Saturday, December 20, 2008

How I Made the Sweet Potatoes at Thanksgiving

There seems to be a potato theme on my blog. It's not intentional, and I think it will probably go away. But in the meantime, my sister-in-law Misty has requested the "recipe" I used to make the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving this year. I have to admit, they were pretty tasty. Unfortunately, it was somewhat of an accident. I've been making mashed sweet potatoes for years, and they are always pretty good, but usually I don't go back for seconds. This year I did. And Misty did. And she doesn't even like sweet potatoes. So, for all of our sakes, I'm going to try to reconstruct what I did.

I think I started with about 4 lbs of sweet potatoes (beauregard yams?). Yes, this made a massive amount of potatoes.

I baked them. In fact, I forgot to fork holes in them, something my mom guessed when she smelled that burnt-brown-sugary smell in the house as I was giving the kids a bath. Gabriel had helped me toss them into the oven. You should probably fork holes in them and put them on a baking sheet or something unless you don't mind cleaning your oven. It smells good, though, when they drip.

After letting them cool about 20 minutes or so, Gabriel helped me peel them and put them in a huge glass Pyrex bowl (which becomes important later unless you want to transfer to an oven-safe dish).

Then we chunked up an entire stick of butter and let it begin to melt over the potatoes. I added about 1/2 cup of molasses, 1/2-3/4 cup of brown sugar, a ripe banana, salt, pepper, cinnamon (maybe 1-2 tsp), fresh grated nutmeg (maybe 1/2 tsp.) and orange juice to moisten (probably about 1/2 cup). I might have added just a bit of ginger (?) but probably not, because I always overdo it with ginger, and I think I remember not trusting myself. I might have added a splash of vanilla, but I honestly can't remember. I don't think so, though. Of course, all of these amounts are somewhat guesswork. Just as long as it tastes good, you're on track.

Then we mashed it with a potato masher, leaving some texture but making it so that the banana was unrecognizable.

Then, I cleaned up the edges of the bowl, covered it, and it sat covered overnight in the fridge (I'm sure this isn't necessary-- just how it worked out w/ our timing.)

I rewarmed the potatoes while the stuffing was cooking on Thanksgiving, but ultimately had to use the microwave because it was such a huge bowl.

Then, I put the oven on Broil, spread about 2/3 of a small bag of miniature marshmallows evenly over the top, and put the bowl in. I set the timer for five minutes, but within two minutes smelled marshmallows burning.

I removed the potatoes and used a fork to remove the top layer of marshmallows, which was one big black carbon mass by that point. (Okay, I did eat some of the burned marshmallows.) I sprinkled whatever marshmallows remained in the bag on the top, returned it to the oven and watched the marshmallows broil very closely. Then I checked my teeth for burned marshmallow flakes before heading over to Bill and Angel's for Thanksgiving Dinner.

That's about it! With that much sugar and butter, I'm sure just about anything would taste good!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here is a video resume I created for my husband using Animoto and iMovie. I'd love to continue getting better at this. Meanwhile, offer my husband a nice comfortable salary in a challenging and rewarding position and we'll be happy

Donate so that my class can have digital voice recorders!

Please consider donating to my classroom project:

Digital Voice Recorders in Reading and Writing Groups

I'm happy to explain more if you e-mail me at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yummy Potato Broccoli Soup

I had some leftover baked potatoes in my fridge, along with some chopped up onion and celery from making stuffing, and I invented this recipe. As usual, all amounts are only appoximate and can easily be changed to suit your tastes or what is in your fridge.

In a good sized soup pot, sautee 1/2 c. chopped onion and 1/2 c. chopped celery in about 1/2 stick of butter.

When they are almost translucent, add maybe 1/2 tsp. dry thyme and 1 tsp. dry basil (or fresh if you've got it-- larger amounts.) Put in about 1 lb. or a little more of frozen broccoli (I used the cheap broccoli cuts, and I think it was closer to 1 1/2 lb.)

Pour in 1 qt. of vegetable broth or stock. Season with about 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste.

Heat to simmering and cook at a low simmer until the broccoli is tender (about 15-20 minutes?) This is enough time to take a shower with your two-year-old and even shampoo and condition both of your hair. I even had time to put away a little laundry on the way into the shower.

I started with four baked potatoes. I peeled two and chunked them into the soup. Season again w/ a little salt and pepper. Heat through.

Turn off heat.
Carefully, run the soup through the blender in two batches. Add a handful of parsley leaves into one of the batches. Use a towel over the top to prevent spills.

Return the soup to your pot over low heat. Season it again to taste. Peel and dice the remaining two potatoes and add them to the pot. Heat through. Squeeze 1/2 lemon into the soup and remove from heat.

