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Fun with Figs

When Shawn’s sister and brother-in-law gave us some figs from their backyard trees last week (thank you, Bonny and Art!), I was excited to have a new ingredient to play with in the kitchen. I was really inspired to make something fancy, such as the recipe I came across for a Fig Tart with Mascarpone Cream from The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. (I’ve been wanting to try Beranbaum’s pastry techniques with sprouted whole wheat pastry flour.)

But with a tight schedule (swim-team practice, summer homeschooling and recent freelance projects have kept our family hopping)—and an even tighter budget (I could easily sub out the mascarpone with homemade yogurt cheese, but I’d have to forgo some of the pricier and barely-used ingredients like sweet marsala wine)—I set that idea aside and looked for ways to incorporate the fruit into some of the recipes I make regularly. Enter the Basic Soaked Muffins I learned to make from my friend Wardeh Harmon, who shares the recipe on her blog (www.gnowfglins.com) and teaches extra-helpful techniques for making them in her GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse.

These muffins—which call for soaking the whole-grain flour overnight in an acidic liquid to break down nutrient-blocking phytic acid—are super versatile. As long as you follow the basic guidelines of the recipe, you can adjust spices and add-ins (fruit, nuts, etc.) to your preferences each time you bake the muffins. So far we’ve enjoyed them with raisins, apples, peaches, and—you guessed it—figs. The figs imparted a mild, sweet flavor and an incredibly moist texture to the muffins.

I have enough figs left to make another batch of muffins—unless I decide to revisit the idea of making the tart. Of course, we could just eat the figs. Which is what my best friend and mom blogger Wendy Neri—or, more precisely, her fig-obsessed Italian father-in-law—would advise. (Click here for a link to a hilarious post on her blog, www.mothernfodder.com, where she wrote about what fig-harvest season is like around her house.)

For learning to prepare traditional, real foods like the muffins I mentioned—as well as other soaked, sprouted, fermented and cultured foods—I can’t recommend the GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse enough. After completing the 14-lesson class a few weeks ago, I have expanded my real-food repertoire to include now-staple items such as water kefir, homemade chicken stock, sprouted beans, soaked rice, and whole-grain sourdough bread. I am so impressed by Wardeh Harmon’s integrity and heart for teaching her methods, which she generously shares on a “pay-what-you-can” basis. The class is available online to start anytime, and you can pick and choose what lessons you’d like to learn when. And I’m so excited to begin Wardeh’s newest class—the GNOWFGLINS Sourdough eCourse—which launches today. It’s not too late to sign up for the class, which features the same pay structure and offers methods for mastering not only sourdough bread, but also other naturally leavened foods—including pancakes, biscuits, tortillas and crackers. I can’t wait to add all of that to my repertoire! 🙂

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

Please note: It is my goal to provide a top-quality, content-driven, ad-free blog. That said, I do occasionally include affiliate links in some of my posts. For example, if you click on the book cover above, you will link to Amazon.com, where you will have an opportunity to purchase it—and if you do buy it after clicking through from my site, I will receive a small commission to support my work here, as well as my own book-buying habit. :-) Seriously, though, I’d be just as happy if my recommendations inspired you to check out the title from your local library or borrow it from a friend.

July 13, 2010   2 Comments

A Half-Dozen …

… Kitchen Life musings to share (answering prompts from The Homekeeper’s Journal):

1. In my kitchen this week I’m struggling to stay on top of the meal preparation and cleanup. A lot of other things are requiring my attention right now, so I’ve neglected the dishes and some other regular tasks. I do have water kefir brewing, I’m soaking some pinto beans and brown basmati rice, and I plan to put a chicken in the crock pot today, too. I made soaked muffins with fresh figs for breakfast this morning, and they were super moist and yummy. Just need to tackle and tame the mess!

2. I think we do eat healthily almost all of the time because I insist on it and invest a lot of time into making it happen. Yes, we occasionally settle for foods that are less than ideal when our lives are so busy that I don’t have the time I need to spend in the kitchen. My goal is to have a good system in place that enables me to plan and prepare foods in advance so that we have healthy choices on hand most of the time.

3. My family is not resistant to healthy eating because I try to involve them in the process of choosing and cooking what we eat. That said, some of my family members do balk at trying new things. I think (and I hope) that if I consistently provide healthy food—and teach them at the same time why it’s important on both a personal and global scale—that they will naturally gravitate toward those foods on their own.

4. I don’t have a garden yet, but it is my dream to one day use as much of our suburban lot as I can to grow food for our family. Poor-quality soil means we will need to do a lot of work to build up/amend what we have and/or create a lot of raised beds. My biggest challenge will be finding the time and the money to make it happen. Right now, it’s extremely hot where I live in central Arizona, so I’m planning to make a small start somewhere in the yard in the fall or spring.

5. The hardest part about eating healthily for me and my family is finding the time that’s required to prepare everything. I love to cook, and I aspire to be organized and efficient, but it just doesn’t always happen with all of the other things I’m trying to balance—including homeschooling, house cleaning, freelance writing and editing, blogging, digital scrapbooking and other things that I love to do.

6. My favorite thing about preparing and serving healthy foods is knowing that my efforts are benefiting the people I love most. 🙂 I also like to think that the choices I’m making with my food budget are helping to ensure that healthy foods will continue to be available as viable options for all of us as consumers. It’s exciting to realize that in providing the best meals for my own family, I am a part of a ripple effect that helps others do exactly the same thing.

This post is part of The Homekeeper’s Journal, hosted by Sylvia Britton at www.christianhomekeeper.org.

July 13, 2010   No Comments