My friend Sara brought me figs the other day. A little giftie–much appreciated. Not much better to give a woman like me. Since it wasn’t time for figgy pudding, I opted to eat them fresh as they’re pretty rare in Colorado.
There are moments when I’m aware enough of the blessed goodness in my life. Maybe. I know not everyone has a counter full of butternut squash, apples, onions, shallots, garlic, hundreds (literally) of tiny green and red tomatoes, and Bosc pears. I know not everyone has a warm snug lying next to them come the cold, dark morning. Or a reason to get up and do something with the bounty in the kitchen downstairs. I probably don’t truly understand it, but I get it. My life hasn’t been all rose teacups and long walks along the river with the dogs.
This morning I read a post on a blog I follow (there’s a link in my blogroll at right, too).
Margaret writes daily there. It’s a prayer journal of sorts. She’s an Episcopal priest on an Indian reservation in South Dakota and life’s hard there. The loss and the poorness and the hurt are hardscabble painful and it’s her job to keep showing up for the difficult moments and beyond. Today she writes about people nearby whose babies have just died… And (having had babies who died) I understand where this is and where it goes. What I am drawn to these many years later is twofold:
1. why…if we need each other so very badly through the crazy, hilarious, dipping, winding, bottoming-out life trek, and if church is meant to provide that for us…why are so many of us no longer part of that community? Or, if we are a part, are those communities truly sustaining us? and 2. a bursting grateful noise for all I have and all those who have loved me through the nearly killing losses. I come back to the idea that to begin with thanksgiving is a perfect way to pray/live and I have to learn it all over again, all over again, all over again. Even if God isn’t a welcomed presence in your life, I think the settling of near-constant thanksgiving in our bodies is a positive way to breathe on earth.
I’m grateful to share a beautiful fall salad with you…speaking of that. I often cook on the “Meatless Monday” protocol because it’s healthy and it makes sense to me. It’s also a way to make me concentrate on most of the food on earth and, well, most of it isn’t meat.
I spent yesterday late afternoon re-testing a soup for my book (Roasted Vegetable Soup with Sage) and as I got the soup nearly finished thought to make a little salad out of what I had.
Which was beautiful Bosc pears, goat cheese leftover from a dinner for friends last Friday night (I grilled figs and filled them with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, fresh thyme and black pepper), and some arugula. Sigh. Here’s how:
pear – grilled fig salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and arugula
serves 2 -3
- 3 cups arugula
- 2 ripe Bosc pear, cored and sliced (don’t peel)
- 2 ounces crumbled Goat cheese (leave out for vegan option)
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (just put them in a small dry skillet for a few min.)
- 4 fresh figs cut in half and briefly grilled* (or 4 chopped dried figs)
- Juice of half an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon walnut oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
In a medium shallow bowl, place arugula and top with pears and goat cheese. Scatter walnuts around the edges of the salad and add the figs at even intervals. Drizzle all with the juice, vinegar, and oil. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Place bowl on table to admire your handiwork before tossing. Serve at room temperature. (If you need to make this ahead and refrigerate, you’ll want to add the pears–which would brown otherwise– and the dressing at the last minute. It’ll taste fine cold.)
*To grill fresh figs: Lightly brush a grill, grill pan, or small skillet with a bit of olive oil. Trim stems from figs and slice in half. Place figs cut side down in pan and grill over medium heat just a couple of minutes. Turn and grill on the other side. Note: How long you grill these will depend on how ripe they are. The riper, the less grilling– If terribly ripe, don’t grill at all.
I ponder here at the idea of saying “grace.” I think grace is a difficult word to define and how it is we come to SAY it, I don’t know. We also “say a blessing.” Or “give thanks.” Or “bless the food.” Someone, somewhere I was, said a blessing I can’t forget the gist of, but can’t recall the exact words. The idea was to be grateful for the food and for the nourishment to enable us to feed those without.
I’ll think about it. (If you know that blessing, leave it in a comment.)
A thought: the blessing is also a moment to breathe in an otherwise complicated, swiftly flowing existence. To pray and– to eat– in the moment. To be truly awake and aware of what’s before us and what will sustain us. To be grateful for loving, preparing hands, the instinct to love, the time to eat, and for the abundance.
Phew. My blog is different today. Beautiful fall winds and smiles to you,
P.S. COMING TO A CHURCH NEAR YOU! (MAYBE) I think I forgot to share that our daughter Emily is officially ready to receive a call from the Presbyterian Church, USA. After over three years in seminary, she preached to the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (maybe I got that right) last Monday and they pronounced her READY.
|Speaking of being grateful|
|Just add ice cream|
Gently put: I’m so very, very thrilled to be able to bake. Anything. To leave a burner on for soup. Any kind. Blessed fall, I welcome you with a full slate of cooking I’ve been dying to do for a month.
My husband started wandering around a few weeks go saying things like:
What he meant was Any chance there are any Christmas cookies left in the big freezer? Because I don’t bake in the summer. Not unless there’s a birthday and I get up very early to do it. He was then snarfing around to see if I’d laid back any shortbread; I keep packaged Scots shortbread to crumble in ice cream parfaits. Finally I just had to bake. He couldn’t go another day. (There were no Christmas or any other kind of cookies in the big freezer in the garage.)
