Sweet Potato Fries

DSC_0004Please don’t tell my boys that sweet potatoes are a vegetable!

Why?

Because I’ve tricked them into eating them.

How?

I bake them up as fries.

Super easy. Super yummy. And -since we bake them and don’t fry them – they are super good for you.

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, are a slow burning carb, and (here’s the kicker) -  they are full of beta carotene which the experts say will help ward of the effects of aging.

Sounds good to me – bring ‘em on!

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Scrub the sweet potatoes well; then slice them into wedges. (The smaller your wedges – they faster they bake.) Place in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil and spice mix over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Place in a single layer on a greased baking dish and bake at 400 degrees till you get the desired crispness. We usually figure about 30 minutes to make a softer fry; 45 minutes or more if you want it crispier.

This should serve 2 people, unless one is really hungry.

But if you’re like me and are serving a family, or have people who eat meals at odd hours – you may appreciate a short cut.

We make the spice mix up in bulk and store it in a container in the cupboard. Then we can whip up a batch of fries without having to haul out all the spice jars.

Master Spice Mix

6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons cumin
6 teaspoons chili powder
6 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons black pepper

We figure about a teaspoon of spice mix per sweet potato – but if you like it spicy – add more!

Enjoy!

Bobby Pins

bobby pinsI thought that once my kids were past the Lego and Polly Pockets phase of life that our plumbing would be safe from foreign objects.

I was wrong.

Nobody warned me about teenage girls and bobby pins.

When I was a teenager bobby pins were something that Grandma wore to hold her “set” until her next appointment with Edna.

My mom had some – a remnant of her teenage years in the 1950′s.  These were stored in the back of her dresser drawer and pulled out once or twice a year as needed to use in our high school plays.

They were not cool.

They were to be avoided at all costs.

But not any more.

Now they are hot commodities; much needed for the casual “updo” that my girls love.

And they are all over my house.

I find them in every room – on the floor, in the couch, on the counter, on the table, in the sink. I think the girls must shed them as they walk or something since I’ve even found bobby pins in their brothers’ room.

They leave rust stains in the shower, get stuck under the baseboards and have babies in the bathroom vanity. I cleaned out the drawers recently and found enough bobby pins to curl and set an entire nursing home wing.

I guess I should count my blessings.

Like the fact that my girls do their own hair now – and it’s beautiful.

And hey – at least bobby pins don’t hurt like a Lego when you step on it on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Have you tried the Greek yogurt that’s all over the store shelves now?

I must admit that I’m really addicted!

But buying Greek yogurt can be pricey – at least double the price of regular yogurt.  Talk about budget busting.

DSC_0004So when I discovered that the fancy pants Greek yogurt in the stores is actually just plain yogurt with some of the whey drained off – I started researching ways to make it myself.

I could buy a large container of plain yogurt and strain it – but that would only save me a few cents. I wanted a lot of yogurt -cheap.

Like $1.39 gallon of sale milk – cheap.

And easy, too!

And I found it!

All I needed was a heavy bottomed pot, a thermometer, 2 quart sized jars with lids, a small cooler, a strainer, a bowl and a dishtowel.

So far – so good.

The actual yogurt is just 8 cups of milk – any kind. Whole milk makes a really rich and creamy yogurt – but everything works right down to skim.

And 4 tablespoons plain yogurt with live and active cultures.

That’s it. No fancy weird stuff you can’t pronounce.

Put the milk in the heavy bottomed pot and heat to 180 degrees, stirring regularly so that it doesn’t scorch.

As soon as the milk comes to temperature, take it off the heat and let it cool to 110 degrees.

Then add your plain yogurt and whisk well.

DSC_0002

Pour this mixture into two quart jars and screw on the lids. Place this jars in the small insulated cooler and pour 120 degree water into the cooler until the jars are submerged nearly to their lids.

