Herbed Fig Lemon Jam

The figs are ripe here at the ranch again. I hate it. But I love it. Why? Because I don’t like figs. I don’t like to eat them, I don’t like to pick them and I don’t like to waste them. So I force myself out to the fig trees, battling star thistles and rattlesnakes, and pick until I am covered in itchy fig sap and bleeding from thistle pokes, just for the sake of jam.

Garden fresh!

Garden fresh!

When jam and jelly get involved, I love it! Figs make awesome preserves, jam and pickles and they are free!!!! I usually make 3 or 4 different fig recipes a year. My friends love figs, so I know what everyone is getting for Christmas! I needed to expand my recipe collection this year and since I still had meyer lemons, this was the perfect recipe to try! I actually ate this jam and *gasp* kinda liked it even with the figs! The thyme adds something different, which I liked a great deal.

Herbed Fig Lemon Jam

3 pounds figs
1 meyer lemon
4 cups sugar
¼ lemon juice
2 cups water
Thyme springs

Boiling jam. It smells so good!

Boiling jam. It smells so good!

Cut figs into chunks. I like a good variety of big and little, I think it gives it a nice consistency. Carefully cut the lemon into quarters, removing seeds and proceed to cut the quarters crosswise. Mix the figs, lemon and sugar into a large saucepan. Add lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil without stirring. (It’s so hard!!! I know.)

Let cool to room temperature, place a lid on your pan and chill overnight to 12 hours. Bring mixture back to a boil until the lemon is translucent and the mixture has thickened. Add thyme sprigs to mixture and continue boiling until the mixture can pass the frozen plate test. When it does skim foam and discard thyme sprigs.

Fill sterilized jars until 1/4 inch headspace and process in a boiling water for 10 minutes.

A very nice snack!

A very nice snack!

Also try:

Balsamic Figs

Fig Jam 

Fig Preserves 

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The “Farm Wife”

I used to think I wanted to be a farm wife. I always thought I would follow my Mom’s example. Working unpaid for the ranch. Doing the same work as the men, plus the books, the cooking, cleaning and taking care of me, the kid AND having a full-time off the ranch job for health insurance and financial security. I thought I’d marry, and my husband would take over for my Dad and I would continue my Mom’s role.

See the woman in the center. That "farm wife" is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

See the woman in the center? That “farm wife” is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

Then I grew up. I realized just how much work it was to be a farm wife. I realized they did the heavy lifting. They were the unappreciated glue that held everything together. I finally understood I am not tough or smart enough for the “farm wife” label. Nope. I can handle being a rancHER. That’s easy. But farm wife? I simply don’t have the balls for it. Major props to you Farm Wives! Thank you for running this industry we call agriculture! We all know what you do, but we don’t vocally ever recognize and appreciate you in a way where you get to hear or see it. I hope that starts to change, and after what I’ve witnessed over the past few days, I think it will. We need to respect, praise and appreciate the women that keep us going.

 

Probably the most important read out of all of this. 

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Pickled Mission Figs


We have several mission fig trees growing wild on the ranch. As a little kid, I spent a massive amount of time climbing and hanging out in the huge, cool fig tree canopies. I have lovely memories of my cousins coming over and playing with me as well, so figs always remind me of that. And pig enemas, but that is for a different post.img_5199

Around the first of August, when the main crop of missions ripen, I get to picking and canning. I’m not a fan of eating figs because of the pig thing I mentioned above, but I enjoy picking them because it reminds me of being a kid. Plus anything I can grow or glean needs to be canned or pickled, because it does.

Last summer I tried this recipe and everyone loved it. I was told these figs were great as a snack, with charcuterie, on salads, etc. I made them again this year just to compliment my charcuterie plates and so I could blog the recipe for you.

 Pickled Mission Figs *

  • 4 quarts firm, ripe figs
  • 5 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
Figs soaking in their hot water bath.

Figs soaking in their hot water bath.

Boil water and pour over figs, let stand until cool. Combine 3 cups of sugar and 2 quarts of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. And the figs and gently cook for 30 minutes.  Add 2 cups sugar and vinegar. Tie spices (except for the vanilla bean just thrown that right in with the figs after you slice it open) in a spice bag and add to the figs. Simmer for about an hour.

Despite the hot vinegar, this does smell good.

Despite the hot vinegar, this does smell good.

