Friday, August 6, 2010

a fig tree grows in...

It was just an ordinary Tuesday night.

Someone knocks on the door. There stands our friend with a plate of figs. Not just any figs; homegrown figs. And to boot, a jar of just made, fig preserves. Whoo-hoo!

That's our friend Nancy. Married to Ernest who is by heritage, Greek, and like any respectable Greek, has some fig trees. He wouldn't have it any other way.

Lucky for Ernest, Nancy is a good cook. I mean a good cook. Lucky for me and Spoke, we're often invited to dinner. You see, they're our cooking pals. We get together for evenings of wine and great food. And belly laughs.

These are of the "you had to be there" kind of nights.

One evening, the microwave which Ernest uses to reheat his coffee throughout the day (because it could never reach a point of being too strong for him) went on the blink. About every ten minutes, the buzzer would go off. Beep-beep-beep. As the night wore on and we'd had more wine (okay, Nancy and I'd had more wine) it became really, really funny. Beep-beep-beep. See, you had to be there.

Another evening, guy talk turned into serious, childhood comparisons of just how miserable both their mothers made them whenever they caught colds. One Greek, one Polish, but with similar solutions for how to cure their sons; the tonics they were made to swallow, the salves rubbed on their chests then weighted down with scratchy, wool cloths.

By the time Ernest said, "We tried never to sneeze at our house," I had tears streaming down my face. See, you really had to be there......

In 2003, I started keeping a journal of our dinners. Here's a few of my favorite.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Homemade Bread
Fresh (perfectly ripe) Pears
Anise Cookies

Baked Olive-Cheese Balls
Orange-Pistachio Linguini
Chili Rojo Spinach Salad
Gelato Topped with Stewed Fruits or Kahlua Sauce

Crostini with Peppers, Onion, and Eggplant
Pecan Crusted Red Snapper with Chardonnay Sauce
Bread Pudding

Cheese Cookies
Spicy Bean Soup with Manchego Cheese
Jumbo Lump Crab Salad on Bibb Lettuce
Pecan Pie

Red Pepper Hummus
Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Herbs de Provence
Black Peppered Salmon with Wild Rice
Glazed Pound Cake
And then, there was the dinner that wasn't. We got our dates mixed up and by the time we realized what we'd done, it was too late to share the meal.

Lemon Risotto
Barbecued Shrimp
Wild Salad Greens with Strawberries and Toasted Pecans
Godiva Chocolates: Raspberry Crowns and Dark Squares

But, back to figs.....

I decided to be extravagant and use the preserves to make Fig Preserve and Black Walnut Cake from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. I mean often do you have a jar of homemade preserves to splurge on just such a cake? So, I crossed my fingers that being Charleston born would bring me luck and the cake would be delicious.....

If not, Nancy will just have to give me another jar. It's so nice to know she would.

It was!

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