Sunday, October 25, 2009

Harvesting Basil Seeds

I've had a basil plant out on the patio this season. It's been so nice to be able to step outside and pluck off basil leaves to use in spaghetti sauce and other things that I'm cooking. In California we have a pretty long growing season and the plant is just now starting to look pretty worn.

I went outside today to trim off some of the gangly branches and it occurred to me that I might look for some seeds. The picture of little dried out blossoms in the palm of my hand hold 4 seeds each.
I spent some time out in the sunny weather to extricate a number of seeds shown in the tiny dish.

My friend Barbara told me to put them into an envelope and then into the refrigerator where they will last for years. She said she's got seeds that are 20 years old that are still good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fig Apple Fruit Spread - Spirited Recipe

So, the guides and I made a Spirited Fig and Apple Spread this evening.

Here's how it started. Our neighbor Arnold came over the other night with a humongous bag of figs. I took some in to work because they like them there and pondered what to do with the rest of them. There were so many and I just don't eat them fast enough. These figs were ready to eat now! By the way, you can click on these pictures and they will get larger.

The guides suggested to me after dinner that I do something with the figs. I fired up my MasterCook program and put fig in the search. Out of 400 some recipes I just wasn't getting anything that made my heart sing. Also, not all of those recipes that came back from the search even had figs in them, so I don't know what was going on with that.

I settled back and one of the guides suggested I put them in a pot and cook them up. I fiddled around on the Internet looking for somebody making fig jam and came up with a recipe. Except I really didn't have all the sugar they were asking for and I didn't have the pectin and I don't have canning jars.

So, from this point on I just surrendered to Spirit and we started to cook. In go the figs into my biggest sauce pan. I rinsed them off, pinched the stems off and just squashed them into the pot. Figs exploding everywhere. On some of the smaller ones I discarded obviously thicker skins but most of the skins went into the pot.

The guides said, "One cup of sugar", which I poured around the figs. Then, they suggested an apple and I remembered that apples could be used to help firm up in the absence of pectin. I took two apples that were so soft that nobody was going to eat them. I pealed them and then grated, on the small holes in the grater, right on top of the figs and the sugar. I took a few trial stirs and set the heat to medium.

This mixture was so thick even in the beginning that bubbles popped up around the sides of the pan. I'm looking at it seeing lumpy bumps and shreds of skin and think, "Ah, the Cuisinart stick blender." Grabbed that and a minute or so later everything was nicely smoothed out. Still lots of tiny bumps from the seed parts of the figs...I'm assuming those are seeds. Anyway, think Fig Newton.

This stuff is so thick now it is bubbling like a volcano and I'm getting splashed. It's hot now too. So, I grabbed a handy dandy screen shield and that helped out with the splashing.

It really didn't cook that long. I saw it turn red which was a really cool color. Got even thicker and tasted delicious. So, maybe 5 minutes tops.

I let it sit for a minute or two and then washed out three containers, one leftover jelly jar, a nice anchor hocking glass container and a small custard dish with a lid. Nothing matched, but if this sets up and I will be sure to let you know, I've got a couple of friends I want to give some too.