Create / Enjoy

Friday, September 19, 2014

What to do with a bounty of fresh figs

My parents have a fig tree in their side yard that is pretty prolific most seasons. The past few years I've picked buckets worth of them, and made fig preserves and dried figs in the dehydrator. I don't need all of it for myself, but I hate to see delicious fresh local produce go all to the birds! Which is what will happen if I don't pick them.

I was so happy to see that fig season has come again last time I stopped by my parents' house. I picked all the ripe ones I could reach on foot, and left plenty ripening on the tree--so maybe I can get some more soon!


They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but I can only eat a few fresh figs before my mouth starts to sting. (Same thing that happens when you eat too much fresh pineapple--they both contain enzymes called proteases, which break down proteins and can cause the prickly, painful sensation in the mouth (some people are more sensitive to it than others).)

And they don't stay fresh for too long after you pick them, so I often look for something to do with them. I've made small batches of fig jam before (like this) but it's never totally perfect, and I don't eat many things that I need jam for.

What to do with fresh figs


So this year I'm going to try something new. I looked around for creative new recipes for freshly picked figs and got pretty inspired! So I put together this list of grain-free, real food recipes for meals and desserts using tasty fresh figs. If you're not lucky enough to have a tree near you like I do, try picking your own near you or find them at the farmer's market or store this time of year!


There are some other fig recipe compilations out there, and I love this list of simple fig ideas--broiled bacon-wrapped figs, figs sauteed in butter and honey (how about on homemade ice cream!?). Make up your own recipe!

There's also these 27 ways to use fresh figs on BuzzFeed, but many of them involve truly fresh (uncooked) figs, and I don't think I could eat too many of those!

So here are some of my favorite fresh and cooked fig recipes.

Side Dishes



Condiments



Desserts



Fresh, seasonal fruit--what a treat!

What are your favorite fig recipes?

Hope you get a chance to try some of these if you're new to cooking with figs!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Major farm respect, and hands-on cider pressing and chickens

Our friends' CSA had a cider pressing open house over the weekend, and we went along with them and their 11-month-old. While we've had a CSA for several seasons now (husband has a list of our faves here), we haven't had one that we picked up at the farm in years and we don't get to spend a lot of time where our food is grown or raised.

I love visiting places like this and experiencing a tiny, tiny piece of the magic (and work) of living in touch with your food. I dream of someday having chickens and a big garden, but until then it's great to support people who do and can provide to others, and I have so much respect and appreciation for farmers like our CSA sources.

So it's great when we can come visit for something like this cider pressing party and potluck of snacks made with lots of their CSA share ingredients!

We went through buckets of apples! Everyone had a chance to wash them, cut off the bad parts, and sort them into the buckets ready for the press.

We put our husbands to work.

Then we threw the chopped-in-half apples into the top part of the press and cranked.

(Funnily I didn't actually taste any of the cider and I don't really drink juice, but I'm sure it was very good!! And I'm sure so much better than storebought, so fresh and organic and all.)

The pulp goes to the cows or compost rather than going to waste!

One of my favorite parts was hanging out in the shady orchard with the chickens. We helped the little one give them some feed--husband took a nice long video of it!

Yay farm time!

It may still be u-pick apple, pear, and even stone fruit season near you--you can check out LocalHarvest.org for locations!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A new dress for a very hot late summer wedding

Wedding attire, hot weather, the end of the bright color season... a conflict! We went to an incredible wedding last weekend and I'm so glad I came up with this maxi dress to wear to it!

Earlier this year, I was brainstorming what to make myself to wear to wedding #1 of the summer. (My ideas here.) I came across this dress from Anthropologie and loved it, and actually searched for a fabric at all similar to this (really my main criteria were big, soft floral, in cotton or silk if I could find it) and came up with nothing after at least 3 trips to the fabric store. (So I ended up making something different for wedding #1, but I still love it, and I'll keep an eye out for the perfect floral print silk crepe!!)
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And in the meantime - I still love the loose, natural waist, drawstring halter shape of that lovely Anthro dress! So, when summer wedding #2 came up last weekend, and when the temperature was supposed to be above 90 despite it being September, I looked around for another fabric to use to make something similar!

My mom had a bunch of extra of this lovely rose-colored textured cotton, and I thought it was a nice late summer color. And I quickly found the perfect pattern for this shape: Simplicity 1355, which I actually still had sitting out since I just used it for this romper project. I knew it was simple to make, though I hadn't made this bodice style yet or the straight skirt... but they were both easier than the romper version. (I highly recommend if you want to make a maxi dress quickly!)