And once the baking gets going in the fall, it includes all things apple. And since it was time for apple cobbler, I thought I’d make a new one that included a few other things. The resulting cobbler was worthy of fall. A few toasted walnuts…some dried figs…and of course, today’s treat: apricots. (In this case dried apricots.) I had fun baking them in individual coffee cups (French porcelain by Apilco–oven-safe) and, naturally, topping them with a little vanilla ice cream. Try this:
coffee cup apple cobbler with apricots, dates,
makes 6 or 7, depending on the size of your cups (If you use ramekins, it will make more.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the filling:
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
- 1/4 cup each chopped dried figs and apricots
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Mix together all of the ingredients except the butter in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture evenly between greased cups while you make the biscuit topping. Dot each cup of fruit mixture with butter.
For the biscuit topping:
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 1/4 cup) butter, chilled
- 6 tablespoons milk
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl or in the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Stir together with a fork or by pulsing the machine. Cut the butter into bits and using a either a pastry blender, two knives, your fingers or by pulsing the machine, work it into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly with a fork or by leaving machine running. Gather the dough together on a floured board and knead ten times. Roll or pat dough until it’s no more than 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough in circles (size of the top of the cup diameter) and top each cup of fruit mixture with dough.
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Vanilla (or cinnamon) ice cream for serving
Brush the top of each circle of dough with a little melted butter. Place cups on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Let cool 20 minutes or more before serving warm or at room temperature with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
If you want to bake this in one pan, it’ll be fine. Use a greased 8×8 square baking pan and roll the dough out to fit inside that pan.
Biscuit topping recipe courtesy THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham.
About those dried apricots:
Protein and Fat
Vitamins and Minerals
Nutritional information for fresh apricots available here.
If you liked this recipe, you might like my Low-Fat Granola, which includes yummy dried apricots:
I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: Read more about beautiful apricots this week at these sites:
Alanna – http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Join us! We’d like to have you as part of the group:
To become involved with our blogging team, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
30 Soups in 30 Minutes…(new book) Update
Testing Two Mushroom-Red Onion with Cheddar and
Cream of Spicy Pumpkin this week. Good thing we like soup.
The pumpkin was done in twenty minutes. Don’t buy
cartons of soup if you can make soup this quickly and
know exactly what’s floating around in your bowl.
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood:
The squirrels are so nutty right now ( good pun)…The dogs and I counted seven right in front of us on our walk the other day. Up trees, across roads…yes, I’ll go this way/no I’ll go that way. They’re crazy!
We are screaming for rain…it’s so dry lots of things are just browning up and dusting away instead of turning
|Just for fun (tea spoon for scale) Brussels Sprouts from Trader Joe’s today|
|Apfel Pfannkuchen (apple pancake) on the Dinner Place/Solo Cook blog right now.|
Sing a new song; bake a new anything!
Bring me some figgy…. oh, just bring me some grilled figs. With blue cheese and thyme.
I missed you, blog. Travel. Work. Kitten-sitting. Cooking for folks. Uh, writing for other websites (sorry.)
But I’m back. And I’m back with figs. If you haven’t grabbed fresh figs yet this season, the season is, my friends, waning. (If it were early in fig season, would we say the season was waxing?) Cheap? OH NO. Guess not. So you better make the most of every biteful and not let one single one get too mushy to eat.
My little pint made it through two courses and I’ll share them with you. After I tell you that I ate figs at Tyler Florence’s new restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, in San Francisco last Friday at lunch. (Along with halibut and berry pound cake served with cabernet sorbet.) Of course, figs are a bit more available in California (just a tad) and Tyler had featured them as a starter with burrata cheese, onions and honey. Were they good? Yes. But why not save that buck (a little more than a buck to get to SF) and do something sweet at home?
Did we see Tyler? Yes!!! Really. What a day. (Other spots we ate and loved in SF: Scala Bistro-dinner and breakfast-wow; Cliff House –lunch at the bistro; dinner in the dr-best view in town!–a whole local sole-so fresh and perfectly fileted by the waiter at table; Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park; AT&T Park–what beats a beer and a dog?)
Anyway, back to our (your) figs. I grew up eating fig preserves or stewed figs my mom put up in the summer. I can’t figure out where she got figs, but get them she did. And how did we eat them? In a little bowl to the side of a nice, big breakfast or right on top of a big plate of buttered biscuits that often were piled high with…sour cream.
Nowadays, I often have dried figs with cheese in the winter. Or I poach them in a little wine and serve them with honey and goat’s cheese or mascarpone or…blue cheese. I have a youza youza recipe with puff pastry, reconstituted figs and blue cheese that is a slamdunk dessert with port in the winter. But today. This weekend. It’s fresh figs in Colorado. Get yours today. Eat them plain. Split them with a little knife and take off the stem or just eat them whole while holding the stem. Or, you can do what I did:
Recipe 1: Figs on the Grill 2 servings
1/2 pint fresh figs
2 ounces blue cheese (I like Maytag for this, but any blue would be fine.) cut into pieces 1/4×1″ or so
Drink? Ruby port.
Fig “recipe” #2 Oatmeal with Fresh Figs and Almonds
Make your favorite oatmeal exactly as you like it. While it cooks, slice some fresh figs into 1/4″ slices and toast 1/4 c sliced almonds. When the oatmeal is done, sprinkle each serving with Vietnamese cinnamon and about 1T brown sugar. Add some sliced figs on top and shower with toasted almonds. Add about 1/3 c hot milk and chow down your goodferya breakfast. Ahhhhhhh…perfect.
Drink? Coffee, I’d guess.
Two-Dog Kitchen + 1 Kitten… and Around the Hood