Tuesday, September 27, 2011

fresh figgy jam

A couple of weeks ago, I had the incredible fortune to purchase way more figs than I had intended at the Hillcrest farmer's market. Matthew and I often buy limes from Farmer Steve, who grows truly delicious and juicy limes, and two Sundays ago, in addition to limes, he had basket fulls of fresh, extra-ripe, juicy figs. When I asked for one basket he gave me the entire cardboard container containing three baskets of figs, though I tried in vain to insist that I only needed one basket; he was only selling figs in large quantities but for very, very cheaply.

Considering what a delicious, but potentially food wasting, fiasco this was, I knew I had only two options: made a fig tart or make fig jam. Well, I know Matthew's and my ability to eat a full sized, large fruit tart, we haven't got such a valuable talent. A large tart would surely go to waste. Instead of trying to force friends to help consume a large tart, I just made a few mini tarts with about a quarter of the figs so that we could enjoy them fresh and then used the remaining figs for fig jam.

Figs soaking in hot water - preparation to become jam- this photo makes even the humble little fig look slightly sinister.

Honestly, my father and I are the only people in my family who love figs, so I never grew up eating them and certainly had never made jam out of figs. This was totally new territory but the jam proved very easy to make, even without pectin.

I simply followed the recipe for fig jam out of the Ball Blue Book of preserving. The Ball Blue Book has always been the canning, jamming, preserving bible for my mother and grandmother. I can't remember if I bought my copy or if my mother gave it to me(I suspect the latter), but I have consistently used recipes from it over the years and often consult it as a reference guide for all sorts of cooking projects.

Ball Blue Book has rarely, if ever, let me down and once again it's recipe for fig jam made a perfect product: sticky and sweet but with plenty of natural fig flavor to make it completely addictive.

So far, my favorite application for this fig jam has been to spoon it over a log of goat cheese, sprinkle with toasty pecans and then slather onto sliced baguette. Delicious to the point that after running out of bread, we dipped corn chips into it just to have a vehicle with which eat the figgy, cheesy treat.

As usual, an over abundance of fruit turned into a delicious, new cooking experience.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a wee tea duckie

While shopping around the local hardware store last Sunday, I found a tiny tea duckie; he promises to adorable-ify the tea making process but so far all I've managed to do is taking a few pictures of the little guy.

I think he's actually too cute to use for steeping tea leaves and would in fact get a little stained from the tannins.

Perhaps I should make sure only to use the little tea ducky for light, herbal teas.

Little duckie sitting on his fancy blue stand

Hey Duckie, that's the wrong end of the mug. Silly little fellow!

Oh dear! now you're hiding in the mug!

There you are! Hello Duckie, you are so bright and cheerful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

my new light box

Sweet, sweet Matthew wanted to buy me a light box for our anniversary but due to the exorbitant cost for what really amounted to a bit of white material and some bright lamps, we decided to put one together as a happy anniversary project, instead of buying one.

We found a plain, white box at Ikea and used a couple of old desk lamps and one new lamp(the green one) from target with an extra bright flood light. It's all a bit slap-dashed together and could catch on fire at any moment! the flood light gets frighteningly hot, but so far the photos from our first testing have come out alright. We'll probably make some further adjustments, but for the time being I'm fairly happy with it and am looking forward to taking photos for the blog with the light box as back drop.

My hope is that the light box will help my photos turn out better during the dark winter months. With more and better photos, I'll have more to blog about. After all, nobody wants to see a grainy photo of a cupcake lurking in the yellow shadows of the tiny hovel that Matthew and I call home =)

The Grass is a cute backdrop, but as I mentioned above, adjustments will need to be made. The grass curls up on the sides because it is too wide for the box, perhaps some extra large scissors will be enlisted to correct the problem.

A Big thanks to The tiramisu custard, decorated with Daim candy bar shards and Ikea biscuits, for modeling the new light box for this post!! It was our anniversary treat!

free flowers

At The Shop we have planters in front of the store window, three with ivy topiaries growing in them and one with a tall, slender ficus tree struggling to survive. People tend to sit on the Ficus planter and leave various things in the dirt surrounding the tree's trunk; here are examples of items I find in the planters regularly: cigarettes, gum, toothpicks, coffee cups, straws, jewelry, candy and candy wrappers.

But, one day last week was my lucky day; instead of something disgusting, I found a lovely bouquet of flowers in the planter. They were still in the plastic wrapping but starting to wilt due to the unusually hot day(well, unusual for San Diego). After leaving them in the planter for several hours, I finally decided they needed a little drink so I put them in water and took them inside. They really perked up and once I took them home, and put them in a proper vase, they have proven to be a truly gorgeous arrangement of flowers.

For the first time ever I was delighted at what someone left in the planter!