Category Archives: Sweet Things

Free things. Figs!

I love figs in any form: fresh, dried, roasted, jammed, or newton.

The other day I started to notice all the fig trees in Isla Vista. Judging by all the fruit on the ground, other people must not notice them either.

I picked 3 lb off one tree alone.

At one point while standing on a top branch, I found myself at eye-level with a guy brushing his teeth on the second floor of an apartment. Luckily, Isla Vista home to stranger sights than a girl sitting in your tree and eating figs.

No special shopping required, I whipped this jam out with what was on hand and some thrift-ed mason jars.


Right now, I should be doing homework, or working, or getting some sleep or cleaning or whatever.

But all I would like to do is make some extra spicy gingersnaps to eat with this jam.
Or some goat cheese.
Or some ice cream.

Fig Balsamic Jam
Check the ingredients of your balsamic vinegar, it should only say “balsamic vinegar”. If you try to cook down fake ingredients you could end up with really gross jammy black goop.

3 lb figs, quartered
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1 lemon (juice and zest)

1/2-pint mason jars- I filled 6

Cook all ingredients except lemon over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until thick and jammy. Stir in lemon zest and juice and cook for another 5 minutes.

Seal in hot mason jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

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These are the places you will find me hiding

Another trip home and I finished the film that was sitting in my camera. I forgot when it was last used, so when the pictures came back I was surprised to see they all seemed like a continuous event. Though the first half was from last summer, most of the pictures from each time frame were of my friend Brianna, a sunny creek, and blackberries. Haha.
I guess that just shows what summer means to me.

I am from a very small town. Maybe you have stopped there once to get gas on your way to Yosemite. Maybe you saw the historic talking bear. Its voice box is broken and the paint peels off t he fiberglass a little, but it is not a joke.
Don’t laugh.

Oakhurst has lots of:
Gas stations: “Last stop before Yosemite valley!”
Churches: 20 in Oakhurst alone. (Makes for great thrift stores though)
Gossip: Let me tell you about the 4 “E”s of living in a small town

Everyone knows Everything about Everybody Else.

Apart from these, there is a movie theater, a bowling alley, and one coffee shop (a real one at least). That meant we made our own adventures.

To be honest, I haven’t been to Yosemite all that much. Most of the time we were in the surrounding Sierras discovering logging flumes, hot springs, and blackberry patches. In the late nights with new licenses we climbed on top of random buildings and watched the stars.

We were just kids who held onto pride with nervous fingers and watched tourists marvel over a small town we thought we owned.

I don’t think I’ll ever live there permanently, but the blackberry-apple summers and warm nights tug at parts of me that I forget I still have. I’ll always be a country girl. I’ve caught spiders and swam in rivers alone. I dreamt of the big city but now that I’m here it’s hard not to miss the place I came from.

At home I made a Black/Straw-Berry Crumble sweetened only with  two tablespoons of honey. Unfortunately that was the only part I measured, so no recipe today.

 

*The title of this post comes from “Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart

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The Begining of my Cupcake Days

As a kid I never really liked candy. I would not touch tootsie rolls or sugar cereal. Onions and brussel sprouts and sushi were great, but one honey-nut cheerio in my bowl of plains was a big bummer. While sugar has grown on me in recent years, a lot of the time I’d rather have another appetizer for dessert.

Cupcakes. They look cute but I was not a fan until some salted caramel and spicy Mexican chocolate ones from a food truck changed my mind last week. At the CupKates truck at Berkeley’s Off the Grid I was changed. These cupcakes were freakishly good. I might even choose them over pie- which is a big deal.

Cupkates at Off the Grid Berkeley

Spicy Mexican Cocolate and Salted Caramel

For Grants 2nd birthday, I felt inspired to make cupcakes. Since the little bug is obsessed with trains, I cut out some marshmallow fondant trains for each one. While I made rich dark chocolate cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting for the adults, he is gluten and nut free so I made some vanilla bean cupcakes with coconut flour (my favorite GF ingredient).

This 2-year-old has creepy some friends

It’s really fun to be an aunt.

Oh and I also had a coffee-toffee cupcake from Cako Bakery in SF a week later. I’m hooked.

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes.

1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
2 c. cane sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. light olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
2 room temperature eggs (run cold eggs under hot water for a minute to warm)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. hot coffee (I didn’t have any freshly brewed coffee on hand, so I made a hot cup of instant VIA from Sbucks that I had in the junk drawer with all my horded taco bell hot sauces)

Set oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt twice to mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

With a paddle spoon, fold the wet ingredients into dry and stir until there are no lumps. Add hot coffee slowly and stir just to combine.

Fill each liner 3/4 full and bake for 15-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Adapted from Ina Garten

GF Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Make sure you put your empty vanilla bean pods in some sugar! They are too expensive to waste.
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 c. coconut flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 eggs at room temperature
1/2 c. light olive oil
1/2 c. honey
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with unbleached paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda twice to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, honey, and the scraped vanilla beans.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry until they are smooth.

Fill each liner 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes (don’t overcook!)

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosts 36 cupcakes

24 oz. cream cheese (three 8oz. packages)
3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. real maple syrup
3 c. powdered sugar

In a standing mixer, cream together the cream cheese,butter, and syrup until smooth. Turn the mixer on low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time until all incorporated. Spoon into a pastry or ziplock bag and chill for 1 hour. Frost each cupcake with a dolop by using the pastry bag or by snipping the corner off the ziplock.

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