Sunday’s in the Kitchen

I spent Sunday in the Kitchen prepping things for the week.

Squeeze all the lemons; freeze in ice cube tray; put in Ziploc bags and store for fresh lemons whenever I need them for tea or water or a  cook-tuna-salad-3recipe.

I ran the Jalapenos thru the food processor; put them in a ziplock bag; press them flat (about 1/8th inch); seal and freeze. I break off a piece to make fresh salsa whenever I need it.

The 3 tomatoes that were too soft for much of anything, I through into a ziplock bag; sealed and threw into the freezer. I’ll pull them out for a sauce or soup some day. Frozen tomatoes are easy to peel and taste good in various recipes (not salsa).

Then, as I’ve too much to do the rest of the week, I made a double can tuna salad and stored it in a mason jar.  Recipe below.  I love tuna salad. I can put it on a cracker for a quick snack; make a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes; put a scoop atop a salad for extra protein.  I’ve also take a cup and mix in some kind of binder like panko, ground oatmeal or flax (grind them in a coffee grinder); quinoa flakes.etc.; form into patties and fry in olive oil.  Oh, The salad lasts about a week, but it also freezes well which when thawed is good to make patties not as a salad. Yum.

I also put some navy beans in the crock pot to cook.  They are so handy for an impromptu humus, a pureed soup, chicken chili, mashed for a quesadillas, scattered atop a salad.  They also freeze well, although then they are only good for soup or to mash.

Tuna Salad

2 Cans Water packed Albacore Tuna well drained
2 Stalks Celery finely minced
3 small dill pickles minced
1 cup or minced bell peppers any and all colors (green, red, yellow…)
1 medium carrot (optional – I like lots of veggies) minced.
dash of cayenne (optional – I like spicy)
2 Tbs Mayonnaise
2 Tbs spicy mustard

Mix well; store firmly packed in tall mason jar. Lasts about a week.


Figs Every Which Way

One of the many pleasures of my apartment is the fig tree in the back yard.  It is old, as old if not older than this 4-plex I live in which was built in 1938 figs in bowl gardenaccording to county records.  That’s three quarters of a century.  It is bent and gnarled and many of its branches lie upon the ground, but every summer since I moved in the branches are laden with the largest figs I have ever seen.

Here are some ways I use my bounty – recipes follow post with a secret at the very end –Enjoy.

  1. Fresh:  Sliced onto my almond butter sandwich for breakfast or lunch, quartered and tossed in salads, minced into a balsamic vinaigrette, added to balsamic reduction relish w/red onions.
  2. Frozen whole: Freeze many whole in Ziploc bags. They make great ice cubes for white wine or champagne, which once they thaw are a tasty treat.fig tree 1
  3. Fresh and Frozen Raw Jam Spread: Use blender or food processor to make a fresh raw fig jam spread. I make some chunky and some pureed, and some plain fig and some spiced up (recipe below).  Store the amount you will consume within a week in a sterile jar.  Freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Store them in the freezer Ziploc bags.  The cubes come in handy as natural sweeteners for:
    1. Oatmeal and other cereals – 1-2 cubes
    2. Spread on toast.
    3. Stirred into yogurt.
    4. Added to cookie, cake, bread recipes in addition to honey and molasses or whatever sweetener you use.
    5. Stirred into spaghetti sauce. 1-2 cubes add an interesting flavor note, fiber and valuable nutrients without being overpowering or readily identifiable.
    6. Added to mole and other sauces in lieu of sugar or chocolate.
    7. Added to various salad dressings.

Today, as my freezer is maxed out, I’m adding a new recipe to the list.

  1. Fig Butter/Jam made in the crockpot.

I don’t particularly like to cook my fruits. I think nutrients are lost in the process, but I’m out of room in my freezer and I have many figs to go, so Fig Butter or Jam seemed like the next best way to go.  I will store them in the fridge, however instead of the pantry.

I found several recipes on-line that are almost what I want, and I’ve taken a little from each and made my own.  I always say, if you don’t cook, follow the essentials of a recipe exactly.  But, as any true home cook knows, if you know the rules, you can break them, change them, tweak them and make any recipe truly your own.

I object to over use of sugar in our prepared foods today especially in fruit that is already sweet on its own.  That is usually the first thing to go in any recipe of mine.  My oatmeal cookies are sweetened with a purée of golden raisins softened in hot frozen concentrate apple juice and a fig to jarlittle molasses for flavor and nutrients.  You get the point.

I love the flavor of maple syrup or organic wild honey which both marry well with figs, so I’m making my first batch with  1/2 cup Maple syrup (Grade B is more nutrient dense and flavorful than Grade A).  I’ll probably be picking more figs later in the week, so I’ll do a later batch with raw honey, but I’m out of honey at the moment.

My little crockpot only holds about 5 cups really packed in of chopped figs, so here’s my recipe:

Easy Crockpot Fig Butter jam

Makes: Approx. 4 – 8oz jars


  • 5 cups figs washed, stemmed, halved then quartered
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, or apple juice or white wine
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla optional – all the recipes I read called for vanilla; I personally consider it non-essential.


  1. Toss all ingredients in bowl to mix ingredients then and put into crockpot.
  2. Cook on high for 2 hours, checking from time to time to mash down with potato masher and stir.
  3. Turn crockpot to Low; crack lid to let steam escape for duration of cooking –  6 – 7 more hours.
  4. Remove lid occasionally, shake of condensation off lid into sink, stir and mash figs.(I prefer chunky jam consistency; if you prefer buttery smooth, use immersion blender in last hour of cooking)
  5. Fill hot sterilized jars with hot fig butter, put on reusable canning lids and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool.