You end up with a creamy-style soup without all the cream. Use olive oil instead of butter to make it a little more healthy.

It's easier than it sounds, and much cheaper and more tasty than canned soup!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


G. made three turkey projects in kindergarten this week. All three were made of construction paper. On one, he wrote, on each feather of the tail, something for which he was thankful. My heart warmed when I saw that "Mom" made the list. Oh, yeah. I'm right up there with his bike. I was proud of his list; he also included his house, his family and toys. I thought that those five things were headed in the right direction. For that, I am thankful.

When O. gives you a hug, she curls her little fingers around the back of your neck, right at the base of your hairline, and squeezes the side of her face against yours. It is so endearing. Yesterday, when I said good morning to her, she replied, "And good morning to you, too, Mommy!" She has started saying "Goodbye! I lub you!" when I and other family members depart. For all of these displays of affection, I am thankful.

I married someone with ambition, principles, persistence, tolerance, loyalty and a predisposition toward grand romantic gestures. I love all of these qualities in my husband, and the last one comes in especially handy for me, who, like most girls, loves to be on the receiving end of a grand romantic gesture, even though for some reason I still never expect them. I am thankful for my loving and resilient husband.

I am also thankful that all four of us siblings who grew up together will be together today with our families for Thanksgiving (and hopefully get a great photo). I am thankful that, though none of us are perfect, we strive to love and accept one another and not to create hurtful divisions.

I am thankful that my mother will have a beautiful, safe, snug and comfortable place to live (very soon!!)

I am thankful that my sister and sister-in-law and their unborn children are healthy and thriving.

I am thankful that I still have both my parents (and Lita!) to call and to hear from, and all of my siblings, and Grandma. :)

I am thankful for my friends, especially the ones who still think of me from afar.

I am thankful for the prayers of others.

Thanks for my house, my bike and my toys, too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

To Do List: Things to Think and Write About

What's that Geico slogan? "Life comes at you fast." I'm sure someone else has said it much better at some point in history, but right now I'm grasping for the sound bites.

This is a list of topics I should really be writing about. My heart is full, but time is limited, and my friends keep adding new photos to their Facebook albums and sidetracking me.

1. Barack Obama and hope for our country. The possibility of mending our image in the world through good works and attention to our own domestic issues.
2. Economic crisis and what I am observing in our own community, how its effects are being filtered into everyone's lives, including my own and my family's.
3. The kids. Wow.
4. Cancer and fear.
5. Health, diet, exercise and the mystery of intrinsic motivation (or lack thereof).
6. New job, new school... wonderful opportunities, defining obstacles.
7. Would love to open up the ol' high school yearbook right now, since we are developing quite the presence on Facebook.

Lots to think about, and yet the days go by....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

First, you need an awesome George Foreman G5 Grilleration, a small appliance that the female members of my family think sounds like it should be a sex toy.

You don't really need a G5, but a grill that closes might cook the potatoes better before they burn.

Slice the sweet potatoes into about 1/3-1/2" thick slices, but try to make them all the same size for maximum grill marks.

Mix some olive oil or other oil with salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon (How much? I wasn't paying attention. Don't go overboard on the nutmeg. Put plenty of salt.)

Brush both sides of the slices of sweet potato with spiced oil and put them in your grill. Cook for how long? I wasn't paying attention. Maybe 5 minutes and then check. I took them out before they were quite done and put them on a plate, sprinkled them with salt, drizzled them with honey, and covered them with foil while the other batch cooked. That seemed to finish the cooking.

I didn't even peel the potatoes!

Cheap, gourmet, full of fiber and vitamins. What could be a better fall treat? Candy corn!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wait Up!

All the milestones are coming at once! Gabriel started Kindergarten, is spelling words phonetically, brings home homework and has a loose tooth. Olivia is talking back to Gabriel and potty training. They bicker constantly, and although I feel that they need to work things out between themselves, usually if I don't intervene somebody gets hurt. My kids deserve my attention and care.

Meanwhile, career, housework, marriage and trying to maintain relationships with family and friends all continue.

I was at a birthday party at the park yesterday and had a chance to finally meet some friends-of-a-friend. I was barely able to exchange names. They had kids at the party, too, but somehow they were having conversations. Did I actually participate in conversations that I've simply blocked out because my attention was so divided?

Question of the day: How do we simplify life enough to enjoy the moments with our children and still be part of the conversations with the adults? And I don't just mean at birthday parties.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Beginnings...

Okay, so here I am. I started a blog on Facebook, but couldn't figure out how to get it onto my profile. We'll try this! Wish me luck!