For the past few week, I've been feeling a bit reminiscent. Part of me misses my old life in DC, the familiar spots and friends that I spent so much time with. After seven wonderful years in a great city, where I worked my first job out of grad school, went back to grad school, made friends that I consider family, met the love of my life, got married and had many other special moments, this would obviously be a hard change. I'm extremely thankful that we were able to make the move to California and it was definitely time for a change that we both needed.
The past three months in our new home have been great, exploring new places and meeting new people but I miss the part where I could talk with my friends at any time of the day and have conversations that ranged from sensible to absolute nonsense. Not that this still doesn't happen but the three hour time difference between the two coasts makes it a little hard and requires a bit of extra planning. But, at the end of the day, I remind myself that life is full of changes and each one of those changes, planned or unplanned are important because it helps mold my way of thinking, the dual combination of the nervousness and joy of experiencing the unfamiliar that is exciting and what makes change and life fun.
I recently made this fig compote to use a bunch of figs that I picked up at the market. As much as I love figs, there is one thing about them that annoys me the most, they grow mold rather quickly if they are too overripe. This compote was my way of immediately using up those figs and making them last for a few weeks (I hate, hate, losing figs to mold, it's really aggravating because I usually can't blame anyone else but me)!
Bubbling red wine with vanilla beans is one of the most comforting fragrances that can come out of your kitchen. Fruity and floral aromas are the best when it comes to feeling relaxed. There are quite a few fall flavors in this compote, ginger and balsamic really give this a nice bump and all the flavors come together in one little jar of goodness that you can serve over cheeses or with charcuterie or pretty much anything else.
Note: Since fresh figs can vary in sweetness, I recommend adding less sugar and then tasting the compote towards the end to see if you need more sugar.
fig and ginger compote
yields: about 1 generous cup
1 lb fresh figs (I used mission figs)
1 cup red wine ( used a sangiovese)
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar (you might need less)
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup crystallized ginger bits
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to make this compote extra fruity, you can also use a fruit/berry flavored balsamic vinegar here, I've tried blackberry and pineapple version and they all did really well)
1. Rinse the figs under running tap water and and trim the stalks off. Slice the figs in half and place them in a medium saucepan.
2. Add the red wine and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to the figs. Bring the contents to boil on a medium-high flame, this should take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the stove and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
3. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and add the seeds and the bean along with the black pepper and ginger to the fig mixture and return to the stove. Cook on medium-low with occasionally stirring until the mixture thickens and reduces in volume to about half its original. This will take about 35-40 minutes. Once this is done, taste to see if it is sweet enough, the sweetness depends on how sweet the figs are so add extra sugar if needed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and remove from stove. Cool and store in an airtight container.