If you have a cool pantry, store there. I prefer to refrigerate or freeze in portions (when I make room in the freezer).

This recipe only makes about four 8-oz jars, but as it’s so easy and I work at home, I can do a batch a day without too much effort.  If you have a larger crockpot (wish I did), larger batches work just fine. For those working folks, it’s a good weekend or overnight project.

Raw fig jam

Makes: Approx. 1 1/2 cups


  • 20 – 25 fresh, ripe figs
  • 1/8 cup water or white wine (more if liquid needed
  • 1/8 cup orange or apple juice (more if needed)
  • 2 T honey or maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract optional


Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until it the mixture is desired consistency.  I like chunky; some folks like smooth.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of Jam – Store in clean preferably sterilized Mason jar and keep refrigerated.  Lasts up to 2 weeks as long as only clean utensils are used to scoop out.


Freeze in ice cube trays, store cubes in Ziploc bags for future use.

  1. Here’s my secret. The freezing and blending are a piece of cake, but truthfully, after the 2nd or 3rd crockpot batch (mine is small and holds only 5 cups of cut figs), running low on honey or maple syrup, I simply tossed cut up figs in ½ cup frozen concentrated apple juice and 1 tsp cinnamon and then cooked as above.  They are just as sweet and just as good.

Do you love leftovers? I do.

Leftovers part 1. 
My brother, Rick’s, cheesy scalloped potato ham bake was one rich dish among all the other rich dishes, so I only had a few mouthfuls.  Easy to do because I know he and mom will insist I take some home for later.  We set an abundant table and there is always plenty to go home with each of us.

I love potatoes and took several generous scoops in a mason jar to add to my other leftover containers. Frititta 1

This morning I put a generous portion in my smallest well-oiled iron skillet, cutting the potatoes into smaller portions, I added diced bell peppers, spinach and let it all begin to brown on the stovetop.  Then I beat an egg with a dash of Worcestershire and some Sriracha (red pepper sauce), poured it over the potatoes, and put it into a 350 oven to finish (about 15 minutes).  Yum.

Leftovers part 2
Sometimes, as above, I want leftovers to be different than the original, but not when it comes to turkey and dressing.  The Friday after thanksgiving I love to duplicate the original.  I pull out a slightly larger iron skillet, butter it and carefully arrange the turkey and dressing with liberal dollops of gravy over them, followed by a portion the 3-cheese broccoli mushroom bake and some sweet potatoes prepared with onions and other spices – no sugar thank you. 

I’ll put this to reheat in the oven around 6 to be ready by 7 and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner encore.

Replete, I’ll pour another glass of wine and settle down on the couch to read, write in my journal, listen to music or throw on an old movie – programming is barren on the wasteland tonight.

Day 22 Just 2500 words today & 1 Blog Today NaNo / NaBlo

Day 22 of NaNoWriMo Wordcount 44,277/ NaBloPoMo (22 for 22) 

Writing on Novel was a little slow this morning in part due to the bottomless champagne glass at the McMinn Clinic last night, but meeting a friend for a dos Equis at Jim ‘n’ Nicks and perhaps the glass of Cabernet I poured when I got home have something to do with it.

Anywho, I got up poured a cup of coffee, put a Stauffer’s Spinach soufflé on the counter to thaw, grabbed the tiny tablet-sized TV from its kitchen corner and climbed back into my warm bed.  Sipping coffee, I alternately watched the Today Show and along with Jazmine watched the crazy squirrels bouncing on unsteady tree branches just outside the windows.

I can only stay in bed so long, but although brief it was a nice idyll and out of my normal routine.  I turned the oven on to 375, preheated my smallest iron skillet which I’d smeared with bacon drippings.  There’s nothing like the aroma of bacon.  You can use butter or any oil you choose, but I happen to love bacon fat for certain things like cornbread or cooking breakfast.  Everytime I cook bacon, I transfer the drippings to a small mason jar in the fridge.spinach souffle jpg

The soufflé was thawed enough to cut up and fit in the skillet.  I don’t and won’t own a microwave.  I don’t and won’t cook in those plastic containers that frozen box food comes in.  I’ve turned down the only coffee in sight if it was served in Styrofoam, never used Teflon or other coated cookware.  I’ve always been this way which made many of my friends laugh at what they thought were my peculiar obsessions back in the day.  Now with all the stories circulating about dangers of microwave cooking and plastic containers and all the other toxins we consume daily, many of them have jumped on my bandwagon.

Excerpt from Murder is a Primary Color:
Virtual Search (cont’d)

 Hurley turned to Janet and smiled, “Some hunky guide – Don’t suppose we can have a Stephanie next time?  Let’s eat, I’m starved.”

Janet laughed, stuck the flashdrive into her Levi’s watch pocket, texted the cab service, and they left arm in arm to find a pizza and discuss their findings.  They rode in silence down the lift to the tram-stair to the ground and the waiting servocab.  “I better call Jade” remarked Janet as the car seat formed around her like a glove and secured her gently in place.  She spoke to the phone in her lap “phone Jade face to face”  the panel in front of her lit and a disembodied voice said “Accessing”.

Jade’s face appeared.  “Hello Janet, what did you find?”

“Lot’s, whatever you do, don’t let Kane out of your sight.  Jade, there’s lots but here’s the nut:  One, all victims are women; two, all had husbands, estranged or divorced or just out of town at the time.  And Jade three.  Three, all the men came out of nowhere just nowhere and they’re all gone with no trace – nor forward except your Mr. Kane.  If he gets away, you’ll never find him.  We’re going to follow a few loose ends, but that’s the nut.”

Mañana y’all.