July 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Pudding

Against my better judgment, I used the oven tonight and, as expected, it heated up the whole apartment. But, I have to say it was entirely worth it for this lovely little dessert. Last trip I made to the store, I picked up some sweet potatoes and was surprised to find three distinct varieties in addition to a pile of "yams". 

These "yams" looked like the sweet potatoes I always ate as a kid, so I picked them up and they were exactly what I wanted. It got me to thinking, what exactly is a yam? Is it a sweet potato? Or perhaps the other way around? Turns out, that no, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Who knew?

They're not in the same family, and there isn't even a species of yam native to the US. Most grocery stores sell "yams" that are really sweet potatoes, real yams are generally only found in international markets. In the US, the term "yam" came into use for sweet potatoes from slaves, because it was similar to the actual yam they knew in Africa. Vernacular can be a trickster like that.

Forgive my linguistic indulgence, I find that sort of thing fascinating- but now back to the pudding. While doing my sweet potato vs. yam research, I came across a fabulous sounding recipe on this site that discusses the differences and includes a few recipes.

Sweet Potato Pudding
Adapted from Tennessee Old Maid’s Sweet Potato Pudding from Classic Home Desserts

What You'll Need:
1/2 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
2 1/2 cups grated raw peeled sweet potato (about two medium potatoes)
1 1/2 cup milk

July 23, 2012

Quilting is Back On!

I finally found and received the darning foot I needed for my machine. Woo! I also bought a pack of 20 bobbins. You can never have too many bobbins, and since these are "exclusive" to my machine, I figured I'd better stock up. I love my L-500 to pieces, but the fact that it's no longer sold and supported means I will have a very hard time getting replacement components in the future. Very disappointing, especially considering the cost of the machine.

Isn't it lovely?
 Now I'm back in the saddle and ready to finish some project have have been hanging over my head for quite some time. The first up is the Halloween quilt! I know it's "Christmas in July" time, but Halloween is coming up sooner, so I decided to finish this one up first. It feels good to be back at the workstation.

Another eight hours or so of quilting and then it'll be ready for the binding. I'm very excited to finish up the quilted webs. They're not terribly complicated, but do involve a lot of maneuvering. Ages ago, I cut and pressed the binding, so once the quilting is finished, I can wrap it up in a breeze. I have a tight painting schedule to keep to for my Warhammer army, but hopefully I can sneak in some time this week to work on the quilt.

July 10, 2012

Mending An Old Bra

I'm going to get a little personal with you and talk about my bra troubles. I have a few every-day bras and they no longer fit. As you wear a bra, the band stretches out a bit as the elasticity breaks down. That combined with the fact that I've lost 20lbs recently means I have some really ill-fitting bras on my hands.

They don't look quite as nice as they did when I bought them three (yes, three) years ago, but they still get the job done. I am on the bustier side, so I need quality bras. Despite the fact that I like to think of myself as a thrifty nickle, I buy mine from Victoria's Secret. They make some very excellent and well constructed bras and they last. In fact, there's nothing wrong with the ones I have other than the fit

I have absolutely no desire to throw out perfectly good but too-big bras and shell out $60 or more on a couple new ones. So, instead, I devised a plan to make the old bras fit again. Queue the seam ripper.

The first step is determining where you bra doesn't fit anymore. For me, it was riding up in the back, which is a sign that the band size is too large. If you've recently lost some weight like me, this is likely your problem. For other issues, check out this excellent bra trouble-shooting resource. As the page suggests, you should clasp the bra tighter but even with my bra clipped at its tightest, it's still too big. The not-so-secret solution I decided on was to make the band a little smaller.

Grab your bra, and look at the closure. Most likely, it uses a hook and eye closure, like this:

It's much easier to remove the eye tape section, so take your seam ripper and carefully undo the stitching that holds it in place. You may have to rip some stitches across the top and bottom, as well.

July 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Three Bean Taco Salad

There's been some really crazy weather around here lately. If you live anywhere in the Mideast, you probably also experienced the totally nuts derecho (the technical term for the giant windstorm of doom) that blew by on Friday/Saturday. Between the power outages that's caused and the record heat, it has not been a great time to try and cook.

I hate turning on the oven or cooking on the stove when it's nasty out. It makes the apartment so hot and I try not to work the A/C harder than it has to. That means crock pot season is in full swing. Even though it's running all day, it creates so much less heat and doesn't warm up my kitchen and living room at all.

This week, I adapted my Three Bean Tacos for a taco salad. I simplified it after a little experimentation, so this recipe doesn't require the beans to be pre-soaked. You just throw them into the pot and go.

Three Bean Taco Salad
makes 8 servings

What You'll Need:
1 cup dried black beans
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup dried pinto beans
2 cups frozen corn kernels
6 cups water
1 small can tomato paste
5 Tbs taco seasoning

For serving:
shredded cheese
sour cream
lime tortilla chips

The Process:
   Put all beans, corn, and seasoning into the slow cooker. Spoon in tomato paste and pour the water over it. Mix to incorporate the tomato paste. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours until the beans are tender.

Plate beans and add your favorite toppings. Serve with lime tortilla chips. I definitely encourage you to use the lime chips because it really adds a nice flavor to each bite.
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