Good Things Lentil-Tomato Soup with Bok Choy and Lemon

This past week I often wondered “is it me?” or “is it them?” when pondering the roller coaster world of photo shoots. To put it mildly this past week was one for the books in all ways. I am still reeling a bit from the drama, the multitudes on all the various sets, the daily mental Rorschach test I needed to do to keep things balanced. Do you have weeks like that?

Along with “the crazy” there are some very good things afoot….one good this weekend is that we “spring forward”into Daylight Savings time and I, for one, love it when I get that extra hour of natural light at the end of the day.  It was also International Women’s Day this past week. I hope you celebrated all the great women in your lives… mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, every last one.  Another good thing was I made comforting, healthy, warm and cozy lentil soup. When the going gets tough, the tough make soup! Soup and laughter can get you through a lot.

Red Lentils, tomatoes, broth, chopped fresh bok chop, lemon juice all cooked together with some herbs served piping hot with an additional squeeze of fresh lemon and toasted baguette slices. Easy, quick and cozy.

Lentils are full of good things as well. An edible legume, they are rich in complex carbohydrates which will boost metabolism and help burn body fat. The are a good source of fiber, low in fat and are good sources of folate and magnesium. Lentils are gluten-free as well. You can have a pot of lentils ready to eat in about 30 minutes more or less which is another good thing.

The lemons add a wonderful flavor layer to this soup which is a cross of tomato soup and lentil soup with a bok choy twist. Enjoy. I you  have leftover, freeze for later. It’s nice to have some good things ready and waiting for when the days get tough!

Good Things Lentil-Tomato Soup with Bok Choy and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of dried red lentils (or any other)
  • 1 can of cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 to 3 cups water as needed
  • 1 bunch of bok choy, trimmed and chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon wedges for serving
  • toasted baguette slices for serving

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils well in mesh strainer. Place in a stock pot.
  2. Add can of tomatoes with juice, garlic cloves, broth and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer. Cook, stirring every now and then, until lentils are just beginning to soften, 20 minutes or so. Add water as lentils cook if needed.
  3. Stir in chopped bok choy and cook for another 10 minutes or until lentils are soft but not mushy.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Serve piping hot in bowls with lemon wedges for squeezing into soup and toasted baguette slices.
  5. Note: You can freeze leftovers for later if you like or enjoy for lunches later in the week.

Teresa Blackburn.    www. teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

My George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

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When I was in elementary school in West Tennessee we had a “real lunchroom”. There were home cooked, seasonal meals for lunch every day. The ladies who cooked wore simple white uniforms with nets covering their hair. There was a cafeteria line and you could see into the kitchen in the background with all the food prep and cooking going on.

 Peanut Butter Cookies appeared as a dessert for our school lunches at about the same time as we were  studying George Washington Carver and his peanuts. For years I actually thought he invented the peanut! I remember a black and white photo of Mr. Carver in one of our school books standing in the middle of a field of peanuts. I took to calling these school cafeteria cookies “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies”.

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Mr. George Washington Carver standing in a field of peanuts.

This mental collision of a particularly loved food (peanut butter cookies), being able to watch the ladies cooking in our school kitchen every day and the awareness that the legume in the cookie I loved so much were directly connected to a botanist at the Tuskegee Institute down in Alabama was just the first of many such childhood food epiphanies.

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  On “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookie” days I would attempt to swap my real food for someone else’s cookie. There were always a few friends who did not like peanut butter. On a good cookie swap day I might have up to 4 to eat later on. They were worth giving up my homegrown tomato slices or creamy mashed potatoes for. Those cookies set the bar very high. I have looked for that cookie since and have never found anything even close. Divine is what they were with just the right amount of crisp edges and softness in the center.

These little gluten-free cookies are very peanut buttery and crispy (I wish they were a bit softer, but I will work on that). They have sated my quest for a while. This recipe is based on one I made for a client recently for an editorial photo shoot. It is gluten-free and very easy.

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Easy to mix….1 inch balls…

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… the traditional “fork marks”!

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Ready to bake.

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Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal instead of flour.

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Sprinkled with a bit of sanding sugar ready to eat still warm from the oven.

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 There has not been a time in my life that I do not think of Mr. Carver whenever I eat anything with peanut butter. I wonder if he liked peanut butter cookies and what he would think about making a cookie “gluten-free”? Did he have Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for lunch while diligently working in his lab or surveying the fields upon fields of peanuts that helped to change the way we now eat?

