Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 26, 2017 Sweet Potato Casserole (aka, SPC)

We were invited to a small pre-Christmas gathering at our friends house and I was tasked with bringing a sweet potato casserole. Not just any sweet potato casserole, but the one with mini marshmallows. Specifically mini marshmallows. Well, I haven’t had marshmallows of any kind in my house, not even for s’mores (which I think are gross), for years, many, many years. So I don’t really know what is involved in making this sweet potato casserole (SPC) but I’m a pretty good cook so I think I can figure it out.

I figured I would just Google it like any good cook would do, trouble with that is, there are a lot of different ways people like to cook this SPC. I like to cook my sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with some lemon, honey and a little butter and call it good. No nuts, no marshmallows, no brown sugar. Then I remembered that my Mom used to make SPC all the time when I was a kid. She would give me the best way to cook them. I gave her a call and explained my predicament, which she thought was pretty funny as it was so easy for her to whip it up. She said just put them in the pan with some butter and brown sugar and top them with the marshmallows and bake it for a while. Okay, I’ll come up with something.

First though, I have to get the ingredients so off to Wal-Mart I go. I don’t typically buy canned yams, so that was a challenge to find them. Partly because the shelf was nearly empty and I didn’t see them all crowded at the back on the bottom shelf. Then there was the marshmallows. I go to the shelf and there are no plain white mini-marshmallows. None. Not one bag. Plenty of big ones, square ones and 3 bags of pastel minis. I’m standing in the aisle and now I am beginning to mutter to myself, ‘I can’t believe they are out of marshmallows! How can Wal-Mart be out of marshmallows?’ I bend down low to look at the bottom shelf, way in the back, there must be one more bag somewhere. Then I’m thinking how I’m going to have to make a stop at another store just to get white mini-marshmallows. Next thing I know, the clerk who was stocking the shelves at the other end of the aisle approaches me and says, ‘excuse me ma’am, there are many more marshmallows out in the center aisle, you know, in the middle.’ Boy did I feel silly. 

I take my cart and make my way out to that big aisle where they put all the seasonal stuff and there is a whole pallet full of mini-marshmallows. Both brands, Jet-Puffed and Great Value. I am not skimping for my friends, one bag of Jet-Puffed mini-marshmallows into the cart. Crisis averted.

I still hadn’t decided on how I was going to prepare this delicacy, but lo and behold! On the can of the yams there’s a recipe! How lucky am I? But it calls for pecans. Does everyone like pecans? Some people don’t like crunchy stuff on their soft food. I decide to put pecans on half of the SPC, which is a good idea until I cover the whole thing over with mini-marshmallows and you can’t see which side doesn’t have the nuts.(By the way, there was a recipe for SPC on the back of the mini-marshmallow package too, just yams, butter and marshmallows, much simpler) If there had been a picture of SPC on the can or on the package of mini-marshmallows, my finished SPC would have been a match. It turned out beautifully. 

We had a lovely dinner of prime rib, mashed potatoes, 
honey glazed carrots, green beans, roasted sweet potatoes and SPC. I didn’t dish up any of the SPC, seemed a little too sweet for me what with all the brown sugar and mini-marshmallows. My dinner companions raved over the SPC. ‘This is delicious!’, they exclaimed. After that glowing review, I thought I should at least have a taste, so I scooped a small spoonful on to my plate, even with a little bit of that white, sticky substance and gave a taste. I’m sure glad they liked it. That would not be something that will pass into my belly again any time soon. I think I’ll stick with roasting them without the mini-marshmallows and let marshmallows be that thing I squeeze when I pass by them in the store.

Here’s a cool picture of a cactus since I didn’t take any photos of the SPC.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 20, 2017 Hello, again, hello.....

It’s been a while. After the bison incident back in September, I had sort of an attitude adjustment. It wasn’t necessarily in a positive way. There were just a lot of things that I didn’t feel good about and I wasn’t sure how to share what I was feeling. 

A big thing was I didn’t feel I had time to devote to my writing. It was really hard to focus and set aside time to write. Working 40 hours a week, with a 20 minute commute it was hard to find time to do much of anything. It was getting cooler outside and dark earlier, perfect weather for writing one would think. But not for me. I felt that I couldn’t wait for the end of September to come. The work had become tedious and dull and I was tired of answering the same question for the 1,000th time. It also seemed like the type of visitor changed, they were less willing to pay the entrance fee even though they knew there was one. They wanted to question the fee, they only want to ‘drive around’ in the park. Well sure, that’s what many people do, it’s a drive-able park. You can see a lot of animals and scenery just driving around, but you still have to pay.

I guess it would have been good for me to share all those thoughts with you at that time. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. It’s accepting that life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Sure, I could have given up and walked away from the job, but I had made a commitment to the Park and I felt like I should live up to that commitment and not quit just because I no longer liked the work. So that’s what I did. And I did it with a smile to the best of my abilities. Then on October 3, Jay took me to the Rapid City airport and I flew to Spokane, Washington to visit my mom and my brother.

pelicans on McHood Lake
Mom moved there from Seattle in August and was still getting used to her new living quarters. She is settling in well and making new friends, as I knew she would. I guess I get some of my outgoing ways from her. After a few days there, I got on a plane and flew to Seattle. I rented a car there and drove up to Bellingham to see family and friends there. Back to Seattle for a few more days with family before flying home in mid October. 

Jay at Petrified Forest National Park, near Holbrook, AZ

It sure was good to be home. One of my neighbors was kind to pick me up at the airport. On the way home I asked if we could take a few minutes and stop at the store so I could pick up some groceries. I was tired and knew I wouldn’t want to go out right away. This turned out to be a very good decision because my car had a flat tire. I was tired and hungry and didn’t feel like tackling that right away so I fixed something to eat and had a nap. There would be plenty of time later to take care of the tire and get the house opened up for use. I wouldn’t start teaching yoga until the first week of November(which actually was October 25, but only one class each week). My full schedule then began in November.

Jay was still poking around in SD, leaving there October 19 to make his way south. He stopped near Winslow, Arizona, which is about 6 hours from home. I drove up to spend some time with him there and we had a good time. Brownie was disappointed, she didn’t get to go to the Petrified Forest, out for Mexican food, to Homolovi ruins, stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona with Glenn Frey, or go for a kayak ride to see pelicans and petroglyphs. But there will be more in store for her later. It was a fun week and very relaxing for us both.

I loaded up with my kayak and the cats and headed home. Jay packed up and headed north to Bluff to meet up with a friend with an ATV. They then went up to Moab and rode around on the rocks, the Shafer trail at Dead Horse Point State Park, hiked to Delicate Arch at Arches National Park and had an all around good time before heading back south. He finally made his way home on November 3. 

Shafer Trail outside of Moab

petroglyphs in the Clear Creek Canyon
Since then we’re keeping busy, me teaching yoga, Jay taking care of things around the house and playing with the Razor. And as you can see, a little bit of writing happening here.

Clear Creek Canyon, south of Winslow, AZ
May the beauty of your surroundings bring you joy throughout the new year.

July 28, 2018 It's been a busy month

It’s been a busy month. Brownie at Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak After we shipped our grandson back home, we rested a little t...