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Today has been equally grey around here.
I’m going through paperwork listening to Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know” drinking a cup of tea and nibbling on a dry fig.

I always loved figs.
We had a big fig tree in the garden at the vacation house. Every August, around the time of my birthday the first figs would ripe. They would grow considerably in size their bright green skin slowly turning pale green and their firmness would give way to a certain softness.
Some of them would have honey dripping from them sparkling like gold under the midday summer sun..
You had to look carefully between the leaves and the branches to locate the figs that were ripe enough as not all the fruit would ripe at the same time.
Once located, the “target” fig would be plucked from the tree by gently grabbing it and twisting it around until the stem would release the fig from the branch.
If milk would come out of the stem then you knew the fig wasnt ripe enough. If not you knew, a delicious sweet fig was yours!

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This year, I introduced mister to the fig hunting routine. During our stay at the tiny village of Greece where the vacation house is, I taught him everything I know. And in return, mister offered his help, fig hunting and then sorting,drying out and preparing the surplus of figs gathered.

In the area, almost every household hunts for figs during August.
Wearing a big hat, holding a basket and a metal stick ending on a hook, called the fig hunting tool, men, women and children would wander around the forest edges and hunt for figs.

My grandmother used to say that the best figs to dry out are the ones that fall from the tree by themselves. They are sweet and already a bit dry and thus perfect for preserving them for the winter. Never the less, any fig can be dried and preserved as long as it is ripe enough to be eaten.

Once collected the figs have to be sliced in half and left open with the seeds exposed to the summer sun on a basket. The air needs to be able to circulate during the drying stage so if a basket is not available one could use chicken wire elevated on a wooden frame.

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After a few days, the figs have to be turned over so that their skin gets golden and dry on the outside as well. Once the figs are completely dried out, a “sterilising” process has to take place to ensure the figs wont get worms but will stay nice all winter long.
Traditionally, this is done by a boiling bath. Nowadays one can opt for freezing them for 10 days.

After that, the figs are ready to be stored and enjoyed for as long as 5 years!:)

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Did you know?
In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and tempted by the fruit sits under the thick shadow of the fig tree, waiting for the figs to ripe.. He knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow’s lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corvus.

And now that you know the story behind the Hydra, Crater and Corvus constellation, here is a handy link that shows you a glimse of the sky and helps you learn to identify the above mentioned groups of stars.
http://www.davidmalin.com/fujii/source/Crt.html

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I remember first seeing zucchini blossoms as a child.

They were large and brightly colored orange and I somehow knew they were drinking cups for little summer fairies, used by them to drink the morning dew.

My grandmother would cook them in the oven after stuffing with rice and serve them for a light summery lunch with a tomato salad.
When we had guests over she would stuff them with feta cheese and herbs and coated by a mix of flour. Then she would throw them in a hot olive oil pan and make them golden.

Walking in the garden of the vacation house this morning, I couldnt help notice the zucchini plant blooming..
I had been obsessing over cooking some zucchini blossoms for a couple of years but somehow i was never at the house at the right time of the season so you must understand how excited and surprised I was.

Its important to pick the flowers up in the morning, before the sun comes up. Otherwise they will close.

There are 2 types of flowers. Male and Female ones… The male flowers grow from the stem of the plant, while the female flowers grow on the end of each emergent zucchini.

(female flower collected at the wrong moment…see how the petals are closing?)

(male flowers collected at dawn)

After collecting the flowers, you must remove the pistils and stamens as they taste very very bitter.
Wash them delicately and prepare the stuffing.

For the feta one, I combine feta, fresh mint and parsley, egg yolks and occasionally a drop of honey.
For the rice ones, I make a mixture of rice, zucchini, peterselie, onion and garlic.
There are a lot of different recipes out there and I would encourage you to experiment with them trying to create your flavor. You can easily add an ingredient or remove one from any of the above suggestions.


Tip:
You can keep the stem of the male flowers while they cook. Its very handy as you can hold the flower from the stem and prevent damaging the delicate petals.