George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Servings: 24 cookies
  • Print

pnut butter cookies GWC

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup raw/turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (baking sugar)
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a couple of baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the egg whites & sea salt in a bowl until frothy.
  3. Into egg whites stir peanut butter, raw sugar, brown sugar & flaxseed meal. Mix well. Batter will be stiff and may appear to “seize”, but just ignore this and mix until ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Using a tablespoon measure, shape batter into balls and place about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.
  5. Using a fork, make criss-cross marks on each ball pressing slightly to flatten.
  6. Bake 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Sprinkle cookies generously with sanding sugar & cool on a wire rack.

Upside Down Olive Oil Georgia Peach Cake (Gluten Free Y’All)

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“Upside Down Olive Oil Peach Cake”(Gluten Free)

This past week has been busy in a fun way. Photo shoots both editorial and commercial, celebrations of a new cookbook release that I worked on, and a weekend full of the World Cup and a lazy baking Saturday. The other fun thing for me is that as of today I am adding a “printable recipe” at the end of all my posts! This will make it easier for you to try out some of the offerings from Food on Fifth.

The Peach Truck Peaches

I do think I have a case of “peach madness” this summer. I blame this totally on the arrival of “The Peach Truck” in Nashville from Georgia with bags and bags full of delicious peaches. I eat them rinsed, fuzz and all, on cereal, on toast. I have made frozen yogurt, pies  and more recently this upside down cake using peaches and olive oil along with a  flour I ran across in the grocery store a few days ago…Domata Gluten Free Recipe Ready Flour.

Domata Recipe Ready Gluten Free Flour

I realize that everyone knows about Georgia Peaches, but are you aware there is a thriving olive oil business down in Lakeland, Georgia…acres and acres of olive trees? I didn’t until I was given a bottle by cookbook author, Matt Moore, while working on a photo shoot with him. Amazingly good and perfect for my cake. A belated thanks Matt.

Whether testing recipes for clients or cooking at home I always gather and measure all my ingredients before I start just to make sure I have everything I need. I find it very annoying to get to the middle of a recipe and realize I am short an egg or do not have enough milk. Very annoying.

Peach Cake ingredients

I used a fluted pan just because I think it is pretty.

Peach Cake in the Oven

I let this cake cool for about 30 minutes before turning it out onto a plate.

Peach Cake Baked

Flipped out onto a plate & ready for a powder sugar dusting. Love the color of those peaches!

Upside Down Peach Cake

Peach Cake dusted with Powdered Sugar

So pretty and moist, with an almost pudding-like texture and nice crispy edges. Not too sweet (you know I do not like overly sweet desserts) with the flavor of the peaches coming through strong.

Why an olive oil cake? Olive Oil in a cake never “sets up” again as does butter or solid veg shortening after the dessert cools, therefore the cake is much more moist and stays that way. I made a pound cake using olive oil & Blood Oranges and it was fantastic. For a more lucid and exact explanation as to why cakes made with olive oil are more tender check out this article by Fine Cooking.

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Of course we ate a slice while the cake was still warm on Saturday, but the next day, chilled,  it was still as good…in fact so good that my friend Terry M. ate 2 pieces while we worked the Sunday NYTimes Crossword puzzle! Yep, that good.

Upside Down Olive OIl Peach Cake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Peach Cake dusted with Powdered Sugar

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free baking flour (Domata is the brand I used), or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups good quality olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • the zest from one orange + the juice
  • 4-5 fresh peaches peeled and sliced
  • powdered sugar for garnish/serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
  3. Using a mixer blend together the olive oil & sugar. With mixer running drizzle in olive oil. Scrape down sides of bowl as need be. Turn mixer to low and add eggs & milk.
  4. Add orange zest, orange juice and flour with mixer on low-speed just until well blended.
  5. Place sliced peaches in the bottom of a well-greased 8 or 9 inch baking pans. Pour batter on top of peach slices and spread evenly.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until cake in set in the middle and is golden brown. If cake starts to get too brown cover loosely with a sheet of foil.
  7. Remove from the oven. Let cool on a rack and serve at room temp or chilled.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar when serving if desired.

