Wednesday, March 5, 2008
As a child, one of my very favorite things was helping my maternal grandparents harvest their bountiful garden. Their house and garden were just a hop, skip, and jump away from my parents' house. I enjoyed picking peas and beans in the garden with my grandfather ("Papere" is what we called him) and shelling them with my grandmother ("Mamere").
Another thing I loved doing was eating freshly picked figs from my Mamere's and Papere's fig tree. Sometimes, I'd try helping Dad or Papere pick the figs off of the tree. The tree was close to the kitchen window and Mamere would call out to us if she spied us eating the figs without washing them first.
Mamere also made the best fig preserves, which I enjoyed heaping onto cheese sandwiches. Back then, those sandwiches consisted of Evangeline Maid white bread and Kraft American cheese slices.
My Mamere has long since been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and needs constant care. Mom is a terrific cooker and baker, but never took up preserving things. That means getting my fig preserves from my parents' neighbors or from the local grocery stores, where the preserves are made in-house.
Last week, Hubby worked late one evening, and I fended for myself for dinner. I quickly scanned the fridge for potential candidates and thought of my old friend, the fig and cheese sandwich. I slapped some Danish havarti and deli American cheeses on one half of a whole wheat roll. I spread a couple of tablespoons of fig preserves on the other half.
I grilled the sandwich in a pan with a little olive oil spray and weighed it down with a plate and a large can on top. After giving it a flip and seeing that the cheese was sufficiently melty, I removed it from the pan and added a bit of Boston lettuce. This was a new twist, and a good play off of the creaminess of the cheese and sweetness of the figs. This sandwich is also excellent with rocket (arugula).
I wolfed the thing down in no time, but it was still long enough to get a little taste of my childhood.