The prunes for our plum tarts usually came from my grandfather's farm, and many a one had gone into my mouth from the trays while they were drying first in the sun and then in a big brick oven. My grandmother baked her own bread about once a week: one week in her own oven, the next in her neighbor's, and so on, a fashion they all followed to save fuel and the work of making the fires to heat up the huge ovens. In the fruit-drying season, the big straw trays were put in the ovens when they had not quite cooled, and the bricks gave off a little gentle warmth. The great iron doors were left swinging open, and the smell of the drying fruit was too much of a temptation for little boys, especially when there was room enough to climb inside. Many a time I was pulled out by the seat of my pants by a very annoyed grandparent. The dried fruit was distributed to the sons and daughters living away from the farm.
Tarte aux Pruneaux (Dried Plum Tart)
Cook 12 to 15 prunes slowly in 1 1/2 cups red wine to which a scant 1/2 cup sugar and 1 or 2 slices of lemon have been added. When done, remove the pits and cool the prunes. Line the tart pan with tart pastry, building up the edge to hold in fruit and juice. Fill it with the fruit and cover the top with strips of the pastry. Brush the pastry with a mixture of 1 egg beaten with a little milk. Bake in a hot oven (450&176;F.) for about 15 minutes, or until the pastry is browned.