As the seasons are changing and the hoopla of pumpkin mania is fading down. I have started to give a second and third thought, once or twice an hour as to what exactly I am going to find between say oh…now and March? April? I know we will have apples, pears and citrus.. but…so when I read in the Press Democrat that The Patch in Sonoma had Mission figs, I just had to jump in the car and check out this historic farm for myself.
You can find The Patch at 280 Second Street East, right smack dab in the middle of the historic town of Sonoma, two blocks off the main square. This land has been farmed for more than 100 years, it has been in it’s current incarnation for about 16 years. The farmer is Lazaro Calderon, he has been leasing about 6 acres of land here for the last ten years. It seems as though Calderon is best known for his heirloom tomatoes, he usually has them at the farmer’s markets first as well as the longest.
On our visit to the farm stand we also found sugar pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, persimmons and Mission Figs grown on their century old trees. The honor system was used on this farm for many years. There is still a metal container bolted down to the wooden table, with a small sign Honor System sign tacked down in front of it. Supposedly, it is not in use any longer. Well when my boys and I visited the farm, there was no one manning the stand, they were all out tending to the crops. So we picked out our basket of figs and placed our money under a tomato on the counter. We are definitely not in Los Angeles anymore Toto…isn’t it wonderful!
Many people just love to eat figs perhaps with some cheese and few nuts and a drizzle of honey. As a child I was particularly fond of Fig Newton’s and decided that I was going to try to create my own personal riff on the old childhood favorite. To get that delicious filling you need to cook down the figs to a jammy consistency, I decided to scent the fig filling with some fresh thyme from my garden. For the pastry, I wanted an earthy taste so I added some ground oats to the dough to give it some texture and a depth of flavor. I adapted a recipe from the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook.
Thyme Scented Fig Oatmeal Bars
Yield – 24 bars
-= Ingredients =-
Thyme Scented Fig Jam
3 cups Mission figs; stems removed and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest; grated
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 spring Thyme; fresh
6 tablespoon unsalted butter; 3/4 stick
1 tablespoon milk
2/3 cup brown sugar; firmly packed
2 each eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats; finely chopped in food processor
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; freshly grated
1/12 teaspoon ground cloves
-= Instructions =-
-To prepare the fig jam, cut the tough ends off the figs. Dice the figs; soak in the water for 1 hour. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a medium sized saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes or until figs are soft and translucent. Puree the mixture in a food processor and return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the thyme sprigs and cook over low heat until it is a very thick paste, about 15 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs.
-To make the oatmeal dough, in a medium sized mixing bowl beat together the butter, milk and brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. In a separate bowl combine the flour, pureed oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground spices: add to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
-On top of 2 lightly floured pieces of parchment paper, roll out each ball of dough into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle about 6 inches wide and 15 inches long. Spread half of the jam in a 3-inch wide band lengthwise down the center of each rectangle. Using the parchment paper, not your fingers, to manipulate the dough, encase the filling by folding one long side of the dough over it so that it covers a little more than half the jam. Fold the other side over to cover the rest of the jam, the edges of the two sides overlapping in the middle by about 1/4 inch. Pinch the dough together at each end to completely seal in the filling. Brush off any excess flour. Lifting from underneath the paper again, roll the entire log over so that the seam is on the bottom. Brush off any excess flour from this side and transfer each log, still on its parchment, to a baking sheet.
-Bake for 20 minutes, just until golden. While the logs are still warm, cut at a slight angle into 3/4-inch-thick bars. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
280 Second Street East
Farm Stand open daily 10 – 5 …June to Thanksgiving
Santa Rosa Original – Wednesday & Saturday
Valley of the Moon – Tuesday
Sonoma Valley – Friday
Petaluma – Saturday
Sebastopol – Sunday
Napa – Tuesday
Calistoga – Saturday