“A Galette of Rainier Cherries (gluten free)”

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Galette

Fresh Rainier Cherries have arrived. Their beauty seduced me completely. I had to have them…eating some out of the bag right after paying for them…baking the rest into this tender-crusted galette …not too sweet, just right.

Galettes are easy to make. Simply a freeform crust filled, either sweet or savory, French in origin…a beautiful rustic, yet elegant look, not a rigid as a crimped pie crust, not as planned looking…they never look the exact same way twice…that is why I love them.

In my pantry there was a box of King Arthur Gluten Free Flour that I had not tried…some of it went into my pastry recipe. The outcome was beyond my expectations. A delicate pastry, somewhat shortbread-like, that baked up golden brown and flakey.

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For pastry crust: 2 cups King Arthur Gluten Free Flour (or any other flour), 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter cut into small chunks, a pinch of salt & ice water.

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Put flour  & pinch of salt in a food processor bowl. Pulse to blend. Add in cold butter chunks & pulse a few more times. Do not pulse too much. The butter should still be in small pieces. Drizzle in ice water, about 5 tablespoons, pulsing as you add. Remove pastry from bowl of processor &  form into two balls. Flatten each & wrap in plastic. Chill for at least one hour before using. This galette will only need one pastry ball. Save the other for another dessert either chilled or frozen.

When ready to make the galette, remove pastry from the refrigerator, let sit for about 10 minutes.

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While pastry is sitting for 10 minutes, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 cup low-fat or no-fat Greek yogurt, a generous pinch of ground cinnamon & 1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar for filling. Set aside.

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Place pastry on a sheet of floured parchment paper & roll  into a rough circle about 12″ in diameter. It is just fine if edges are not even. Pour half of the egg-yogurt filling in the center of the pastry circle. Top with 1 1/2 to 2 cups pitted Rainier Cherries.

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Lift edges of parchment paper to fold pastry up and over the fruit overlapping the edges.

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Lift entire sheet of parchment paper with the uncooked galette & place on a baking sheet. Pour any remaining batter over cherries. Sprinkle with additional sugar. (I left the stems on a few of the pitted cherries just because I thought they looked pretty like that.)

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Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the custardy filling is set.

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Serve cut into wedges with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

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There is a French children’s song about galette:

J’aime la galette, savez-vous comment ? Quand elle est bien faite, avec du beurre dedans.” (“I like galette, do you know how? When it is made well, with butter inside.”)
I agree!

Southern Redux – “Greens & Corn Bread”

 “Greens & Cornbread”

My summer garden was not what I had anticipated…too much brutal heat, too little rain. After much garden angst I decided to just stop my incessant watering and let nature run amok. And it did….basically everything except a few tomato plants and my herbs just wilted and died. Nature did its thing and I did mine by letting it do its thing. Such is the life of gardening.

I did not let my summer garden failure stop me from having hope for my late fall-winter garden of greens. I set out plants and sprinkled seeds in late September and this week I harvested my first “greens for dinner”…two kinds of chard & kale, bok choy, collards, spinach, arugula and sorrel..bravo to the winter garden!

If there is one thing we Southerners really love it is our “Greens and Cornbread”. But many of us Southerners (me for one) have childhood memories of having a dinner plate set in front of me with a serving of dark-green-almost-black totally-cooked-beyond-recognition turnip greens or collard greens which I tried to avoid eating by hiding them under some other over-cooked vegetable equally unappetizing looking. I spent lots of my childhood hiding food I did not want to eat under other food I did not want to eat.

Now I rather relish eating a helping of over cooked greens at any of my local “meat & three” restaurants along with a slice of hot cornbread….every now and then. I also relish eating greens cooked my way with hot, buttery cornbread made my way which is what I made for dinner last night.

“Sauteed Mixed Greens with Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins”

 Gather or buy about 6 large handfuls of mixed greens. Rinse in cool water and shake dry. Roughly chop greens.

 Drizzle some good olive oil in a large heavy pan and add chopped greens. Place over medium high heat. Sprinkle 1 finely diced shallot & 1 clove minced garlic over greens. In a few minutes the greens will start to steam and wilt. Gently toss greens as they cook. Add 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a handful of golden raisins, a dash of hot pepper flakes, salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Serve hot wilted greens drizzled with a fruity vinegar such as black fig vinegar or a good balsamic and hot (Kerrygold) buttered cornbread.

