Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back South

What a crazy two weeks!

I can only say that it's been so wonderful to be in such a familiar place with so many familiar faces.  The names of faces elude me almost daily, but oh the faces!  Besides, who doesn't love a good awkward interaction from time to time, meaning every day.

When we first moved from Georgia to Philadelphia, it took about a year or so for me to adjust to the differences in culture and life.  I knew that moving back to Georgia from Philly would be easy, but there has also been a degree of adjusting that I've had to/still have to do.  For example, in Philly,  I am one in 5 million.  A stranger to a vast many.  You don't just bump into people you know in Philly.  Oh it happens/has happened and it's a crazy occurrence when it does.  But in GA, I have a constant awareness of familiarity.  You can expect to see people you know at the grocery store, the Chattanooga Market (which is an AMAZING place!), the bank, restaurants, random outings, etc.   If I don't know them, they know me via family/friend ties.  Quoting the sweet lady at the bank, "It's a full circle here".

Another example....I drive EVERYWHERE!  It's not just a quick 1 minute drive versus a 10 minute walk to the bank, it's a 15 minute drive and walking isn't even an option.  Gas is cheaper, but the frequency and duration of my driving is exponentially greater than it was in Philly.  I don't mind driving, but I do miss the lifestyle of not having to drive everywhere and having the option of biking or walking (though I usually didn't bike, but could have if I wanted).

I could really keep going, but that not's all this post is about.  All I'm trying to say is that moving is an adjustment.  Oh, and I am dying not having some kind of structure/routine in my days.  I am extremely satisfied by "checking off" my to-do lists and doing things.  I don't like/loathe sitting around trying to think of things to do to fill  my time.  (Dustin, I MISS YOU, come home!!!!!! 9 more days!)

Okay, moving on to the fun stuff/things I'm filling my time with.

1.  Blueberry Picking!!!
We picked a gallon. 
I went with my Mamaw on Monday to a blueberry farm out in Lafayette.   There are rows and rows and rows of blueberry bushes filling this property.  Basically, all you do is "park and pick".   In other words, you pull up in your car, get out, grab a bucket, and start picking those bushes like it's your job.  You pay for what you pick, at $8 per gallon.  Yep.  That's a good deal.  It is the end of blueberry season, so the picking was slim (we accumulated exactly one gallon).  However, there were a lot of unripe berries that needed a little more time.  So, if you're in the area, you might give it a go this weekend.  And go early.  It's nice and cool in the morning and the sun gets hot and the glare makes it a little more difficult to see the berries.

Road side produce.  We had to stop!


I've washed and dried them and they're in the freezer.  I don't have a project/recipe planned for them yet, just yogurt topping and smoothie additions!

2.  Fig Picking!

I don't like figs.  No, I've never tried one.  But I don't think that you have to taste something to decide that you don't like it.  Figs, for example, look mushy when they are used/cooked in things.  I have a big issue with mushy fruit, or vegetables for that matter.  And the insides of a fig look like the teeth of a meat eating plant. I'm just not interested eating them.  Plus, I never really liked Fig Newtons as a kid.  Too many little seeds. (I do like fig infused/scented/flavored things. So what. I can if I want to, right?)

P.S.   Figs EAT wasps.   Don't believe me, click here?  They have a symbiotic relationship.  Mother Nature intended it to be this way.  Gross!  I can't believe YOU eat wasps...I mean figs!

Now that you've been introduced to one of my many quirks and a strange piece of scientific data, I will counter that by telling you that my dislike for something can be balanced out by the usefulness of the particular thing that I dislike.  I also have an intense need to not waste anything.  I blame this mostly on my stepfather for making me eat all of the green beans on my plate as a child.

Case in point, my mom's neighbors have  fig tree.  It's not a small fig tree, it's a massive, old, almost as tall as a telephone pole, fig tree.  Part of that tree extends into my mom and stepdad's yard.  They get to pick those figs.  Stepdad calls.  Tells me there is an abundance of figs that need to be picked, and soon.  I hate figs.  I spend the rest of that day googling/pinteresting projects/recipes using figs.  I still don't like figs, but this is fun.  The next day, my mom and I scour their part of the tree for figs.  We collect about a gallon - most were way too ripe or not ripe enough - but a gallon is pretty good for 30 minutes of work.

Here's what I made.

1.  Fig Infused Whiskey with Chattanooga Whiskey (the white label)
Easiest thing you'll ever do.

2. Fig and Vanilla Infused Vodka with Tito's Handmade Vodka
Second easiest thing you'll ever do.

P.S.  I know, I'm pregnant.  I'm not drinking this stuff, though I bet it's gonna be killer.  I'm thinking if it's successful, these will be potential gifts for friends/family that like this kind of thing.  The only question is, how can I sneak this stuff across the PA border??

3.  Honey Roasted Fig Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
This is where I will tell you that I licked the spoon upon completion and it is one of the best homemade ice creams I've EVER had!  It's in the freezer at the moment, firming up before consumption later.
Roasting figs...covered in Bolt's Stinging Good Honey and brown sugar.  Yum.

Our ice cream maker.  It gets the job done.

The vanilla bean ice cream base.  Creamy.  Smooth.  Silky.  Perfect on it's own.

The roasted figs, pureed and added to the ice cream.

The end result.  Tasty.

4. Fig Newtons with Fresh Figs (not dried)
The majority of the figs we picked are going into this dish.  Mom and I didn't get to it last night because you needed to chill the dough for 2-3 hours and we were ready for bed.

I have few more things on the docket for the next round of figs:

- Apple Fig Fruit Leather  (think Fruit Roll Ups, au naturale)
- Fig Honey/Syrup (there's a version online for a "no added sugar" kind.  It requires a lot of figs, but hey, if they're abundant, they've got to be used up somehow).
- Fig Preserves (ew!)
- Fig Jam (maybe with a hint of ginger)
- Fig Tart
- and more Homemade Fig Ice Cream!

courtesy of Greg Slick Photography

Figs sure are pretty, aren't they?

Keep Posted!

the rave

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