Create / Enjoy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Homemade fresh fig "crackers"

Remember I said we had a lot of figs?

I love them. We desperately want to find awesome things to do with them so we can enjoy them to their fullest!

We picked some the other weekend and we ended up with quite a few our baskets that were not quite ripe. (Turns out husband wasn't quite sure what they look like ripe--oops.) They ripen a little bit in a day or two if you keep them on the counter, but after that they start to go bad. I made some savory fig jam with onion and spices (amazing on pork from our hog share!!), and I made some fig leather (thinking that dehydrating them would concentrate the sweetness), but it ended up really tough and chewy.

So I had an idea. The fig leather process was a lot like a homemade cracker recipe process (I've made a lot of dehydrated grain-free nut crackers in the past), so why not make a fig leather-cracker hybrid? I could add something nutty with some fat and softness to keep them from being so crispy and tough, and the very light sweetness of the not-quite-ripe figs could make for a really nice dessert "cracker." Like something you'd eat with brie or goat cheese or a little bit of fancy jam.

It sounds weird, but they turned out much better than I could have imagined! Husband (who doesn't like figs much at all) is asking for more. Plus, they're a great vessel for butter or almond butter, and since I don't eat bread, always nice to have something to spread one of those on when I need a high-energy treat or snack.


Grain-Free Fresh Fig "Crackers"

I also love that these are practically 1-step. You'll start by making your own sunflower seed flour/meal (like I do in this amazing recipe--see how to make nut flour or nut butter here), then add coconut and whole figs. No chopping or anything, just pull off the stems. So easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened dried coconut
  • 8 cups fresh figs (not-quite-ripe is OK!), stems removed

    Instructions:


    1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 
    2. Blend raw sunflower seeds in food processor until they form meal. (See how to make nut flour or nut butter here)
    3. Add the unsweetened dried coconut and pulse until mixed. Scrape the sides and corners of the food processor.
    4. Add figs whole (I almost filled our 9-cup food processor with figs, so I think I used about 8 cups).
    5. I've found the mixture is too liquid to go straight to the dehydrator, so pour in medium-thick layers onto cookie sheets with parchment paper liners. (I've used two cookie sheets for one batch). Bake at 200 degrees for 1-2 hours, until it is dry enough to be pried up.
    6. Put onto dehydrator and dehydrate overnight at 120 degrees. (I imagine you could do the whole process in the oven, but you'd have to leave it on an awfully long time, so if you have a dehydrator, use it for this!) (This is ours.)
    7. Once dry, cut into squares. Store in a closed container the fridge to keep them fresh. (I've kept homemade nut crackers in the freezer for up to a year and they were still pretty crispy, so these would probably also keep a long time if you make up multiple batches and want to save them.)


    These are actually nut-free (except the coconut) as well as grain-free and gluten-free, since I used sunflower seeds (they're so easy to blend, have a nice nutty flavor, and are very affordable in the bulk section--just make sure you store them in the fridge to keep them from going rancid). The sunflower seeds also made them taste like a bread my mom bought when I was growing up. I don't miss bread, but the familiar taste does make these taste extra good with butter on top! No, like, I literally just spread butter on them. Unsalted Kerrygold butter from grassfed cows, to be exact. I love putting butter on things.


    Optional add-ins:


    I hope I get to try these a few more times this season so I can try variations! I've thought about adding:
    • Vanilla
    • Cinnamon
    • Salt
    • 2-4 dates to make them sweeter
    • Substitute an apple for some of the figs for another fall flavor

    Let me know if you try any variations, how yours turn out!



    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Little Fixes: refashioning kids' clothes!

    I think it is so exciting when fellow bloggers write books. I love seeing beautiful books in the sewing section of Powell's by names I recognize, and I love seeing the behind-the-scenes on blogs and social media! Writing a book was always a goal of mine, too, and I can't wait to share my book with you when it's out in May of 2015, but until then, I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing about this refashioning book for kids by Disney of Ruffles and Stuff.

