Whether you find it inspiring or nauseating, whether it makes you wear red – or see red – Valentine’s Day is here once again. All over town today in the Capital City, couples met for lunch, women wore red and guys scrambled for last minute roses and dinner reservations. Personally, I’m a low-key girl when it comes to this particular holiday, always opting for a crowd-free dinner at home with my hubby and our three kids. And this year, with Val’s Day on a weeknight, Cupid is going to have move along while two exhausted parents deal with sports practice, homework, an obnoxious Spanish project and work deadlines. We need a drink a lot more than a box of chocolates.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, kumquats are in big supply in southern Louisiana and other parts of the country right now, overloading backyard branches and appearing in the produce aisle in pint-sized containers. According to the LSU AgCenter, we grow two kinds of kumquats in Louisiana, the oblong Nagami and the rounder, sweeter Meiwa.
I have a couple of Meiwa kumquat trees in my herb garden, and every year, I struggle to use the crazy abundance of fruit that won’t stop coming. They’re like sharks teeth. Pick one, and it seems like a dozen more are right behind it in varying stages of ripeness, ready to take its place.
This simple kumquat cake is moist and flavorful and is a great way to use 2 cups of fresh fruit.
Homemade peach ice cream is a tradition across the South, and it’s an incredible treat to savor before the peach season fully slips away. Growing up in Georgia, I have a soft spot for peaches and lots of memories of fresh, churned ice cream with peaches front and center. This was THE flavor ice cream to make in the summer, and I know plenty of people for whom this is still an important seasonal ritual.
As as kid, I didn’t fully appreciate it. In fact, I remember preferring flavors like Rocky Road or “Chocolate Ripple” or something studded with cookie dough or Snickers bars. Peach ice cream was boring and for grown-ups. I’ve come full circle, and thank God my kids have better taste than I did.
In the South, peaches scream summer. One of the most satisfying ways to serve them is in a personal peach pie, a neat and tidy little turnover that’s the perfect supper ender. It’s not bad for breakfast, either. Combined with fresh blueberries, or a little fresh grated ginger, these easy little pies are versatile, beautiful and packed with fruity goodness.
The figs have started to ripen here in South Louisiana, and a couple of days ago, we started harvesting the sweet fat fruit from our backyard tree – braving mosquitoes and trying to beat the birds. Some days we eat every last fig over the sink within minutes of giving them a rinse. Other days I manage to set some aside and share them with my friends, especially my next-door neighbor, Martha. She paid me back for fresh figs once with a really yummy fig cake. It’s a great use of figs – super moist with a light, but sturdy texture and pleasant, subtle fig flavor. The recipe, Martha tells me, is modified from the Junior League of Monroe’s popular 1972 cookbook, The Cotton Country Collection. Tone down the sugar, and it makes a super breakfast cake. Here it is, below.
San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, each one offering a different vibe and, if you know where to look, incredible grassroots food. On our recent trip, we situated ourselves in the Mission District because of its reasonable housing for a group of six, and its proximity to authentic affordable eats. John and I have been to San Francisco several times, but this was the first time we brought our children (ages 13, 11 and 8) and my mother-in-law. Here are a few highlights that might be helpful if you’re headed that way.