Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spiced Figs in Syrup

The fig trees have been ripe a couple of weeks now and I've been busy preserving, preserving, preserving. There's a tree on the property of the condos we live in and there's also one at Ross' Nana's house. This has put me in good supply of figs, though I'm not convinced one can ever truly have enough of these little gems of yum. Ross' family prefers a Southern fig preserve with strawberry Jell-O, so I made around 3 cases total for him and them (last year I didn't make enough for him at half a case and it was gone in a month or two so I promised not to make this mistake again). I've also made some jars of the regular fig preserve I like (figs, sugar and lemon juice only). But in the middle of all that we started what I refer to as "monsoon season" in Houston, which is NOT good for figs. I ran over to the on property tree and saw that what I thought would happen did happen. Figs were overripening faster than I could get them, even with the Piggy and I taking daily hauls, and the figs that weren't did have some rain splitting. Birds and butterflies are really happy and having a good time but I was sad. I got the last of what was usable off the tree (though there are still many unripe figs left - I will never understand how I and wildlife are the only ones using this tree for food) and it only amounted to about four cups. I've been wanting to make some whole preserved figs so this seemed like a good time to do it since I knew I was only going to get around 3-4 half-pints of whatever I made and I prefer to do a small test batch of things I've never done before to avoid the possibility of having a lot of waste if we don't like them. Kumquats have been showing up in the markets as well, so although it's more traditional to do this with lemon I thought I'd try it with kumquats instead. Hope you enjoy!

4 cups whole figs, stems removed
1 cup kumquats, whole
3 slices crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and stick in the fridge until the next day. Bring to a strong simmer, reduce the heat and let simmer until the figs and kumquats are starting to be transparent. The syrup should be slightly thickened. Drain and reserve the syrup. Fill jars (should be around 4 half-pint jars) and then add syrup to jars. Can in a waterbath for 10 minutes at sea level.

Note: you could add, while simmering, a vanilla bean, a clove, a stick of cinnamon, and/or a few allspice berries as well if you like. Just make sure to remove them before canning since these spices will overpower the figs otherwise.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Veggie Fry with Buckwheat

I got some buckwheat a while back, intending to make it with beets. Then I forgot all about it until today when I discovered some beets in the house that needed to be used. This was substantially more delicious than I expected it to be, and we all ate it up with gusto. Hope you enjoy!

Buckwheat:

1/2 cup buckwheat groats
2-2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
pat of butter (optional)

Put water, salt and butter (if using) in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the buckwheat and boil for 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Strain out remaining water and serve. Serves 2.

Veggies:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 beets, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 small jicama root, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, salt

Heat oil in a skillet over medium, then add beets, carrots, onion, celery, jicama, garlic powder, and salt. Fry until softened, then add remaining ingredients and fry until as soft as you prefer. Serve over buckwheat. Serves 2.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Eggplant and Chickpea Skillet

The Piggy loves eggplant and chick peas and has been harassing me to do something with the eggplant she's been seeing in the fridge. I wanted part of it to crust with potato and parmesan but didn't want to make the whole thing that way so I also made this for her. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 globe eggplant, peeled and diced
1 can chickpeas
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon za'atar
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

In a skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions and eggplant with salt and fry lightly. When the eggplant has slightly crisp exterior, add chickpeas, za'atar and lemon juice then cook down 1-2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce is slightly paste-like. Serves 4 as a side or 1 as a meal.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fig Milkshake

It's figs. It's ice cream. It's a fig milkshake! As figs are coming into season, the canning is going to get out of hand. But while this is going on and poor Ross has to keep a crazy toddler out of the kitchen so we don't have to visit the emergency room over sugar burns, I figured it's good to give them something yummy to snack on while I'm preserving away. Enter the milkshake. Hope you enjoy!

8-10 figs
1/2-3/4 cup vanilla ice cream
splash of milk, if needed
1 teaspoon-ish lemon juice
pinch of salt
small splash of vanilla extract (optional)

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend, blend, blend. Serves 1 normal sized person or 3 small people.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Honey Berries

I first learned of this practice in a fermenting group where someone was doing it with cranberries. This is delicious. Everyone should have these in their lives. I make mine exclusively with blueberries since that's the Piggy's current favorite fruit, but friends of mine make them with other berries with equal success. I think you pretty much could use any fruit and still have it be full of win. If you're going to feed this to kids (1+ years old, please!), don't let them see the container or you'll regret them knowing where these are. Hope you enjoy!

24 ounces blueberries
honey

Fill a clean, quart sized Mason jar (or other quart sized vessel not made of metal) with blueberries. Fill with honey until the berries are completely submerged (this takes a while because the honey has to worm its way around all the fruit). Place a non-metal weight on top of the berries (I like to use the tealight holders from Ikea. The small size works in a standard mouth jar and the large size works in a wide mouth. But you can use anything, really, including a boiled rock to keep them submerged), top with a coffee filter that is secured with a rubber band, and leave it on the counter for 3-5 days. Remove rubber band and coffee filter, put a lid on it and refrigerate. The syrup can be used on ice cream, waffles, in club soda, or for making granola bars. Or whatever you feel like using it for. Makes 1 quart berries and syrup.