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One for the ladies, this. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall roasts his plums.

This is one of my favourite sorbets. Roasting your plums first intensifies both flavour and colour in a delightful way. Serve in its unadorned glory, with little shortbread biscuits or, for a spectacularly indulgent treat, warm chocolate brownies. Serves six to eight.

2kg plums, halved and stoned
2 vanilla pods
100g caster sugar, or more depending on the sweetness of the plums

Make the sorbet at least 12 hours before you want to serve it. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put your plums in a roasting tin. Slit the vanilla pods open lengthways, chop them into a few pieces and add to the tin, along with the sugar and 250ml water. Roast for about 30 minutes until the plums are really soft and slightly blistered around the edges. Rub the plums and juices from the tin through a sieve into a bowl. Add more sugar to taste. Leave to cool.

Churn the purée in an ice-cream machine until very thick, then transfer to the freezer to set solid. Alternatively, put the purée in a shallow container and place in the freezer. Take it out every hour or so and beat it to distribute the ice crystals throughout the mixture and make a soft, sorbet texture. Three interventions should do the trick; two will do if you’re pushed.

My young friend Melissa was rendered speechless by a mouthful of Hugh’s plums.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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