…she liked it! Inspired by a trip to the food coop, I planned a fallish menu. I have been mad for figs ever since my parents had a sprawling Calimyrna Fig tree in their yard that produced generously, but briefly, every August. For two or three weeks, gobs of fruits hung from the branches. These trees have to be netted, or you will find yourself transformed into a person you don’t know, one who thwacks birds with a badminton raquet and screams, “Mine!!”
So I made a salad with mission figs, leaves from the Lettuce Eat Salad Farm – couldn’t resist – and humanely raised bacon. I apologize to my vegetarian friends and must say that goat cheese would have gone well here in lieu of bacon. But my mom doesn’t like goat cheese, and she fed me for decades, and quite well I might add. Plus my firstborn, who has many fine qualities, does not really like my cooking, and I needed some tidbit to lure her to the table.
I made a dressing I learned from Jamie Oliver’s fig salad that has long been a stand-by of mine: fresh lemon juice, olive oil, honey and coarse salt. I like to add cracked pepper but instead I gently place the grinder on the table to keep my older daughter from weeping.
I cubed and roasted some yams and carrots with sliced onions and a few smashed cloves of garlic. This I added to quinoa, tossed with olive oil and topped with currants and pistachios. Note in the photograph the wee dish of cardamon on the side because I love that spice and I love tiny dishes.
For dessert we had banana cake – my mother’s recipe with a few of my own touches. Banana cake is not autumnal, (an apple dessert would have been seasonally appropriate but my mother is the Mistress of Pies and so anything I offered would have simply been an embarrassment) but it is delicious. I offered the chocolate frosting on the side (see the final scene of When Harry Met Sally) and vanilla frosting as well because – you guessed it: that’s what my mom likes.
Kate’s Banana Cake
1/2 cup of unsalted butter minus one Tablespoon (coconut oil could be substituted for half of the butter here)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup overripe bananas (about 2 and as brown as possible)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup almond meal (you could substitute flour if you like)
3 Tablespoons flax meal (if you don’t have it simply leave it out and add in that missing Tablespoon of butter)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
After allowing all the ingredients to come to room temperature, drop the butter and sugar into the Cuisinart and pulse until smooth. Add the eggs and bananas. Pulse. Mix the dries separately, drop them in and blend until smooth. This all goes in an oiled 8×8 glass cake pan or a glass bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, check after 20 minutes and turn the pan. Remain stalwartly, obsessively next to the stove, checking cake every five minutes after that. You may need to drape some foil over it to prevent the top getting too browned. Banana cake is moist, and takes its sweet time getting done all the way through. But once it crosses the threshold of doneness it becomes almost instantaneously dry. Eternal vigilance is the price of a moist cake. This is not the first or last time I will write those words.