Aiden’s Midnight Fig Jam

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My kid-friendly recipe is one for a fig jam I made this summer with my grandchildren on a hot night when we couldn’t sleep for the heat.  It was tons of fun making it and I love the idea that every or every post submitted, Foodbuzz and Frigidaire will donate $50 to Save the Children.

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It’s 12:45 a.m after one of the hottest days of summer.  It was 105 degrees!

The grandkids who are visiting for this week can’t sleep, house is too hot and my a/c wall unit is icing over.  What to do, what to do?  In the fridge was a massive bowl of the past two days harvest of figs from our tree just begging me to do something with but it’s been too darned hot.  I took an almost midnight shower and came out to two small children that were hot, grumpy, tired and in need of something, anything to do to get them to relax enough to sleep.  I went to the fridge, saw that big bowl of figs and remembered the jam I had been intending to make.  “Who wants to have a midnight jam session?” I asked the kids.  “We do!”

I had had an idea in mind on how to make my jam, an older recipe that called for cinnamon, lemon rind, fresh figs and sugar but whenever the kids help me cook, things change.  I really like letting them improvise and find their way around my kitchen.  We discuss flavors and ideas all the time.  They’ve been cooking with me since before I started Dona Lupe’s so I’ve learned to trust them the way they trust in me.

Insomniac grandkids

Aiden took charge of this jam session.  He just turned five on Friday the 20th and was in a very assertive mood.  He handed me a bottle of caraway seed and said, “Grammy use this, it almost smells like figs.”  Into the simmering cinnamon and water it went.  What the heck, how bad could it be?  I searched for lemons but we were out and being midnight by now, we were out of luck with a store.  David suggested the rice vinegar in the pantry for a little acidity and it made sense to me so I added it.  This was so not the jam I had planned on but as we all took turns chopping figs and adding them to the pot, the kitchen was starting to smell amazing.

Chop, chop, chop

Once the figs were all in the pot, Aiden handed me a jar.  Surprised, I looked down at a square box of chili powder from the Indian store I frequent in Los Feliz.  “Put some of that in Grammy” he said seriously.  I nodded and added about two tablespoons, stirred it in with crossed fingers and tasted.  Oh. My. God.  That was some amazing jam!  Things happen in midnight jam sessions, things you’d never expect but surprisingly sweet and good.

Jam!

We’re going on 1:00 a.m. now and the kids are drifting off to sleep while Aiden’s Midnight Fig Jam is slowly simmering on the stove.  When he wakes tomorrow there will be toast smeared with his jam and the day, however hot it turns out to be will keep that spicy sweetness.

Aiden’s Midnight Fig Jam

5 lbs of fresh figs, washed, trimmed and chopped roughly
3 c. Sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 c. of water
Pinch caraway seeds
4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of dark red chili powder

Set a large pot with the water and cinnamon stick to boil, then bring to a slow simmer.

Trim off the points and ends of the figs and rough chop them.  Add the caraway seeds to the simmering cinnamon water, the sugar and rice vinegar.  Stir until well blended.

Add the chopped figs, the chili powder and stir slowly.  Let simmer for two hours till well thickened, stirring frequently so the sugar doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of your pot.

Remove the cinnamon stick, let cool and store in Mason jars using proper canning techniques.

Best cooked at midnight to the strains of Luciano Pavaroti (you know we had to listen to Figaro), Lauryn Hill and Trio Los Panchos.  Insomniac grandchildren optional.

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