“A Simple Cornbread to Enjoy with Greens”

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in an iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet and put it in the oven as you heat it to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together 10 ozs. of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Cornbread Mix, 2 eggs & 1 cup of warm water. The first time I used this cornbread mix I was skeptical, but to my surprise it was very delicious and everyone who has eaten it has no idea it is gluten-free!  The texture is very dense, the flavor not sweet, but buttery. I ignore the directions on the back of the package and just add eggs & water. One of my favorite cornbreads was a “hot water cornbread” my Mother used to make. This is similar. A great find.

Remove hot skillet from the oven and scrape the cornbread batter into the skillet. Put back into oven and bake for about 30 minutes until cornbread is cooked throughout and light golden brown. Serve cornbread slices with a slathering of softened Kerrygold butter alongside a plate of Greens.

So…for you greens and cornbread skeptics, you non-Southerners who think you do not like this traditional  Southern fare, you Southerners who have never eaten greens still a bit crunchy with just the right wilted-ness combined…I ask that you try this simple little set of recipes and let me change your mind.

Bon Appetit Y’all

“A Little Gallery of Greens”

A little bouquet of greens.
Golden Chard
Red Chard
Kale
Bok Choy
Sorrel

A Smashing Pumpkin & Pear Pangrattato

I adore the taste of pumpkin in all it’s transformations into pies, breads, roasted, toasted & baked. Pumpkins conjure up images of bonfires & baking, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” & a lifetime of Jack O’Lanterns.

Sunday morning at the Nashville Downtown Farmer’s Market I found myself in the midst of thousands of pumpkins, winter squash & gourds of every color tone, size & shape…from perfectly perfect to the fantastically gnarly…spread out & piled high, all beautiful. I purchased what is marketed as a “pie pumpkin”, about 2 lbs, for $1.00.

 I went to my current favorite cookbook , “Tender/Vol 1” by Nigel Slater (4th Estate London, publisher), which is full of some of the best, most accessible recipes & cozy meanderings throughout his garden life. The photos are so yummy and real. I found a very simple, intriguing recipe entitled “A pumpkin pangrattato with rosemary and orange”.

Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs

My version of this recipe comes with a few changes due to using what I had on hand which did not include parsley and did include a couple of fresh pears picked from my neighbors tree which is still heavy with fruit. Pumpkin, crispy pears, breadcrumbs..a very nice trio.

“A Smashing Pumpkin Pangrattato”

(very much based on Nigel Slater’s version with a few changes & additions)

For this version you will need the following:

2 lb pumpkin

3 cloves garlic

1/4 to 1/3 cup good olive oil

a finger size mild red chili

1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves

the zest of half an orange

1  cup roughly chopped arugula leaves

3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (I used a gluten-free sandwich bread)

Kerrygold butter (or any very good butter)

Directions:

1. Using a sharp knife cut pumpkin in half, clean out seeds & membrane. Cut pumpkin into bite size chunks and cut away the peel.

2. Place chunks of pumpkin in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam for about 10 minutes or just until pumpkin is slightly softened. Meanwhile…..

3. Prep other ingredients..mince garlic, thinly slice red chili, finely chop rosemary….

……peel & chop 2 hard crispy pears into bite-size chunks, roughly chop arugula, zest half an orange & toss bread into the food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.

4. Pour half of the olive oil into a large heavy skillet & turn heat to medium. Add garlic & chili to skillet & cook for a few minutes until garlic just begins to turn golden.

5. Check steaming pumpkin with a knife. When it is barely softened remove from heat. Set aside.

6. Into skillet with garlic & chili add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, chopped arugula & bread crumbs.

7. The goal here to create the perfect “pangrattato/breadcrumbs” is to turn the soft breadcrumbs into beautiful golden brown crispy breadcrumbs without burning them. So leave on medium heat stirring often until ingredients are browned & crispy throughout. This might take about 10 minutes.Remove from heat

8.  To assemble & bake turn the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a casserole dish & add in steamed pumpkin. Scatter chopped pear over the pumpkin.

9. Lastly scatter top of pumpkin-pears with a few pieces of Kerrygold butter. Sprinkle pangrattato/breadcrumbs over top evenly. Drizzle with a bit more of the olive oil & bake for about 30-40 minutes. Top will be very golden brown & the pumpkin & pears will be softened but still holding their shape.

