Tag Archive: Figs

  1. Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread


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    Here we are, home in the woods.

    There’s nearly a foot of snow on the ground as I write this and the sky doesn’t look like it’s fixing to quit time soon. Erin Brockovich, my favorite movie of all time is playing and I’m perched on the windowsill by the fireplace waiting for a certain Elk that I know lingers around the house to make an appearance.

    Loveliness and prettification has NEVER been my schtick, and I hate that the summary of my morning sounds like an Eddie Bauer catalog or one of those instagram accounts that are all leather goods and falling leaves –– BUT life out here does feel good. For all the confused looks we got for making this leap, there is nothing I’ve felt so sure about, next to marrying Shaun. We definitely didn’t know how life would change when we waved goodbye to the city, but we knew it would, and that it would for the better. They say “wherever you go, there you are,” which is true. We brought our same soggy hearts and issues and questions up the canyon with us, but… yeah… and HERE we are, choosing the front row to our own lives and experiences, away from that which no longer serves. I think the “there” can hold more water than we care to admit. But I’m biased. The mountains are my church. It’s impossible to not step outside, breathe deep, and get hit with this rush of perspective. For the first time in a very long time, I think I recognize the sound of my heartbeat again.

    There’s this pull-apart bread I’ve been sitting on a while, though. I made it a month ago, the last shoot in the old place. I was feeling that sort of manic-compulsive desire to bake and make a wholly sticky mess of a half-packed kitchen (pro tip: wine bottles make A+ rolling pins). I’m the kind of person who turns to baking when things feel totally psychedelic and out of control. Unlike throwing together something grainy, herby, green-ish, crunchy, tangy in a bowl and calling it a masterpiece, baking requires a high degree of rule-following that tends to turn me off on most days (in the kitchen, and in life). But I appreciate the precision. The requisite patience. The attention to detail. I crave it when everything else in the world feels topsy turvy. I promise the pay-off is big on this one, guys.

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    Fig + Anise Pull-Apart Bread 

    For the dough (slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman): 

    • 2 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup butter 
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
    • 4 cups AP flour
    • 1/2 cup (additional) AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    • dash of salt 



    • 2 cups dried mission figs, soaked + softened
    • 2 Tbsp ground anise seed
    • 10 Tbsp butter, melted
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 2 tsp cinnamon


    Fig & Anise Pull-Apart Bread | Happyolks.com

    Preheat oven to 350’ F.

    Start with the dough. Combine milk and butter in a small sauce pan. Heat until just beginning to steam. Turn off and remove from heat. Stir in yeast and 1/2 cup sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. In a stand mixer with a bread hook or in a large bowl with wooden spoon, stir together liquid with 4 cups of flour. Wait an hour for the dough to rise, then add 1/2 cup additional flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    Place figs in a bowl of warm water to soften for 20 minutes. Strain, dry, and place in the basin of a food processor or a immersion blender. Add anise, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Blend until a sticky paste forms. Add more butter or a bit of milk to thin if necessary. Set aside.

    On a floured surface, roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4” thick. Spread fig/anise paste evenly until it covers all of the dough. WARNING: the next phase is extremely messy. It’s unavoidable. Just have fun with it. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 strips, then stack all the strips into one stack. Cut the stack of strips into 6 slices. Place the stacks sideways into a buttered bread pan. If you’re me, you will probably feel the need to shove things in the holes… Dee recommends against this, but hey… it doesn’t always have to be pretty to taste good.

    Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes and then check to make sure the top is not browning. Test the center… are things still gooey in there? Cover with tin foil and continue to bake for 10, 15, 20 minutes.

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  2. Caramelized Fig Ice Cream


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    Dear friend,

    Many years ago I was on a flight from Boston to Dallas after the funeral. My heart was swollen with grief, my head pounded with rage and questions about loss. Sick and lonely, I sat in an aisle near the front of the plane and stared blankly at two stewardesses gossiping and locking, unlocking, locking cabinets in preparation for takeoff. A little girl lept, literally, across the threshold of the plane behind them. We made eye contact and I smiled at her. She was four years old, maybe five, I never can tell the ages of children. Turning back to her mom, then back to me, she bounded toward the corner of my seat and placed her tiny hands on my crossed knees and shouted “You are the most beautiful princess I have EVER SEEEEEEENNNN!!!” I began sobbing, instantly. I don’t remember anyone looking at me, the hot, soggy mess that I was. I don’t remember being embarrassed. I only remember feeling more peace, anguish, and assurance than I had ever previously known, or have perhaps known since.

