Posts Tagged 'figs'

Figs, fig jam, and grape jelly

  1. Lots of little pots of grape jelly Grapejelly
  2. Jars of balsamic-rosemary fig jam (savory)
  3. 5 mismatched jars of cinnamon fig rose petal jam (closest to the flavor of fresh figs)

The last 5 were done tonight. I have my freezer back, but now we have very little counter space. All the ingredients for all 3 kinds of preserves came from the garden, except the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon. Yay, Gardener!

It’s fig season again

In my burgh, it’s fig season. I have 2 trees, and between workplace diplomacy and a neighbor with a ladder, lots of figs have been used up. I have a bunch waiting in the refrigerator, and I’m hoping they stick around long enough for a fig and almond cake. I made a good lot of fig jam (in the refrigerator). And, sadly, fig processing and knitting are not compatible (unless I want to hand-dye everything an amazing color of purple-brown). Also, some of the yard work I’ve done lately has banged up my fingers, so beyond fantasizing about getting a pair of socks done, not much knitting right now. Many books are being read in the meantime.

I finished up a Laurie R King book: The Language of Bees.

I’m now onto 3 others — an Edith Pageter book about Czechoslovakia, W. Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale, and an Alexander McCall Smith mystery (set in Edinburgh). So far, Edith is winning. I haven’t quite figured out what the Maugham book is all about, other than making me think I’m reading unfunny Bertie Wooster (hopefully it will improve once I get used to the narrator).

Sunday was the day to

begoniaClean floors,

enjoy the sunshine,

figs simmering on stovetoppick figs and make fig jam*,

knit a little,

and generally discomfit the cats.**

Huzzah. (It all beat the hell out of listening to bongo man down the block practice outside.)

*3 little bags of freezer jam, carefully put in a larger freezer bag to protect them. There is a small bowl of jam waiting for cheddar sandwiches tomorrow.

** The cats hate floor mopping, especially in a room that has been a battlefield of “thinking outside the catbox.”we are not amuzed

Just call me a curmudgeon and be done with it

Thoughts while waiting to be able to put milk in my coffee at the local bakery, in line behind two women who were busy leaning on the coffee and sugar serving area chatting about their ex-husbands and experimenting with sugar in their ice tea and deciding they had put too much in:

“How nice you’re having an event. I’m having a day.”

Yes, they were having a wonderful time jawing, and gawking at the strange sights in the bakery (perfectly ordinary people, who were buying bread or eating lunch). I suppose they were exploring, checking out the chi-chi stores and the greengrocers. I was just trying to bring back bread, a slice of peach-lavendar tart, and my coffee. I’m more irritated that I forgot to buy the fresh ginger root at the greengrocers than anything else. I had vague ideas of committing ginger-fig freezer jam. The trees are getting heavy with the fruit (now turning dark purple-red-black), and it looks like I’ll have to do some small batches of different items. We also have eggs, so perhaps an fig-almond cake is possible this time. 🙂

Figments

Last night I walked outside, at 9:40 PM, and picked a few figs in the dark. I worked by touch, selecting the ones that felt whole yet soft enough to be ripe. And yes, each time I found a soft fig, I cringedfig trees are tall hoping I wouldn’t encounter a yellow jacket. The figs were cool in the night air, their skins slightly wrinkled and puckered. A few had split.

Only a few are ripe now. There are many, many green figs showing the promise of a good crop, if the starlings get sick of them before the next crop ripens. There’s nothing like these fresh figs from an ancient tree. These aren’t like Smyrnas, or the light tan ones that one finds in the dried foods section at the market, or the ones I used to get from California. Perhaps turkey figs or some older variety from the 1920s or 30s. So now I’m looking around at different fig recipes to see if I can improve on the fig cake I made the other year.

Info about fig horticulture is out there on the web. Some are hobbyists. But if you’re interested in the history of figs, and you’re trawling the web, be prepared for some fairly weird search results.

I’d suggest GardenWeb for those who want to really research growing the plants. Have fun!

The figs are still green

… but the leaves on the forsythia are turning, I’ve switched to warmer clothing, and it looks like fall is upon us. Back on September 9th last year, we had lots and lots of ripe figs that were turning black on the trees. Heck, last August we had a crop we were harvesting. This season the ripening started later — we’ve had only 5 or 6 ripe figs to bring into the house (and we have 2 trees, filled with green little bullets).

Since there’s nothing I can do to make the figs hurry up and ripen, I’m drinking my coffee and musing away to myself. Wonder if the figs will ripen before hard frosts turn them to goo?

Autumn Offers Her Beautiful Face

… and the sun shines through the last few of the leaves on the trees, like stained glass.

Birch leaves

Birch leaves

We took one more walk around the neighborhood, before the autumn chill knocks all the leaves onto streets and lawns. The streets are paved with gold and they still sleep under an overarching canopy of oranges, red, and russets. The fig leaves are turning slowly turning yellow, then dropping off the trees. And while its leaves are turning from green to red and orange, the forsythia is sporting yellow blooms.

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, filled with beautiful gardens to gaze at and birds to watch (including yellow chickadees and black crows). May we all have such beautiful days ahead of us, filled with that bittersweet hope that changing seasons bring. And yes — there’s a lot of raking in my future too.