Cover the figs and let stand in a cool place for 12-24 hours.  Bring back up to a simmer. Pack the figs into sterilized pint or quart jars. leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process 15 minutes in boiling-water canner.

Pickled figs

Pickled figs

 

You might also want to try:

Homemade Balsamic Figs

Pickled Figs 

Mrs. Little’s Pickled Figs

*based on the Ball Blue Canning Book recipe

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Throwback Thursday: Margie

This photo is going to be a hard one, I’m skeptical if I’ll ever know more about it then I already do. But then, my readers have surprised me again and again with who they know.

Margie

Margie

This photo comes from the Sammie’s Friends envelope. There is writing on it, but it is hard to make out. It looks like at one point this photo was pasted into an album, when they did that the writing was bleached. This is what I could make out:

“To Sammie, With lots of lite Love, Margie”

I thought perhaps she wrote, with lots of love. But the two words don’t match up when I compared them. I can clearly see a ‘t’ in lite. So who knows, really? But there is no date or last name.

Since most of these photos seem to be from the 1940’s and Margie’s hair and make-up, which are swoon worthy, seem to reflect the style of the 40’s, I think we can safely assume, this was taken in the 40’s. This leads me to believe Margie was probably a friend from school. Which means she probably went to Greenville High School.

Here is my question to you Indian Valley historians – do you know who this is? Do you remember Margie that would have been in her late teens/early 20’s in the 1940’s? Does her photo ring a bell? Please leave me a comment if you have any leads!

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For Sale: Working Kelpie Pups

Having a working cowdog is essential to me. They are worth their weight in gold. I joke that having a good pack a dogs is far better than hiring an extra cowboy. I pay them in kibble, never worry about them quitting on me, hitting on me, or questioning me (at least out loud). Having a good working dog is something I need on this ranch.

Kelpie pups that are available

Kelpie pups that are available

Our first Kelpie, Ranchie, retired this year after almost 15 years of stellar cowdogging. She had been a gift to my Dad, and quickly became one of our best dogs in the history of ranch dogs. Before Ranchie, we had Queensland Heelers and Border Collies or a mix of the two. I was a diehard border collie fan for years and years. Until Ranchie, then Boo.

My girl Boo dog. I spend more time with her than any other animal or person.

My girl Boo dog. I spend more time with her than any other animal or person. (photo courtesy of Rob Eves).

Boo was originally meant to replace Ranchie, she was supposed to be my Dad’s dog. But we like to say cowdogs pick their own owners, and Boo picked me. I’ve been her person and she’s been my righthand girl for two years now. This spring I found Boo a boyfriend in hopes of getting a litter out of her. Most people who have met Boo wanted a little copy of her because she is such an amazing little dog. I wanted one too! Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I did, however meet the Martin’s, Tim and Abbey.

You want this pup. Trust me.

You want this pup. Trust me.

Tim and Abbey are seriously cool. We have a lot in common including an intense passion for these dogs. They have an excellent breeding and working pair. Check them out in the video below! Since Boo didn’t get pregnant, I was able to buy a pup from Tim and Abbey. Of course, I didn’t get to keep it. My Dad pointed out that I did get the last dog, so it was his turn for a new working dog. I’m going to give it a few more weeks then I’m totally going to steal her. The animals like me more these days anyway (but shhhhhhh, don’t tell him).

 

Kelpies are perfect for cattlepeople like us because they are tough, smart, have short hair (keeps the stickers out of their coats), they are suited for heat, and they are intensely loyal. I love this breed so very much, it’s all I’ll ever have for the rest of my life. Just like heritage hogs, they need more people to champion them. So I intend to promote this breed as much as I can.

My Dad got a pup and an IN-N-OUT burger on the same day. It's good to be the boss.

My Dad got a pup and an IN-N-OUT burger on the same day. It’s good to be the boss.

If you are a working ranch looking for an excellent pup to start, buy one of these pups. Trust me, this will be the best dog you’ll ever have the pleasure of working with. I will personally vouch for these dogs because we are now the proud owner of 3 different kelpies! I’d love to see these dogs become more widespread. Right now, it is challenging to find good pups.

Phee the new ranch dog, already trying to work!

Phee the new ranch dog, already trying to work!