    I share this with you, friend, because I know that little girl is looking for you right now. She is bounding down the aisles of your life to tell you, remind you, that despite your brokenness, you are a bright shining light in this world. You are worthy of joy and happiness. Despite your mistakes and wrong turns, you deserve the sun and the moon and all of the stars. The pain you feel, the questions that keep you up at night, the sadness you harbor, the wounds you hide for friends and colleagues — all of this, all of these things, will make sense one day. Not today. And that’s totally fine. It’s okay that things are not okay.

    If you lived here, I would hope to find you sitting on my front porch tomorrow evening as I returned from errands. I would hold you. I would hold you so tight. Then I would make you a grilled cheese sandwich and we might drink the good wine straight from the bottle and I would tell you about the little girl and the plane and how wonderfully fucked up and outrageously mind-blowing the Universe seemed in that moment. Because that’s what there is, you know. Madness and wonder. Joy and agony. Fear and freedom. All at once, all the time.

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    Remember that night in Beijing after we had that god-awful duck and saw a show at the Peking Opera house and it was so cold in the theater that we could barely feel our toes? We found a bathroom in a bar down the street at intermission and the insides of the stalls were completely covered in mirrors. Everywhere. Head to toe mirrors in front of us behind us, above us. We laughed hysterically and you asked me from the stall next door, “have I been drugged?!!” I sat with my pants at my ankles and laughed, “well, if you’ve been drugged, so have I.”

    We were in China. Sick and stuffed with duck and happiness. We were also in China, having no idea, really, where we were, and had found ourselves in a bathroom where it was impossible to NOT look at our tired, pale, puffy-faced, half-naked selves and wonder about the meaning of life. I remember blowing steam on the wall to my right and watching my reflection become hazy. I closed my eyes and prayed that we’d never forget who we were and how we felt in that moment. The magic. The hysteria. The total confrontation of self in the most bizarre and unknown circumstances. There was this feeling that the situation reflected upon how perfect and awkward and hilarious and terrifying the best and worst moments always are.

    I mean this in all seriousness. For you and me, girl, there will be times in our lives that will somehow all boil down to one vulnerable minute, sitting on the John, and really seeing ourselves… seeing ourselves, and coming to terms with what’s looking back. I think you’re upon one of those times. What do you see?

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    Dear friend, I want you to know that you are the most beautiful princess I have ever seen. Your losses, regrets, sins, and secrets. Your exstacies, braveries, dreams, and triumphs. All of it, a masterpiece. Every last bit.

    Breathe in, breathe out. Dig deep. I love you.

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    Caramelized Fig Ice Cream with Mascarpone and Honey Pecans

    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup mascarpone
    • 1/3 granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp pink salt
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 lb Black Mission Figs
    • 1 lemon, juiced
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2-4 tbsp water
    • 1 cup honey roasted pecans, roughly chopped


    For the fig-swirl: Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Halve all of the figs and toss in the saucepan with water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you have a chunky-jammy mixture. Add salt with one or two stirs, set aside and let cool completely.

    Ice cream: In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk, and granulated sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and the milk is just barely lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolks. Set mixture in the fridge and wait until the fig mixture is cooled.

    Using an ice cream machine, pour liquids into the frozen basin and process according to manufacturer instructions, i.e., let spin and thicken for 20 minutes before adding mascarpone, fig jam mixture, and the nuts. Continue to process for +/- 10 minutes. Pour semi-frozen mixture into a pyrex dish or glass tupperware. Freeze for at least two hours before serving.

    No ice cream maker? The Kitchn can help with that.

    Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

  3. Full


    We’re scraping together some semblances of rhythm and routine around these parts. Week to week, there is almost nothing that resembles our old life in San Diego let alone the day we cut a check for the new lease. I just rolled the dice in June and haven’t stopped throwing them up to the sky since. There have been a few Sunday mornings reading the Times, cutting out articles that inspire over a hearty breakfast and a few cups of coffee, but haven’t exactly found that same sort of grounding consistency of days past that puts our souls at ease. No complaints, none at all. Just an observation. All summer long we’ve bounced around the country and this new place rounding up jobs and memories. Not busy, just full. I might be maxing out on stimulation here, the months of activity and new-ness since our move is starting to catch up with me I think. I feel it in my knees. I see it under my eyes. I anticipate (I hope) that when Autumn arrives at the end of the month we will have found or created some balance for our weeks.

    There was time for a bit of cake this weekend. Oh, and a glacier. That was nice.

    And so were your comments from the last post. Boy, just floating on all that love and good energy. Thanks guys.

