Roasted Figs with Honey, Cointreau and Mint {and Contemplation}

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I’ve been contemplative today. Unsettled and ruminative; mostly about life itself, the short time that we grace the planet, the responsibility that comes with a time-limited existence. It’s mostly due to reading this blog post from Matt Treadwell yesterday, alongside this article in The West Australian.

Life is short. We are born, we breathe, we leave our tread on temperamental sand. Then, in a moment, we’re extinguished. Our flesh dissolves, leaving nothing but dust and scattered memories.

Those memories should mean something. Not necessarily on a global scale, through acclaim or notoriety; but rather, by leaving our homes in a better condition than when we arrived. By ‘home’, I’m referring to more than our personal structures of wood our brick; I mean our neighbourhoods, the earth and its people.

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First and foremost, I want to invest my life into those I love, the people who swell my heart when I wake in the morning. I want to feed my family, to turn the soil, to provide nourishment, love and generosity. Secondly, I want to give to those less fortunate than myself. That principle is embedded in my faith and in my heart, and I’ve felt an increasing urgency towards demonstration.

Complacency is the enemy of effectiveness. Oblivion breeds ignorance. We should encourage neither.

I should probably apologise as so far, this post has become both bleak and multi-faceted. In an attempt to confine my thoughts, I’m choosing just one issue for the rest of this post: nourishment, growth and tending the earth we walk upon.

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I feel blessed to be part of a community of bloggers who often share similar thoughts to my own, so apologies if I’m preaching to the converted. But I’d like to take a moment to talk about unsprayed, natural, organic food that’s sold from earth-stained hands, not the supermarket duopoly. Perishable, imperfect, seasonal food that both nourishes and protects our bodies. The way nature intended.

If or when we have children, I’d like them to know how to grow their own food, how to nourish the earth and live lightly on this fragile planet. I want them to eat oranges in winter, broad beans in spring and squash in the summer heat. Supermarkets have led to general ignorance about seasonal food, mostly as importation of produce and cold preservation leads to year-round availability.

Convenient? Yes. Natural? Hell no.

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Now, I’m not knocking those of you who shop at supermarkets occasionally, particularly for dry goods or other products that aren’t available at the markets. I do the same myself; I give in to convenience or necessity. However, for both health reasons and ‘green reasons’, I do feel that it’s our responsibility to support those who are trying to make an imprint on the earth through growing natural, unsprayed and organic produce for wider sale. It’s better for the ecosystem, for the next generation and most of all, for our bodies.

Two years ago, I discovered a wonderful blog called Whole Larder Love. It’s written by a ‘grubby bush kid’ named Rohan Anderson who cooks, harvests, fishes and hunts his own fresh produce in country Victoria, Australia. Rohan has since gone on to write a book whilst also starting up a small business, supplying fresh, organic fruit and vegetable boxes to hungry folks in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs.

Last week, Rohan wrote this blog post calling for help to sustain his business. Due to insufficient orders, he’s currently operating below costs. For reasons of disclosure, I don’t know Rohan and I have no personal investment in his business. I’m writing purely in support of one guy who is trying to make a difference, to support his family and the next generation. If you live in Melbourne or surrounding areas, I’d encourage you to read this blog post and take a look at his shop.

For those who live over the west side, I’ve compiled a list of equivalents in our local area who provide good, local, organic, natural food.

Market:

Box deliveries:

Or even better, if you have the space, grow your own.

Now, after that huge rant, here’s a recipe using one of my absolute favourite fruits of the season: fresh figs, which are presently being harvested in fragrant abundance. Over the past week, my beautiful colleague Belinda brought in two bags of these beauties for me, handpicked from her neighbour’s tree. We ate them, warm from the oven with homemade pistachio ice cream, crumbled shortbread and sighs of sweet content.

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Roasted Figs with Honey, Cointreau and Mint

Serves 4-8

  • 8 large fresh figs
  • 2 tbsp good quality honey
  • about 1 tbsp Cointreau (substitute Grand Marnier or another triple sec)
  • ground cinnamon
  • fresh mint, washed and finely shredded, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees f). Line a heavy flat baking tray with parchment.

Cut each fig in half, then lay each cut side up onto the baking tray. Drizzle over the honey and Cointreau, then sprinkle each with a little cinnamon.

drizzle

Place into the oven and roast until fragrant, bubbling and slightly golden around the edges.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with mint and topped with any syrup from the baking tray, Fabulous with ice cream, marscapone or double cream.

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154 responses

  1. Oh, those are absolutely beautiful figs and this is a great post, Laura. I’m definitely going to be making your figs. I have a summer vegetable garden in Maine, have a large orchard with over 300 trees in New Hampshire, and buy from local farmers markets in both areas but if I want figs that don’t grow where I live, I must buy them from a large supermarket. If I didn’t shop at them, I would probably not be able to prepare half the wonderful recipes on food blogs. I know what you mean about thinking twice about hitting the publish button, I’m doing that now as people may not like that I think a large market is necessary.

