quite easy to work with. The directions below use the food-processor method to make the dough. If you’d prefer using a pastry cutter or your hands, that works, too. I prefer not to in the summer just because it’s not and I can never seem to work quite quickly enough. But, as always, do what makes you happy.

Serves: 6

For the dough:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
3-4 tablespoons ice water + 1 tablespoon for egg wash
1 egg

For the filling:
1 pound firm yet ripe plums, pitted and cut into eighths
3 tablespoons sugar + more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

In a food processor, add the flours, salt and sugar and pulse once to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse meal with some small butter pieces intact the size of small peas. Slowly sprinkle in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just barely comes together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper. Gather it together into a flat disk, wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round and transfer it to the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk egg and 1 tablespoon water together to create egg wash. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the plums, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and ginger bits. Toss well. Arrange the fruit in the very center of the dough circle, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches all around the border. Fold the exterior edges towards the center of the galette. Don’t worry about it looking perfect or neat–it shouldn’t. Chill galette in freezer (or refrigerator if your baking sheet won’t fit in the freezer) for 20 minutes.

Retrieve from freezer, brush edges with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until crust has turned golden brown and juices are bubbling and thickening. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before serving (the fruit juices will firm up as it cools so you won’t have a runny galette). Store covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

  1. Posted July 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    OMG this recipe is so timely!! Just yesterday I was going through all the recipes on your blog looking for something with plums. Our neighbor just sent us a huge bowl of plums.
    Thanks!

  2. Posted July 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I so look forward to reading your posts. Always! I’m not as busy as you, but I just got back from a trip to northern California so I know what you mean about vacation.

    Oh! And I finally got to try your granola. I was so excited to find some in the bulk section of Bi-Rite Market in the Mission District of San Francisco. Loved the salty-sweetness and coconut in the granola, and it was the perfect little snack for a drive up the Pacific Coast to Sonoma.

  3. Posted July 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I am glad that your (and Sam’s) get away was so nice! Getting cheese steaks in summer-time Philadelphia sounds like a new bucket list item for me. I am excited to read your book, so hurry up and finish it already ;)

    I hope you can keep your vacation going forever!

  4. Posted July 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Welcome home lovely! Your pictures from vacation looked just stunning, tranquil and refreshing, as it seems to be have been the case for you both. Funny enough I bought a bunch of plums yesterday to make a galette this week – great minds! Miss you xo

  5. Posted July 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Hooray for summer! So glad you’re getting to soak it in. Once they (finally!) begin, Seattle summers are the best. This was a lovely read, Megan. (Or should I say, “Penguin?”) Hope you can keep all that good stuff with you as you re-enter…

  6. Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Hey, maybe this is what I should do with the rest of the plums hanging on our tree! Thanks for the great idea!

  7. Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Galettes are so popular around food blogs right now. It must be something about the need to get back to more basic roots when life was simpler – exactly like when we are on holiday. But, as you said, that is not the reality of our lives today and it makes holidays all the more precious.

  8. Mary
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Gorgeous, Megan! Words + pictures.

  9. Sheila
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Your photos here are so beautiful, and your post captures the melancholy feeling I have about summer. It’s my favorite season, but it seems just when you find a groove, the season is slipping away already. There never seems to be enough time — even with the gift of extra daylight hours — to do all that I wanted to do. Is that a symptom of “busy-ness,” too? It’s not so easy to try to have it all… probably just important to figure out the few people, mementos, and experiences that we can “take home with us” and not worry so much about the rest. Your vacation sounds like it was a lovely experience, and thank you for sharing the recipe. Trying it will be my first experience with rye flour!

  10. Jessica Willis
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Ironically, I made a Cherry Galette this past week for a dinner party here in Seattle. The hostess is dairy-free, so I substituted the butter with Earth Balance. No go for the dough, it wouldn’t stick together. Maybe it was the almonds I added to the mixture, maybe I didn’t add enough water, even though it was balling up in the mixer. Regardless, your post reignites my passion to have a go at another galette, this time, bring on the butter!
    Always a joy to hear about your life, thank you.

  11. Posted July 17, 2012 at 3:26 am

    Isn’t it interesting how quickly you can go from relaxed with a coffee in hand and a puzzle in front of you to “busy?” (that article hit a little too close to home for me too). After returning home from a vacation that sounds a lot like yours I all the sudden felt that busyness creeping over me. I thought about it, and pondered over it, and I’ve come to blame it on the computer. I know, that sounds silly, but the internet always has a way of grabbing me back into it’s clutches, and it’s hard to escape. Of course it has it’s upsides too, like stumbling on your site and this plum galette. I’m going to escape to the market and then the kitchen to make it. And on my way to the market I just might buy a puzzle. Don’t you just want to be showered in the colors from Moonrise Kingdom?

