Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

If you're in my area and receiving TEFAP, you've been getting a lot of dried figs.

Yeah, figs. Dried ones.

Did you know that figs are from the ficus plant? I didn't. Although the variety of ficus in the pot in the corner probably won't produce figs, since there's 800-ish species of ficus. And apparently figs come in two sexes, hermaphrodite, which are inedible, and female.

That's already more than I ever wanted to know about figs. Moving on....

Like I've said before, I refuse to waste any of the goods I get from assistance. So now that I've got four one-pound bags of dried figs in my pantry, it's time to figure out what to do with them.

Unlike raisins or dried cranberries, Kiddo doesn't care for these as a snack, blocking the easy road. Joy of Cooking (mine's the 2nd edition) has several uses for fresh figs, but not for dried ones, and they're like a lot of dried fruit, they don't substitute for fresh (prunes, for example, just don't sub well for plums!). Even the Mock Fig Newton recipe I found wants fresh. I've never even seen a fresh fig.

What's a Mom to do? Look out internet, I'm onna mission!

I've been going through hundreds of fig recipes. At least it feels like hundreds! Quite a few got rejected based on the "nothing I don't keep on hand" rule, and more because they use fresh figs, not dried. I haven't made these yet, but they got printed out to try. We'll see what makes it into my permanent recipe book (also known as That Ugly Green Binder In The Cupboard).

Fig Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar,firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand held electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, grated lemon peel, and vanilla; beat well. Into a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture.

Stir in chopped figs and the chopped nuts, if using. Pour into greased 13X9X2-inch baking pan. Bake fig bars at 350° for 25 minutes. Cool; cut into bars. Makes 24 to 32 fig bars.

Figgy Pudding

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
2 cups dried figs (about 1 pound), stems removed, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Whipped cream

In an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the eggs and molasses and beat again. Add the figs, lemon peel, buttermilk, and walnuts and blend 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until everything is incorporated. Grease and flour and 8 by 4-inch souffle dish and pour in the batter. Bake in a 325-degree F. oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Spoon the pudding out onto plates or cut it into wedges. Garnish with the whipped cream.

Yield: 12 servings

Honorable Mentions:

An Honorable Mention goes to this Mix-n-Match Quick Bread recipe; while it's not specificly for dried figs, it's an improvement over the one I make my Christmas Breads from and went right into The Binder.

Another Honorable Mention goes to this Figgy Pudding recipe. Traditional Christmas Puddings, like Plum Pudding and Figgy Pudding, are steamed. I find steamed pudding kind of a pain, and don't have the right pots for it anyway. But if you ever wanted "real" Figgy Pudding, there ya go!

Strange things found on the 'net:

While researching figs I ran across this site, and it's just too odd to not pass on. Apparently, God Hates Figs. Huh. Who woulda knowed?

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