Labor Day Picnic and a Spicy Fig Orange Jam

I am in total disbelief that it is Labor Day Weekend! The Summer seemed to literally vanish this year. I know it’s not quite over yet, but it is definitely on it’s way out. We were all complaining about the stifling heat and now as it is cooling off in the morning and evenings, there is definitely that touch of Fall in the air. I do love Fall and Winter, but I know that very soon, we will be fussing about the cold and the rain and the snow (remember last Winter?!). So, yes, I am feeling a bit melancholy.

The saddest part about this time of year is that all the wonderful produce will soon be gone. I bought the last of the blackberries that were available at the Cashiers Farmers’ Market two weekends ago. Today I picked up another twenty five pounds of peaches from Osage Farms (what to do with them now…well, of course, make Brandied Peach Ice Cream or Peach Freezer Jam!). I bought so much since they said they would be gone in the next few days.

Great food and excellent wine for a picnic in the mountains!

Yes, it is sad. No more stealing picking blueberries and blackberries from Lenny and Jean at River Road Farms. Then all the fresh green and pole beans will soon be gone. In fact, Mr. Bunkycooks is chopping twelve pounds of them for canning as I am writing this so that we can have a good supply for the coming months!

So, in honor of the end of the Summer and the Labor Day holiday, I don’t know of a much better way to say good-bye to Summer and celebrate the holiday than with a picnic! When I think of picnics I think of lots of ants attacking my food family gatherings, sweaty and muggy weather warm weather, sunshine, great food (just nothing with mayo in the heat…you will get sick!), lots of cold drinks (that would include beer and wine!) and maybe even a little romance if it’s a picnic for two! You just never know what might happen!

Hurry up and take the pictures so we can eat!

Mr. Bunkycooks and I have had this awesome picnic basket bag (yes, a basket sounds much cooler, but it is an over the shoulder bag!) for years and frankly had forgotten about it just had not put it to good use yet. So, we decided two weekends ago that it was a perfect Summer evening for a picnic (that means no bugs and no humidity). I decided to prepare some “picnicnicky” (no, it’s not really a word, but it sounds good) kinds of foods and off we went to the overlook in the mountains!

We had a French baguette with Brie and some of the best and easiest homemade Spicy Fig Orange Jam I have ever had to nibble on before dinner. (Yes, you can probably guess that Mr. Bunkycooks will now not let me buy fig jam at the store anymore. That would be just like the other jams, peanut butter, ice cream, pasta, etc. etc.).

Dessert on the overlook…it doesn’t get much better than this!

We had Oven-Fried Chicken (courtesy of My Recipes and Cooking Light). No, it’s not really fried, but after all of the desserts I have prepared lately (like Baked Alaska), something’s got to give (and the waistline on my pants can’t stretch anymore!). This recipe was actually very good and had a bit of heat from red and white pepper and cumin. I am sure soaking the chicken in the buttermilk first made for a moister chicken. I would just advise you to add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for. It needed just a tad more.

We also dined on Fresh Corn Salad from Ina Garten (can’t go wrong with her stuff!). This recipe is perfect to make with the delightful fresh corn that you still should be able to find. I used Silver Queen corn and added some halved Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes. It was sooo tasty with the fresh basil.

Fresh Blackberry Cobbler with Sweetened Whipped Cream. Yummy!

Finally, I had those gorgeous blackberries and needed a dessert (not really needed, but it seemed like the right thing to do for a picnic). I made Ree’s (Pioneer Woman’s) Blackberry Cobbler #1. (This one was pretty darn good, but I just might have to compare it with Ree’s #2 recipe with the blackberries I have in the freezer!) I topped it with a bit of sweetened whipped cream (because this nifty picnic basket bag had insulated condiment containers and I could take whipped cream with me!). Oh, mercy! What a perfect ending to a lovely dinner.

Mr. Bunkycooks even brought along some really nice wine (1996 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon) and we had Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (my go to Summer wine and I go to it a lot!) with our dinner. Obviously, Mr. Bunkycooks thought the picnic was pretty special when he pops the cork on the good stuff! Maybe I should have another picnic!

Golden Turkish Figs

It was a beautiful evening, the food and wine were wonderful and the views of the mountains were pretty spectacular. The company wasn’t so bad either. 😉

Since the fig jam was really outstanding, I decided to put this recipe in the post. This one is from Simply Recipes and is truly worth making with fresh figs while they are in season. I used a Golden Turkish Fig (they are a smaller fig) that I bought at the Farmers’ Market, but any fig will do. They were so sweet and juicy that they almost didn’t make it to jam!

These were so sweet and good!

This recipe simplifies the canning procedure a bit, so not to worry about all of that. It was very easy to do. It even cooks in the microwave! I used four smaller jars (4 ounces each). This is something to savor and serve in smaller amounts. This fig jam is spicy and rich. It is perfect with cheese and although I served it with Brie, I think pairing it with something like an Old Amsterdam cheese would be delightful. It will also be a nice addition around the holidays with all of the spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves, so don’t eat it all as soon as you make it!

This jam is so easy to make! You cook it in the microwave.

If you have a picnic bag basket, I say go grab it, get cooking (minus the mayo, unless you bring your cooler!) and fill it up with some of the last of the season’s best fruits and vegetables! I had forgotten how much fun it is to haul all the dirty dishes home afterward have a picnic! You better hurry up before the warm weather is all gone! We nearly froze our butts off the night we went picnicking!

Happy Labor Day and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Spicy Fig and Orange Microwave Jam

Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 2 (8-ounce) or 4 (4-ounce) jars


1 1/2 cups diced fresh figs (6-10 figs, depending on the size of the figs)
1/2 cup seeded, peeled orange, diced
1 1/2 cups of sugar (reduce if you want, though it won’t set as well)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon butter

2 (8-ounce) canning jars


1. Place the ingredients in a large ceramic or glass bowl or casserole (I used what was suggested, which was a 2-quart pyrex measuring cup), stir to combine, let sit for thirty minutes for the fruit to macerate in the sugar.

2. Place in the microwave. You will cook the fruit mixture on the high setting for approximately fifteen minutes. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, after about six to eight minutes, stop the cooking and stir. Continue cooking and stir every few minutes. At about thirteen minutes the mixture should start to get viscous (mine took about eighteen minutes total time to cook). If you spoon out a bit on to a small plate that has been in the freezer, you can push the mixture around a bit with your finger tip to see how thick it is. If it is runny, cook it a couple minutes more. You can also check by seeing how the jam runs off of a spoon. If it seems to firm up a bit as it drips, it’s done.

If you use a large pyrex measuring cup, you can see that you start with close to three cups of liquid. You want to boil it down to two cups.

3. Pour out the jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom from the top of the jars. If you want to keep your jam in a cupboard, then use sterilized jars (heat them in the oven at 200°F for 10 minutes). If you plan to use quickly and will keep them in the refrigerator, regular clean jars will do.

* I did use the sterilized jars so that I could store them in the pantry. I want to have some of this for the holidays!