Here and There

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog memory jog..

I read a great blog called I'm Mad and I Eat. It is fun and a little eccentric. The writer is clever and likes local food. This is an excerpt from today's post at

"So: Fig chutney. This is not a recipe (you know me better than that), this is just my notes.
Wash and cut figs into sixths.

Cut up some onion into little, but still identifiable, chunks.
All right. Spoon a little honey into a saucepan. I used more than a little, because to me, figs taste like honey in a shell.
Add a nice splash of wine to the honey (rosé happened to be on hand), and toss in the figs and onions. Warm it all up on low heat.
Now, start tinkering with flavors. I threw in fennel seeds, mustard seeds and black onion seeds. A little salt. A little more salt. A crack of black pepper.
More Spanish sherry vinegar than I would have thought.
Taste, tinker. Taste, tinker.Simmer, simmer, simmer.
An hour or so later, if it's to your liking (and the whole house smells divine), turn off the flame and let it cool."

This "recipe" reminded me so strongly of something I did as a young person. I was old enough to use the stove, so that seems pretty old to play pretend, but maybe kids just don't play pretend long enough anymore... We had a little playhouse in the back of our house, I played there most afternoons when I was small, scrubbing doll clothes, having company, puttering around my yard in front. The whole thing. It was world to many pretend games.

As I got older, I didn't play there anymore but I still wanted to play house, pretend like I was housekeeping, humming and simmering things. I would gather leaves, flower buds, pussywillows, seed pods, grass-whatever was pickable, putting it into my apron. (Because I always thought a little Mrs. Tiggy-winkle like me would carry things I was gathering in my apron.) Then I would put them all in a little pot in the kitchen. Just a small little saucepan with a little water and I would simmer the mixture, stirring it occasionally, pretending all the while that I was concocting some delightful herbal brew that I would serve my guest for tea, or stirring up some remedy for my ailing child.

Not that this recipe for fig chutney is so off the wall, but the approach sounds much like my leaf stews. Which didn't even smell aromatic, but rank, bitter and very green.

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