Saturday, November 17, 2007

That Cranberry/Sweet Potato Thing

Here is a re-run of what I put into the Christmas cards last year. It is a side-dish recipe that was very popular with the whole group at Thanksgiving dinner. The results are almost sweet-and-sour, with lots of fiber and nutrients to make up for the butter and sugar! (I did submit it to Ocean Spray's recipe contest this year - no love from that...)

I created this recipe for Thanksgiving 2006, because I wanted to make something related to Candied Yams, just not so sweet. I also was tempted by the display of fresh cranberries at our local produce store. Eventually my brain put the chocolate and peanut butter together, and I came up with this. It is a great dish for when there is a lot of activity in the kitchen, because you can just turn off the heat if you need to ignore it for a while, then come back later. It will turn out fine. It also only takes one pot and one spoon. I still don't know what to call it; how about CRandied Yams?

  • zest of 1 large orange (I used a Navel orange)
  • juice of that orange
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, washed, with the bad ones picked out
  • 1 40 oz can of cut sweet potatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (I used salted); could be less, especially if people will add butter later
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp crystallized ginger (you could use 1/4 tsp ground ginger instead)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Zest and juice the orange into a saucepan, add the white sugar, and heat, stirring occasionally. The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will froth. Once that happens, add the cranberries. Stir over the heat and the cranberries will start to "pop" as the skins split. Once most of the berries have split, crush them gently with the back of your spoon. Let it simmer for a few minutes. At this point, you could stop and have a nice cranberry-orange sauce as a condiment. (At our house, the cranberry sauce has to be "shaped like the can" to count, so this would not go over well.) Keep going if you want a side dish.

Add the drained sweet potatoes to the pot, and stir to combine. While that heats, add the brown sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir until it is all combined and the heat has melted the butter. It will resemble a chunky apple sauce, but the color is a nice dark red-orange. If the sweet potato chunks are too large, break them up with the spoon. And you are done!

Hint: try a spoonful of the leftovers on oatmeal.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fiction Book Suggestion: Our Former Lives in Art

Another thing I accomplished yesterday was reading "Our Former Lives in Art" by Jennifer S. Davis. Again, I checked it out from the local library. It is a collection of short stories about people, but with some fantastical elements showing up amongst the realism. Nothing that totally separates the stories from the actual world we live in, it is more just showing how we don't understand everything about the actual world.

There ARE adult themes. There are Christian themes (for and against). People in the stories make some bad choices, or redeem past bad choices. The writing is good - detailed enough to understand why characters are doing what they do, sparse enough that you use your imagination to fill in the rest. Each story goes quickly, and I found myself looking back at the title of each chapter after the vignette was finished for one more clue.

Here is one of my favorite passages:
"You never asked me about my eye," Alfred says. "I don't think anyone's spent more than an hour with me without asking about my eye."

"You never asked me what I want to do after high school," Lily says. "Or if I have a boyfriend. Or if I have nightmares. Or if I want to talk about it. Or," - she smiles - "my real name."

So there you go. Check it out if you get a chance. I usually pick books at the library by going to the new-releases area and scanning for interesting covers. This one has a picture of a knitted-doll-toilet-paper-roll-cover, sitting on the top of a toilet. I read the blurb on the leaf and if it doesn't sound like a plot I'm tired of, I flip to the middle of the book and read a few paragraphs. If there is any chance I'd enjoy it, I check it out. We're paying enough in property taxes, and the library is the most we get for it, so I don't feel bad at all for hauling home a large stack of books and renewing them three times.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Reunion Photos!

4065_lowres_20071020, originally uploaded by prismglass.

Crossing a big item off of my to-do list today, I post-processed all of the pictures I took at the reunion and posted them on Flickr. I even set up a group, which I thought would be visible to all at
but that may not work the way I expect? I don't know, Flickr just seems so much more complicated than it has to be. Anyway, this is a photo of Abby Skillman and me, towards the end of the night. By taking photos, I think I got to talk with everyone, but not for very long.


There aren't many photos of the photographer


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