Sweet Potato Souffle

sweet potato souffle serving

In the following, I have linked to products from my affiliate partners that I personally use and recommend.

My mother’s Sweet Potato Souffle recipe, like her Broccoli Nut Casserole recipe, is definitely one of our family favorites! I love it because it is so easy and quick to prepare. The children love it because, well, it is just plain good!

Growing up, Sweet Potato Souffle was one of those meals that was a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. In fact, I do not remember my mother making Sweet Potato Souffle any other time of the year!

Maybe it was reserved for the holidays because that is when sweet potatoes are in season. I am not sure. But, I, like my mother before me (sounds like a movie line from Sabrina when Linus recounts that he does what his father did before him!), reserve Sweet Potato Souffle for the holidays – mostly. Sometimes I give in and cook it as part of a special request by the children for a birthday dinner.

[Continue Reading]

Traditions

How many of you have family traditions associated with Christmas time? I know we do. Many we may practice for a few years and then try something new. But, we have a couple which never change.

We have a trim the tree party every year. In the days leading up to our tree decorating, Christmas cookies are made – the same year after year – Sugar Cookies, Sand Tarts, Angel Wings, Cocoons, Bourbon Balls and Nut Clusters. The evening of the party, we have a buffet dinner with meats, cheeses, chips and dip, cookies, salmon ball and crackers. Other items appear, but these are the mainstays. After dinner, ornaments are lovingly placed upon the tree until there are almost no empty branches!

The days following are filled with the hustle and bustle of the season … shopping (for those who have not yet finished!), wrapping, baking and cooking. But, we never forget family time which is liberally enjoyed by all.

One of my favorite traditions is the Christmas dinner menu. The girls and I prepare recipes that my mother and grandmother prepared when I was young! You would think the same food, year after year, would become tiresome. But, when a new menu is discussed, it is met with much opposition. Why mess with a good thing, right?

The turkey is usually smoked the night before, after being stuffed of course! Other dishes include Sweet Potato Souffle, Broccoli Nut Casserole, Creamed Onions, Strawberry Pretzel Salad and Cranberry Salad (aka “Fluff”). Pumpkin Pie is always dessert and normally accompanied by Pecan Pie. Now that I have made us all hungry….

I hope if you have not already begun your own family traditions, that you will start this year. Make time for and enjoy your family. Most of all, do not get so busy and forget the reason we are celebrating – it is the time of year, set apart to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

 

Dough Enhancer

I received an email from Jim, a reader who had purchased a Bosch Universal Plus. He had questions about my Whole Wheat Bread Recipe. He asked what type of yeast I use and where I purchase dough enhancer. I thought these questions might be of interest to others.

The most economical place in our area to purchase yeast is Sam’s Club. It is the Fleischmann’s Instant Yeast and costs $4.68 for 2 – 16oz bags. Once opened, I transfer the yeast from the bag to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. It lasts for a long time!

While you may purchase dough enhancer, the most economical is the following homemade recipe:

 

Dough Enhancer

3/4c. lecithin powder or granules – I use granules found from my affiliate partner HERE.

3 Tbsp. pure vitamin C powder

2 Tbsp. ground ginger (from my affiliate -where to buy spices)

3 Tbsp. cornstarch (organic)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Use 1 Tbsp. of dough enhancer for a 4 loaf recipe. Adjust the amount when making more or less loaves.

Catching Up!

Time leading up to and following harvest has certainly flown! We harvested the Roussanne, Montepulciano and Aglianico successfully and with much help from family and friends. Because of the extreme heat which causes problems with the harvester, harvesting began anywhere from 10pm to 3am. Before dawn there is an amazing beauty in the vineyard. Lit up by the harvester, with the stars shining overhead, it is an atmosphere made for romantics!

Given the hard winter, unusually high summer temperatures and drought, we had very good yields. Praise the Lord for His provision!

Although we began work on the house as soon as the vineyard work slowed, we still found time to glean the vines for our own wine-making fruit! Remember the “I Love Lucy” show when she and Ethel stomped the grapes with their feet? Well, everyone got in on the action:

From children:

To grandchildren:

Everyone wanted their feet to be a part of it:

Note: Every pair of feet which stomped were properly cleaned and disinfected. However, according to our grape consultant, micronutrients  provided, whatever the source, actually help the yeast!

If you remember, we had begun an insulated concrete form (ICF) house. Working on the house which overlooks the vineyard consumed our time once vineyard work was finished. Each morning we packed lunch and dinner to take with us. We even carried school work to the new house and studied in our bedroom which had become the makeshift dining room. Naps were taken in the boy’s bedroom on a rug with blankets. Doing all the work ourselves not only saved quite a bit of money, but has also provided many learning experiences, as well as, great memories.

