Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throw Back Thor's Day #TBT

It's Throw Back Thor's Day, and as I looked back through old photos, I was reminded of the pre-digital world I grew up in.

Yes, there were cameras, but not everyone had one. Our family didn't get one until around the time, we shipped out for England in 1955.  

Before that and even after that, we went to the local portrait studio. These studio trips were always reserved for birthdays and Easter and always required a new outfit. And then there's the one in the tacky flower girl dress.

The ones in color, were hand painted for an extra fee. Color cameras were neither readily available nor affordable to the public til mid to late 50's. We made do with the old Brownie and actually had an 8mm color movie camera before we got the Kodak color camera,  #TBT  


pic TBT 52-55

Monday, August 11, 2014

Figs, Figs, & Figgy Things

One of the many pleasures of my apartment is the fig tree in the back yard.  It is as old if not older than this 4-plex I live in which was built in 1938 according 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.

figs in bowl garden

  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 alittle molasses for flavor and nutrients.  You get the point.

fig to jar
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
Ingredients:
  • 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.
Directions:
  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 (chunky) Butter (pureed)
Makes: Approx. 1 1/2 cups
Ingredients:
  • 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
Directions:
Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture is desired consistency.  I like chunky (fig jam); some folks like smooth (fig butter). 

 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.
Or
Freeze in ice cube trays or pan and cut into cubes, store cubes in Ziploc bags for future use.

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. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday, Moon's Day

Monday is Moon’s day (Old English mon(an)dæg "day of the moon) and the beginning of the work week for most people.  I've retired from the 8-5 of Dilbertville, but I find I still begin most of my new projects on Monday - old habits die hard.   

Lately, I’ve been painting again with a vengeance- mostly on rescued wood.   I've posted a few below. I'll be opening an Etsy.com store as soon as I have a bit more inventory.  I already have interest in a few I've posted on FaceBook earlier which is encouraging.   I’ve noticed that I have an obsession with the moon.


  • My cat series, ‘Meowling at the Moon’, sold well a few years ago when I had a small show at Daniel Day Gallery, so I’m working on a new series.
  • My Fems in the Wild did almost as well
  • Small villages nestled in nature are next up.



  • IMG_4595













    blue fem w cat

     I’m still writing.
    • Working on a review of a friends book, which I will post on the Blog as well as Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, etc. 
    • Finalizing some essays to pitch to a few magazines.
    • Attending Lister Hill Library’s WriteNow program - just 2 sessions left, has helped me immensely to organize and create real-time deadlines for my writing projects.  Big thank you to Jennifer Greer for her encouragement and help.  

    • IMG_4594    3 moons fem forest       cat meow at moon

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Foodie Friday – The Perfect Easy Soothie

    Food for the weekend, or a weekday for that matter, should be easy.  What could be easier than a frosty smoothie for breakfast on a hot summer morning.  I put a lot of good things into my smoothie, so instead of taking out all the ingredients every time I want a one, I prepare 6 or more at a time, then I can go several days without having to go thru all the assembly.
    IMG_4529

    Breakfast Smoothie premix (store in next to smallest mason jars).
    • 1 or 2 scoops favorite protein powder (follow package directions)
    • 1 Tbs golden ground flax seed
    • 1-2 Tsp ground psyllium husk
    • 2 Tbs rolled oats
    • 1 Tbs Organic cocoa powder
    • 1 scoop MSM (follow package instructions)
    • 1/8 Tsp cayenne (I like heat and it’s good for metabolism)
    • 1/8 Tsp Turmeric (because it’s good for me)
    Make the Smoothie
      smoothie 2
    • 8-12 oz Liquid (I use juice, almond milk or water and sometimes I use yesterday’s coffee)
    • 1 container of smoothie premix
    • Fruit if desired (I love half banana, figs or blueberries in season)
    • 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses (acquired taste – I love the stuff)
    • 3 or more ice cubes.
     Blend til cubes assimilated – may have to scrape down sides. 

     This smoothie usually consumed around 7 in the morning, keeps me going til way past noon.

     Happy Friday – Off to Art show and lecture this evening at Space One-Eleven.