Caroline Radice
Food, Preserves

Hot Plums and Black Dogs

I kinda can’t believe I made these all by myself — and it was easy!

If you have hot plum jelly — or if you want to make hot plum jelly — might I suggest that this would be a fine thing to do with it? These are golden fried wantons, stuffed with chèvre and liberally drizzled with a sauce of said plum jelly and a few other good things.

I’m going to tell you how to make them — but first I want to share the story of how I got the recipe.

I can’t help wanting to eat a thing that begins with a big lump of goat cheese.

A few weeks ago, I took off on a little road trip because when I need to think, I like to drive. One of the things I needed to think about was this blog. Like, how did it happen? If you had known me just a few years ago, you would have laughed at the idea that I would want to write a blog about any kind of food. I was scared of the burners on my stove and couldn’t make much of anything without setting off the smoke alarm. (Actually, now I wonder if that’s why Stewart removed the smoke alarm from our kitchen.) Then I went plum(b) crazy for putting fruit in jars.

Still, I was puzzled. A year ago, I quit my job of fifteen years and I didn’t know what I would do next. I hoped I might do some writing. You know. Serious writing. Months passed and when I looked around, I’d become a semi-retired, forty-something-year-old woman who spent a whole lot of time making jam. Huh? It seemed like a fine time for an identity crisis. When I drove away, I felt like the blog and I . . . well, maybe we needed some space from each other.

This is Caroline. I met her about 200 miles from home, when I pulled into a farmer’s market in a small Mendocino County town called Redwood Valley. Upon seeing this market, my first thought was “Uh oh,” because it comprised four small booths and a few guys playing guitar. I almost turned around and drove away, but I’m so glad I didn’t because, lordy, this girl makes gorgeous and delicious preserves!

Beauty. Some people have the touch.

Caroline’s farm is called Black Dog Farm. (Now, I’m not sure why Black Dog Farm has a sign with a little chicken on it — see above — instead of a you-know-what, but I don’t care, because that is one damn cute chicken. I was trying to take the photo of Caroline and I’m all, “I want to see the chicken! I want to see the chicken!”) I lurked around her booth for as long as seemed reasonable. We got to talking, like jam people do. We talked about quince, we talked about pectin. Like that.

I asked Caroline, if I were to buy one jar from her, which should it be? She handed me the hot plum jelly and told me about this thing she’d done with it the other night. (That’s the thing pictured above and described below.) After buying the jelly and lurking a little more, I thanked her and started to walk away, but then she asked, “Do you follow the Tigress’s Can Jam at all?”

Uh. Come again?

Me: I do!

Caroline: Do you blog about it?

Me: Yeah. I have a blog called Hitchhiking to Heaven.

Caroline: No way! That’s you? I read your blog!

We started laughing and she came out from behind her table and we had a big hug. Then we really started babbling like crazy, and she pressed her last jar of Pear Cardamom Jam into my palms. A gift. I promised her I’d send something nice in return.

And that’s what happened when I tried to get away from this blog. So I’ll admit it. I love doing this. I love that doing this means I get to meet people like Caroline. And Julia. And Tigress. And Marisa. And Kate. And Audra. My goodness.

I guess I’d better get used to it.

Chèvre Fried Wontons with Hot Plum Sauce

1/2 jar hot plum jelly
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Premade wonton wrappers
8 ounces chèvre
32 ounce bottle canola oil

Mix the hot plum jelly with the chili garlic sauce and rice wine vinegar. Heat this mixture in a small saucepan on low until it’s nice and saucy.

To make the wontons, put 2 tablespoons of chèvre in each wonton wrapper, fold in half to make a triangle, use a little water to brush the seams closed, and deep fry in canola oil heated to 350F. Fry until the wontons are golden brown, crispy, and delicious looking.

Serve with sauce and garnish with scallions. Caroline says ground pork works well, too. I believe that.

Tip: You’ll probably have the best luck finding the chili garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee brand) and premade wonton wrappers in a big supermarket. Think Safeway.

Keepin’ it real . . .

Thanks, Caroline!

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  • Reply Cyn November 8, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I'm so glad you met Caroline, because I just found you and your blog this past year. Please keep writing it!

