That’s Plum Crazy!

Hello! I’m Katrina Kyle. I’m thrilled to be here for the first time today, and even more ecstatic to give you a glimpse into my debut novel, Meg’s Motivation. Joining with like-minded readers is something special.

But first, I have a confession. When I set out to write a series about three sisters working to save the family plum orchard, I knew very little about plums. As in, practically nothing at all. The deeper I sank my teeth into the flesh of the matter, the more astounded I became. For instance, did you know that plums are the second-most cultivated fruit in the world and are grown on every continent except Antarctica? Plums are a member of the rose family with varieties that ripen in red, purple, yellow, green, and white. The average life span of cultivated plum trees is 10-30+ years.

Okay. That’s all well and good, but I needed to know about plums in California in particular. You see, that is where the Trudy family orchard called Damson Acres is situated in my series. Like many goods in California, plum production began in the mid-1800’s and really took off as the transcontinental railroad was completed. Today, the San Joaquin Valley in central California produces 95% of domestic fresh plums on 20,000 acres – not to say anything of the 50,000 acres of plums intended to dry for prunes. It takes three pounds of fresh plums to get one pound of prunes. That’s plum crazy! (Alright, that’s the last plum pun I’ll throw in here. I’d like to hear you say ‘plum pun’ ten times fast!)

What could a fictional three-generation farming family possibly do with that many plums? Most of the harvested fruit is packed up and shipped to markets around the country. The rest get processed into juice, spreads, syrup, and desserts made and sold in the Damson Acres Café.

As the eldest Trudy sister, Meg discovers that all is not well financially at the orchard. Money is draining from the accounts much faster than they can make it, and rather than worry her mother and sisters, Meg is motivated to turn things around. She quickly learns, however, that she can’t do so on her own. Enter the handsome travel blogger renting a guest bungalow on the property. Meg’s sisters dare her to kiss him while having lunch at the café, and when Meg finds out who he is, she is mortified! She and Morris are thrown together repeatedly, of course, and as they spend more time together, it’s only natural that they fall in love.

Some surprising twists tangle their relationship until neither is certain they’ll attain a happily-ever-after. But if you know me at all, you’ll understand that a happy ending for two people who are totally good together is a MUST.

I’d love to send a paperback copy of Meg’s Motivation to one lucky reader here today. To enter, tell me about a family legacy or tradition you cherish. I can’t wait to hear about your heritage. (And by the way, if you’d like to share a favorite plum recipe in the comments, I’d love to include it in a collection I’m putting together.)

Guideline rules apply – 

So next time you take a bite out of a fresh, juicy plum or open a bag of soft prunes, there’s a 95% chance you’re eating fruit straight off the truck from California. Mm.

Thanks for having me!

Pre-order Meg’s Motivation for only $0.99!

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44 thoughts on “That’s Plum Crazy!”

  1. I remember sitting on my grandparents’ porch shelling peas, snapping beans, and shucking corn. Sometimes it was for dinner and sometimes it was for canning. Great memories, and I learned how to do it, too.

  2. Welcome- You gave us some great info about plums I did not know.
    I wouldn’t say it’s a family tradition, but it might qualify. My mom make homemade picante sauce every year from her tomatoes, jalapeños , & onions from her own garden. I’m always excited when she sends some home with me. I know it takes her all day to make, so it’s not an easy task. We all Savor each & every scoop full on chips, red beans, or over our favorite Mexican dish.
    Congrats on you plum series. Sounds wonderful.

  3. Good morning and thank you for stopping my P&P! Debut novel! Congrats & how exciting! Best of luck! My question is how did you choose to write about plum farming? It’s a very unusual choice so is that why?

    My family has a party punch we serve at all baby & wedding showers as well as birthday parties & family gatherings.

    Grandma Jenkins Punch

    1 (6 ounce) package cherry jello (Grandma’s original recipe) – or flavor of choice
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 1/2 cups boiling water
    2 (6 ounce) cans frozen lemonade (I usually have to just use 1 large- it’s hard to find small)
    46 ounce can unsweetened pineapple juice
    6 cups cold water
    2 liter ginger ale
    1-2 T almond extract (this is the key to the correct family flavor!)

    Dissolve cherry jello & sugar in boiling water. Add in frozen lemonade, pineapple juice, extract & cold water. If you’ll be serving it in a punch bowl do not add ginger ale if you’ll be serving it from a jug add ginerale before freezing. Freeze in gallon jugs or freezer zip lock bags. If your using the gallon jugs my grandmother always started freezing in her deep freeze very early the day of the party and went to the freezer and shook it often until the desired consistency because she served it from the jugs. This is where frozen zip locks of the punch come in handy because it’s easier to freeze solid and thaw to the desired consistency than in a jug but only use this method if your using a punch bowl. If using gallon milk or water jugs, the jug can be cut away from a solid frozen gallon of punch and placed in punch bowl and then add in the chilled ginger ale stir until desired consistency.  Be sure to allow thawing time. Use the same method with frozen ziplocks of punch but it requires less time to thaw.