Then close the cooler, set it aside and don’t touch it for at least 6 hours. (The longer you leave it in the cooler the more tang your yogurt will have.)

Viola! Six hours later you can remove the jars and have 8 cups of perfectly set plain yogurt.

Now – to make it into Greek yogurt – place the dishtowel in the strainer and set it over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into it and put it in the fridge for several hours. (I have left it on the counter before and it was fine – but don’t tell anybody!)The whey will strain out leaving you with a thick delicious Greek style yogurt.

DSC_0003Whole milk will have less whey and leave you more yogurt while the skim will reduce up to half but will be the equivalent of the 0% fat Greek yogurt you buy at the store.

The longer you let it strain, the thicker the end product.  I’ve heard that if you let it go for 24 hours you will get a product with cream cheese consistency.  You can add a little salt or spices and spread it on a bagel.

I normally go 4-6 hours, depending on when I remember it.

Some people use the whey in their cooking – but I choose to turn it into pork chops and feed it to the pigs. :)

So easy!

Heat the milk. Cool the milk slightly. Mix in the yogurt as a starter. Put them in jars. Incubate in the cooler. Strain. And bingo – you just saved yourself some serious cash.

Happy day!

Well – that’s a problem

Well -that's a problemWe lost our water on Friday.

Pedro was in the shower in the middle of washing his hair when the water pressure dropped and then quit.

This did not make him happy.

As soon as Buddy and I walked in the door after running some errands – he told us.

This did not make us happy.

And since we are not on rural water – but have our own well – there was nobody to call to come fix the problem.

Except for Jan.

So I did.

That did not make him happy, either.

The only one that was unaffected by this earth shaking news was Dagmar – who was on her long shift at the hospital all weekend and could actually shower, wash her hands and flush the toilet.

Jan climbed into the well house when he got home and discovered a blown switch.

Just a blown switch.

Both Jan and I were scared that the well had gone dry. It has been a seriously dry two years. People around us have had it happen. The possibility was very real.

But it was just a switch. This time.

Thankfully we had a spare and by evening the water was back on.

And everyone was happy.

But we’re cutting back on water consumption – just in case.

And praying hard for rain.

Photo by Angelsharum

Hello My Name Is…

hello my name isI am terrible with names.

Sometimes I can’t even remember my own children’s names – and I’m the one who named them.

Once my niece brought her roommate Danni to a family gathering. Such a cute name – but do you think I could remember it?

No way.

Every time I saw this gal I called her something else. Billie, Bobbie, George. It started as an honest mistake – but quickly turned into a joke.

She still remembers me and asks my niece about her crazy (but fun!) Aunt Melinda.

A few weekends ago at my nephew’s wedding I had a nice conversation with a young man that I knew I knew- but I could not remember his name.

Finally – two days later it came to me.

But the most embarrassing moments happen when I don’t even recognize their face.

Last fall at a benefit for a good friend battling cancer – I was stopped at the door by a familiar face. She hugged me and we had the most interesting conversation – mostly because I had no idea who she was.

I picked up enough clues from our one-sided talk to figure out that we knew each other from college. But it wasn’t till later that night that I remembered who she was and how she would know this mutual friend.

Embarrassing.

A similar incident happened at a thrift store recently.  She looked familiar. She sounded familiar. She obviously knew me well enough to carry on a conversation over the rack of ladies long-sleeved shirts.

But I was clueless.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to carry on an intelligent conversation while you are frantically trying to figure out who it is that you are talking to?

I really need to find a way out of these muddles.

Is there a polite way to say, “I’m sure you are very important to me but I can’t remember you?” without offending someone?

Maybe there’s some food I can eat to improve brain function. Aren’t carrots good for that? No – wait a minute – carrots are good for your eyes.

I guess I’m just doomed to embarrass myself.

So if we happen to run into each other and I don’t call you by name or if I look a little confused, help a gal out and introduce yourself.

“Hello, my name is…”

I thank you in advance.