I LOVE figs and lucky for me I live in a predominantly Italian neighborhood where fig trees are the preferred lawn ornament. Now is the time when the branches are heavy with fruit, hanging low enough that plucking them from the tree does not prove to be very difficult.
(and don’t think I haven’t contemplated enlisting my friends for a little late-night recon mission to “obtain” said fruit)
Figs are in season from late summer through early fall, so if you happen upon them at the farmer’s market or the grocery store, get them while you still can.
I had never made fig jam before but I figured since I love the fruit, the jam would be a sure hit (it was) and with this recipe, canning season for me comes to a close.
While this is a sweet jam, it can be used as a base for other add-ins… caramelized red onions or bacon for example. This can be turned into a topping for crostini with a little fresh goat cheese or perhaps on a half bagel, with some crispy crumbled bacon and then topped with a fried egg for breakfast? (just brain-storming here…)
What exactly is poutine you might ask… besides ridiculously good and wrong on so many levels, poutine is a Canadian dish consisting of 3 ingredients: french fries topped with cheese curds & smothered in gravy. The tell tale sign of good cheese curds: they squeak when you bite them and squeak these did! You can imagine my skepticism, being a Midwesterner (and half Canadian) of finding good cheese curds in Brooklyn of all places. As those of you familiar with it know, the East coast isn’t exactly “poutine” country. I was happily surprised… let the gluttony commence.
What may be a new discovery for some, the rest of us have known for awhile. Poutine is delicious, but here’s the thing… you shouldn’t exactly make it a habit, unless of course a diet of cholesterol & high-blood pressure medications are what you are aiming for.
I know that not everyone’s world revolves around food like mine does, but I know that I am not alone in certain memories being linked to food. I remember the first time I ever had french fries with gravy on them. I was in Newfoundland with my younger cousin (Nancy) and we were sitting in a red vinyl- covered booth in a little diner in the mall. I remember thinking “this is FANTASTIC, why don’t we ALWAYS put gravy on fries?” (I have ever since…) Now, add fresh cheese curds to that & we are in business!
In the Midwest, and certainly other parts of the country, the end of summer marks canning season at it’s height. This is when the air smells of ripe tomatoes being “put up”, jars of preserves and jams lining the kitchen counter like a glass army of winter provisions… cabinets and cellars receive the summer’s bounty before colder temperatures bring the first frost.
Canning may be a lost art form in other parts of the country, but if you’re near an agricultural area you are very familiar with the process.
My step-dad & I used to do this as a two man operation… It was a bit of an elaborate set-up. There were two stoves working simultaneously, I was at one cooking the fruit and he was at the other sterilizing jars.
We’d meet at the halfway point for the hand off:
He’d sterilize the jars, bring them to me piping hot, I’d fill them and put the lids on then take them back out to him to process and seal. We ran our operation like a well-oiled machine (he IS German, so there’s really no other acceptable way).
Bread and butter pickles have always been my favorite. They are sweet and yet have a little bite from the vinegar and they remind me of my Grandfather, they were his favorite too. I sometimes feel obligated to “Chef” it up a bit, but at the end of the day I’m just a girl from Ohio and the simple, familiar things are what I crave.