    Punch Tips:

    1-I have seen where people only add about half a bag of punch to the bags and freeze it flat so it’s a quick thaw. When doing it this way add the ginger ale before freezing because this method will be a quick thaw.
    2-If serving at an event have extra gallon jugs handy to take home the extra punch-we always gave it to the person the event was for unless they just do not want it.
    3-it isn’t as hard as this recipe sounds I just wanted to be thorough
    4-you can use other flavors of jello but if your trying to get a certain color instead of flavor keep in mind that the pineapple juice will alter colors. Apricot jello is an amazing choice I love. -Stephanie Jenkins-Jenkins family recipe
    5-it is just as good served without freezing and is just as good

    Another family tradition is giving away my mom’s Peanut brittle at Christmas & making it for fund raisers for her grands & great-grands. When it is known it’s my moms brittle it can bring in a hefty price!

    Mom’s Peanut brittle by Yvonne Jenkins

    1 c sugar
    1/2 karo syrup
    1/4 water
    Dash of salt
    2 T butter (she doesn’t level these)
    1 heaping t baking soda
    1 heaping cup of raw peanuts (She actually makes sure the peanuts cover the bottom of the cast iron skillet in a single layer to measure)

    Put sugar, syrup, water and salt into a standard 10″ cast iron skillet on medium high heat (on a standard stove cook just below 8) bring to a boil. Cook mixture while stirring constantly until it reaches a golden to amber brown color (to taste-hers is more amber). Stir in butter; whip in soda while it is still on stove and allow the mixture to rise while on the direct heat (note this happens quickly and allowing it to stay on the heat-unlike stated in standard recipes- is the difference in her thicker, fluffier, loved brittle). Pour batter onto a buttered cookie sheet. (she’s always uses foil cookie sheets) Pour and completely scrape all the batter out onto the sheet and spread evenly.

    ?CAUTION this mixture is very HOT so DO NOT touch it!?

    When it is completely cool flip the entire brick over to break into pieces. Don’t throw out the crumbled pieces because that’s a lot of people favorite part of a batch of brittle. (It is mine!)

    This brittle is unlike any I have ever eaten before and people will pay her good money for a lot for a batch! (or it can bring a high bid at an auction if people have had her brittle before-it’s that good!)

    A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list! I’d love to read your book!

    • Wow! Those recipes both sound heavenly. I haven’t had peanut brittle in forever and this makes me want to try it. Thank you so much!

  4. Through research from a relative we discovered that on my paternal grandmothers side all the men going back at least 8 generations possible more they were all fishermen.I myself find that fascinating as most will find a generation or two doing the same type of work but rare to find that many generations.So to me that’s a legacy of info that can be passed on.

    • My goodness, 8 generations! That is a lot. Are there any men currently in your family who still fish for a living?

  5. Many of our family traditions revolve around food. Big feast for every holiday! I’ve had to alter and change recipes because I have two children with allergies, but I have many fond memories spent in the kitchen with my mother.

  6. A tradition which is important to our family for many generations is storytelling. I grew up learning about my ancestors and their lives from my parents whose stories were fascinating and memorable. We continue to keep this tradition going for the little ones to understand and remember how we value others who came before us.

    • I read somewhere that talking to your children about their ancestors helps to establish a strong sense of belonging and to realize that people who share your blood have gotten through difficult things. I love that you take the time to do that.

  7. I grew up in a family of readers. This was extremely enjoyable and gave me great pleasure. I instilled this interest in my children and now my grandchildren are very involved since I provide them all with books and these treasures are appreciated.

  8. A legacy handed down from my grandmothers was wonderful. Both grandmothers were talented cooks whose meals were so appetizing. We had a Saturday lunch with one grandmother when I was young and until she was unable to cook. My other grandmother who lived with us for 7 years was an amazing baker as well. Her challah, blintzes, strudels, and delectable mandelbrot was the best ever. I do try to replicate these goodies but have not as yet reached that level.

  9. Your book sounds like a great read and the book cover is Beautiful! I love stories about families. When I was growing up we would always make Tamales on Christmas Eve, we would all pitch in the making of them, it was an all day and all evening event, a lot of work goes into tamales, my dad would start with the masa, he would fix it nice and my mom would cook the red chili meat that goes in them, we would also make sweet ones, my paternal grandma would always be there helping also. It was my dad, my mom, my grandmother and we were 6 kiddos all doing this. We would enjoy the delicious tamales every Christmas morning, of course we would have some after they were done on Christmas Eve. Such Great memories. I have 3 older brothers and 2 younger sisters and only 1 of our brothers kept the tradition going until his now grown children went off to College. I love fresh plums and I also love plum spreads. Thank you so much for sharing about plums and for introducing us to your awesome book. Have a Great weekend and stay safe.

