Here’s the thing: working the farmers markets in the summer isn’t all that bad. There are sun-kissed peaches, warm breezes and happy customers. There are sunflower-toting toddlers, sweet tomatoes and wily dogs. But let’s say September hits and it starts raining in Seattle. Really raining. When this happens, there is a noticeable lack of peaches, warm breezes and happy customers — all replaced, instead, with soaking wet tents, soggy bags of granola, and zero shoppers It’s been that kind of a week. But thankfully, I’ve long had a big crush on fall and this year is proving to be no different. Despite the time I’ve had to work at the markets, the rain has actually been really nice. We bought some new bedroom furniture, I’ve been baking muffins and cooking fall soups, and FIGS. Hello, roasted figs. And hello, simple whole-grain breakfast parfaits. When I was a teacher, fall was all about fresh starts. There was a noticeable mark on the calendar for when school was back in session and I’d get a few new notebooks and a new sweater or two to mark the season. Today, the days aren’t as structured — August bleeds into September more fluidly and less noticeably without the new notebooks or sweaters. I miss the fresh crop of eager faces and the anticipation that comes from writing a new syllabus. I miss the wonderful health benefits and shorter work days. But there are things I don’t at all miss either: the hectic mornings with only time for a quick granola bar on the way out the door. These days, mornings can be a little slower. I can answer emails while making a real breakfast and sitting down to enjoy it instead of tackling it during the morning commute.
I worked on these fall parfaits for this month’s recipe over on Attune Foods, and I’m excited about it for a few reasons. First, if you haven’t yet tried their Rye and Hemp Cereal, you’re missing out: it combines rye, hemp and barley for a not-too-sweet and wonderfully toasty breakfast cereal (with 11 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein!) Second, if you haven’t tried your hand at roasting figs, now is the perfect time. Roasting draws out the fig’s natural sweetness, making them even jammier (plus, it’s a great way to save any that are starting to soften / turn). You can roast the figs and toast the coconut the day before so when busy mornings strike, you’re simply layering yogurt, cereal, and figs and sitting down to breakfast — no more time than it would take to pour a bowl of cold cereal, really. So whatever mornings look like for you these days, I have a feeling these will gladly saddle right up to the table.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Slice figs in half and arrange cut side up on a medium rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and olive oil. Drizzle over the tops of the figs, and roast for about 12 minutes, or until the figs are soft and the honey mixture is bubbling. Scoop figs onto a plate to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350F and toast the almonds and coconut until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes (feel free to use the same baking sheet although watch the coconut carefully to avoid burning).
To assemble: Select four of your favorite 8-ounce glasses or cups and scoop ¼ cup plain yogurt into the bottom. Layer on 2 fig halves and top with 1 tablespoon of toasted coconut, sliced almonds and Rye and Hemp Cereal. Repeat to create an additional parfait layer and add an additional drizzle of honey, if desired. Serve immediately.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
We walked to the library last week and I had a strange realization standing in line watching Sam check out his usual massive stack of books: Will I ever have the time to read stacks of books again? I used to be much more of a reader than I am today -- a fact I'm not at all proud of. But when evening rolls around and the more formal workday ends, I find emails and other odds and ends creep in. Walking home from the library, I began obsessing over free time for reading, asking Sam if we'd ever be those two old people who study bird manuals and can recognize birds on walks. I want to have the time to read bird manuals someday. For now though, we're young and we're working a lot. We did sneak away on that one-night camping trip I told you about, and cooked some interesting, haphazard meals which I hope to share with you soon. For now though, for summer: a strawberry dessert recipe.
Much like friends, types of Sunday mornings, or books -- there are many different kinds of desserts. Sometimes you may be in the mood for a light French cake piled high with summer fruit. Other days, a thick slice of fragrant pound cake will do. And then there are those days when you crave a rich chocolate mousse that you share after a night of good conversation and a little too much wine. But let's be honest. When it comes right down to it, the most basic and unassuming dessert of all is sometimes the only one that will do. A good and simple affair. Vanilla ice cream. So I want to talk about that today--about a dessert that withstands the test of time, that will always be there for you. A dessert that is far from trendy, that doesn't play favorites or trick you into thinking it's something that it's not. It's a good foundation. A solid beginning.
[ Pie. if you've been around here much in the last few months, you know that I make pie. A lot of pie. And I'm particularly excited to share this pie with you today because it helped me break out of a rut. A pie rut. A baking rut. A Marge inspiration rut.