Thursday, August 18, 2011

COOKING WITH LIL AND BEN


The first Saturday of Lil and Ben’s visit began with getting the overnight-sugared crushed figs on the stove.   We had breakfast (two posts ago), then whilst Lil and I canned up the preserves, Ben began the Blueberry-Pecan Zucchini bread.    They had brought the zucchini, already grated, frozen and bagged in recipe-portions, plus the immense blueberries from their own bushes.    The pecans were from the trees at Lil’s Mama’s house.

The batter, ready for its additions:






With the pecans and berries:

In the pans---there were five loaves:




After the pans all came out of the oven, we left them to cool on racks while we all drove over to Batesville to tour the town, visit a flea market, and eat dinner at the famous Sherman House.   Their fried dill pickles might have come from the kitchen at the Hollywood Café.

After a long day, we came home and started up the simple syrup (1:1) for the preserved figs.   We’d handled them super-carefully; in fact, they’d brought in pan after pan from the motor home Friday night---single layers so that each fig was cradled to keep it whole.   The number of 9x13s that came out of their fridge would have done a Southern Church Supper proud.

As I washed them bobbing in one layer in a big bowl, Lil looked each one with the scrutiny of a Hosiery-Mill inspector, making two big trays:  For the preserves, and the perfect ones for the Preserved Figs.

Each one went as carefully into the syrup (I’ve told her that I think she’ll need to increase it to a 1:1 ½ ratio for the huge green figs she has at home, for the syrup did not can out quite as thick as Mammaw would have liked). 



On a gentle simmer for about twenty minutes, to poach them through:




She removed each one gently in a teaspoon, laying them into the jars with great precision, then we poured in the syrup and processed them in the water-bath for another fifteen minutes:




When all was finished, and the last drop of sweet syrup washed from the pots and the counters, and those jars with their lovely pink jewelly syrup cooling on the table, this was our reward at the end of the evening---retreat from the hot kitchen and a nice sit-down with a cup of decaf and a slice of that exquisite  blueberry-studded Zucchini Bread:




And I didn’t know until after they were gone that there were so many jars of goodies on my kitchen shelf:  both kinds that we’d made, and a jar each of blueberry, raspberry, golden raspberry and blackberry preserves, all from their own bushes and brambles.

I told you they were YOUR kind of guests.

5 comments:

Maggie McArthur said...

Oh my oh my oh my. I couldn't tear my eyes from those jars of figs for what felt like three minutes. Gorgeous.

racheld said...

I seem to have misplaced the card with the pics outside with the sun shining through that PINK syrup. First figs I've canned in probably twenty years.

moire non on the cheese plate (the forgotten thing) that Caro and Chris and I enjoyed with some of the fig jam.

Chesapeake said...

Of all the things I have done over the years, I have never made fig preserves. I did not like the recipes with the lemon slices in them, so avoided making any. I knew Rachel made fig preserves, and that Chris loved them, so we packed the fridge to a fare-thee-well and took figs across country to learn at the master's knee. Boy Howdy, she just enters into the spirit of the occasion. We had such a good time and I am now ready to make my own preserves and preserved figs. Picked lots of the large figs we call white figs just today, and will be sorting shortly. Thank you, my Rachel.

Beverly said...

I believe I would like a hot buttered biscuit with fig preserves and a slice of cheese. Are you open for orders? Oh, and I'll take a cup of coffee, too.

Kim Shook said...

When we lived in Batesville (22 years ago), The Sherman House was where we went for a 'nice' dinner when we were too lazy to drive to Cincinati or Indianapolis!

Those figs are just mesmerizing! I am green, girl!