• Harvest: Part 2

    Harvest continues here at the farm and we just enjoyed our first batch of cranberry beans. The mother of a good friend gave us these beans to grow and we are glad she did. Not only are they beautiful, but the cranberry beans have great texture and a flavor with a hint of chestnuts. We picked the beans, dried them, shelled them and soaked them, so they did require more work than some of our crops. We made a cranberry bean purée with a bit of sage, potato, béchamel, olive oil and parmesan cheese, and it was a great dish (recipe soon). Well worth the effort.

    Otherwise, the season winds down, but we still have some pleasant surprises. The melons are very tasty and the tomatoes are still ripe and sweet. We have a few days of heat coming so another good batch of tomatoes is likely. The strawberries thrive and the peppers move to red (and even hotter, if possible). A nice batch of potatoes is a bonus.

    In the orchard, the figs are pretty, but somewhat lacking in flavor, we will see what the heat does. And we wait for the Comice pears to ripen. They are close, but when the pears are ready, then so is winter. We can wait a little longer….

  • Simple Garden Recipes: Mission Figs

    Grilled Black Mission figs. Just add honey and goat cheese for a classic dessert.

    While we try as much as we can to eat from our own garden and orchard, sometimes we get impatient and succumb to temptation. And that is the case with mission figs. Ours are coming in, but still a few weeks away. Meanwhile the farmers market is just brimming with ripe, beautiful, black mission figs. And we are huge fans of mission figs, so we gave in and bought some. Whatever feelings of guilt we had, if any, didn’t last long.

    And if you enjoy figs, you know why we had to give in. There are few fruits so pretty, sweet, juicy and easy to enjoy- figs are easy to love (good for you, too). And it has been that way for thousands of years. Figs are one of our oldest and most established foods, and were a treat in almost all the early mediterranean cultures. Greco-Roman mythology, the Bible and the Koran are filled with references to figs, and even the Buddha achieved enlightenment under a fig tree. It’s safe to say that figs have been enjoyed for quite some time.

    And our first fig dish may literally be thousands of years old. It simply combines grilled figs, honey and goat cheese (and some herbs if you like). As we ate the dish, and it was just great, we had to think about how long the ingredients have been around. Honey, goat cheese and figs were all delicacies in ancient Egypt. We don’t know if they grilled or caramelized the figs, and we hope they did, but we have no doubt they enjoyed a dish similar to this one. That struck us as kinda cool…

    Grilled Figs with Honey and Goat Cheese.

    To make the dish, you simply heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Then lightly brush the figs with vegetable oil and place them on the hot grill and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the figs caramelize and soften. Then remove from the heat drizzle with honey and add some fresh goat cheese to each fig. You can also add a bit of rosemary and/or thyme to the honey, if you like. (We used our honey, a real treat). And the flavor is very, very good. This dish is openly sweet from the caramelized figs and the honey, but balanced by the slightly sour tang of the goat cheese. You could eat this dish as a starter, but it’s best as a dessert. And if you don’t like cheese in desserts, this recipe will change your mind.

    Figs with Blue Cheese, Hazelnuts and Serrano Ham

    Our other recipe for figs could be served as a dessert, but we think is best as a starter or light lunch. This dish simply combines sliced ripe figs, blue cheese, hazelnuts and cured ham like Serrano or prosciutto. This is so easy to make, it’s almost hard to call this a “recipe”, but the flavor combinations are truly special. Sweet figs, funky blue cheese, earthy hazelnuts and salty ham cover all the flavors- and multiple textures. A great dish offers an array of flavors and textures so each bite is exciting, and this dish delivers. And it is fun to experiment, just put out a plate and enjoy different combinations.

    Our figs are still a few weeks out…

    So while we might feel a tiny twinge of guilt that we didn’t wait for our own figs, we feel pretty good about enjoying these figs now. And, by the way, these same dishes will work with other fig varieties like Brown Turkey or Calimyrna. And when you eat figs, take a moment to ponder that you are eating the food of pharaohs and prophets, but you might be getting it just a bit better…

    Grilled Figs with Honey and Goat Cheese:

    What You Get: A classic, and probably ancient, dessert with fresh figs.

    What You Need: No special equipment required.

    How Long? 5-10 minutes. Anytime dish when figs are in season.

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