Have you ever done that thing, where you go to Whole Foods or Edge of the Woods or the farmers market or whatever, and you get all excited about all the vegetables and fruits in the produce section, and you totally blow your budget on them, but then you get home, and cooking all that fresh produce seems like way too much of an undertaking?
Hmmph, you say, "I'll make that stuff on my day off. Let me just heat up that old eggplant parm that I regretted from last night." Then your day off rolls around, and all of a sudden you have Stuff to Do that is much more important than your Stuff to Cook. And then it's a week later, and your produce-aisle trophies are starting to look a little weird, but you can't justify throwing them out.
This is when you just have to jam out, man.
Not with musical instruments, mind you. I'm assuming you have neighbors, and impromptu jamming (well jam bands of any kind, really) can get pretty annoying. Plus it doesn't do anything about the fast-expiring produce on your kitchen counter.
I'm talking about making jam or preserves. Not like, with peaches or strawberries or anything boring like that. But with things like tomatoes and bacon and leek and garlic. You can make a jam out of anything and it will be amazing. (Not so with jam bands, sadly).
And savory spreads have the virtue of being more surprising, more complex, and more versatile than their sweeter counterparts.
Try a bacon jam spread on bread with a fried egg — or shaken with bourbon and bitters for a variation on the Old-Fashioned. Or sauteed with red cabbage and (even more) pork. Tomato jam is great on potatoes, and great on toast with goat cheese. In just about ever instance, I was able to find at least three or more different uses for savory jams. Try doing that with your grammy's peach preserves. (Actually, in the interest of fairness I have to concede that those are also really good with bourbon.)
Don't be intimidated by the existing literature. You don't need any ridiculous canning supplies. There's no need for a water bath — these spreads won't last much longer than two weeks in the fridge, anyway. So you really just need a few of those clasp-top Ball-type jars — easily available at your local Family Dollar, and frequently in the kitchen section of your local Goodwill, Savers or Salvation Army. And a pot.
Fall Is My Jam Spread
1 lb applewood smoked organic bacon, cut into 1" strips (don't go cheap here; this is the star of the show)
1 large Bermuda onion
5 cloves garlic (pro tip: don't buy a ridiculous garlic-related kitchen gadget, and don't spend forever "mincing" the dang stuff, either; just hold the flat side of a large kitchen knife over each clove and press down with your weight, this will render perfectly rough-chopped garlic)
4 black figs
1 cup coffee (Cafe du Monde's chicory coffee really enhances the bacon's smokiness; you can find it at the Asian grocer on Orange Street at Crown for around $5)
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (with "the mother")
Sriracha to taste
In a large, non-stick pot, cook the strips of bacon in batches over medium heat until it's all golden brown. Remove.
Now brown the onion and the garlic in the rendered bacon fat.
Add the bacon and the rest of the ingredients (except for the extra water). Now cook on medium low for about 2-3 hours, adding the about 1/4 cup of water every 1/2 hour or so. (You can skip the extra water adding if you just make it all in a crock pot.)
Place your jam in one of those glass jars. Eat it.