    • Wow, over 300 trees! That’s amazing (for me, who lives in a tiny apartment!). I do think it’s all about balance as this is a very complex issue. After all, sometimes I think about communities around the world that rely upon exporting their locally grown produce… those people may need my cash much more than a local farmer in my area. I guess my philosophy on it is that if something is locally grown in your area, buy local, reduce air miles and associated preservatives. But… if you can’t source it locally then either substitute or bite the bullet and buy imported. And of course, none of us are perfect. We can only try our best. I wrote this post when I was feeling rather strongly about the closure of small markets and local industries due to the impact of the supermarket duopoly here in Australia. I’m definitely aware that things are different from place to place :) Thanks for adding your point of view Karen. I appreciate it xx

      • Thank you for being so gracious, Laura. I do know where you are coming from. Our apple orchard is a lot of work but since it is planted in antique apple varieties, I feel I’m keeping part of our heritage alive. We don’t spray our apples with anything, organic or not. I have tried selling the apples to locals but because the apples aren’t perfect from not using chemicals people don’t want to buy them. The only market in our area will sell apples during the fall for less than I can afford to so I have stopped selling them and just let my friends come to pick for free. Even with this, I could not do without our supermarket…it is part of life. Again, thank you for letting me be part of your post and I’ve enjoyed all the comments from around the world. I believe that is what makes blogging so wonderful. :)

      • Oh what a shame! I would definitely come and buy some of your apples. I love the fact that they’re heritage varieties… usually much sweeter and more unique than the polished apples in supermarkets. And plus, knobbly apples look so much nicer (in my strange opinion!). Have you ever made cider from them? And thanks for taking the time to contribute, I really appreciate those who actually read my ramblings and add their own thoughts. I agree, it makes the blog world a much richer place :) xx

  2. Photos stunning as always – and I love figs, but they never taste great – when I buy them here in Sweden, they don’t have the sweetness. I often do Parma wrapped figs filled with brie cheese and drizzled with honey – roasted as a starter – beautiful dish.

    • Thanks Viveka dear, I appreciate it! I know what you mean… sun-ripened fresh figs are totally different to those that are picked at an immature stage. They definitely need the ‘help’ from honey or such things! Your starter sounds divine… yum, cannot do better than brie, parma, fig and honey. Delicious! xx

      • It is one of my favorite starters … and so easy to do; Fantastic combination. I only wish the figs were a lot sweeter.

  3. your thoughts about leaving our homes and communities better than we found them echo my own, and that second photograph of the figs deserves to be framed on a wall in the kitchen – truly that lovely. do you ever sell your work? i’m reading an anna quindlen book right now, ‘still life with bread crumbs’ about a photographer that makes her living selling pictures from the kitchen – anna’s writing and the photographs by her protagonist make me think you might like the read :)

    • Thanks so much Jen, you are way too kind! And nope, I don’t sell or print any of my photographs but I’ve often thought that I should! I’d like to have a few of them on my kitchen wall one day (when we actually own a house, sigh…!). I will definitely track down that book, it sounds interesting! xx

    • Thanks so much Gloria, I appreciate your thoughts and kind words. I did wonder whether this was too much for a food blog post but it means a lot that others are in support of things I’m passionate about! xx

    • Haha, thanks so much Celeste… it’s definitely an easy trap to fall into! I contemplate way too much. But yep, snapping out to a good meal in front of me would be absolutely ideal :) Thanks for the lovely note xx

  4. Very poignant post and though many of us are already on the same page, never doubt the need for a reminder not to take this knowledge for granted or to reach those who find this as new information. I myself, will often forget that my feelings and way of life concerning food are not everyone’s. I just can’t bring myself to step foot in any sort of chain restaurant as I cannot fathom the idea of eating industrial farmed meat and associated pre-packaged products full of non food or genetically modified ingredients. It’s a sad state of “normal”.
    I could sit and contemplate with you all day. x wendy
    ps – the figs are gorgeous. We have an old plant in a greenhouse. We cherish the dozen or so figs per year:)

    • Yes, we’re definitely on the same wavelength Wendy! I think we do need to sit down for a contemplation session one day… maybe with a cup of tea and some bread. It’s nice to know that others share the same values, despite our situation in different parts of the world. I appreciate you hugely and as we’ve said before, I do think we’d get on well if we ever had a chance to meet! Mmm, fresh homegrown figs… that’s the dream! xx

  5. HOLY HOLY LAURA, these photos. Figs are the nectar of the gods, and this just proves it.
    In other news… your writing in this post rings very true. You’ve framed the issue very elegantly, and I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for sharing this and taking the time to craft each thought.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts – at least you are not like me, contemplating life at 1am at night :P
    Lovely photos as well, they are incredibly stunning! The figs look so succulent!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Haha, I have done that often Uru! Not the ideal time for it, as sleep doesn’t come easily after deep thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate it xx

  7. Thanks for sharing your lovely words & inside thoughts with us all,…😊 I grow a lot of veggies & fruits myself & have a big fig tree in my wallen garden,…so I Will be making this tasty fig dessert, later in the year when I have home grown figs,…..I can’t wait. yummmm. X 😊

    • Thanks Heidi. It means a lot that people understand where I was coming from with this post! I guess the fig pictures helped too, haha… thanks for taking the time to write xx

  8. what a nourishing post, laura. I love the photos, love the food, and love most of all the sentiment of your post. Lot of good things to think about on this overcast late winter day (in Northern California)

  9. That first photo of the figs dripping with the gorgeous blush sticky juices and honey had me in on this one! Pity that I’m going to have to wait another 5-6 months before I can get my hands on fresh figs again! :) Not that I mind as something that I feel that I’m truly blessed about living here in Jordan is being surrounded by fresh seasonal and not a supermarket in sight! It makes you appreciate growing cycles and eating food at it’s absolute best. I’m loving that Alia is learning about how food is grown, seeing it develop from blossom to fruit and even more so loves participating in picking and cooking the food. It bring me such joy to watch my little girl make her food choices and the delight on her face when picking fruit or vegetables and eating them fresh, juices dripping down her hands and face.

    • They’ve disappeared from our shops again too. Sad face. Good thing I like apple pie and other wintry desserts and bakes! I’m loving your posts about Alia’s discovery of the world. She’s beautiful and I imagine that Jordan would be such a wonderful place to learn, grow and explore the world! I do hope to get to you one day. The world is so much smaller for our generation but yet, distances remain great. One day xx

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