Chef Monica Pope writes about eating & cooking where your food lives

Here, Taste This! October 20, 2010

From Peppers... Persimmon!

Green Plum Cooking School – Sat, Oct 2nd

I’m always suspicious when someone says, “Here, taste this!” and shoves a pepper in my face.  That’s what Hans Hansen of Twin Persimmons Farm did when I arrived this morning at the market.  I was tasting an Aji Dulce chili – and it really is as good as advertised:  sweet but peppery without the spicy.  This gives me an idea to make chili in my class this morning.  In my head, I’m ticking off the things I would need to pull that off and I walk back to the kitchen to make sure I have everything.

But I walk into an empty, quiet kitchen.  I don’t know if anyone truly understands the scariness of this feeling.  Benjy and Maria aren’t here yet (no biscuits! no breakfast!), Claire is not here yet (I’m going to have to set up Plum Eats!), no Molly, either (I’m going to have to set up Plum Pantry, too!) and then there’s all the produce I foraged yesterday that has to be set up at the Community Table (!).   Where is everyone?  It takes a village to put on a farmer’s market and right now the village looks like Pompeii.  I’m thinking to myself that I can enlist Daisy and Lili to sell produce (they’re not even 8-years-old) – I can just imagine what the money box will look like when they’re done.  My mind races with fear.

Finally, my people show up and they get to work.  I can breathe again.  But I’ve had to change course on the chili for the class (turns out I don’t have the meat I need) and so I switch to persimmons.  Ah, from Pompeii to persimmons.

So I decide to make persimmon pudding.  The only bad thing about this is that I’m going to have to entertain the crowd while the pudding is baking in the “real” kitchen.

We get started on the pudding and I cream twelve tablespoons of butter by hand (or by spoon, as it were).  No mixer out here!  I’m trying to teach the kids who are helping me how hard life should be.

You have to work it, the old-fashioned way...

It helps to have help.

The persimmons have a very soft, beautiful flesh that has body and flavor. I peel them and strain them.

Beautiful, strained persimmon

I bring the pudding together alternating the flour mixture with milk.  The kids help me pour the batter into the baking pans and they carry them, precariously, through the crowd to the kitchen.

When the puddings come out from the kitchen, all hot and steamy, I can’t help but say, “Here, taste this!”

NOTE: The recipes used in my Green Plum Cooking School classes can be found in my online cookbook, “Eat Where Your Food Lives,” available for purchase at


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