Archive | September, 2010

Figs!

30 Sep

I love fresh figs in fall as much as I love alliterative sentences.  Figs are fascinating fruits (I’m sorry, I can’t stop) with a long  and loaded history.  In preparation for this post, I looked up figs in the excellent Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, a book that is now sadly out of print.

Among other things, I learned that

In folktales, fig trees housed… supernatural spirits including gods of lesser power, spirits of the dead, genies and demons. In the lore of Central Africa ancestral spirits lived in fig trees, and in the lore of Australia the Yara-ma-yha-who, an odd little red man who lived in the fig tree, pounced on children and swallowed them whole.

It seems appropriate, then, to celebrate the fig as we appraoch the Halloween season.  This weekend I made “drunken figs” to be spooned over some vanilla ice cream this week.  I haven’t tasted them yet as they’re still marinating, but my tastes tests as I was preparing them tell me they won’t disappoint.

The recipe, modified from Cooking Light:

Ingredients

  • Figs:
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  honey
  • 1/8  cup  Herbsaint
  • 1/8 cup Amaretto
  • 2  teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 Balinese peppercorn
  • 24  fresh figs, quartered
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Place figs in a shallow dish; add hot syrup to dish. Cool fig mixture to room temperature; cover and refrigerate. To serve, warm fig mixture in a saucepan and spoon over vanilla ice cream.

First Friday at the Small Hall

29 Sep

Collages new and old, but all by me, will be featured at the Small Hall Gallery’s First Friday on October 1st.  Come visit the gallery, located in the hall between Magpie’s and The Glowing Body from 5-7 pm for art, snacks, and fun!

Grilled Okra with Spicy Sweet Ketchup

28 Sep

I was at an artist reception at the Shady Grove Meadery a few weeks back and arrived famished.  My friend Maureen was helping to organize the event and provide refreshments and one of her contributions was grilled okra, something I’d never had before.  The only okra I’d experience previously was fried or in a gumbo or stew and this blew my earlier okra experiences out of the water.  I love okra and always have and was delighted to actually be tasting it in a dish where it wasn’t hidden under fried cornmeal or andouille sausage.  Since then, I’ve made grilled okra exactly three times and have loved it more with each batch.  Naturally, it seems only to fair to share my newly-minted recipe.

Ingredients:

1/4 C olive oil

1/2 t cumin

1/4 t smoked paprika

1 t mustard

1 t honey

1 glove garlic, finel chopped

1 pint okra, stems chopped off

1/8 C ketchup

1/8 C spicy marmalade or chutney (though I’m sorry, yours simply will not be as good as my “Hot-For-You” Hot Pepper Marmalade made by my good friend Julie)

salt and pepper to taste

Mix first six ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Add okra and mix until each piece is well coated. Heat on grill or grill pan on high heat for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Meanwhile, mix ketchup and marmalade in a small bowl. Remove okra from heat, season with salt and pepper.  ENJOY.

Dinner in the Shed

27 Sep

We discovered another use for our backyard shed during the Hootenany, when Shawn transformed it into a beer and cigar bar for party attendees with tastes that tend towards the burly.  A string of lights, a few milk crates with plywood seats, and a counter full of goodies almost effortlessly turned the shed into a magical place.  That night I vowed to do more shed-based entertaining.

This weekend Shawn got a hankering for fried chicken after watching an Alton Brown video and whipped some up for us while I roasted squash and made a spinach salad.  We took our bounty out to the shed and ate over candle and string light with a cooler for a table.  It was so fun to find a fun new place at home to hang out.  What attic, shed, trailer or walk-in closet have you been ignoring?

chicken prepping

chicken frying

feast on a cooler

my new favorite dinner venue

Kudzu Tea

26 Sep

Kudzu is a fascinating thing- non-native, totally invasive, often destructive and just beautiful to behold.

photo by Shawn Poynter (click image to head to Shawn's page)

I heard recently that Kudzu is totally edible and has some fairly well-substantiated medicinal uses.  I tried kudzu pesto a few weeks back and while it isn’t necessarily something I’ll go out of my way to eat again, it certainly piqued my interest.  This weekend I picked some young and tender kudzu leaves in a spot I’m fairly certain isn’t sprayed with pesticides or weed killers (fingers crossed).  I searched for kudzu recipes and uses online and found this very simple one and modified it thusly:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh kudzu leaves
  • 3 sprig fresh mint
  • honey
  • fresh lemon
  • Strain and serve with honey and lemon to taste.
  • Simmer 1 cup of finely chopped mint kudzu leaves in a quart of water for 30 minutes.
  • The result was interesting- totally local tea (minus the lemon, including the honey).  It was like a muskier green tea, but pretty tasty with lemon and honey.  It could be totally psychosomatic, but it made me feel a little sleepy and foggy-headed.  The medicinal uses for kudzu are well documented on everyone’s favorite font of internet information and include: anti-inflammation, cancer prevention, treatment for allergies, headaches, diarrhea,vertigo, hypertension, diabetes type II, hangovers and alcoholism.  That’s right- the root is “was used to prevent excessive consumption [of alcohol], while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards.”  Supposedly something in kudzu curbs alcohol cravings and makes drinking alcohol less pleasant.  When I first read this, I felt my heart drop as my plans for a sake kudzu cocktail with ginger and lemon vanished before my eyes.  The article doesn’t say what effect the leaves have, however.  I’m going to do a little experimenting.  Wish me luck.

    thoroughly washed kudzu leaves

    the finished tea

    pretty tasty with lemon and honey

    Banners Again

    25 Sep

    I already wrote about the banners I made for the incredible wedding of the incredible Lora and Joe, but am excited to see them again on the blog of wedding photographers (once like a spark).  All of the pictures of the wedding are amazing, and you should really check them out here.  Meanwhile, look at this great little photo cluster they did of the banners:

    photos by (once like a spark)

    Handmade Autumn Trunk Show

    24 Sep

    For those of you lucky enough to live in the fine city of Knoxville, I highly recommend you stop by Handmade Autumn’s trunk show this Saturday.  I’ll be selling air plants in sweet vintage vessels I’ve been acquiring over the last few weeks.