low effort, maximum return

A few years ago Brian and I bought a house.  Its a small house, just 800 square feet, but it has a large backyard for the dogs and a great central location in the city.  Its been a work in progress since before we moved in – first the bathroom, then a new air conditioner and after that a full replacement of all of our plumbing, with lots of little projects in between.  The kitchen has been on the list for quite some time and while we’ve been able to make a few changes, it still hasn’t gotten the full overhaul that it needs deserves.


We love to entertain and, as everybody knows, company gravitates towards the kitchen.  Why wouldn’t they, when that’s where the good smells, conversation and open bottle of wine are located?  Because our kitchen is small with little space for two cooks let alone extra conversationalists, our guests typically wind up in the doorway, leaning on the frame and trying to stay out of the way as Brian and I hustle about preparing a meal.  We’ve gotten good at the “kitchen dance”, one of us putting a hand on the other’s back as we pass behind them with a hot pan or using a hip to “bump” the other aside so that the oven door can be opened.  Its fun and amusing, but less than ideal.


Eventually the kitchen will be re-designed and our guests will have a proper place to sit with a spot to rest their drink as they watch us cook.  Until then, when entertaining, we will continue to try and prepare as much as we can ahead of their arrival so as to limit the amount of time that two of us are required in the kitchen together.  Getting the meat in the oven, assembling the cobbler for dessert, chopping the veggies to be sauteed just before the meal – anything that will allow us to enjoy our guests without worrying that in our frenzy we might miss a step of our dance and burn an arm.  


If you’re looking for a main dish that has a maximum return for your relatively low effort, – that you can dress quickly, pop in the oven and after 40-60 minutes and a few bastings be rewarded with a beautiful and delicious star component of your meal – this is it.  Not only does it make a lovely presentation, but the pork stays incredibly moist with the figs at its center and the flavors compliment each other wonderfully.  There is a wine and fig sauce that came with the original recipe but in the interest of saving time and minimizing effort we chose not to make it.  I’m sure it would be delicious.

And the pork is perfect for sandwiches the next day, if you’ve got any leftover.


Pork Roast Stuffed with Figs

recipe from The New York Times


  • 1 boneless pork loin, about 2 pounds
  • 1 cup dried figs
  • about 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • wine, if necessary


  1. Cover figs with hot water and allow to soak.  Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Trim pork loin of excess fat as necessary.  Wriggle a thin, sharp knife into each end of meat, making a hole.  Then, use the handle of a long wooden spoon to force a hole all the way through meat, making it as wide as your thumb.
  3. Drain figs when they are tender, but not mushy.  Reserve the liquid.  Stuff the figs into the roast, all the way to the center from each end.
  4. Combine salt, pepper and rosemary and rub it all over meat.  Place meat in a roasting pan and pour about 1/2 cup of fig liquid over top of it.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.
  5. Lower heat to 325 and continue to cook, basting with pan juices every 15 minutes or so.  Add liquid (wine or water) if necessary.  
  6. When an instant-read thermometer registers 145-150 degrees – probably after 40-50 minutes – remove roast to a warm platter. (when checking temperature, be sure that thermometer is in meat, not fruit)
  7. Let sit for 15 minutes.  If you wish, make sauce described here.  I did not, and the roast was still delicious.


In The Blog World:

My cousin Meghann is hosting an Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods Giveaway!  Be sure to check out her blog and enter to win by midnight Friday. Also, don’t forget that she is hosting another Blogger Bake Sale starting next week.  She’s been posting daily Baker’s Spotlights to introduce all of the talented and generous bakers who are donating their goods for a great cause.  Get to know the bakers so you’re ready to bid on your favorite items!

The lovely ladies over at Keep It Simple Foods are hosting a Quaker Giveaway…who wants a free box of Quaker Simple Havest Trail Mix Bars?  Me!!!

Click here for a FREE Barney Butter sample!  Thanks Hangry Heather for mentioning it.  I’m intrigued by this stuff, aren’t you?

Bobbi of NHerShoes is giving away a Danskin workout jacket in a beautiful honeysuckle color…one can never have too many workout clothes!

I hope you all have a great Friday and weekend!!!


20 responses to “low effort, maximum return

  1. I totally understand your gripes with the small kitchen, I’m always pushing around my boyfriend to get dinner ready!

    Also, I would never have thought figs with pork roast, but now that I think of it, that sounds utterly fantastic and your presentation is elegant.

    Thanks for the shout out lady, have a beautiful weekend!

  2. thanks for the shot out girl!

  3. Well you know me, I’m not a huge pork fan. =) But I DO love figs and have been using them in my bircher muesli lately. Love your sandwich photo.

  4. Looove kitchen design; and FIGS!! 😀

  5. that pork looks great with those figs peeking out 🙂

    I think we have the same house! ha 🙂 I love our small 850 sq. feet house, but I can’t wait to have a bigger kitchen!

  6. Man you love those Figs ;-). I bought some at Whole Food last weekend and I am excited to start to use them.

    How many bedrooms does your house have? My 700 sq ft condo only has one so I am wondering how you squeeze more into 800. I vote for Kitchen Pictures!

  7. i’m a vegetarian, but must admit, you make pork look good! beautiful dish!

  8. Hi! I’m keeping my eyes out on here for the best meal to cook when the fam is in town the end of May. This may be a contender! Seems easy enough that even I could do it!

    Um…is it user error? I couldn’t get the last two links to work. Maybe just me. Help! 😀

  9. Oh wow, that looks incredible! And I love how simple it is – only a handful of ingredients. If I could just get over my extreme aversion to touching raw meat…

    In our old condo, Dave and I had the teensiest kitchen of all time. It was galley-style and had one miniscule window. Now we hang out in our kitchen more than any other part of the condo – maybe making up for lost time in the old place.

  10. Hi All! I’m sorry the Barney Butter link isn’t working anymore…and I forgot to link to Bobbi’s specific post. WordPress is being a little weird for me right now so I can’t update, but as soon as I can, I will.

    Have a great day!

  11. I loved this post.. especially the part about the kitchen dance. Anyone who has a small kitchen knows exactly what you’re talking about!!

  12. i can spot fig from miles away! that looks so fab. yum 🙂

  13. oh WOW! Gorgeous stuff 🙂

  14. Andrea,
    The same thing happens at our house whenever we have people over. I always tell Chris that his job is to keep our guests in the dining room or living room while I wrap up things in the kitchen, but everyone ALWAYS ends up in the kitchen with me as I run around frantically trying to get everything ready. 🙂

    That pork roast look so good, and I love how you interspersed the pictures throughout your post. Again, you need to write for a gourmet cooking magazine. You are truly so talented!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  15. Oh! What a GREAT idea!! I recently tried dried figs for the first time, and am OBSESSED!! Love putting them in my oatmeal 🙂

  16. i just got my free sample of barney butter in the mail… definitely different from peanut butter. beautiful pictures of the food

  17. Did you get your free BB yet?

  18. Pingback: August Monthly Mouthful | Chew On That

  19. Pingback: August Monthly Mouthful | Blam Yo!

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