I made the gathered halter version (view C) but rather than have the split in the front of the neckline and the tie end there, I just did the split at the center back and did a wider self-fabric tie. I put a vertical dart in the center front where the slit would be, to give it some bust shaping and reduce bulk.

I lined it with self-fabric since I had so much yardage, and wasn't sure how much I wanted to change the color by lining it with a lighter cotton. It ended up a little fluffy since the fabric is textured, but I do like the opacity of the color. Plus, no lining peeking out to worry about.

And the back - the original Anthro dress has a cool crisscross strap and open back, but I stuck with the pattern to keep it simple, and I think this halter style is a little easier to wear (less to fuss with!).

It was so comfortable to wear and also pretty! Maxi dresses make the easiest outfits - even just coupled with a simple necklace and the sandals I wish I could wear every day (and practically do).
Sandals, crossbody bag: Old Navy. Necklace:? Dress: DIY!

The wedding was in the Pearl district near downtown Portland, and it was so fun to be in the center of the city for a private party. Plus, the food was ridiculously good and the party itself was really just super fun. All in all an awesome Saturday!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Birthday hiking and beach adventures

My birthday was on a Monday this year, but that didn't stop me from having a super fun birthday celebration and feeling totally birthday-ed out and satisfied after a fun day with husband and family!

I wanted to do something special and different, and it was supposed to be HOT in the city (90+) and pretty nice at the coast (77). We thought about Sauvie Island, but in the end decided to go to our old fave, the Oregon coast near Seaside and Cannon Beach. It's an easy, beautiful drive and we love being near the ocean.

But I've also been wanting to get out and go hiking and exploring more, so we narrowed it down to a couple of hiking options on or near the coast. We ended up stopping at Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, which turned out to be an absolutely perfect 3-hour hike with amazing views and plenty of difficult spots to make it fun and challenging. Going places like this makes me think, gosh, I'm grateful to live near so much natural beauty. (As I shared on Instagram!)

Such a variety of scenery on that climb! We passed wildflowers, basalt rocks the size of houses, big valleys of grasses, beautiful evergreens... amazing!

It was quite a climb! The website and signs say it's 2.5 miles, but we tracked it - it was 5.86 round-trip! That and the 1,600' incline - we were practicing good single-leg squat form most of the way up! ;)

After our hiking adventure, we were very appreciative of a favorite low-key seafood place in Cannon Beach and some time sitting and relaxing on the beach. Post-hiking ankle dirt and all.

But the coast was actually warm enough for us to spend some time with our toes in the water! I love playing in the waves, wish we could do it more here in Oregon. Made me miss warm beaches!


Then we headed back inland, to my parents' house for a delicious meal with them and husband's family - and I totally forgot to take any pictures, so I'll just have to remember it.

What a wonderful birthday day!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Weekend Inspiration: Birthday Inspiration

I have an exciting weekend coming up. It's supposed to be above 90 and sunny, but I'm determined to get out anyway and do something fun. My birthday is on Monday!

Last year I had a great birthday, on a Sunday: brunch with several of my friends at a favorite restaurant with great local ingredients, pedicures with friends, then some downtime before grilling with family (both mine and in-laws). I remember feeling totally happy and birthday-satiated after. The year before that, my dear friend Jenni threw me a lovely party here at our house, but with personalized decor and games. So fun. But this year I'm feeling more low-key, and I think I'd like to celebrate on Sunday but just with husband, and stay close to home. That, and I've been too busy to plan anything!

But I'd still like to celebrate in my own way without doing anything huge. So this time around, my Weekend Inspiration post is a few ideas I've had for making my (almost birthday) weekend special.

Fun activity?


I'm not always a birthday procrastinator, but this year I've put so little thought into it until now and since my birthday is on a Monday anyway, I don't have a lot of choices for camping or overnight trips. I found some shorter trip ideas from Travel Oregon, and found they have a cool search feature for whatever activity and region you're looking for, so I've been looking at a few local activity ideas like the Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary at Forest Park or a bike ride on the Banks-Vernonia Trail.