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse November 9, 2010 at 2:17 am

    Yum! I need to make these. I have had many of those identity crisis moments. As far as my blog goes, at the moment, I'm feeling comfortable calling it my workshop. I thought your blog was evolving into a jamcyclopedia, but now you've taken it a step further by adding recipes that use jam. Even more fun. Now how do you get that nice little curl in your scallion?

  • Reply Julia November 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    i've just discovered your blog, and those wontons look divine – i bet roasted potato wedges would be delicious with a similar sauce as well – i usually dip them in sour cream and sweet chili sauce

    the thought of pear cardamom jam makes me swoon… – i love anything and everything with cardamom in it!

  • Reply kaela November 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I read somewhere the other day, I can't remember where, that the most important question a blogger can answer for herself is "What do you want from your blog?" It's a good question, I suppose; but one that I can't answer. My blog has brought me wonderful things so far without my over-analyzing the whys & wherefors (including being able to share with wonderful folk like yourself); I guess I hope it will continue to do so, even without my defining a niche, a label, a marketing demographic, a mission statement. After all, these are all the things that I left a 'real' job to escape, no? Maybe, after all, what I want is simply to talk about jam. :)

  • Reply minnie November 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    That looks SOOOOOO GOOOD!

  • Reply tigress November 10, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I love this post for so many things. first, the fact that the can jam is connecting people in ways that I could have never even imagined! second, I just know that the above is a most amazing combo because I know that plum hot (or hot plum as you say) jelly turns any kind of cheese out. and fried dumplings – what can I say? finally, I love hearing about your blog angst. 'cause I get it too! (and kaela I hear you, most of my days are spent marketing my events, the last thing I want to think about is marketing my blogs – I just want to roar about pickling & jamming!)

  • Reply Janis November 14, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Oooh that looks good…

    Great story too – happy peaceful jam makin' people! Looking forward to meeting you someday soon :^)

  • Reply Julia November 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Those look scrumptious! And it's nice to hear from others about the blog angst, it's true. It's really all about the love!

  • Reply Shae @ H2H November 16, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Cyn: Thank you! I can't imagine stopping. :-)

    Denise: Those scallions were so obliging — they curled up all by themselves! I sliced them very thin and very quickly, though . . . do you think it's like curling holiday ribbon with scissors?

    Julia: Welcome! I am in love with cardamom right now, too. I can't stop making this Quince-Orange-Cardamom Marmalade.

    Kaela: Yes, let's all just keep talking about jam. You definitely belong on that list of wonderful folks I've met, even though we haven't yet. Someday!

    Minnie: It is!!!

    Tigress: Thanks for coming on over here and 'fessing up with me. Those angsty times are just part of the beautiful ride we're all on. Your plum hot is so cool. And your Can Jam . . . well. It's a brilliant thing you started.

    Janis: Same here. See ya' downtown!

    Jules: You know it. It's the love thing. :-)

  • Reply Carla measer-Costamagna November 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I am a friend of Caroline's and I think she is amazing! Her and her boyfriend used to live in San Francisco where we met. I moved to WNY recently and haven't seen her for a while but we keep in touch via facebook and I am so happy and excited for her. Her and Jason have created this wonderful life for themselves, living in a far,, raising their own chickens, growing their veggies, selling their amazing produce at the farmer's market! A dream come true and an inspiration to me.

  • Reply Chandelle December 5, 2010 at 5:34 am

    This is so funny. I just stumbled on your blog, like ya do. I think I was looking for a cranberry jam recipe? About ten blogs ago. Anyway, I was skimming through and stopped on the photo of Caroline. Wait, was that Caroline? Of Black Dog Farm? Yep, it was. I live in Ukiah, about 15 minutes from Redwood Valley, and Caroline runs my favorite farmers market stall. She had the best purple peas this summer.

    It's a small blog world. :)

  • Reply Shae @ H2H December 6, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Carla: I'm inspired by Caroline, too!

    Chandelle: Love that! I thought you wrote, "It's a small big world," which is also true. Have you checked out Punk Domestics? It's getting to be a wonderful (and now searchable) database of recipes across the "canning blogosphere." (Isn't it strange and cool that there is such a thing?) The cranberry collection has been steadily growing!

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