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.
You know summer is here when long-awaited fruits emerge. Lately, I’ve been picking up pints of blueberries from our local farmers market, and my own backyard blueberries and blackberries (so easy to grow here!) are ripening like crazy. My kids and I try to head outside early so we can harvest them before the birds beat us to it. It’s a mad rush. Fresh blueberries make their way into lots of different recipes in my kitchen, but one of my favorites is a fast and easy fruit sauce that’s a perfect topper for dessert or a sweet breakfast.
Mmm….homemade syrup made from fresh local strawberries — how great does that sound drizzled over ice cream or poured over waffles or pancakes? It’s easy to make, is preservative-free and is a super use of fresh Louisiana strawberries.
I live with four people who love gooey, chocolate-y, creamy desserts, dense cookies and brownies and oversized bowls of ice cream. No shortage of SweetTooths in this house. But I admit to preferring the palate cleanser, something cool, light and nuanced that rounds out a meal without making me lose consciousness. And as the weather has started to warm up, I’m thinking sorbet is the thing.
It’s a perfect storm for fun this weekend as Baton Rougeans, starved for spring and warm weather, will come out in droves for the 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That means lots of green beer, backyard crawfish, spent beads, irreverent t-shirts and behavior that gets worse the closer it gets to the end of the route near the Perkins Road Overpass. Some of us claim Irish ethnicity; most of us don’t. No matter, this particular day is one for hitting the pause button on regular life, shutting down streets and relishing the spectacle that is South Louisiana.
And speaking of spectacle, gaudy green foods are required eating. It’s something I’ve mastered by living on or near the parade route for the last 15 years. One of my favorite things to break out is a bottle of Crème de Menthe.