Of Plum Tarts and Philosophy

A woman shares a favorite family recipe and her grandmother's wisdom about men, work, and food.

by Karin Duncker • More.com Member { View Profile }


“Vor jeden pot passt ein deckel” Man, that is so true. What? Don’t speak German? Basically it means for every pot there's a lid. You know, like for every shoe there’s a mate. Seems appropriate that this saying has been rolling around my head for most of my adult life. It’s a message to have hope that somewhere out there is my job, my guy, my right fit. My Oma, (Tante Betty to most who knew her) firmly lodged that little nugget in my brain about 30 years ago, and it still holds today. Of course that doesn’t stop me from wanting to yell in a very loud and whiney voice I WANT IT NOW! Unfortunately, some days I’m filled with less of life’s wisdom than others. And to that Oma would say, “This too shall pass.” I wish just once she had said “Ach Schatzie, zee BIG bag of money ees hidden in zee strudel." No such luck. But her pearls of wisdom really are true. Hope is essential to get through the rough times; it’s just that some days you really have to work hard to find it. She seemed to find it though. She came to this country at 19, trained as a cook, but really wanted to be a movie star. Add to that she didn't know the language, but did know somehow that here things would be better. Now that’s a serious case of hope for the future! Oma was quite a wonderful force of nature. And I truly believe she thought if she wanted something done and told you to do it, it would happen … because she said so. Years ago, at another time in my life of joblessness (and manlessness), she took me aside, looked me firmly in the eye and said: You know vat you zhould do? You zhould find a job, und find a husband.” Now why didn’t I think of that?! She probably figured I hadn’t so she would just set me straight. And for years I have been sharing her “passt ein deckel” wisdom to my friends, colleagues, and anyone else who looks like they could use a little boost of hope. I’ve even heard a few tell their friends “passt ein deckle.” What do you know Oma, you are a STAR after all!  Ja, dat vould haf made her veery happy. Now I have to stop writing, because I have to find a job and a man. Look out Mr. Clooney, here I come. Oma said so!

My grandmother’s culinary prowess was legendary, and her baking was the best. I’ve decided to share one my family's favorite. If she were still around, I know Oma would approve (although she surely would have said “Ein blog??? Vat is dat?) The proper name for this cake is Zwetchken Kuchen, but for those of you who are umlaut-challenged or dry of mouth (it requires an abundance of spit to speak German), I’ll give it to you as Tante Betty’s Plum Cake. The pastry is called müerbeteig, so if you are feeling adventurous, feel free to wrap your mouth around that one!

Tante Betty’s Plum Tart (Zwetchken Kuchen)

Makes two nine-inch tarts (If you don't have two tart pans, you can make this in nine-inch layer cake pans. It works fine.)

For the fruit 

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