Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

We have so much to be thankful for, but the top of the list is my immediate family.  We were all together this year, save my dad who passed away in 2004.  Mom came over, John and wife came from Pittsburgh, Vernon's local so of course he was here.  Not alot of people, just 6 adults and our 4 rowdy kids.  We played games after the meal, Parcheesi with mom, followed by a walk on the C&O Canal, then more games after it got dark outside. 

My mom loves to tell the story of how she used to play Parcheesi with her family growing up.  She said her dad would play and he loved sending his kids home, he didn't care if he won, he just enjoyed the game.  She loves to tell this story, so we thought it fitting to play the game with her.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Jury Duty - Part 2

After my last post, there were only three more required days.  I was honestly surprised that I was only asked to go in 6 times, of which 2 days were canceled the night before.  My entire life, I've heard people moan and groan when they get assigned to jury duty so in my mind it became a HUGE commitment.  Turns out it was only a very minor inconvenience to my regular work schedule, a few late nights and everything was back to normal.

Day 4 - actual trial!  The judge went through a long list of reasons to call people up to the front, it took an hour.  Once they narrowed down the list of jury members who might be suitable for this trial they begin calling us up in groups of 6 or 7, can't remember the exact number.  We stood in a line and one by one they called us to stand forward one step.  They look at their paperwork, they look back at us and then say "Juror selected" or "Pass".  I was not selected.  This particular case was 1st degree assault and battery.  I was very severe that day, dressed in all black with my hair in a tight bun so I can understand why I might have not been selected.  I got to leave by 11am.

Day 5 - actual trial!  This time I was determined to look softer and approachable so I wore browns with my hair down.  I was selected!  It was a DUI case and I was thrilled to sit on the Jury panel and witness how the system works.  During the lunch break, which was 1.5 hours long, I got to walk around downtown and have coffee at The Plum restaurant, which I've always wanted to check out but it's only open during business hours and when am I ever downtown during business hours?  Only on jury duty I guess!

Day 6 - I requested off due to a dentist appointment.

Day 7 - was canceled! 

And that sums up my entire 5 weeks of jury duty.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Remember Remember the 5th of November

November is my favorite month, so anything that falls in November is a fav.  This movie, with all it's V words reminding me of our Violette, is becoming a classic.  The fight for justice by a vigilante is invigorating to say the least.  I hope our V girl enjoys this movie some day.  Nathalie Portman is outstanding to watch.  May we never lose our freedoms the way this movie has shown. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Of all the horrors to bestow on Halloween

My worst fear is being left home with a two year old while taking a work call.  Today it happened, and it lasted for an hour!  There was a work emergency, these things cannot be planned and they cannot be deterred.  So call was had while my rowdy two year made every effort to distract and raise my blood pressure to previously unseen levels.  Here are some of the creative things she found toentertain herself with while I desperately tried to stay on topic:

- watched My Little Pony until we lost Netflix connection
- emptied an entire bin of toys at my feet
- emptied an entire bag of safety pins into my lap
- watched PJ Masks until we lost Netflix connection
- emptied an entire packet of tissues while loudly yelling "ACHU ACHU" through the loud speaker
- demanded candy from my desk, I gave in, it only made her come back for more
- colored on one page of my notebook
- demanded cuddle and then attempted to bang on my computer
- poked at the dog in his cage and made him whine
- demanded more candy
- ran away with candy
- came back and demanded a show, I put PJ Masks on again
- babbled excessively to take part in the meeting

At one point I thought I heard the front door open and frantically texted husband to come get her but he was just leaving the dentist office.  He got home 15 minutes later and immediately came downstairs to claim our youngest.  I was never happier to see him in my life!  After that my brain began to function, then the meeting ended 15 minutes later. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

I've tried this twice and failed.  Failed to get a good purple color like my awesome muffins and scones.  Something must be happening to the mix during the baking process because it starts out like this:

Then after baking it looks like this:

Kinda green in the middle, slightly purple on top.  I won't share the recipe, it wasn't outstanding.  Next year I'll try again as I've nearly run out of Purple sweet potatoes and the kids won't stop asking for more purple scones.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

I just love a pretty smoothie!  Until now, the only purple smoothie I've had is Blueberry, but the little bits get stuck in my teeth which can be unsightly when running out the door to a meeting, so, I created this beauty. 

