Go Fig!- Fig Pinwheels- 20 eggs, 12 cups of sugar, 10 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 15 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 164 recipes to go!

March 29, 2010

Martha's Fig Pinwheels

André's Fig Pinwheels

To quote my Russian friend, Bella- “Oh, my goo-duh-ness. I usually do not like the Newton of Figs, but those cookies are marvelous!”

Fig Pinwheels come straight from the Cakey & Tender section of Martha Stewart’s Cookies. A fairly simple recipe to follow, if you are prepared to go through three separate refrigeration steps.

I’m not going to chat much about making the dough. It’s simple enough and, as many of you have pointed out, the recipe is available on Martha’s website. The filling, however, is worth mentioning. I went to the Middle-Eastern market to pick up dried figs for this recipe. The dried figs are combined with golden raisins, orange juice, and apple juice to create the familiar-tasting filling. They are simmered together until the dried fruit is reconstituted and mushy, with just a hint of liquid left. Remove the mixture from the heat and cool thoroughly.  Give the cooled mixture a turn in the food processor and you have Fig Newton filling. No added sugar or preservatives. Pretty tasty stuff, if you ask me.

Figs are a wonderful fruit. I remember long Summer vacations at my grandmother’s in a rural Cajun village in Louisiana. She lived along the banks of a bayou, as she had her entire life. There was a large fig tree in her neighbor’s yard, and we would pick the fruit almost everyday. Stuffing half of them in our buckets and the other half in our mouths. As a result of being overstuffed with fresh figs, I learned a new and magical word- Diuretic.

My parents would often take extended Summer vacations that coincided with my Dad’s work conventions. One of my sisters, and I would always spend the time with the Grandma in the country, while my other two sisters would spend the time with Grandma in the city.

My parents would pull up in front of the screened-in shack on the banks of the bayou, spend an hour or two chatting with country grandma, hand a paint-by-numbers kit to my sister and me, and then disappear for two weeks to exotic locations like Kentucky or West Virginia.

Grandma raised nine kids in a three room shack with one bathroom. The house smelled of rust, glade and pork fat. There were lenticular framed pictures of Jesus in every room so that when you passed through his eyes would follow you. Not a bad tactic for raising nine kids in a small space.

Grandma was a haggard and hard woman. She wore nothing but tent-like, calico sun dresses, most of which she had sewn herself. Her skin was like crepe paper that had been saved and reused for a decade of Christmases. She was plump and strong with a lumbering walk. She would cross a room in determined strides, rocking from side-to-side, each step accompanied by loud wheezes from her pronounced nostrils. She wore no makeup and her hair was always a nest of tangled, wild grey with a touch of color from when she had her hair did a few months ago for a cousin’s wedding or a distant relative’s funeral.

Her voice was cracked and nasal, like most Cajuns. Her words were clipped and often profane. Many of her words were intoned like that of a goose or swan honking to anyone willing to listen. Her stare was without emotion, as her eyes were set deep behind the two sagging flaps of skin that were once her eyelids. She was a harsh woman who dealt with life in the moment and on her own terms. As a child, she terrified me.

My sister and I would spend the long, hot days of Summer in her company, and she would tell us the most fantastic stories. Stories that frightened me to my core, but also intrigued and tantalized my morbid imagination. According to grandma, the bayou out front was home to a terrible sea monster…well bayou monster, really, a distant relative of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. The vast field out back wasn’t safe because it was frequented by space aliens who would abduct livestock and precocious children. As an adult, I realized grandma actually believed many of these stories.

Cajuns are a superstitious people. In many of the villages there were men and women known as traiteurs. They were half-medicine men and half-mediaries of God. I recall my father telling me about my aunt who suffered from asthma as a child. The traiteur  told my grandmother to take her out to the field and have her stand with her back against a tree and face East. As the Sun rose, grandma was to gather her daughter’s hair above her head against the trunk of the tree and chop it off with an axe. I’m not much for alternative medicine but If someone took me out to a field before dawn, had me stand against a tree and flung an axe above my head, I’d claim I was cured. In fact, I’d never admit to being sick ever again.

My sis and I will often talk about those Summers in the country- the people, the smells, the food, the mud, the snakes and, of course, that great big fig tree.

Grandma passed away over twenty-five years ago, but I will always remember what she looked like, what she sounded like, how she smelled, dressed, and the stories she would tell.  Much like those eyes of the suffering, lenticular Jesus that hung in that small three-bedroom shack, everywhere I go, she goes, too.


2 Responses to “Go Fig!- Fig Pinwheels- 20 eggs, 12 cups of sugar, 10 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 15 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 164 recipes to go!”

  1. Russ Says:

    My favorite post so far. And I had no idea figs were a diuretic. Wow.

  2. Nicole dubroc Says:

    I remember the cob webs inherent car, hosing us down in the back yard as a bath and the mayo that she insisted didn’t need to refridgerated.

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