Split Pea Soup

from my daughter, Marissa Davis Hefner

2 cups dried split green peas, rinsed
2 cups chopped carrots (not necessary to peel them)
2 cups chopped celery (don’t forget the leaves)
1 head cauliflower, chopped

  1. Add all ingredients in a large pot, pour over enough water or broth to cover by 1″. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
  2. Cook until peas are tender, about an hour. As long as you cook on low with a lid, it is difficult to overcook this.
  3. When peas are tender, the soup will be a bit chunky – you can blend with an immersion blender or regular blender to a consistency of your liking.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder – or any other seasoning you like.
  5. Serve with shredded cheese, sliced green onions, chopped ham or bacon… it’s very versatile.
  • You can substitute 16 oz frozen cauliflower.
  • You can also pour everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • I like to add a bay leaf, dried thyme (1+ tsp), and a pinch of cayenne while cooking – these are the seasonings used at Pea Soup Andersen’s.
  • I don’t usually salt & pepper while cooking – some folks don’t want salt & my daughter Alycia does not like pepper.  I like smoked salt & fresh-ground pepper on mine.
  • If the soup is too thick, add water or broth. 

Crockpot Fig Butter

Adapted from Our Simple Life.  I omitted the wine (didn’t want to use my moscato), substituted brown sugar for the honey and doubled the cinnamon.

6 cups figs with stems removed
3/4  cup brown sugar
1/2  Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Add everything to a crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.  Using a spoon or potato masher, mash figs until all whole figs are broken down.
  2. Crack the lid to let the steam escape and turn crockpot down to low and continue to cook for 6 – 8 hours, until desired consistency.
  3. For a smoother consistency, mix with immersion blender.
  4. Fill hot jars with hot fig butter, seal and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  • You should be able to heap the butter on a spoon with no liquid seeping out.
  • You can decrease the cinnamon if you prefer, but this amount does not give an overly strong cinnamon flavor.

Hot Buttered Rum

from Dennis via Judy Begley Trimarchi

2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup salted butter
pinch of salt
3 sticks cinnamon
6-8 whole cloves
1/2 whole nutmeg
8 cups water
2 cups light rum
whipped cream
grated nutmeg


  1. Combine sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, cloves, whole nutmeg and water in a crockpot.
  2. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  3. Add rum.
  4. Serve in warm mugs with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Judy says, “When I first moved to Virginia from Arizona in 1981, I was fresh out of college.  My boss, Dennis, must have answered 10,000 questions as I learned how to apply the vague book learning of the university to the practical, specific needs of the lab where I was hired.  He may have wanted to run for cover when he saw me coming, but he never did.  One Christmas, he and his wife hosted our entire crew for a wonderful party that included this fantastic Hot Buttered Rum.  Dennis was taken from us by cancer over 10 years ago, but I will never lose everything he taught me.  Enjoy this fabulous beverage when you entertain your friends and family!”

Mexican Pork Stew

This recipe is from Hope Watts, my co-worker at UC Davis. Hope is well known as a fire-eater and this is one of her fiery dishes.

about 1 lb pork*
1 can (7 oz) salsa verde
2 cans (7 oz) salsa mexicana*
1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic


  1. Cut pork into small bite size chucks. Brown lightly in oil with garlic.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add the salsas.
  3. Cover pot and cook for about 30 mins or till pork is cooked. Stir occasionally. Take the pork out and reduce sauce on high until 1/2 to 1/3 amount (if you want it soupier, skip this step).
  4. Return the pork to the sauce and serve w/flour tortillas & sour cream. You will need them to cool the fire 😀
  • The cut of pork doesn’t matter, but Hope says it should have some fat to it.  I don’t think it needs the fat & I prefer to trim the fat from the meat.
  • You can use beef instead of pork.
  • Any red salsa can be substituted for the salsa mexicana
  • I like it saucey so I don’t reduce it down.
  • You can add peppers, onions or more garlic. You can also add potatoes.
  • This also works well in a Crockpot – do not brown the meat & cook for about 4 hours on high.

Crockpot Carnitas

adapted by Marissa Davis Hefner from Erin Parker on Allrecipes.com

bowl of shredded Carnitas
1 lg onion, cut in half & sliced
1-4 fresh jalapenos (or other med heat chiles), sliced
4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast or tenderloin, well-trimmed
3 Tbsp Carnitas Seasoning
1/2 bunch cilantro (do not chop)
2 cups water or chicken broth


  1. Place onion & chiles in crockpot.
  2. Coat meat with seasoning.  Place in crockpot.
  3. Add cilantro.
  4. Pour water or broth around the meat.
  5. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  6. Remove cilantro.
  7. Shred pork & mix with onions & chiles.
  8. Serve on flour or corn tortillas with salsa, diced onions, fresh cilantro, sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice.
Marissa likes to add a few splashes of liquid smoke – I have not tried this.