Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leftover Makeover

The leftover cornbread dressing from Christmas dinner got even soggier sitting in the fridge since Thursday night. So, I gave it a makeover.  

The dressing was a tad under spiced for my taste, so more sage, poultry seasoning, cracked black pepper, and salt. 

Next I diced up 1/2 onion, small stalk of celery, 1/2 green bell pepper, 
 then i stirred in  1/2 C of leftover shredded yellow squash casserole, 6 leftover braised asparagus chopped into small pieces and mixed it all lightly with a fork. 

I put the makeover into a hot oiled cast iron pan then into the oven at 360. After 30 min I dotted the top with butter and continued baking checking at 15 min then 10 and so on till bubbly and browned on top and around the edges.  Yum taste and slightly scorched tongue. 

Once it's cooled, I'll freeze half and reheat half for dinner tonight w/a piece chicken as I didn't get any leftover turkey. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Do You Re-Read Favorite Books

I'm currently re-reading Women Who
Run With the Wolves.  Checked it out of the library today for a bit of light reading (just call me Hermione). 

I've always had a fascination  for Faeirytales. They  teach us,  if we pay attention, about life.

Author, Jungian analyst, storyteller, and true  cantadore, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, explores the female psyche in this book.

I believe that all the characters are aspects of ourselves. We are all of them: the miller's daughter, the miller, the king, the faithful servant, the baby, and Rumpelstiltskin.  

And too, we are the straw and the gold.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Witch on a Witch Hunt (nanowrimo excerpt)

I've been working on my NanoWriMo novel in process, Witch on a Witch Hunt, and too busy to think about 277c5-cover2bjpeg2bwitch2bon2bwitch2bhuntmy Blog, so I'm posting a small excerpt. Critiques welcome.

They drove away in silence.  James driving and Jade deep in her own thoughts wondered how Chadak fit in and was startled by her thought.  Chadak.  Chadak?  Why had his name come to mind?  Bits and pieces of whispered conversations from her youth drifted unbidden to the surface of her mind. 

"Unnatural, they are - evil.  They play with life as if it has no meaning and she was playing with that dark child of hers."

"Shhhh, she'll hear."

"No, she sleeps.  She must leave here soon"

"But, she's so young, she's my baby, her father will be devastated.  Surely they are no threat."

"I have spoken, it is law, and you have known the day would come.  Jadeah has reached the age of reason.  It is time, and not a moment too soon."

"Yes, Nana.  When?"

"Soon.  soon.  She is strong and she bested him.  Would you risk her life to the ire of those without conscience?  No, - not yet.  It is too soon.  She is better at the School.  It is time."

"But Nana, you're strong, you're on the Council.  Why do you fear Morana and this boy of hers?"

"Fear? No, child.   I know her and knowing her and her kind, I prepare me and mine and protect them from the dark side.  That boy is but a child, but a child raised in the dark is destined to walk dark paths.  ‘As the twig is bent...'  Ask me no more.  To speak of evil feeds its power."

James's stared at the road and mulled over the interviews at the university.  This Kane wasn't really intimately known by anyone.  He was a loner.  He spurned social invitations.  None of his colleagues knew what his experiments were about.  They could only point to his published papers.  James would review those tonight.  He glanced aside at Jade sitting beside him.  A small crease above and between her eyes were the only signs that some deep thought disturbed her.  "What is it, Jade?"

"Hmm?  Oh, sorry, I was a million miles away.  Did you find anything out at the University?  How does research on nanotechnology fit in?  I reviewed all his papers.  The possibilities are endless if his theories are correct."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Do You Do When You Have A Cold

I've got another cold and I always resort to the old tried and true 4.

1.  Does chicken soup cure the common cold?  No, but it sure eases the symptoms.  One Mayo clinic study I read years ago found that it promoted the flow of phlegm so ridding the body of the virus quicker.  I’ve had a crockpot of it going for 2 days now and I’ve been sipping the broth throughout the day and replenishing the broth in the pot.

An hour before supper, I might add some vegetables, more onions, more garlic and turn it up before actually serving myself more than just the broth.