  12. Posted July 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I haven’t made a galette in a while, and I think you’ve just tempted me to. You’re right though; working with pastry dough in the summer is tricky. My mother always warns me: “No touching the dough until you absolutely have to! Hot hands ruin dough!”
    I love the Adirondacks and hope to one day plan another vacation there. I remember going as a kid and staying with my family and cousins in a little cabin on one of the islands. I was a water bug that entire week; spending close to the entire day in the lake sliding down the small water slide and jumping off the docks. It’s so beautiful up there.

  13. Aunt V
    Posted July 17, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Beautiful pictures Megan.
    It all looks so tempting.
    What about that blueberry pie????

  14. megang
    Posted July 17, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Aunt V! Funny you ask…I’m teaching a pie class tonight in Seattle and we’re making blueberry pie. So it’s happening … just not on the blog :)

  15. Posted July 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Welcome home, Megan. Sometimes, I don’t think a new home is really home until we come back to it from elsewhere. Does that make sense? Maybe, maybe not. But for you, and Seattle, just maybe, it might.

    I’ve plums galore at the moment. Their fate is now written.

    Also? We’d not heard of Farkle, three weeks back. We are now crazy for it, thanks to you. (And bought the pocket version so, as Zoe said yesterday, “we can pack it on the plane to Seattle with us!”. Indeed.)

  16. momgordon
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Such nice pictures! I am continuing to do not busy without you here, but it is much nicer with you visiting! Miss You!

  17. megang
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Thanks, Molly! And I’m so glad you’ve found Farkle … we have a Zoe in my family, too (my youngest sister); it is the perfect summer game, isn’t it?! I completely agree re: home, too. This is the first time we’ve both been away and returned to this house and I was so looking forward to sleeping in our bed again and drinking our own coffee / eating kale (not a lot of kale going on in upstate New York). Hope you guys are diving into summer happily. Finally feels like it here! xx ~m

  18. megang
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Ah yes, Sara. So true. I actually taught a pie class last night and some of the dough got pretty darn warm. A challenge to work with, indeed! Yes it’s funny because I didn’t grow up in the upstate New York so I don’t have vivid childhood memories there, but it just seems to quintessentially summer to me now. Hope you’re enjoying it in your part of the world! ~m

  19. megang
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:51 am

    It is interesting, Talley. I don’t totally get it but I think you are right about the computer. At my mom’s cabin there is really spotty to non-existent internet so we were are off-line for the most part and while it’s a little funny at first and I feel anxious to return emails/check in, it becomes really, truly relaxing after a few days. LOVED Moonrise Kingdom; I could see it again ~m

  20. megang
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Thanks for your sweet comment, Shelia. I think that it a symptom of that busyness, yes. Luckily days are long up here in Seattle, so we’re trying to pack it in as much as possible! Enjoy the recipe, ~m

  21. megang
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Thanks, Mary! xx

  22. Andrea
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I loved the blog and the pictures and I am so glad to hear that you stopped and took your time with Sam’s family. The small seemingly insignificant things we do are in fact the most important. You know I once received a ribbon from a friend that I kept that says “Who I am makes a difference”. We all make a difference! Thanks for the recipe, I’ve always wanted to make galettes.

  23. Posted July 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Megan, I just made granola using your recipe on The Kitchn. Oh. My. Word. It hasn’t even cooled yet, and I’ve been sneaking spoonfuls left and right! The cardamom is definitely a good trick. Thanks!

  24. Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I just got back from an extended vacation/family visit and have many of the same thoughts that you do. I’m not quite ready to dive back into the normal routine and I’m doing my best to think of new things to do and ways to move forward to make the normal routine better.

    Glad you had a great vacation!

  25. Posted July 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I thought that piece about busyness was compelling as well. So spot on and funny and memorable. I am sure we will get caught up in it all again, but it’s nice to have those reminders. The galette looks beautiful, so glad you guys had a nice trip!

  26. Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

    So excited to have discovered your blog! I love galettes. They are easier than pie and look super rustic and homey.

  27. Posted July 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Megan, I love your blog and thank you for this gorgeous recipe! I love plums and baking with plums! And I’ve been baking a lot with them (and other stone fruits), lately. Your Plum Galette is up next! :)

  28. Posted July 27, 2012 at 2:22 am

    this looks delicious and I just love plums…can’t wait to try this out…thank you for the recipe… xv

  29. megang
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Dana. Enjoy the recipe … and the weekend!

  30. Posted August 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I love plums and I love ginger and I love galettes and I love tart desserts and…yeah, I am just going to have to make this.

  31. Posted August 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Those plums look gorgeous! I’m hoping to make a crostata this weekend to take to a bbq, hopefully will find some that look as good!

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