    I've been reading Disney's blog since, uh, right around the time I started blogging, I guess! Sometime in 2009, back when her now 7-year-old was very small. Disney does fun party decor, headbands, clothing and home refashions, and projects for her cute daughter. She now has two foster toddlers living with her, so even more experience working with and for kids!

    Disney just came out with a book about reusing, recycling, repurposing, and restyling kids' clothes to make them last longer. A whopping 54 projects for boys and girls, toddlers to teenagers, for clothes that are too small, too big, damaged, or out of season. And with a great name: Little Fixes: 54 Clever Ways to Extend the Life of Kids' Clothes!

    Disney sent me a PDF copy to read and enjoy.

    I don't have any little ones to sew for, but I sure do appreciate good refashioning ideas! I love some of the ideas for covering stains and rips - the faux plaid shirt is very cool, and the polka dot sweater patch project is totally something I would wear! The t-shirt transplant is another great idea, and I love seeing her photos of the reverse applique method.

    Having just written a sewing book myself, I can totally appreciate the work Disney put into the projects (and she did the styled photos herself!). The introduction has some great basics on supplies and techniques that will help you with the projects.

    Plus the kids are really cute. The book features 12 models, which I can assume are friends of Disney's, and they totally lend their personality to the shots (and quotes!).

    Disney succeeded in making a fun, colorful, practical, easy-to-use sewing book for moms and kids! Please check it out on Amazon if you're looking for some new projects, or as a great holiday gift!


    This is not a sponsored post and I received no compensation for my review. I just like sharing successes of fellow bloggers with you!

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Early fall plaid, and How to Wear DIY

    Late summer, early fall plaid... a DIY project that may be... and sticking it to the marketers in practice.

    I am all about savoring every last bit of summer. Which I guess technically ended yesterday! I guess I can't keep talking about "late summer" anymore... that's okay, "early fall" sounds like a pretty nice season to be in, too.

    This past weekend, we did some favorite summery things in the hot weather--a hike at the Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion, reading outdoors, grilling with the in-laws, and picking more figs at my parents' house. It still feels like summer, but I don't feel like dressing in the tropical brights and fruit prints of July, so I compromised and pulled out a summer version of a plaid--this maxi dress I made last year.

    Ignoring early seasonal marketing... until it's not early anymore


    As I talked about at the end of last month, I'm so tired of being told by my magazines and the stores I visit to shop for wool and plaid and earth tones, months before I'll need them, as I sweat in my tank top and cut-offs in the 95 degree heat. Seriously, it was 95 degrees on Saturday. (I actually did buy a wool hat, though. I'm finally caving since I don't think this weather will last.)

    But, really, enough with the shopping for new things that I don't need right now, and hooray for pulling out favorites from last summer like this dress because the weather calls for it, goshdarnit. This maxi dress is great for summer because it has sewn-in bra pads! because who wants to wear a bra when it's lightweight cotton maxi dress weather, but I also felt pretty good wearing it in September since it's plaid. Plaid and fall are best friends, right?

    Also--a DIY project that may one day be


    I spotted this jean jacket at an estate sale the other weekend and was reminded that I've been meaning to buy a thrifted jean jacket and turn it into a jean vest, since those are looking pretty cute these days.

    As you can see, I have not yet done that! It is 10-year-old Old Navy (does that count as "vintage"?) and I love it. And it was $1. I thought it would seem dated and weird when I put it on, but it fit really well and looked good! They definitely don't make them quite this sturdy anymore, that's for sure! Funny how I can tell the difference. I already have two jean jackets, actually, so I don't really need this one, but I like it as a jacket and I'm not sure if I should take the plunge and turn it into a vest! What's your vote?
    Jacket: Estate sale. Sandals: Old Navy, wish I had them in every color. Dress: DIY, here!

    So, to make it a vest or not to make it a vest?!

    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!!)
    Source

    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!

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