9.14.2012

For the love of Figs, Fig Jam, & a project of the week.

Figs were popping up at Farmer's Markets the past few weeks in Southern California and they are one of my happy foods. As in.... they make me so happy when I see them in the market! The window is usually pretty small, just a few weeks, and I used to preciously guard my little basket of figs when I would bring them home. I am happy to say that has changed (just a bit) in the last year. I am going to blame this better attitude on the Little Sister.

My fig transformation story began last summer. I think of myself as a friendly neighbor but I realize I mostly talk to neighbors I live close to and wave at all the other neighbors. I find I know the names of my neighbor's dogs more than their owners sometimes. I live in a town-house, housing track and don’t often walk the back streets. That changed last summer when my little sister and I took a stroll around the neighborhood. It was one of those lazy strolls but very soon it turned into us finding all kinds of fruit trees and edible plants. We joked that we should make a map to keep track of where everything was. And now that I think of it…. we really should.

So my sister and I were walking around and we came across a fig tree. This fig tree was in back of someone’s house but also close to some parking. Clearly someone was taking care of it as it had CDs hanging in it to scare off birds (the CDs reflect light when they move). My sister said, “Let’s go see who’s tree this is”. And we did.

We knocked on the door of our neighbor Vito who did say it was his tree. We got to talking and he asked if we wanted some figs when they were rip? Ummmm….. YES PLEASE! He found out where I lived and a few weeks later there was a bag of figs at my door. They were so good, and the bags kept coming. I made my first batch of Black Pepper and Balsamic Fig Jam last year because I had so many figs.
This year the bags of figs started arriving over a month ago and it was like Christmas morning each time I saw one. Vito even included two jars of his Italian Fig and Cinnamon Jam with one of the bags. So good!  I was in fig heaven.
Soon it became clear to me, that I was going to have a lot of figs.  Bags would arrive every week or so and soon I ran out of room in my fridge.  I started freezing cut up figs and using them in breakfast smoothies (so good) and then started making some jam when I realized I had about four pounds of figs in my fridge.  I even got Vito's Italian: Fig and Cinnamon Jam recipe and made a batch of that.

I am counting figs as a Project of the Week, (even though it is more like a project of the month) because I have had to come up with things to do with all the figs I got for the last month.  I can't imagine how Vito handled all those figs before he got to send some off to me and my sister.  I think he has made a few gallons of jam this summer with the figs he kept.  That tree is a great and wonderful beast!

Monday morning I got up at 5am to make my last batch of jam (until I get more figs) with the super ripe figs in my fridge.  I went with the Balsamic and Black Pepper Fig Jam adapted from AD Hoc (the Thomas Keller book) because my friends love it and always ask for more.  I always suggest serving it with manchego cheese!
I love figs and am so lucky to have a local supplier.  I can't wait for my next bag to arrive.

Cheers!
-elizabeth

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