 

The ad below is from Tim, he is selling the littermate to Phee the wonder pup. Again, I cannot stress enough how good these dogs are. Get one.

Quality Kelpie pups for sale, both parents pure breed and used daily. Father of pups registered in N.S.W Kelpie stud book of Australia. Trial or the ranch these pups have proven to be top hands and very trainable, they make a great transition on cattle to sheep and very willing to get a job done. 2 females, 3 males $600 a pup all Black and Tan. Call (530) 945-3403

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Brockle Baby 

img_4281


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Wordless Wednesday: Zucchini is Good 

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Why I Use Antibiotics

Antibiotics are amazing. They can do so much, so quickly! I want to tell you a story about one calf and one shot of antibiotics.

IMG_3953

We found this little calf in the morning. Her mom gave birth to her in water during the night and left her. She was very ill. Very cold, very close to death. In fact, when we first saw her, we thought she was already dead. We loaded her in the back of the polaris and took her to the hospital pen. We dried her off, treated her with antibiotics, electrolytes, fluids, iodine on her naval, and some vitamins. We followed the label on the antibiotics and the advice of our veterinarian to the letter.  A few hours later,  she was able to stand up by herself. She was ready to go back to her mom in about a day.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

My point here is, despite what Subway would have you think, antibiotics are not always bad when used in animal agriculture. They actually save a lot of lives and a lot of suffering. By the time this calf hits the market, no residue will be left. So please think about that next time food marketers talk about antibiotic free.

Antibiotics are a hot button issue within agriculture right now. Farmers and ranchers are working very hard to fight antibiotic resistance, because we realize how this can and will impact us. Personally, our ranch uses superior genetics, nutrition and vaccines to prevent illness. But as I showed here, sometimes we still have problems and we need to be able to do the humane thing and treat our animals. It’s the right this to do.

I urge you to talk to other farmers,  ranchers and veterinarians to learn how and why they use antibiotics on their ranches. Coming from agriculture and seeing how we have changed our protocols, I feel like our general public might not know what we have changed and why, in regards to this topic. Fear and half-truths have been used often to promote “antibiotic free” meat marketing agenda.

I even got the opportunity to learn more about antibiotics at the Alltech convention I attended last May. Meat scientist Dr. Yancey wrote a nice recap about it, you can read here.

Is antibiotic resistance a problem? Absolutely. Do we know for certain what is causing it? Kinda. Is agriculture doing something about it? Yes.  It is a complex issue. But,  friends and readers, feel safe about the meat your are eating. Trust that your friendly neighborhood ranchers are aware of this problem and we are working hard to continue to keep our food supply safe and affordable. 

If you have more questions or would like a list of more experts, veterinarians, farmers or ranchers to talk to please leave me a comment below and I will do my best to accommodate you. Thank you.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: My Office 

  

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Pickled Blueberries

‘I can pickle that’ has become my mantra. I know I say that every year and every year I say this is the final year, but who am I kidding? I have a canning addiction. I’ve really gotten into pickling fruit because it compliments my charcuterie plates well. I love being able to make a whole plate of amazing cured fruit and meat, it’s a simple pleasure.

This is what a blueberry bush looks like.

This is what a blueberry bush looks like.

One of my friends recently told me she had pickled blueberries with a fancy meal she ate. Of course the ‘I can pickle’ that voice went off in my head and I had a new mission in life, pickled blueberries.

I finally made and ate some and I was not disappointed. They are tart, but sweet, with spiced warm undertones. I think they’d be delicious on ice cream! Or in a salad! Here is the recipe I used. Enjoy!

Pickled Blueberries

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 quarts fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
The start of pickles.

The start of pickles.

Place the first 3 ingredients into a cheesecloth square, to make a spice sachet. Put into a large saucepan with the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes.

Ready for their bath.

Ready for their bath.

Stir blueberries into the saucepan, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Gently shake the pot. Do not stir or you will break the berries. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Strain berries from the liquid and remove the spice sachet. Place berries to hot, sterilized canning jars. Return vinegar to the saucepan and place over high heat. Stir in the white and brown sugars; bring to a boil. Boil until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Ladle hot syrup over berries, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. I like to give them a week to really pickle before I eat them. 

Yum.

Yum.

Also try:

Blueberry Meyer-Lemon Jam 

Spiced Blueberry Jammin’

Blueberry Jam Sugar Scrub 

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