10. This dish can be eaten as a main course or side dish, but for our dinner I cooked up some Quinoa pasta & tossed it with a few tablespoons of olive oil &  black pepper & salt. The serving of pasta was then topped with Pumpkin Pangrattato, a few shreds of freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano along side a glass of slightly chilled Pinot Noir which was one perfect Sunday dinner for a warm October evening in Nashville.

Some Music for October evenings:

“October” (Song & Album, U2) Universal Island Records 2008

“Red Hot Chili Peppers Snow ((Hey OH))”  Warner Bros 2006

“Farm Fresh Onions” (song & album, Robert Earl Keen) 2003 Koch Records

“October Song” (Song/Album”Frank”, Amy Winehouse)

“1979” (Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits) 2001

“Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme” (Album Simon & Garfunkel)1966

A Little Gallery

 

 

boo!

“A Late August Four-Letter “F” Word To Savor!”

My favorite four letter “f” word in late August is “Figs”. Finally we have some figs to play with. I have been watching the trees in the neighborhood, snooping around the farmer’s markets, just waiting, thinking on simple recipes using tree ripened figs.

“Brown Turkey Figs”

Sitting with a group of food friends the other day we started talking about foods we really were not aware of when we were younger, foods that we now know and love. For most of us Southerners it seems fresh figs just didn’t make it onto our radars until adulthood. I am not sure why. Fig trees thrive around here so it seems that figs would have been a summer staple just like peaches & late summer pears. I think I will do a bit of research to figure out why I never ate fresh figs as a child. As an adult I relish the arrival of this little, lush four-letter word.

“Fresh Figs-Pine Nuts Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake” 

 The corn meal gives it a bit of a crunch as do the pine nuts. The caramelized fig topping drizzled with maple syrup is luscious.

Ingredients: 5 to 6 fresh figs, 2 to 3 cups self-rising white or yellow cornmeal (I used gluten-free); 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1 stick good butter (Kerry gold of course!); 1 cup brown sugar; (divided into two 1/2 cups; 1/4 cups toasted pine nuts; 2 eggs; milk; real maple syrup

Directions:  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet, preferably, over medium high heat. Add in 1/2 cup brown sugar stirring until melted.

2. Wash & dry figs. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down in skillet in a circular pattern. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts over figs. Turn heat to low allowing the figs to caramelize somewhat for about 5-8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients..cornmeal, second 1/2 cup brown sugar & cardamom. Add eggs & enough milk to make a batter.

                                                                   

4. Pour/scrape batter into the hot skillet with the figs on top of the stove. Transfer skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cake is golden brown and set in the middle. Remove skillet from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes.

5. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and “flip” plate & skillet upside-down. Scrape any caramel left in the pan over the top of the cake. While cake is still hot drizzle generously with real maple syrup. Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve slices with additional maple syrup on side if desired.


Bonus Recipe: “Figgy Pancakes”

Ingredients: Same as for the cake recipe with a few extra figs quartered.

It was morning when I was baking the cake and had a bit of batter left over after filling the skillet. While the cake was baking I whipped up some pancakes for breakfast!

Directions: 1. Heat some butter in a small non-stick pan or griddle over high heat. Add a few quartered figs.

2. Pour in batter. When batter is set on bottom and bubbly on top flip pancake and  finish cooking til golden brown.

        

3. Serve immediately with real maple syrup. This was one good pancake recipe!

EXTRA, EXTRA BONUS RECIPE…SEE BELOW…THE EASIEST MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT FRESH FIGS…….DON’T MISS THIS ONE!

“Sea Salt & Raw Sugar Dipped Figs”

Take some wonderful fresh figs. Cut them into quarters. Sprinkle some great sea salt & raw sugar on a saucer. Dip cut edges of figs in salt-sugar mixture and eat.

A sublime treat.

Doesn’t the word “fig” conjure up an image of Adam romping around in the Garden of Eden wearing a fig leaf?

I wondered what figs would be like after they were frozen?

 FYI. Mushy, but aren’t they pretty frozen?

Some “f” word music I like. A little bit different, fun and peppy to help you get figgy.

Album, “The Figs”,  The Figs, 2007 Valcour Records

Album, “What Keeps Me Up At Night”, The Figs 2008

Songs, “Jumbo” & “The Long Goodbye”, Marseille Figs, 2009 Figs of London

Eat good stuff.