Fig and Barley Pudding inspired by Outlander

Fig and Barley Pudding - Outlander on STARZ Episode 110

Jamie has helped to heal the rift between The Mackenzie and his war chief and Claire has taken him back to his bed. The only outstanding item on young Mr. Fraser's list of things to do is to convince the Duke of Sandringham to help him clear his name.

Alas, as we book readers know, Jamie needs to watch his back(side) when engaging the help of the Duke.

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Enter that magic potion of Mrs. Fitz's, her centuries-old cure for costiveness, fig syrup.

While I'm always amongst the first to agree that good food is medicine, unfortunately fresh figs are months away from ripe for most of us in the Northern hemisphere, and therefore a batch of that most-effective syrup is beyond our reach.

Instead, I've chosen another traditional receipt, one that lends itself very nicely to the inclusion of a few figs...just in case the Duke comes prowling.

pot barley

Barley, and it's more primitive relative, bere, has been grown for a millennium in the Highlands and Outer Isles. Its hardy stalks weathered the harsh northern climate, short growing season and low pH soil better than any other crop, even oats.

Barley porridge, in it's most traditional form is nothing more than barley boiled in salt water, mixed with raisins and currants, and served with a bit of cream and honey.

If you really want to embrace the feeling of living in an 18th C croft, eating 18th C food, then I encourage you to boil up some barley and go for it. If you're feeling particularly wealthy for a subsistence farmer, then you could soak your dried fruit in a wee dram of whisky before adding it to your barley porridge, I mean pudding.

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My more modern version contains milk, cream and everything else that made 18th C food tasty. Citrus fruits were rare back then, but they were available...especially to a wealthy clan such as the MacKenzies.

And while Mrs. Fitz probably would have poured all of the ingredients into some cheesecloth and boiled it in a kettle set over the hearth, my stove top method is quicker, less messy, and a whole lot more conducive to modern life.

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