Chicken SoupBrown some chicken parts bone-in (Thighs, legs, wings…)
Add 1 chopped onion and sauté til golden
Add 3-4 smashed and finely minced garlic cloves and sauté a few minutes (don’t brown)
Add spices and stir briefly (cinnamon, salt, pepper, cumin, dash of cayenne, and a bay leaf)
Immediately deglaze pot with white wine, vermouth, or chicken broth and water to fill pot.
Add favorite veggies only an hour before a meal, if you want so they'll be a dente and not mush.
Simmer til done.

2. Does a hot toddie cure the common cold?  No, but it also eases the symptoms and I personally believe it speeds recovery.  My earliest memory of this particular remedy goes back to early childhood. 

Hot Toddie
1 hot whiskey
Juice of one lemon
1 generous tablespoon of honey
8-12 ounces of boiling water or tea.

Sip slowly, then wrap up warmly and go to sleep. As a child, I assure you I went to sleep and woke up wet from sweat and ready to go to school.  As I’ve grown older, it takes 2-3 such toddies to, but the effect is the same.

3. Do you really have to drink so many fluids and why?  Yes you do and the reasons are many.  The body loses fluids in a variety of ways: constant blowing of nose, fever and sweating, mouth-breathing. Remember teas are okay if herbal and not diuretic - water is the best.  Flavor it with some juice concentrates, or stir in some frozen OJ or Apple Juice.

4. Does the adage starve a cold, feed a fever have any merit?  I know that feeding a fever makes sense as we’re burning more calories.  But the starve a cold part probably comes from the fact that appetite disappears when you have a cold, or at least mine does.  I notice I eat less and on the upside, I drop a few pounds.  This close to the over-indulgent holidays, that’s a welcome reward for surviving the cold.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Are you the Heroine of Your Story?

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” – Jack Kerouac

Who hasn’t read On the Road? Kerouac understood, as I hope you do, that each of us is the hero, in my case heroine, of our own story. My journal is my book, and sometimes in recollection, I am truly amazed.

simple notebook pen
soliloquy on the page
journal diary

a day once removed
to march cadence on blue lines
fill each empty page

siphoning angst hurt
experience clears the mind
for new adventure

My journal is the running memoir of my life, my confidant, my Wailing Wall, canvas for creative thoughts, and so much more.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

What is Meditation?

Falling into the gap

you meditate long enough
you fall into the gap between thoughts and
you are one with the one and for
you all things are possible like the quark,
you are now both here, and there.
           © Perle Champion

Meditation is not so much a thing to do, as place to go.  It is a realm unto itself, where we become our very own note in the one song that is the universe.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Can Doing Nothing Be Called Research

Golden rain of leaves

aerie, eyrie, perch yellow orange tree
leaves float on unseen breezes 
I sit pen in hand 

wanting to capture
it all on the page but words
cannot hold the wind
                    © Perle Champion

William Wordsworth wrote, “Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher”.

So one could call my gazing hours on end out the window or off the balcony of my aerie watching the seasons change before my eyes as research.  

And, one could call my walking down sidewalks kicking leaves as hands on experience to commit to the page at a later date. 

 fall yellow leaves 6

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Who do you write for?

Laying Life on the Line
she sat pen in hand
journal open before her
her life paced the lines

glory inglory
marching cadence cross the page
bare and unadorned
© Perle Champion

“Never mind the misses and the stumbles…” “The habit of writing for my eyes only is good practice, it loosens the ligaments.” - Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf's quote hits home for me, and if you would write, I hope for you.  There is something so freeing about writing just for yourself with no deadlines.  It doesn’t need to be perfect; it’s a conversation with and exploration of yourself for yours eyes only now or forever unless you decide to share it. 

Saying you want to write is not enough, you must write it.  The truth is so much writing is just mental gymnastics.  A skater skates, a harpist harps, a writer writes. It is the practice that perfects.

Day after day, with no one to see, no one to hear, and no one to applaud, I rise and go to my practice. I write in my journal.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Can You Publish What You Journal?

Filling the white space

white space taunts my pen
my épée etching each word100_2443
slowly on the page

words marching cadence
along pale blue journal lines
and then there is light
                  © Perle Champion 2009

William Wordsworth wrote: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”

I’ve filled the paper or my journal since I was a child: daily observations, traumas & dramas,  poetry, essays, stories and more since I was a child.  I didn’t realize how much publishable material languished there in my own journal until one day.

One day I was rereading an old journal when I realized that one story was practically complete, so why not type it up and send it out. That story was “Rain” back in 2004.  What a thrill it was to see that story so dear me, not only published but resonating with so many readers. 