During this period, I have had a very difficult time physically. My rheumatoid arthritis decided to rear its ugly head. It was aggravated by two plus days of texturing all the walls with sheet rock mud to give a stucco look. Anyway, I am excited about dietary changes that have made an amazing difference and look forward to sharing them with you in the new year.

We moved into the new house the weekend after Thanksgiving (I will be posting pictures soon).  Slowly and surely, we are getting settled. Everyone is looking forward to our first Christmas here. Our traditional trim the tree party was a success and our tree appropriately trimmed!

Buttercup handled the move without a problem. The chickens on the other hand have dropped their egg production by half. Squiggles and now our new dog, Bob, are also glad to be here on a permanent basis and not have the 1/2 mile walk one way to work everyday!

Moving Toward Harvest

With temperatures over 100F for most of June and July, we expected the grapes to shut down. Thankfully, that has not occurred. Instead they are thriving and it appears that harvest for us will be a month earlier than last year. This means that we will begin as early as Thursday!

Having drought conditions this entire year, we have had the water on daily since February. The underground drip tape that we have between the rows is a very efficient way of watering – we lose no water to evaporation and it does not encourage weed growth as above ground irrigation would. The drought has not hurt us as it has other farmers. In fact, without rain there has been no need to spray for fungus or molds and no weeds means no hoeing! I prefer to get my upper body workout another way. :) Another concern with the storms here in west Texas is the threat of hail. Invariably the rain has hail with it which can devastate a vineyard as well as other crops.

How do we know harvest is near? First, the appearance of the grape, they change color. Then the amount of sugar in the grapes is tested. This is called the Brix. Brix is tested by taking a random sampling of grapes, crushing them to extract the juice and then either a hydrometer or a refractometer is used.

Wineries like a balance of sugar content and pH. We will be shooting for a Brix of 23 -24 on each of our varieties this year. Our Roussanne is at 22 and the Montepulciano is around 17. The Montepulciano  was a test of only purple, ripe looking berries – so it was not precise but gives an idea. The Aglianico is a bit further behind the Montepulciano so we have not yet checked it.

Normally, as the Brix increase so does the pH which can present a problem for the wineries. Acidity is needed in wine for it to be stable. To balance the pH and obtain the proper acidity, the wineries add tartaric acid. There is, however, a legal limit to the amount of tartaric acid that may be added. If the acidity is too high and can not be controlled by tartaric acid, the wine is again unstable. This year however, the sugar content is gaining much faster than the pH, which is great!

Tired of Grapes?

Guess what is being carried and stored in the blue shirt.

I think they look guilty of something!

You might assume that with 20 acres of grapes and working in the vineyard every day, we would be tired of eating grapes.

Nope, no way.[Continue Reading]

Playtime!

While our days are mainly filled with vineyard work for now, we do take time to play. The following shows a glimpse of the lightheartedness of our boys. They have a healthy (I hope!) competitive spirit amongst them. I must admit though, sometimes they are a bit too daring for my mother’s heart.[Continue Reading]

House on Hold!

 

While we have not actively been working on the house recently, it is so nice to look over the vineyard and see it in the distance.

Much of the house is complete. All but a couple of pieces of sheet-rock have been put up and the last pieces are cut. We even started mudding it. Once the sheet-rock is finished, we can paint it.

The ceiling will be tongue and groove wood which I plan to white-wash so that the wood grain still shows through.  Finally comes the finishing with bathroom tile and fixture, as well as, kitchen counter top and fixtures. Oh, and don’t forget the lights, ceiling fans, shelves and trim!

I guess that sounds like quite a list of unfinished items, but in light of what has been completed – we are almost done!

Back Flips!

Our 13 year old son had a dream in which he could do a back flip. Now, he is probably one of our most agile children. While living in Alabama, water skiing came very easily to him at a young age. But in this dream, not only could he do a back flip, but he started from a crouched position.

This dream led to a search for instructions on doing a back flip which led to a You Tube back flip tutorial. Practice began Friday evening -at my poohooing – I did not want to see any broken limbs, necks or other injuries. I even said I would not watch and did not want to hear any crying – just suffer in silence![Continue Reading]

Daily Life

I would like to give you a glimpse into the routine of our daily life.

Every morning we wake, eat breakfast and walk the half mile to the vineyard (we are saving money and getting exercise!). Most people walk their dog but we walk our cow. Yes, you read it right. Buttercup walks with us every morning to the vineyard where she is staked in the rye which surrounds the vineyard.[Continue Reading]