I’m writing this with a chest full of smoke, sitting at home in front of my desk. The wildfires are the worst they have ever been in Oregon’s recorded history, and our neighborhood is on the border of Level 1 evacuation. The sky is blotted out with smoke, and it has seeped through the cracks of our old home and the smell of fire has permeated everything. As someone whose life is deeply tied to nature, it breaks my heart to see the damage that climate change is doing to my beautiful home state, and all the incredible rural plains and forested landscapes that make this place so special, literally going up in smoke and turning to ash before my eyes.
60% of Oregon is in a severe drought, and things will only get worse if the United States doesn’t course-correct very soon. There are so many things we could do to slow down the effects of climate change, nurture the earth, and restore the balance that’s been lost. But because of the inherent greed (both individual and corporate) within capitalism, and the lack of meaningful legal environmental protections from our government, we are on a path set towards the increasing destruction of our natural world.
We need to elect leaders who truly care about the landscape and the environmental culture within our borders, and will be brave enough to stand up for it and make big and bold changes. Please, register to vote. It takes less than two minutes, and it is more important than ever that you cast your ballot for someone who will make the world better for future generations. 83% of states are allowing mail-in ballots this year, too, but some of them require you to apply for it in advance starting now. You can read a breakdown of the different mail-in ballot + voting options by state here. Definitely google your state’s name and “mail-in ballots” to see what you have to do to make that happen. And remember that the deadline to mail in your ballots is October 28th.
I definitely don’t feel safer or happier than I did 4 years ago, and I doubt many folks do. I know it’s unpopular to get even slightly political on a site about food, but it’s hard to ignore it when it’s literally choking me in my own home. I don’t have the luxury of putting my head in the sand and pretending that everything is just dandy. Because it very much isn’t. Ahem!
So, if you find yourself incredibly wound up and stressed about the world at this late summer season, I have a very simple + soothingly aromatic recipe for this fig and hop simple syrup below. You can buy dried hops very easily online, but if you have them fresh from the vine that works great too. Hops are an herbal flower that has a calming effect on the human body, and they’re often used to brew + flavor IPA beers. But their uses extend much beyond just beer brewing, and include herbal teas and soothing bath salt mixtures. When you combine hops’ herbal floral flavor with fresh juicy figs, it creates an insanely fruit-forward simple syrup that tastes like honeydew melon concentrate. For real, it’s absolutely wild! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you take action against climate change with your vote this autumn. <3
Fig and Hop Simple Syrup
- 1 cup hops dried or fresh
- 5 ounces fresh figs quartered
- 16 oz mason jar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Place the hops and fresh quartered figs in the mason jar and set aside. Heat the water and sugar in a small pot over medium high heat, stirring a few times to help the sugar dissolve.
Once the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, pour the hot syrup into the mason jar with the figs and hops. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
Strain the syrup, setting aside the figs and hops. Keep the syrup in a mason jar in the refrigerator. You can eat the figs, but they will be very sweet since they've been steeping in syrup. Compost the hops.
The syrup is wonderful in cocktails, in a quick lemonade with some lemon juice and ice water, in iced tea, and iced matcha lattes. It has a delicious honeydew melon flavor to it!