That day I started paying attention to what I wrote in my journal and noting in the margin whether it would make a good poem or essay or story or a character in a book.  That decision has since stood me in good stead.  Most of what I’ve published originated inthe pages of my journal.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is Writer's Block Just an Excuse to Not Write?

I've often wondered about those folks who use the excuse of writer's block for not writing.  Yesdesk 1, I think it is an excuse akin to a certain in-law of mine who opines, I can't cook.  My response to her is if you can read and follow instructions, you can cook.  My response to writers or wanna be writers. If you can put pen to page, fingers to keys, have a thought in your head, you can write.  

I write everyday in my journal - that's a start, and then there's the Blog challenges, NanoWriMo, and poetry contests, etc.  They all have deadlines, so I make the commitment and on top of my daily journal, I write.

It's day 6 of the BlogHer Blog-a-Day for November (note: they throw that gauntlet down every month), and I'm on track.


I'm still plodding away on my NanoNovel and have 17,545 words to-date, so I’m on track to get my 50,000 words done by and hopefully before November 30.  I plan to do heavy edit by/before December 15, sodesk martini 3 I can take advantage of Amazon’s offer to NanoWriMo winners (anyone who reaches 50,000 words) to publish 2 free hard copies of their novels.  I planned on uploading my finished novel to their Kindle platform anyway, but oh, to see the actual book in print (every author’s dream). 

I’m encouraged by the sales of my non-fiction e-book published on Amazon in late 2012 – How to Journal and How to Publish from Your Journal.  While not a best seller it is selling and yay!  It’s making money.  I opened my P.O. box this morning and amid the bills, 1 rejected manuscript and the detritus called junk mail, was the check - a royalty check from on my book.  It was not large, but oh it's such a nice feeling to get paid for doing something you enjoy.  As I have not promoted the book except for a few Blog posts and an Amazon affiliate link on my Blogs, I’m rather amazed and more than a little pleased.

I like the Amazon affiliate link, as it allows me to link all to the books I review and even those I just like and think everyone should read, and in return I make a few cents commission for having done so.  It adds up over time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How a Journal Keeps You Grounded

In the midst of all things on my November ToDo’s list, I’m still writing my morning pages in my journal - at least 3 handwritten desk w gilded 8pages.  Why?

It’s my creative net to:
  • Capture Ideas of the moment to pursue later.  The pen is my best memory.
  • Give form to my dreams and ponder how to give them wings
  • Brainstorm solutions to problems
  • Write a poem, or essay or capture a character for later extemporization.
It’s my friend to:
  • Give voice to things best kept to myself knowing the confidence will go no further.
  • Give thanks for what I have without sounding maudlin.
  • Cry over losses, and rejoice of triumphs
  • And so much more.
Do you keep a journal?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November is a roller coaster of To-Do's


November is shaping up to be a roller coaster ride of

To do
To do
To do
          To do.

First off, November means a bunch of holiday open house events and gallery openings, and other parties and I try never to miss a one.  Then there’s Thanksgiving holidays, which in my family is a 4-day marathon of gathering, cooking, eating, etc.

Add to that:

NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is always a challenge. In order to write 50,000 words by November 30 I need to write 1667 words per day minimum.
  • Solution: I’m banking words by writing as many words over 2000 as possible on a daily basis, because there will be days I won’t be able to manage more than 500.

BlogHer’s November challenge to post one blog per day for 30 days (NaBloPoMo).
  • Solution: I’m banking blogs, buy writing 2-5 at a time and scheduling them to drop on the appropriate day; cheating and posting NanoNovel excerpts; dashing off a quick haiku or plain poem…

Two poetry contests.  
  • One was due Sunday at midnight, and I got it off @ 6pm that day.  Cross your fingers for me – the prize is $500.  
  • The second one is due November 30 same day as NanoWriMo, so I’ve already started on it in my ‘spare’ time.

Later gators. Tomorrow is my day out with my Mom, soooo I’ve got to write tomorrow’s blog and at least 1667 words on my novel.

