Autumn is my clandestine lover.
It’s true that summer is the reliable, constant, and deeply warming season that I look forward to most in the darkness of winter. But fall is full of secrets, it is mysterious and unpredictable, making those last dreamy-hot days with the long amber light so achingly beautiful and met with the utmost gratitude.
And then there’s the harvest. I find autumn food the most appealing and most healing, as the fruits and vegetables that have been growing for so long have built up an incredible amount of life force having spent months and months connected to the earth, the source of their nutrition and energy. There is a great power in these foods and when prepared in ways that compliment their own life processes (re: sloooooooowwwww), and I find that echoing this slowness enhances their flavour and digestibility.
This brilliant recipe comes from the book The Savory Way by Deborah Madison who opened the vegetarian restaurant Greens in San Francisco. Her recipes are innovative and sophisticated, yet still accessible. I was totally enamored with the unique combinations of familiar ingredients and flavours, and it seems like she has a real knack for reinventing vegetarian classics.
This fig jam for example, imparted with rich, autumnal aromas is a study in seduction. The lusciousness of sun-ripened figs, cooked down slowly with honey, woody thyme, and fragrant lavender is enough to entrance me, but throw in those freshly cracked walnuts and I am on my knees. The deep aromatic flavours of each individual ingredient somehow manage to compliment one another in a divine, perfume love potion that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Whew. Is it getting hot in here?
Not Just a Pretty Face
In my opinion, figs are some of the most sensual fruits on the planet, and anything that sexy must be good for you.
As it turns out, they are a good source of potassium among other things.
Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, “the frequency and degree to which our muscles contract, and the degree to which our nerves become excitable, both depend heavily on the presence of potassium in the right amount.” Interesting.
So far this spread has been making a regular appearance on some very lucky toast with goat cheese and a slight drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. I can imagine however, that served warm over roasted root vegetables, squash, or on the side of a Brussels sprouts dish would be heaven. And ice cream drenched in the stuff is an obvious choice for those that subscribe to total indulgence.
I highly recommend you make this. It’s self-love.
Autumn Fig Jam with Lavender, Thyme, and Walnuts
2 pounds figs (about 3 baskets)
4 thyme branches
1 tsp. dried lavender, plucked from stem
pinch of sea salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup shelled walnuts, chopped
1. Remove hard stems from figs, rinse off dust, and then chop them into small pieces, leaving the skins on.
2. Place figs in a heavy non-corroding saucepan with the thyme, lavender blossoms, sea salt, and honey. Gradually heat; then simmer until the jam is thickened, well flavoured, and the pieces are broken down (cook time will depend greatly on the water content of your figs).
3. Stir in walnuts and cook another 5 minutes.
4. Pour jam into sterilized jar and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or process according to whatever canning method you’re using.