But, maybe I'll lean toward less adventurous and just find a nice spot in town for a picnic or something. If I get really crazy I might make myself a fresh flower crown, just because, you know, birthday. (My friend Sam just blogged about hers - so simple and pretty!) I've always been intimidated, but I'm sure it's not that hard, right? I can see from tutorials like this DIY fresh flower crown that apparently you mostly just need floral tape and wire, and a mix of fresh flowers and some pretty ribbon. Anyone tried this at home and have any tips for me?

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Birthday treat?


I'm also brainstorming desserts. It may just be for me and family, but I'd like to make something special and delicious, from my favorite whole ingredients. Last year I made myself this decadent Paleo-friendly Boston cream pie. It was incredible!!, but so sweet. I've done two 21 Day Sugar Detoxes since then and I honestly don't want something covered in melted dark chocolate chips. No, I think something with milder sweetness would be good this year.

Just looked through my Real Food Dessert Recipes pinboard and found some ideas! I think something like this caramelized banana hazelnut dairy-free ice cream or this panna cotta with strawberry balsamic compote would be perfect since they both have a few more steps than I usually put into a simple weekend special treat.
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Day trips, frivolous and pretty accessories, and special sweets. Sounds like a good birthday weekend combination!

I'm not feeling too festive yet, though - but have a couple more days to get into the birthday mood!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Old=new again. Classic, easy rice pudding recipe with real food ingredients

I love when I can find recipes I remember from my childhood and adapt them so I can eat them again. My mom used to make rice pudding (two ways - this method, stovetop, and baked: the same ingredients but mixed together cold and baked so the top gets crispy), and I recently recreated her classic recipe with the "real food" basic ingredients we eat now (also dairy free).

I also did some Googling for a classic stovetop rice pudding recipe (looked at a couple of Martha's, of course) and while there are millions of ways to make it (most of them with approximately the same ingredient list) and I'm sure they're all delicious, some were easier than others. I'm a one-pan kind of cook for desserts, and some of them were way too involved for the quick make-it-while-also-making-dinner kind of recipe I was looking for. So I put together this easy version with great success. Pretty sure my mom used to make it in a pretty low-maintenance way, too.

I wasn't sure how it would turn out with almond or coconut milk instead of cow's milk, and sweetened with something other than white cane sugar, but it was great! I've made it twice now, lightly sweetened and with raisins on top just like I remember, and it's been the perfect post-workout treat.

The health nerd part (skip if you just want the recipe!)


I'm happy to say I've become able to eat rice again recently. We've been Paleo since Christmas 2012, and when we first made the switch and went completely grain-free, when I tried rice a few times I didn't have a good reaction. But recently I've tried again, and it seems the 1.5+ years of gut healing I've been doing on this nutrient-dense, low-inflammation, low-antinutrient diet has strengthened my digestive system so I now can eat some white rice every once in a while! (And yes, it's actually "healthier" and easier to digest to use white rice instead of brown - some quick articles about that on Holistic Squid here and on my husband's blog here.) I've also dramatically improved my thyroid function over the past year, so I'm not as worried about autoimmune response from the smaller amount of lectins in white rice.

So this recipe is great as a post-workout treat (carbs primarily from glucose rather than fructose, advisable in carb loading to restore muscle glycogen).

More rice info, if you're curious - 

On to the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. water
  • 2 c. almond milk or coconut milk (divided)
  • 1/2 c. rice, rinsed
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. coconut palm sugar, honey, or other sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon on top

    Instructions:


    1. Put water, 1 cup almond or coconut milk, and rice into small saucepan. Bring to an almost-boil then turn down to low and cover; cook for about 15 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium to allow some of the moisture to evaporate.
    2. Add salt, sweetener of choice (the 1/2 cup I suggest makes a very mildly sweet pudding, so you may want to add more especially if you're not using raisins), raisins, and butter. Stir.
    3. Mix remaining 1 cup almond or coconut milk with egg and whisk. Turn heat in saucepan back to low and slowly add the egg/milk blend to the pan and stir. Cook for another 3 or so minutes while pudding thickens.
    4. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
    5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!

    Mine is tan rather than white because I used coconut palm sugar. It tastes a little like brown sugar to me! but is made from the sap of the flowering bud of the coconut palm tree. If you use honey or xylitol or other lighter sweetener, it would be lighter in color.
    So satisfying and comforting, without being overly sweet or complicated. It even impressed my wary-of-new-things husband. He's also not a big fan of raisins but he loved this pudding and requested it again!

    Hope you enjoy, too!

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