What does your November look like?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Where is the History of Women?

red 1 journal
“I prefer the pen. There is something elemental about the glide and flow of nib and ink on paper.”
― James RobertsonThe Testament of Gideon Mack

praise for the paeans
flowing from a woman’s pen
that told their story

quietly they rail
assail anonymity
filling silent pages

pen in hand they stand
long lines of women through time
countless pages writ

journals letters more
words telling the history
men tend to omit
              © Perle Champion
 *Paean:  It comes from the Greek παιάν (also παιήων or παιών), "song of triumph..
 So much of history is about men by men, but there is a rich history of women if one is willing to look.  It exists in journals, letters, and more.  So much has been lost or tossed as of no consequence.  And, some has been preserved for us if we know where to look. 

GJ 3
Southern History Room of Birmingham and the microfiche archives of the Linn Henley Library are rich with such histories.  To pluck any journal from a shelve and begin reading is like stepping back in time and experiencing a life lived.

I’ll be spending some more time there in the next few weeks as I have some research to do.  Birmingham has one of the best library systems I’ve encountered and I’ve known many. 

Note:Day 3 of NanoWriMo – Novel Wordcount is 8,449BlogHer Blog-a-Day challenge 3 for 3

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Is Your Sunday Ritual?

Rock Ritual & Rote
with rote of ritual
rock bottom can become our
solid foundation
© Perle Champion

Ritual can be elaborate, but many are simply the rote tasks we perform on a daily basis and never give a second thought unless life or the weather interferes.

It’s early Sunday morning (really early as I forgot to fall back) and, as with all my days, my first tasks are cat-related: put kibble in one bowl, pour fresh water in the other, put the coffee on.  But, it’s Sunday and Jazzmine somehow always knows when it’s Sunday and waits impatiently for her can of stinky, shrimpy, Fancy Feast for breakfast.  Seven days a week she gets kibble, but Sunday she’ll save the kibble for later and devour her stinky treat.

Sunday breakfasts require an audience, so I sit at the table with my coffee and keep her company whiles she eats.  I open my journal and begin writing my morning pages, much of which made their way into today’s Blog.

No hurry. No walkabout this morning – I’ll probably ride my stationary bike while I watch Today and later do yoga stretches while I watch Charlie Osgood and after I’ll make my way to my desk to transcribe my pages and begin my 2000 words for my NaNo novel..

Finished eating, Jazzmine dashed down the hall, and I know she’s gone out her window kitty door to the balcony.  Her rituals are simple, eat then outside to scratch her post and preen, before retiring to whatever pool of sunshine she can find to snooze in.

Moments later, she is back inside, and staring at me as only a cat can.  Jazzmine feels betrayed, and lets me know it - it's 31 outside.  The odd throaty ‘meorrow’ seems to ask accusingly, ‘what have you done to the weather’. She stares out the window and ventures out once or twice more before giving up and curling up on the electric leopard throw that kept us warm at my desk yesterday.

On the bright side, this is the south and it will be 65 tomorrow and back to a shirtsleeves 70 Tuesday and Wednesday.  Jazz will be able to resume, at least briefly,her daily balcony ritual foray – Winter southern style – gotta love it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How to Over-Book November

Talking to a friend on the phone this past Monday, she commented that omg it’s practically November.  I looked up from my coffee to the kitchen calendar and noted that in my Kitchen, it already was November and it was already booked solid - omg indeed.

I had turned the page early Sunday morning to jot more than a few items down for November and as I could see from Sunday the 26th all the way through to November 1, I just migrated the few events left in October to the November page.

Yes I still use a real calendar, two actually.  I have one in the kitchen for day to day life and one in my Aerie (that’s what I call my office/studio where I write and paint) for various deadlines and some duplication of the kitchen calendar.  Later I will put everything into my Google calendar which syncs with my iPhone calendar.  If they aren’t already there that is.

So, I’ve been looking at November since last Sunday, and still November 1 surprises me with all that I have committed to do this month.
  • Write a 50,000 word novel for National Novel Writing Month –
  • Post a Blog a day for’s NaBloPoMo.
  • Enter 3 poems in the Two Sylvias Press competition for the Russell Prize due tomorrow.
  • Write a brand new poem and submit by the 30th to Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal competition for the Jane Lumley Prize.
Oh, and lest I forget,
  • Luncheon lecture at Lister Hill next week - History of Medicine thru the Ages.
  • Three open house events I never miss in the little neighborhoods which make up some of Birmingham: Homewood, English Village, and PepperPlace.
  • Three or four of my favorite art galleries all have November Christmas shows.
Oh, and then there’s
  • Thanksgiving - the family gathers and cooks and it all starts the day before and runs through the weekend.

