About the blog

Welcome to my blog. This is a place where, as time allows, I will post comments, inspirational words, favorite things and short essays about daily life. I get to meet and interview interesting people through my job, so why not share some of it with all of you? If you like what you see, please forward a link to your friends and family.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jam, in 21 minutes (no kidding)

When I was a little girl we'd drive to my grandmother's after church on Sundays. She lived a county away, but it seemed like a very long drive to me. One of my fondest memories of visiting my maternal grandmother, Mable Smith Harris, was when she'd pull out a Mason jar full of canned peaches.

My grandmother, like many of our grandmothers, had a huge garden every summer and in the fall she'd can all kinds of fruits and vegetables that she grew. He'd go to her cool, earthy cellar and come up with a jar of peach halves swimming in sweet syrup.

She didn't teach me to can -- my husband's grandmother did -- but my friend Elizabeth hooked me up with with this great kitchen gadget by Ball Co. You put fruit, pectin and sugar into it, push the button that says "jam" and in 21 minutes you have really terrific, warm jam.

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's fig season

I'm pretty sure that my mother and grandmother never ate a fresh fig in their entire lives. They loved Fig Newtons, though, so I did too. It never occurred to me to look for fresh figs at the supermarket. I can't say that I ever stumbled across them either.

But then, I grew up in the North -- in Indiana -- and figs weren't something that grew well there, like they do in the South. I've lived in Texas more than 13 years now and a while back I bought a potted fig tree when I saw it at Sam's Club. It was small, but I knew it would grow and someday give me bowls of beautiful figs I could pop into my mouth, pile onto a tart or drown in sugar for a jar or two of jam.

Last summer I lost all of my figs to some pesky raccoons. This year I managed to grab a few. And my fall crop has already popped out.
Already this year I've made a terrific fig tart, borrowed from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe. She uses puff pastry, but I substituted butter-brushed phyllo dough because I had a package of it in my freezer. I pulled it out of the oven all puffed up and bubbly and it smelled so good. I texted a photo of it to my niece and she thought it was a pizza! That's a 17-year-old for you!

Here's the recipe.
Blend together 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 1/2 ounces almond paste, 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons honey until well smooth and well blended. 

Roll out your puff pastry or butter-brushed phyllo dough sheets and turn up the edges so the filling won't run out. Then spoon the filling onto your pastry and top with figs. Brush the top of the jams with apricot jam, then bake about 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees.

The great thing about this tart is that you could use different fruit toppings: fresh cherries, peaches or even apples. Sprinkle on nuts if you want, or maybe even a few extras like coconut or chocolate shavings.