Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall inspired cooking

While on vacation in North Carolina, I saw a road side stand with a huge sign out front that said "Our own Sweet Potatoes!" I was intrigued at the idea of using fresh, locally grown sweet potatoes so I snapped up a pound or two and took them back to the house not having a clue what I was going to do with them.

One night for dinner, my sister in law, Dari, was making some fried pork chops, and we decided that roasted sweet potatoes would go well with them. I cubed them and added a little oil, butter, brown sugar, fresh chopped garlic and black pepper. Roasted them in the oven on 450 for about an hour, and they turned out ridiculously delicious. The edges caramelized and were a bit chewy. Everyone loved them, and now my affair with sweet potato has followed me home.

At our local Amish market, Schmuckers, I saw some freshly picked sweet potatoes and couldn't resist. But instead of making the same dish as I had in NC, I decided to look up cheesecake recipes using sweet potatoes. Sure enough...I found one.

So on Friday, I had nothing to do, well actually I had a crap load to do, but nothing that actually had a deadline. I took that as a sign to just bake the day away.

The cheesecake called for graham cracker crust, a sweet potato filled middle layer and a praline topping. The crust went smoothly, but I had some issues with the sweet potatoes. Mostly my issues were that I apparently can't read.

I had already peeled and cubed the potatoes and baked them for about an hour before I realized I was supposed to bake them before peeling them. This meant that my potatoes were tough and hard to puree. The cheesecake ended up tasting good, just a little more texturey than desired. The praline topping made the dessert and hid any cracks that popped up despite my best intentions. I attempted a mousse for the top, similar to what I do on my White Chocolate Raspberry cheesecake. I used a vanilla instant pudding and added nutmeg, but the flavors didn't go well with the more mild tasting cheesecake. It was almost like an eggnog flavor, maybe better for a pumpkin pie flavored cheesecake. Next time I think I'll just do a cheesecake flavored mousse with a bit of vanilla bean.

This recipe is a keeper though, and I think I'll make it for a thanksgiving event.

In addition to making the Sweet Potato Cheesecake, I made my Butternut Squash Soup. This soup calls for Butternut Squash, but I've always used it in combination with Acorn as well. It is a delightful, but rich soup that always hits the spot on a cool autumn day.

All that was missing from the day was making something with pumpkin....hmmm. Muffins sound pretty good about now. With a nice praline crunch to go on top, maybe even a shortbread crust layer...I may have to get back in the kitchen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Got ya singin' it!

My husband and I have this thing that we've done forever. I have no idea where it all started, perhaps he started it in college with his Dewey Geek friends. But either way, we've done it for as long as I can remember.

Basically you just start singing a song. The dumber the song, the better. And once the other person starts singing it you say "Got ya singin' it!" It's awesome when you can get someone singing a song like "Karma Chameleon" or "Jimmy Crack Corn".

But last night I was singing a little ditty from one of my favorite bands of all time...Ratt. Do not judge me.

So, there I was singing "Round and Round" and pretty soon my 5 year old, Joshua, was singing it. Mark and I looked at each other and yelled..."Got ya singing it!". We both nearly peed ourselves laughing so hard. Joshua had no clue why we thought it was so funny.

Personally I think it's fantastic that my son clearly has great taste in music.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Field Trips, Fevers and Fast deliveries

Just another day in my house.

It began at 4 a.m. this morning. My son Jacob, who had gone to sleep early last night with a low grade fever, woke me up wanting to go downstairs. I didn't fight him on this, because I never win. We packed up a comfy blanky and a teddy bear and landed ourselves on the sofa in front of spongebob. We were both back to sleep in a matter of minutes.

Joshua woke up at 7 and then my day began again. He was very excited because his daddy was taking him on a field trip with his kindergarten class to the Dekalb County Fair. In between getting him ready for the field trip and keeping an eye on Jacob's fever, I was trying to get myself into some kind of decent appearance for my first meeting with the owner of our client the Espresso Gallery.

Mark usually delivers the pretzels to them, but I wanted to meet her, and he was going to be gone on the trip, so I had planned to drop the pretzels off myself this time.

Got a snack for Joshua, some kleenex just in case the farm animals triggered his allergies, and his back pack ready to go. Mark was just down the street when I realized they forgot his back pack. Thank God for cell phones! I rushed it out to them, said goodbye for the fifth time that morning, and two of my family members were on their way to having a nice day.

Back inside to check on Jacob...still practically comatose on the couch. He just kept saying, "I hurt." I was beginning to worry that it was something like appendicitis or a bladder infection, but then I realized that I was also coming down with a sore throat and aches, and seriously doubted the possibility that I'd caught a bladder infection from him. That made me feel a little better knowing that he just had the flu. But, neither Motrin nor Tylenol were making a difference. Usually one or the other gets them back to normal feeling within a few hours, but this had been over 12 hours and no change.

I managed to pull myself together with a quick, somewhat professional looking pony tail. I finished getting the order together for the 4 coffee shops and was ready to walk out the door when my cell phone rang.