    Almond Bundt

    • 2 cups Gluten Free or AP Flour
    • 1 cup Almond Meal
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • pinch of salt
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups sucunat sugar
    • 1 cup melted, lukewarm coconut oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract
    • 1 cup canned light coconut milk
    • 2 baskets green figs


    • 2 cups cream cheese
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • juice of 2-3 lemons

    dairy free option 

    • 2 cups soaked cashews
    • 1/2 + cup coconut milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 drop almond extract
    • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup or Grade B maple syrup
    • juice of one lemon

    Preheat oven to 350′ F. In a medium bowl combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, a salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat 6 eggs until just broken up. Add sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk one item at a time, mixing lightly between each addition, until combined. Fold in flour mixture to liquid one cup at a time, stirring lightly until just blended. Grease bundt pan with coconut oil or butter, dusting with flour to coat and prevent sticking. Pour in batter slowly and distribute evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before trying to remove. TRUST.

    Cut fresh figs in quarters or halves, toss with sugar. Set aside.

    For the cream cheese frosting, beat blocks of cream cheese in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. As it begins to smooth out, add powdered sugar (I make my own in my blender using turbinado sugar), vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat together. Taste. Does it need more lemon? More sugar? Adjust to taste. If you’d like to achieve the drippy look on the bundt cake, add a bit of coconut milk or water to thin.

    Cashew frosting: use this technique, but add vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup while blending or after straining.

    Pour frosting into a piping bag, or, as I did, into a large ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner. Drizzle generously over the bundt. Top with sugared figs.

  4. Seeking


    I should start thinking up some creative responses to the question I’ve been getting lately, “what are your plans for the future?” It would be so liberating to ditch the glossy answer and say something unexpected  like “I want to be a good friend,” or “I’d like to learn to play the guitar.” Although a few years ago I would have had told you exactly what I’d be doing after I graduate, today the plans are looking a lot more fluid. And to be honest, I kinda like it.  I’m a seeker; a person who is in a constant state of inquiry and exploration of self and the world around me. My formal education will end soon but the search won’t stop when I have a fancy diploma to hang on the wall. I’ll find something good that may lead to something else that’s good, leaving myself open to new plans, places, and people. Maybe I should tell people my plans are “to keep seeking.” 

    Everyone is a seeker in his or her own way, I think. We are concerned about understanding people, place, time, experience and will exert at least some degree of effort trying to develop that understanding further. We seek truth, in many different forms – greater truth, simple truth, and other truths individual to our unique human experience. In the process, we are constantly absorbing ideas, information, and energy to process, accept, reject, or reconsider later. Seeking is both incredibly exciting and exhausting. Throughout the course of our lives, we will find ourselves confident in and frustrated with the vast amounts of input we try so hard to process.

    I’ll try and get to the point. For most seekers, the more we begin to see of the world and the more information and experiences we collect in the pursuit of truth, the more we realize just how little of a clue we have at all about what “it all” means. If this sounds cryptic, it’s not meant to be.  I guess I’m just trying to elaborate on that catchy chorus of that Michael Franti radio hit “it seems like everywhere I go / the more I see / the less I know.” We seek to seek. To learn, grow, change habits, try new things. We don’t shouldn’t seek just to find answers. There are no concrete answers. Unless you’re into math I guess. Insight comes in waves and the sets roll in larger at some points in our lives than others. The “answers” are glimmers, flashes, and wonderings that are arrive then disappear for us to find again later.

    We’re not supposed to get “it.” And this time I’m being deliberately vague. “It” is the different thing we each seek from our unique view of the world at a single moment. If there were an instructional manual to seeking, I would say this should be the first order of business to address. You won’t always understand, and that’s okay. Second order of business then is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of the things you don’t understand. This is true for all things, be they about the future, health, relationships, culture, religion, etc. It is our animal instinct to resist the things that we aren’t familiar with. Fight that. Fight it with every fiber of your being. I’m not talking about intuition. Keep that flame a’glowin’ but try hard to embrace those things you don’t understand, seek them more, for it is in these areas that we resist that we most likely still need to develop our purpose.

    Let’s keep seeking.

    Warm Green Millet Salad 

    Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Green Couscous in Plenty. (He is basically a genius)

    • 1 cup millet  (or couscous)
    • 3 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
    • 1 carton green figs
    • 4-5 cups baby arugula
    • 1 head italian parsley
    • 1 head cilantro
    • 1/4 cup tarragon
    • 1/4 cup mint
    • 1/4 + cup olive oil
    Place the millet in a saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the onion in olive oil on medium heat until golden and soft. Add the salt and cumin, mix well, and move around the onions over high heat until just browned. Set aside.

    For the “green” part of this dish, prepare the herb paste by placing all four herb greens and the olive oil into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add this to the cooked millet, and mix together well with a fork to fluff it up. Add the cooked onion, pistachios, figs, and arugula and mix until consistent. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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