21. November 2009 · Comments Off on Sweet Potatoes, Where Have You Been All My Life??? · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

With Thanksgiving on our horizons — despite the retail industry jumping straight into Christmas shopping — I thought I’d share a Thanksgiving anecdote with you.

Like many other things in my culinary world, it’s Alton Brown’s fault. For those who don’t know, or hadn’t noticed from many of the other recipes I’ve shared, I’m a HUGE fan of Alton Brown and Good Eats on The Food Network.

I always had difficulty enjoying sweet potatoes. The only way I seemed to like them was in “pie” form, and only when it tasted JUST LIKE a pumpkin pie.

In 2003, during a time I put watching new “Good Eats” episodes on par with watching new episodes of “Friends” or “NYPD Blue”, I happened across an episode about Sweet Potatoes, entitled “Potato, My Sweet”. Usually, in November AB airs episodes relevant to Thanksgiving and other holiday cooking, such as green bean casseroles, frying turkeys, etc. I was mesmerized by how he set up this episode, emphasizing how sweet potatoes are underrated, not enough people like them in any form except as pie form, and demonstrated some outside-the-box ways to prepare them, such as with waffles and mashed with a chipotle seasoning. He also showed how steaming them instead of boiling helped preserve nutrients and flavor.

Am I really such a geek that I remembered all that? (No, I looked at the Food Network episode summary first). BUT, the steaming-of-the-sweet-potatoes definitely stuck in my mind and I decided to give sweet potato casserole a chance when we got to North Carolina.

I was the only one who ate any of it, but it was VERY good. Yum yum! I won’t give up, though, I’ll probably make a small casserole this year and see if my boys will give it a go again. Jacob’s been exploring all sorts of new flavors this past year and perhaps he’ll end up liking it.

We’re keeping it small this year. Our parents avoid flying here from the east coast in the cold weather months (and I don’t blame them — flying at Thanksgiving is nuts enough, if the weather causes delays or cancellations, forget it!) so we’ll stay here, and my cousin who lives in the area will join us. Last year Dave’s cousin joined us and it was equally cozy. I know many people who seem flabbergasted by such a small Thanksgiving gathering, but for me, it keeps it VERY low-stress and relaxing. When we spend Thanksgiving at home, we also use the day to bring out the Christmas tree and start on Christmas decorations.

That being said, I now reserve my big-classic-sweet potato cooking for pot lucks, when able. Sometimes I’m assigned another dish based on my last name, or what office I work in, but I enjoy making it at least once every holiday season. Today I’m making it for Timmy’s preschool Thanksgiving feast and I’m exploring variations on the traditional mashed-with-nutmeg-and-cinnamon-and-topped-with-marshmallows casserole. But with no nuts, of course 🙂

I think this is the recipe that’s going to win this year, and although it seems rather bland, I have to remember that this is for a preschool and if I want the kids to enjoy it at all, I’d better stick to a classic.

And for leftovers, this sounds like a good way to quickly use up leftover mashed sweet potatoes: Alton Brown’s Sweet Potato Waffles.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

13. November 2009 · Comments Off on Contemplations on Laziness · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’ve been thinking….

“Great, here we go again!”

No…no…these are just some thoughts I’ve been having in general. About goal-setting, future plans, life in general.

Today a friend is taking her GRE. She’s in her 30s, like me…and has young sons, like me…and is an Air Force wife, like me. UNLIKE me, she’s gotten off her rear-end and uses the time while her sons are in school to go back to school herself and this spring will be graduating from college. She’s already submitting applications for a PhD program, location subject to where her husband gets stationed next.

Another friend, who I went to high school with, earned her PhD this past summer, while working full time and raising two young kids!

No, I don’t want a PhD. Contrary to popular belief.

Not too many people know this, but it’s crossed my mind to go back to school and start on a second career. It’s a quiet little goal I have, to become a secondary math/science teacher. I haven’t been motivated to start on this goal, unfortunately. I’ve been lazy. Way lazier than all these other Moms who are juggling jobs, raising kids, keeping up a household, moving with the military, etc.

My first excuse: “When Timmy starts school, I’ll go back to school.”

Well, with Timmy starting school in 9 months, by now I should have applied, or looked more into online programs than I’ve done so far.

My second excuse: “Why start a program now? We could be moving as soon as 1 year after I start school if I were to start here.”

No…of course my work can transfer, and if I choose an online program, heck — who cares where I am, right? People do it all the time, transfer their coursework.

I’ve told myself, “Patricia, you’ve already achieved a lot in life, aren’t you tired of school, additional stress, running around all hair-on-fire?”

So I’m thinking…

The answer is “Get my butt back in school and work on that new career!”. I need to set up some graduated goals related to that, with some research to back it up. My druthers is to do this online, I’ll need to learn more about it, I suppose. Dave can retire from Active Duty in 6 years, and I figured by the time he has 5 years left, if I wanted to go back to work full time after he retires I should be on my way. Especially if I want to take my time on this one. Some other options have opened up, such as teaching AFJROTC after I reach my 20 years in the Reserves. That might be nice…as some of my blogosphere friends have said “I’m one of those people who actually LIKES the Air Force.” Again, I haven’t looked enough into it to know whether it’s right for me.

And oh yeah, I have to balance this with my boys’ activities, my AF Reserve work, and some AF continuing education I predict I’ll be needing to do by late next year.

So there are my thoughts – somewhat messy, but it’s been on my mind. A lot.

Reality check: Might I be more motivated to do this if I truly “enjoy” those 7 hours per day I’ll have when Timmy and Jacob are both in school? Pedicures? Facials? Shopping trips? Coffee dates with girlfriends? Chick-flick marathons in my PJs?

I don’t know. I’m coming up on this crossroads and not even feeling motivated enough to say “Here’s what I need to do next!” I guess it was a lot easier when high school guidance counselors and Air Force Instructions made those decisions for me.

02. November 2009 · Comments Off on It’s Never Too Early…. · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

…to start planning for…

(drumroll please!)


I don’t know if it’s the thrill of the hunt or what? Or perhaps seeing America at it’s gluttonous worst (I’ve seen outright FIGHTS over $250 laptops at Walmart at 5 in the morning!) But I enjoy the early-morning Black Friday shopping experience. I don’t do it every year (I also enjoy sleeping), but on the years that I make it out, my shopping companions and I will plan what order to hit stores (i.e., know who’s open at 5am, 6am, 7am, know who’s doorbusters end at 10am, 11am 12pm, etc.). I’ve had great experiences with Susan H. in Virginia, Maryann G. in North Carolina and Diane A. in Nebraska!

I’m not sure if I’ll head out this year. We have a trip to Walt Disney World planned for Christmas for our family, and the boys aren’t getting much else from Mom and Dad for Christmas. Santa Claus will bring them each a gift and each boy has already made his request. I’ll be after stocking stuffers and gifts for my niece, nephews and friends, though.

Anyway, I’m pitching this cool website I heard about via two of my Facebook friends, Louise G. and Robin A.


Become their fan on Facebook and you’re privy to their contests and you’ll get their latest ads pushed to your Facebook newsfeed.

I know Christina O. of Sugar Sweet Thoughts also does a good job posting the best deals for the 10 days or so leading up to Black Friday, and I particularly like her postings now because she offers some of the midwest stores’ deals, such as those at Menards.