It was one of our best clients, however, they are also our most spontaneous clients. It is not unusual for them to call on a Monday and want 200 pretzels by Tuesday afternoon. Today was no different. They wanted a quick order of about 24 pretzels and 4 bags of bark by today.

Thankfully I had just made up a bunch to have on hand just in case. I left the house with my 3 year old just in his diaper and a t-shirt...but wrapped in a comfy blanket. Swung by the shop to pick up the order for the 4 Espresso Galleries and gather the new last minute order. Realized I had no idea how to get to the Espresso Gallery corporate offices and no way to contact Mark on the field trip. The owner of the store was unavailable as well. I searched their name on my trusty iPhone web browser, mapped out the location, and found it within a few minutes. Then, headed to deliver my other order in record time.

By the time we got back home, I was feeling a little run down, but Jacob was starting to perk up. One sucker and a few gold fish crackers later and the boy is practically back to normal.

After weeks of driving me crazy, my craft area finally got my attention today, and I began organizing it. Jacob made his way to the table and started getting into everything and singing...I knew then that he was going to be just fine.

A very crazy start to a somewhat typical day. Being a business owner is certainly never boring.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh blogging, how I've neglected you.

I fully intended to get back home from North Carolina and post a brief overview of how our time was, and to complain about how horrible my kids were, but it seems life had other plans.

Being gone for a week meant putting some business things on hold, and now I'm playing catch up. Plus, we have gotten several orders, some big, that need finishing in the next few days.

I am thrilled to be this busy already. Actually, we've been consistently busy all year, but this is a great indication of what kind of holiday we have waiting for us. With the addition of the new products, especially the caramel apples, we have been able to reach new people and different budgets.

I'm excited about the next few months, and hopefully I'll actually get around to posting regularly again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tickled Pink.

We got to North Carolina and to our beach house today. All I can say is that I am never coming home! We arrived just shortly after hurricane/tropical storm Hannah passed through. We weren't affected much, other than a later time of entry to the house, and lots of sand blown all around the deck chairs and fence.

But, the ocean is crazy right now. I've never been near the ocean during hurricane season, and especially not right after one, so it is quite the experience. The waves are huge and it's very windy and loud. I am loving it.

The boys are enjoying playing with all of their cousins, and running around like mad men. Luckily for me there are lots of adults (some sober) to keep a watch on them too. It's a big house, and easy to get lost in.

I plan to get some work done here, but it's going to be a bit harder than it was at the lake cottage. There's a slight difference between a tiny old lake cottage with orange shag and olive counter tops, and this 3 story, 8 bedroom mansion on the beach.

Seriously plotting the ways I can make enough money to own this thing...and prostitution is on the list....just kidding mom! I only wrote the words "call girl". Just kidding there too. Okay, maybe not.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We are planning our annual trip to the Outer Banks this week. With our leave day being Friday, I have a lot to do. Worrying about which hurricane is going to hit us first wasn't exactly top on my list when I first made it, but it has quickly landed there. I'm not sure if I'm terrified or excited. I've never witnessed a hurricane. I've had my share of tornado warnings, and seen a tornado up close and personal once though. At least a hurricane gives you advance notice, and we'll have time to escape if need be, but still...kind of puts a damper on the whole fun in the sun thing.

And in preparation for our leave, I've had to get a lot of business details under control. I always like to let my wholesale clients know in advance that I'll be leaving in case they need something while I'm gone. It has happened in the past where I get an order while on vacation. I can't drive home to fill any orders this time, so it's plan ahead or get nothin'!

Many of them ordered right away, and a few waited until the last minute, but I've got everybody taken care of. Of course there's the chance that I'll get an internet order, but I'm not too worried about that. Those are usually pretty flexible.

We've had several big orders lately and a few web orders too. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but it keeps me on my toes. With Joshua being in Kindergarten, it has really given me a nice chunk of time to work and get things on a more organized level. It seems like it should be common sense, but I hadn't really realized how much more hectic things are with two kids.

Joshua has always been my quiet, obedient child. He doesn't really seem to take up much of my time or require a lot of attention, like Jacob does, but now that he's in school I'm noticing just how much time he actually did occupy. All the times I have to stop what I'm doing to watch him do some crazy stunt or look at his video game or get him juice/food etc. Not to mention all the times I just randomly stop to hug and kiss the heck out of him, or push him on the swing outside.

Kind of throws a kink in your focus, which can really slow down progress on any project. Now that he's not here, and Jacob seems to have calmed down quite a bit, I'm able to focus and get more done in a shorter amount of time. I have lots of leftover time to play with Jacob, and then by the time school is out, I'm refreshed and ready to handle Joshua and all of his crazy antics.

Who knows, I might actually get some more marketing done for DipSticks. Lately I've just been keeping up with what comes my way, I haven't actively been trying for new business. And, I'm even starting a second business...because I'm that is taking up a bit of my creative energy too. It's not the same kind of business, so it won't interfere or take any attention away from DipSticks, but it will give me something to do during the day.

I'll post more about that after vacation. I hope to have it finalized by then, and perhaps even a new client or two. Seems like hurricanes come in many forms...