It was so cold and windy today that even with the windows closed I could still feel the wind! These are insulated windows, too. In Glendale, California, where we live, the wind sometimes whips up a storm as it comes across the valley. and then gets caught in our little bowl surrounded by Griffith Park in the west, Eaglerock in the south, the San Gabriels in the east, and the Verdugo Mountains in the north. As the wind squeezes itself out to Pasadena, it can start howling and really whirl itself into a frenzy.
That’s okay! It means that the oven can go on and have something to do. I know I’ve talked about this in the past, and I’ll say it again. I just don’t feel right lighting a heater on the wall when it does nothing but heat the room and dry out the air. At least an oven produces something for its efforts.
I wanted something a little healthy, and we have dried cranberries, organic chocolate and Blueberry Muesli from Trader Joe’s. I thought using that for cookies would a) make them better for you, and b) taste/feel similar to oatmeal cookies. I don’t like oatmeal, so I never have it on hand. I wouldn’t even have the little packets around, as those are GMO. Yes, you heard it right, Quaker Oats from General Mills are genetically modified. I think if that nice Quaker gentleman on the box knew about that he’d jump straight off the container.
Figs are amazing fruits. Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, even before wheat. Figs dated 9,200 years ago were discovered in the Jordan Valley in a house in the early Neolithic village of Gilgal I by a team of researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Harvard University.
Figs are mentioned in the Bible many times, beginning in Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 7 where Adam covers himself with a fig leaf. Jesus even curses a fig tree in Mark Chapter 11, verse 12 and Mathew Chapter 21, verse 19. I guess there was only one unfortunate fig tree, it has a bevy of other cultural and historical references. A whole chapter is devoted to it in the Qur’an. Sura 95 of the Qur’an is named al-Tīn (Arabic for “The Fig”), as it opens with the oath “By the fig and the olive.” Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree. In Greek mythology, a crow angers Apollo having been tempted by a fig. In modern times, we have wonderful Fig Newtons.
The journey to this tart was one of discovery. I had not cooked with figs before, let alone made a fig tart. My only exposure to figs was the ubiquitous Fig Newton cookie. With that in mind, I wanted something that was sweet, but not too sweet, and with a cookie type crust. I also found a French Tart Dough recipe to which I made major changes, and my Stove Top Cooked French Sweet Tart Dough turned out to be perfect for my Blue Cheese Stuffed Fig Tart with Balsamic Honey Glaze.
So, this morning, Spane was hungry, and breakfast food was in short supply. Usually, I have everything I need to make pancakes, but this time, I had left over apples from making Apple Stuffed Wontons, and I knew they would be really good in pancakes. The problem was they were a little large, and Spane didn’t want to wait. So I made two giant pancakes, one for him, and one for me. They were delicious!
I have always been crêpe challenged. Flipping a giant pancake just seemed impossible to me, so I have stuck with the dollar size variety. But, armed with the right kind of pan, a forgiving batter, and the willingness to try, I was actually able to make a pretty good-looking, although thick, crêpe.
Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.
I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.
I have a wonderful neighbor who has apple trees, and he has been giving me a lot of apples. After having made Franks with Apples, I was at a loss at what to do with those apples. He has given me a lot. I thought of making Apple Brown Betty, but it has been so hot lately the idea of having my oven on for an hour was just abhorrent. Applesauce could have been an idea, but I wanted something unique and thought-provoking. Whilst looking at some of my other recipes, I got inspiration from my Apple Cranberry Raisin Puff Pastries. Then I remembered that I had purchased some wonton skins on sale at the market, and I decided to stuff those with the apples.
I have never liked pie with ice cream, but pairing the apple stuffed wontons with spicy ice cream sounded like a plan. I like to buy vanilla ice cream, and then add my stuff to it. Yes, someday I will get an ice cream attachment for my Kitchenaid, but not today.
This year, like last year, I’m going to my friend’s for Thanksgiving, and like last year, I’m bringing something. It’s also my son, Spane’s birthday today, November 21, 2012, and he has requested Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting I made for his 7th birthday party. Since his birthday this year is the day before Thanksgiving, he is going to have his birthday party in December – so watch for recipes!
I have talked about going to my Grandmother’s house and wonderful turkey that came out of her Nesco Roaster. My Grandmother always had the best dressing on her table, that my Aunt Flora made every year. It was Oyster Cornbread Dressing, and it is my favorite dressing to prepare.
But, we always had canned cranberry sauce, that I really never liked. I have been making cranberry sauce for years, but today I found a new recipe that I’m going to make this year. It’s from Chef Bryan Voltaggio.