  10. Sadly, not much of a family legacy to draw upon. One of my grandfathers being a rum runner during prohibition isn’t really something to emulate.
    I grew up in MacIntosh apple country in the northeast corner of New York State. There was an orchard directly across the street from our house and another just down the road adjacent to it. The owners were friends. It is, like any agricultural endeavor, a living that depends so much on the weather. My research project for my meteorology class in college was about the effects of frost and freezes in the Spring and the mitigating actions taken to protect the trees. Was interesting and made me appreciate what a gamble it can all be. A hard freeze at the wrong time can damage the buds or flowers to the point that a major part of the crop is lost before the growing season really gets started. We had a front row seat for spraying tending and harvesting. We also helped with sorting and made many trips to the storage facility. We enjoyed watching them make cider and bringing home a fresh gallon or 2. That was before pasteurization was required. Not as much to see anymore and it doesn’t taste as good. (it is also nearly impossible to make hard cider from it now.).
    I guess it could be considered a tradition held vicariously.
    Best wishes for a successful release of Meg’s Motivation and the series. The cover is lovely. Blossom time in any orchard is always such a wonderful and beautiful time.

    • What beautiful experiences. I can just picture it. Some of us have to create our own legacies, and that’s fine too! Thanks for sharing.

  11. My aunt died a few years ago at 85 years of age and she had a long term like/dislike relationship with a plum tree that she planted in the backyard. The darn thing gave off so much fruit she’d go out there and sort of cuss it out and then she would have to go back later to apologize to it haha… She would literally put her arms around it to say she was sorry for what she said and even though it sounds like she was a little bit nutty she wasn’t, she just felt like trees and plants deserved respect. What aggravated her was this…during the time plums are ripe, her neighbors wouldn’t wave or make eye contact because they were afraid she was going to rush over with several bags of plums.

  12. The plums we eat at our house are Washington Grown, primarily Italian Prune plums. I had to plant a new plum tree four or five years ago and I was hoping it would produce enough fruit this year so we could have some rather than just feeding the birds. Unfortunately we have had several mornings with temperatures in the teens so I’m not counting on it. I love to mix Italian prune plums with pears. Prune- pear jam made from fresh prunes and Bartlett pears makes a delicious glaze on roast lamb. I like to mix the two in pies also.

    Love your book cover., beautiful colors.

    • Alice, I’d love your prune-pear jam recipe! That sounds delicious. Thank you for participating.

      • Prune Pear Jam——about 2pounds Italian Prune Plums
        1 pound Pears
        3 cups sugar. 2Tbsp lemon juice
        Wash and pit plums. Wash and core pears. Do not peel. Put plums and pears through food grinder using a coarse blade; measure 5 cups of the fruit mixture. I use 3cups plums, 2cups pears, ground. Place fruit, sugar and lemon juice in an 8 to 10 quart Dutch oven or stock pot. Stir together; bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard until syrup sheets off metal spoon, about 12 to 15 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat, skim off foam. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal with lids and process in boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes.(adjust time for your elevation—-10 minutes for 1,000 to 6,000 ft.) Makes about 6 half-pints

        Good on lamb and pork

  13. I really can’t think of a legacy or tradition my family has, but I do have a plum tree that my brother gave me from a sprout from his tree. My brother is gone now, so I will always remember where the tree came from and remember him when I am eating a plum.

  14. I learned something new about plums, that I didn’t know, which they are part of the rose family.
    I grew up watching my parents and helping them pick fruit and then seeing them can it for later use. Pears, peaches, green beans, apples, pumpkin are some my parents canned. Then shocking of corn and decobbing for the freezer. Then the chickens, I knew when we got home from school on a Friday, and therr was a gunny sack moving accross the yard, that Saturday was chicken day. And I saw first hand what a chicken with its head cut off does. A very long smelly project we did on the back patio. My sister, willingly clean house that Saturday to not have to clean chickens.
    So many memories, that most now days don’t know anything about doing.

    • Many in the rising generations definitely don’t have the same knowledge. It’s so much work. I can’t imagine preparing the chickens!

  15. Thank you for the information it makes me want to go find a plum farm and get the fruit off the trees. Our family tradition is always homemade bread for any holiday. My mom actually had to stand next to my grandmother and have her pour all the ingredients from her hand into either a measuring cup or spoons to get the recipe. My grandmother just used the it looks right or feels right way of baking. My mom taught both my sister and I the recipe but I am the lucky one that bakes all the bread…I was never as grateful as the day my mom converted the recipe so it could be made in a bread machine!

  16. My Mom grew up in the mountains of West Virginia during the depression. My Grandmother would plant a garden that bring in food for them during the winter months. We have continued to plant gardens. This year we are planting tomatoes, cucumbers and patty pan squash. We are not sure yet if we will plant green onions. Thank you for the opportunity.

  17. We use to do a lot of canning in the family but not so much any more. My mother use to buy cans of purple plums in the fruit section of the grocery store and I loved them but I haven’t found them in years. I have looked for the several times but have never found them.

  18. My Mother and Aunts always canned fresh vegetables and now My Daughters and I still can fresh vegetables and also make homemade jellies and preserves they are so yummy!

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