Fig and Almond Kuchen

Fig and Almond Kuchen

Fig and Almond Kuchen

Note: this kuchen is based on Flo Braker’s recipe for Prune plum, fig and walnut kuchen. It isn’t the same, but it was a great springboard for what I came up with. I live in a household that seems to prefer almonds over walnuts. I suspect that I could have made this more like a frangipan tart by pouring in half the dough, adding a thin disc of marzipan, then pouring in the rest of the dough and adding the figs. As it is, this is possibly a little lighter than an actual kuchen (I subbed 2 eggs rather than 1 egg and 2 egg yolks, due to what I had).

Ingredients:

  • 12 fresh figs, stems removed and each fig quartered (this might work with dried. Have not tried it.)
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (about 4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 Cup slivered almonds

Topping:

  • 1 Tbspn white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees and set rack in center of oven. Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round baking pan (I used a 9-inch round springform pan with great success) and insert a round of parchment paper in the bottom.

Mix the cake: Cream butter. Once butter is smooth, pour in white sugar then brown sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating until well-incorporated and slightly fluffy. Beat in eggs, then almond extract. If you want to, sift flour, salt and baking powder separately before adding. If you don’t want to, you can put half the flour in then mix the salt and baking powder in the mixing cup with the flour before adding in the rest. Add flour mixture slowly until it’s just combined.

Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle almonds evenly over the batter.

Add figs, starting at edges of the pan, seed/flesh side up and skins against the batter, one next to the other in circles around the pan. After completing the circles, if any wedges remain, snugly fit them in where you can.

Topping: Combine sugar and spices in a small bowl and sprinkle it over the top of the fruit on the cake.

Bake for 60 minutes, until the portion of cake nearest the sides of the pan is puffy and golden brown and the center is set. (You will want to start checking after 55 minutes). If the center is liquid and soft, bake another 5 to 7 minutes. If it is firm and set, then remove it from the oven to a wire rack and set it aside to cool for about 1 hour.

Remove cake from pan (use a knife or spatula slowly around edge of cake to release the sides). Cover the cake with the wire cooling rack, invert the cake, life the pan then gently peel off and discard the paper liner. (Like I said — the second time I tried this I used the spring form pan and it was so much easier.) Place a serving plate on top of the cake and turn it right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I’m storing my cake in the refrigerator, even though the original recipe said to store it at room temp under plastic wrap. I just live in a household with cat interference.)

Serves 12. (Yeah, right. I’d say this is closer to feeding 15.)

Different fruits might work with this recipe — slices of plum or fresh apricot. I’m thinking of making the next one then freezing it for Christmas, when I’ll be visiting family members without a fig tree.

Ginger and Fig Conserve

Refrigerator preserving is a grand thing. I have lots and lots of figs in the freezer and the refrigerator for my friends.

But I look outside, and notice the figs still outnumber us. The cats don’t like fresh figs, and 3 other families in the neighborhood aren’t enough to help us devour them.

Possible recipe salvation: 1-3/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup to 2 cups (plus) figs, a little water to cover, lots and lots of simmering, adding in chopped candied ginger, and when the thermometer says 200 degrees Fahrenheit = something really close to fig jam. Eventually, with enough canning apparatus, I could solve the fig problem. And what a grand, sweet problem to have.

(I know this is a day of remembrance. Best of wishes to everyone who marks this day, and best of wishes for those who are just keeping on….)

Local Resources and Food

We here at WordTapestry can get to a local Farmer’s Market. Not quite up to par with the glory of Reading Terminal Market, since this one is once a day for a few hours, with only a few stalls, and one has to drive to get there (instead of riding SEPTA). However, it’s still lovely to get to cook with local squash, green peppers, mushrooms from just over the state border, and white peaches.

I’ve had lovely white peach and cheddar sandwiches, got latex burns from the fig trees (still worth it), and used fresh herbs from the garden. The latest experiment: roast chicken breast with rosemary-blueberry sauce.

  • Put 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast on a broiler pan. Drizzle with olive oil and a stab with two stalks (non-woody ones) of rosemary. Cook in the oven at 375 degrees F for around 15 minutes. Cover in foil if getting browned.
  • Meanwhile, take a third stalk of rosemary and toss it in a saucepan with about 1/4 cup water, and 3/4 cups blueberries (not local, alas). Cook these down over medium heat, until a sauce starts. Add a bit of Dubonnet or balsamic vinegar. You may wish to take the rosemary out before using the sauce on the chicken.
  • After the chicken has cooked for around 20 minutes, put 1/4 of the sauce over the chicken (being careful not to slop much over the sides to avoid having to clean the roasting pan forever), and put the chicken back in the oven for around 5 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Put on a plate, then cover with rest of blueberry sauce.

The results are purple chicken, with green sprigs. What it lacks in presentation, it makes up for in taste. Remove the bits of rosemary if they’re too prickly.

I can’t wait to try the same thing with peaches or very ripe pears and apples. Happy Holidays, and enjoy the flavors of the season, even if you can’t get to a local market.


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