Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here goes nothing!

Hey and welcome to my blog! This is going to be a place for me to share recipes that I love and craft projects I am working on. I have been annoying my family and friends for too long on Facebook with photos of my latest cooking exploits or craft projects. So I figured that this might be a better place for me. Hopefully there will be something here to interest you.

So to get the ball rolling...

About a month ago I was at a friend's house for coffee, and I asked her about a large tree that was in her back yard. It was enormous and had oodles of fruit on it; turns out it was a fig tree. I had never tried figs, but seen a couple of recipes that I thought I wouldn't mind trying, so I asked her if she could spare me some. She told me that while they weren't ripe then, she would get me a bag when they were. So anyway, yesterday morning she left a message for me on Facebook telling me that she had a bag of figs for me if I wanted them still. A couple of quick messages later and I had arranged to meet her to pick them up.

Between talking about the figs a month ago and picking them up yesterday, I have been looking for recipes to make Fig Paste. I am a huge fan of Quince Paste, especially when served with Brie on crackers and thought I might like to try making my own. Only trouble is, no amount of searching the web resulted in a recipe I could use. My problem? All the recipes I could find used dried figs and I was going to use fresh figs. So long story short (yeah yeah... too late for that), I decided to improvise.

If you know me, which given this is my first post and is probably only being read by my family, you would know that in the most part I am not an instinctive cook. This is what I call my mum. She can cook the most amazing things and never uses recipes. I know that I can cook well, but follow recipes meticulously. Improvisation with recipes scares the pants off me!

Having said that, here is what I did with the figs:

1kg roughly chopped figs (just remove the stems, leave the skin on)
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 large lemon

I placed this all in a saucepan and brought it to the boil, cooking until the figs were soft and could be mashed. I pureed the figs with my stick blender until they were finely processed. The next step in the jam making process is measuring the amount of fruit I had and matching it cup for cup with sugar. I found that this quantity gave me 3 mugs of fruit (I couldn't find two 1-cup measures the same size, they must have been in the wash. More improvising!) so I needed to use 3 mugs of sugar. After adding the sugar to the fruit, I proceeded to stir it until dissolved and then brought it all to the boil again. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the colour, it changed from a pureed apple green, to a glossy golden brown.

I kept cooking until the mixture was the consistency of thick cream (this took about an hour) and then spooned it into the jars that I had sterilised. (Here are the specifics about sterilising your jars)

I really wasn't sure that this was long enough to create a paste when it set, but didn't want to risk over cooking it. When it had cooled enough to taste test I was pleased with the results. The Fig Paste is very sweet, so when I make another batch I might try adding balsamic vinegar or port to the recipe. I have seen these variations available commercially, so I guess they must work. Thanks to my neighbours I know that I am not the only one who likes the Fig Paste. I took some in for them to try and their verdict is "scrumptious"! (that is a direct quote! lol)

Here is the finished product (beautifully arrayed in my high tech spill proofing device - the roasting dish).

I will endeavour to take better photos of my creations now that I have decided to blog about them! Oh, and I should probably use my camera and not my iPhone. I guess this is all a learning experience for me.


Synthea Palmer said...

Awesome Job!!! It looks really, really tasty! And your pictures are still great! You're neighbors are very lucky! I wish I lived next door to you so I could help taste test.

Jen said...

Thanks Synthea. I am really glad that we get along well with our neighbours. I love making food that can be shared. I think I was born in the wrong era, back in the time when all the neighbours were great friends and people came around all the time. I have been very lucky that of the 7 other houses in the court, the one immediately next door is the same as me. We love to get together, help each other in the garden etc. It is excellent. :)

Jase said...

Well, well, well look at those lovely photos! My stomach is happy you've made this blog because it means I'll get to be your number one taste tester...

Cookies next??? we all want to see an artistic masterpiece soon too, so get cracking :)

Cool blog Jen!

Jen said...

Thanks Jase! Yes, yes, you are my number one taste tester... after the three kids have licked the bowls... you are definitely first in line. lol

Cheltenham Home said...

Thanks Jen! It cannot be much better, can it? We are lucky. Neighbours that share your passions, even with blogging!

Jen said...

Certainly are! Did you see I figured out how to add your blog to my page? I am pretty green at all this, so I am sure I will be bending your ear about it at some time. :)

Cheltenham Home said...

My pleasure to help. Blogger and Blogspot are my thing!

Jessica said...

Good job Jen, I have been thinking about starting a blog too, but not sure what my theme would be if not for general rambling. One of our greek neighbours gave us some figs today. so it seems it's the in thing. although everywhere i look around here there are fruit trees of some description. heaps of figs, lots of olives, quite a few quince trees, and our neighbours even have a banana tree in their front yard. hey here is an idea for your blog. when you talk about a recipe at the end of the post can you write out the recipe with the instructions, as an easy reference for those of us who might want to try it. :)