Basically I've simply added Purple Sweet Potato puree to my favorite Vanilla Smoothie recipe, it makes a great base for a variety of featured ingredients. 

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup 2% milk 
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Whey Protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon Nesquik Vanilla powder (you can substitute French Vanilla Creamer)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4oz purple sweet potato puree, see this link for calories 
  • 6 ice cubes
Blend on high until there are no chunks.  

My thoughts on the vanilla part - I've tried this without the Nesquik Vanilla powder but the taste of vanilla is not as strong and it's too plain.  I've never tried using Vanilla extract as that seems like it would be too strong but I guess that might be an alternative to buying a $7.80 Nesquik powder from Ebay that has more sugar content.  It was $4.00 when I first bought it but for some reason it's doubled in price.  I found a similar vanilla smoothie base at Wegmans but the nearest is in Frederick so I won't be getting that again.  

My thoughts on protein powder - it's high in calories, one scoop is 170 calories and it overpowers the taste of everything.  I use 10 grams, or 1 tablespoon if you don't have a scale.  This is 56.6 calories with about 5 grams of protein.

The milk adds 8 grams of protein and apparently there are 2 grams in 4 oz of purple sweet potato so all together that makes 15.  Some experts say you need at least 30 grams post workout so if it's important to you then just add more protein powder.  

I think overall, smoothies just need a little experimentation to get the taste right for your individual  preference, see this as more of a list of suggested ingredients and feel free to adjust as needed.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Scone Recipe

Personally I feel that fall has been hijacked by pumpkin spice everything for too long!  I love pumpkin but I've decided to move it to November.  Apples are our September thing (cider, homemade applesauce, etc) and October is now known for Purple Sweet Potatoes and various squash like Acorn and Butternut.  I like having theme months for foods.

The inspiration for this recipe was simple - I wanted a purple scone!  After making the earlier muffins and realizing how mild the flavor is, I decided to simply add a scoop to my favorite white chocolate scone recipe.

Full disclosure, I got the base recipe from a church function and I have no idea as to the origin.  I've changed the instructions as my understanding of recipe plagiarism is the list of ingredients cannot be copy righted but the instructions combined with how-to photos can be.  Henceforth these instructions are all my get-r-done fast style. 

Purple Sweet Potato Scone Recipe

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 6 oz purple sweet potato puree
Use a food processor to chop the white chocolate chips into tiny bits and then pour these into a small bowl.  Next, put one cup of flour into the same food processor with butter and pulse until combined.  I then move the flour/butter mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and add remaining dry ingredients.  

Mix egg and buttermilk in a small container and combine with the purple sweet potato.

Add all ingredients together and mix on high until well blended.  It will be very thick, you may need to dig the mixture off the whip and then continue mixing to get everything blended, a little more buttermilk might be needed to get everything combined.  It can't be too wet or it will be too sticky to roll so proceed with caution if you think more buttermilk is needed.

On a floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" - 1" thick.  I use a 2" circle cutter to make my scones, you could also go the traditional triangle route if that is your preference.  I continue rolling until all dough is used up, there is no such thing as wasted dough in this house.  The last scone is usually hand balled and flattened into a scone patty, much like you would make a hamburger.

Place the cut scones onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes at 325.  

I am not a fussy baker, I like things quick and easy as most of my baking is done while fielding requests from 4 kids!  Scone recipes like to say let the dough rest, turn scones in oven after 7 minutes, etc.  I've tried following these steps but to me the taste is the same as when I follow this quick method so this is my no fuss approach.

These scones were very well received.  The kids scarfed them down in 2 days flat.  I kinda miss them already!  Good thing I've got more purple sweet potatoes to bake!