What’s your November look like?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You Ready to Write Your Novel?

It's almost that time again. National Novel Writing Month is a mere 16 days away.  

The gauntlet has been thrown down, and I've picked it up again. Every year the good folks at NaNoWriMo invite novelists and wannabe novelists all over the world to write that novel they've been ‘gonna write some day'.

Not only do they challenge you to write the novel, but write it now or at least 50,000 words of it within the 30 days of November.  I've never had a problem with writing the 50,000 word first draft - Whether any of them qualify as a 'Novel' is another question entirely.  I have a few in a drawer somewhere that I edited from time to time.  The best of the lot was my 2012 novel written in early 2001 or 02, which I procrastinated into obsolescence. Yep I was still editing and rewriting when 2012 didn't happen

Ever the optimist, I'm taking a few of my characters from that 2012 novel and my Murder
is a Primary Color novel from last year and involving them in a mystery.  I’m bringing a lot of the backstory forward as it informs the characters. 

I’ve got a working title (Witch on a Witch Hunt); designed a quick cover on PowerPoint; and I’m clipping pix from magazines for my storyboard for different characters, rooms, locations, etc.  I need pictures in my storyline. 

A shout out to Nathan Bransford's for Blog post on the One Sentence, One Paragraph... Pitch.  I managed to construct one of my own and here it is.

Here is my one-liner: A real bewitched teams up with a Sam Spade wannabe to solve a series of anomalous murders in the year 2025.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Enchanted Realms

Songs for Ophelia by Theodora Goss. A book review by Perle Champion.

To call Theodora Goss’s book, Songs for Ophelia, a poetry book would not do justice to the stories that lie beyond the gossamer illustration gracing its cover.  This is a collection of hauntingly beautiful stories some new, some old retold – a storybook for grownups.

The term songs instead of poems suits this collection of prose stories.  It puts one in mind of the bards of old, who with lyre in hand, sang their tales.  In Songs for Ophelia, we accompany our own bard through enchanted realms, traversing the wheel of the year in the ancient way season by season, song by song.  Strewn through this collection are songs populated by names out of legend and myth whose stories we thought we knew full well until we read Goss’s deft retelling.  In her hands the stories are at once familiar and not.  She adds a depth as she explores and exposes possibilities giving each character and place a richer more well-rounded existence on the page
Reviewing poetry is so very different from reviewing a novel, so I’ve chosen to give a small glimpse of one poem from each season of Goss’s enchanted collection.

Spring: In The River’s Daughter, the river morphs from like a father to father in this homage to the death of a much admired writer. “She walks into the river/ with rocks in her pockets, / and the water closes around her/ like the arms of a father…”

Summer: In By Tidal Pools, Goss gives new dimension to Circe affair with Odysseus.  She elevates Circe from the flat stereotype of Homer’s telling to a fully imagined woman with real yearnings.  “At first she watched in case he should return/ by tidal pools…Does he lie on some shore/ where snails leave glistening tracks upon his eyes,/ or has he found his home?”

Autumn: In A Walk in Autumn, Summer becomes a maiden and slain.  Although I prefer to raise a glass to Persephone descending into hades, the imagery in this song is haunting.  “Her name was Summer – her hair the grasses/ her gown the forest’s leafy cloth… She lies unburied, exposed to weather/ in tattered garments the worse for wear…”

Winter: And lastly, there is The Last Night That She Lived.  Who has not pondered these lines in some variation? “When soul from form is rent,/ do streams run over stones/ in valleys of content?/ Or dust, on bones?”

Ray Bradbury once told me to read good poetry or an essay before turning out the lights at night.  He said he kept a good book or two of poetry or essays by his bed and read from one or the other volume every night. He said it turn the mind away from the noise and garbage of the day and prepared the mind for dream.

Since that conversation, I’ve followed that ritual with various volumes Gibran’s Sand and Foam, Leaves of Grass, and Rilke’s Book of Hours to name a few.  Each brings its own brand of dreaming. I’m adding Songs for Ophelia to that short list, perhaps to walk enchanted realms in dream. Thank you Theodora Goss.  

Perle Champion

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
  • 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 (chunky) Butter (pureed)
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 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.
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 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