do the things you think you cannot do – but first – a citrus, fig, & olive tapenade

December 30, 2012

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

That little gem from Eleanor Roosevelt is the basis for both my New Year’s resolution for 2013 and my motto going forward. I resolve to do the things I think I cannot do.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing the things that were the right things to do. The decent, proper, safe things …. being the good mother, wife, employee, daughter, and friend. Being a hard working, law-abiding, tax-paying, silver-polishing, dog-walking, book-reading, responsibility and obligation bearing, generally morally upright citizen (with occasional minor lapses and a bit of swearing).

But going forward I’m going to start doing the things I thought I could not do… and I’m not even clear what those things are yet. Perhaps they’re big, ambitious, things like walking the Camino, or going off to the Himalayas to join a clean-up mission, or travelling the world solo, or finding a publisher for my next book. Or perhaps they’re little things like not worrying about the dust on the chandelier, abandoning the Oxford comma (GASP – perhaps that’s a bit radical), throwing paint at a canvas, meditating, singing out loud, being useful while sloughing off some duties and responsibilities (and guilt), and having fun. Or maybe conquering my fear of public speaking. Or just simply following my heart.

I think I’m talking about living fully, living zestfully.

In the meantime, while I’m figuring out all the things I thought I could not do and working out how to do them… I’ll keep myself busy in the kitchen doing the stuff I really like to do – like cooking and eating.

I’m very fond of trying new things in the kitchen. Especially tasty new things.

Recently I had a citrus fig tapenade. It had a lot of figs and olives in it – two of my favourite foods. I don’t have the recipe for it, but I found a fig and olive tapenade recipe on one of my all-time favourite blogs – David Lebovitz’s – Living the Sweet Life in Paris.  I looked at a few versions and came up with the recipe below. You can follow the link to check out the original version.

There are a number of ways you could serve this – with a baguette and fresh chèvre, with some really good biscuits (like the Raincoast cranberry and hazelnut crisps in the photograph), or on a pizza base grilled with a mild cheese like brie or chèvre and perhaps some thinly sliced pear and fresh basil leaves, and an arugula salad on the side.

The flavour improves overnight – so I’ve made mine today in preparation to have with a little champagne before dinner tomorrow night – New Year’s Eve.

In 2013, I hope you do the things you think you cannot do. Bon appétit and happiest of New Year’s.

Zestful Citrus Fig and Black Olive Tapenade

1/2 cup black mission figs, stemmed and quartered

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup white wine (I used Riesling)

1 cup kalamata olives, pitted

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp capers

1 clove garlic, mashed

1/2 tsp orange zest (if you add more, do so cautiously – too much zest at once can be overpowering!)

Bring the figs, water, and wine to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the figs are tender and the liquid is absorbed (approximately 25 minutes). Cool slightly. Drain off any excess liquid.

Combine the figs and all remaining ingredients in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Do not puree.  Bottle and refrigerate. Will keep up to a week in the fridge.

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  • Reply chef mimi December 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    The crackers look incredible! Must find them! Thanks!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      The tapenade is terribly unphotogenic (I know the feeling!) but is so truly yummy. And yes – perfect with those biscuit / crackers.
      Happy New Year and I look forward to your 2013 posts.

  • Reply Elly December 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Good attitude mumma – love this resolution (and you, of course). But please don’t abandon the oxford comma!!


    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      By popular demand (I’ve received a couple of emails about this already) the Oxford comma is back. Turns out I’m not that radical….

  • Reply My Little Home and Garden December 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Your resolution sounds wonderful. “Living zestfully”; I’ll be mulling over that fine idea. Happy New Year to you.

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      How lovely to find you here My Little Home and Garden! Thank you for visiting and all the very best to you for the happiest and healthiest of New Years.

  • Reply johnnysenough hepburn December 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    All of those ingredients are definitely for my palette. Always love a tasty tapenade.
    Don’t quite get the Oxford comma – shall Google! I think I probably use too many comas in my posts.
    Love the idea of your New Year’s resolution, ‘Living zestfully’. Let’s hope you don’t sprain anything. I guess I’ve lived sort of like that for too long.
    Happy Hogmanany!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      I laughed out loud when you said you hope I don’t sprain anything!!! You are quite fabulous!

      Happy Hogmanany to you too (and I’ll go google that….)

  • Reply Food and Forage Hebrides December 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Couldn’t agree more about David Lebovitz’s blog. It’s fabulous!

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Yes – he’s charming! But then so is your Hebridean blog (Hebridean – is it a word?)

      • Reply Food and Forage Hebrides December 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

        Yes, Hebridean is good, and you are so kind, always good to know somone is appreciating a new blogger’s efforts. Thanks for you support, look forward to reading your blog in 2013, and have a great New Year! Tracey

  • Reply nodairykitchen December 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

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  • Reply Jeanette December 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Sounds 100% yummy! Here’s wishing you all the very best in 2013! I think I’ll also dedicate this year to what is (for me, anyway) the road less traveled;-)

    • Reply A Taste of Wintergreen December 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      How lovely Jeanette – the road less travelled. An ironic choice for such a global traveller – but in so many ways – you are already on the road less travelled.
      Wishing you and yours the happiest, healthiest New Year ever!

  • Reply Laura January 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Great post Mum! I have been craving this since I first tasted it and I am excited to try my hand at it!

  • Reply Tonette Joyce January 21, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Great job, this looks fantastic…And go for it;I’m trying to branch out myself.Keep moving forward and upward!

  • Reply a little guilt and a lot of cranberry almond & rosemary crisps | a taste of wintergreen February 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    […] crisps are perfect served with Citrus, Fig and Olive Tapenade. If you’re not dairy-free – you could also try them with a soft cheese such as chèvre or […]

  • Reply the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad | a taste of wintergreen August 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

    […] But besides all that – figs are just plain trendy. They’re a current high-fashion food item cropping up in kitchens and menus all over the place. And for good reason. They’re on various super-food lists for their many health-related benefits and because they are good served raw, cooked, and dried – and work in both savoury and sweet dishes – they are a fabulous ingredient to work with.  My favourite pizza is made with pesto, figs, and blue-cheese and one of my all-time favourite appetizers is this fig and olive tapenade.  […]

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