As we ease into fall, the nights are cooler, yet the days are sunny enough to keep a dewey shimmer on the skin. The cooking in my kitchen is reflective of what is available with the seasons. I can’t get enough of the fantastic offerings from our farmer’s markets as my burgeoning refrigerator can attest. Although figs are not a local crop, they are cropping up by the boxful in grocery stores, full and sweet and priced well.
I couldn’t resist making a batch of these Figs Preserved in Honey & Bourbon. The jammy figs are glossed in a lush cloak full of heady vanilla and headier bourbon. Adding strips of lemon zest and a couple branches of rosemary to the simmering liquid provided both bright citrus and resinous nuances. As an accompaniment to a cheese plate, to roasted duck or pork, these figs are gorgeous, also as a simple dessert finished with a spoonful of soft cream or ricotta and chopped nuts. They made a fine topping to the maple syrup ice cream pictured below.
Confession: I have a beautiful new copper French preserve pot, or bassine a confiture. Apparently, I’ve had a beautiful new French copper preserve pot for well over a decade, picked up for a song at a house sale. At the time it was just an attractive container I spied, useful as an ice, beer and wine receptacle at parties. Then, not long ago, I read a book on jam and preserve making and realized the vessel’s true intended purpose- heeee. The pot and I are busy making up for lost time and are now preserving away. What, what? This girl came to canning and preserving late in life.
On one of the colder nights last week I was craving something sweet and soft and comforting. Ingredients were on hand to put together a sea-salty maple custard base with the intention of baking into creme caramels the next day. Said next day turned out to be a sweaty scorcher as I painted a set of weathered chairs while dodging yellow jackets on the patio. Meanwhile, the maple custard base thickened up to a silken texture overnight in the fridge and instead of baking, I poured it into the ice cream machine and soon had cold and luxurious maple ice cream; intensely flavorful maple syrup from farmer Floyd Davis of The Red Basket Farm.
Plenty of that garlic finds its way into the stockpot. I’m happy that in addition to their whole birds and pieces, Tea Hills Farms has been bringing bags of chicken necks, backs and feet to market – all the better for a flavorful stock. Homemade poultry stock is my security blanket – there’s always a way to make a nourishing something out of nothing with stock in the house.
The visual of a pot of stock gently breaking bubbles for hours on end is a warming sight indeed, but if stovetop timing is impractical for your schedule, slide your pot into a 180 degree oven per Michael Ruhlman’s instructions.
I must have been channeling my Belorusian and Ukranian roots while composing this hearty salad of mixed sweet roasted local beets, whole buckwheat groats (kasha), roasted red onions and toasted walnuts. As a creamy and tangy counterpoint, I whisked together a dressing with goat milk kefir, pickle juice (from my homemade lacto-fermented garlic dills), olive oil, coriander seed, plenty of chopped fresh dill and crumbled Lucky Penny Farm and Creamery’s amazing goat milk feta. A salad so satisfying – and generous – that it provided me with at least several meals for the week.
Looking over the Chagrin Falls from this perspective, it’s a bit difficult to imagine there is a bustling Sunday farmer’s market to the left, and a Jeni’s Ice Cream shop to the right. Details are nicer when you click the photo open.