Here Figgy Piggy!!

Figgy PiggyMy niece Colleen is an amazing woman. Not too long ago over coffee she shared an insight with me about gift giving. “Most people appreciate an experience rather than a thing.” She’s right.  I remember most easily and warmly those times that I have received dinners, cocktails, gift certificates to the theater and the like from my family and friends.  So when a long time friend of mine recently reached 50 I decided to help her commemorate with a feast from my kitchen!  I call it Figgy Piggy.

In my back yard I have a fig tree that I know to be about 50 years old.  My father’s aunt planted it and it still bears the most luscious figs twice a year.  This last week the first of the summer crop came in full force.  I picked as many as I could and invited friends over to help take away the plethora.My Figs I like the ones that have almost dried on the tree.  They have that rich chewy texture with a mature fruit sweetness.  My dogs even like them.  Whatever falls on the ground is fair game to them. One summer I reduced a pan of them and made Burnt Fig Ice Cream.  A double yum and 20 minutes on the Ms. Right workout scale.

Something new this time I thought.  What goes good with figs I asked?  Pork, I answered. Pork chops to be precise.  Here is my recipe for Figgy Piggy.


Figgy Piggy

Mix in a bowl

2               Figs, ripe
1/4 c         Walnuts, toasted , chopped
4 oz           Feta cheese
dash          Apple Cider vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prepare the following by inserting a knife  into the side and cutting a pocket

2               Pork chops, 6 – 7 oz each

Stuff each pork chop with the fig mixture.  Close the openings with toothpicks.  Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place a light coat of olive oil on one side of each chop Using a saute pan that can go into the oven add:

2 oz          Olive oil

Set oven temp to 350 F.  Place saute pan with olive oil over high heat.  When oil starts to shimmer place both chops in the pan oil side down.  Brown for about 3 minutes then turn over.  Place pan into oven for about 20 minutes.  Check with a fork for doneness. (Honest to goodness – Doneness- is a culinary term.)

Serve with a teaspoon of Pepper Jelly on top!

Figs & Ice CreamI served it with strings of fresh zucchini and yellow squash from my garden saute’d in butter with salt pepper and a deglaze of white wine.  For dessert we had Vanilla Ice Cream, fresh Figs and Maple Syrup

It was a good meal and a great experience.  At least that’s what she told me.


Eat Well and Smile Often!!




p.s.  Maple syrup and figs? – The bomb!!



Golden Pepper Jelly!!

Golden Pepper JellyI love me some pepper jelly.

One of the very best things about having your own backyard garden is the overabundance of fresh produce.  When those little plant guys start to pop they just go crazy. Even last year with low yields it was bucket after bucket of – small – but tremendously flavorful produce. I had tomatoes galore, some eggplant, more than a few spaghetti squash and peppers, lot of peppers.  There were green bells and red bells and yellow bells and many, many, many of those spicy little serranos. (I actually took a bite out of a fresh one, right off the vine. One word: Tears!)

These were not tears of pain, but ones of joy . . . and pride, of a parental nature.  My life has been one lived in the pursuit of wanderlust.  I have enjoyed many careers, traveled to distant lands doing many things.  My experiences range from mushing sled dogs in the Yukon to spending 10 weeks cooking on Easter Island to traveling Europe by – very small – car with my best friend.  I’ve worked with amazing people from around the world and have learned that I only need enough for food, shelter and a pint at the pub with friends.  One joy and adventure I have not had is in becoming a parent.  I see many of my old high school classmates sharing stories of amazing children, many of whom are now graduating from college. Wow!! I’m not that old!!

While I have chosen not to have children I still recognize that desire to protect, to nurture and to share with the world the pride I have in my offspring.  So I garden. And when the garden bears fruit . . . I can.  Yes I can. That is to say, I preserve.


I take my little pride and joys and stuff them into jars.  All boiled and pickled and put up when they are just right and ripe. I slap a label on them, show them off to my friends and enjoy their goodness into the cold winter months of my old age.  Such good thoughtful children they are.  Never forgetting a birthday or Father’s Day.  Always there when I need a little pick me up, never complaining and always at their best.  Hmmm . . .

Pepper Jelly

4 yellow, orange or red bell peppers, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
5  large red serrano peppers, seeded, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1  cup cider vinegar
1  pkg. SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
5  cups sugar, measured into separate bowl (See tip below.)

In a large pot place canning cars, opening up and lids and cover completely with water.  Jars must be full of water. Place on stove over medium heat and bring to a slow boil. Boil for about a minute then turn off heat leaving jars in the hot water.

Place all the peppers in a blender with 1/2 of the cider vinegar and blend to a rough puree.  Pour peppers in to a 6 – 8 qt spot, add , pectin and remaining vinegar and bring to a slow boil then add sugar. Return to a boil and skim foam as needed.   Cook for  5 minutes then reduce heat to a slow simmer.Turn off heat when starting to fill jars.

Turn off heat to jars and lids but leave them in the hot water.  Dip a clean ladle in the hot water and let sit for 30 seconds.  Remove one jar at a time from the water and place on a baking sheet on the counter.  With the clean sanitized ladle, scoop the very hot pepper jelly into the very hot jar to within 1/2″ of the lip of the jar.  Remove a lid from the boiling water with tongs and seal the jar immediately.  Repeat until all the jelly is put up.

Eat Well and Smile Often!!


p.s. My hat is off to all the parents out there who have given so much of themselves tot he lives of their children.  And to my old friends, I invite you over for some freshly roasted coffee, a slice of freshly baked bread smeared with Golden Pepper Jelly in my garden.  And if you stay long enough I’ll break out the whiskey and you can tell me the real story about parenting!!