The doorbell rang Monday morning, announcing the first fig delivery in 2015 with a warning that many more will follow. One of my best culinary experiences ever was eating figs fresh from a tree on the island of Rab. As you might expect, these figs from my father-in-law’s garden in Graz can’t live up to those Croatian figs whose taste has assumed legendary proportions; they are often large but watery. But you should never look a gift fig in the mouth (nifty palindrome, eh?). My strategy in the past to render them more flavorful has been to poach them in red wine or port, but this year I decided to try oven roasting them. Yum. Slice 500 g/1 pound of fresh figs in half, place them face down in a casserole dish, drizzle 2 Tbs port and sprinkle 1 Tbs of sugar on top, and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C/400°F.
The basket of figs showed up in the company of a basket of tomatoes and a tall, slender sprig of rosemary exuding a wondrous resiny fragrance. I am letting them ripen further and see shakshouka in my future. Yes, it has been a week of food offerings. On Saturday friends showed up to dinner bearing the first hokkaido squash of the season. I must admit I hesitated before receiving it with grateful hands. Like plums, I associate ripe Hokkaido with fall, and both have appeared recently at the farmer’s market with a message I wasn’t quite ready to accept: the wheel of the seasons is turning and I can’t hold it back.
It had been a gloriously warm and sunny summer until the middle of last week, when a cold front moved in behind thunderstorms. It is July, yet I am wearing wool socks and sweaters again. I look out the window and see rain and grey gloom. Is it September or October? I check my calendar: no. There comes a point every summer when I suddenly realize that we’ve reached the summit and it’s all downhill from here on in: fall and winter will come without fail. That point was reached last Friday. Perhaps that’s why I took to the needles with the first of several hats I have planned, using up stash yarn to make gifts to keep the people I love warm. Above you see my first stab at brioche knitting, a watch cap as introduced by Elizabeth Zimmermann in one of her newsletters collected in The Opinionated Knitter. It took a while to get the hang of the two row repeat, but then it knit up in no time at all – though I needed more than the two hours Zimmermann required to complete the hat.
Carrying on the green theme, our garden zucchini continues to smile. Just when I think I’ve used up the ones in the fridge, the next ones are ready to be picked. TC and I will be garden sitting for the month of August and are responsible for overseeing the peach harvest. Dear readers, what is your favorite way to eat peaches? Any suggestions on how to broaden my peach horizons? Hope you are enjoying whatever is ripe where you are.