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Monday, September 19, 2011

September is Potato month!

Now who is on the bottom of the
food chain!  Huh, Mr. H, huh?

Good morning!  September is National Potato Month.  The potato is a vegetable.  Okay, I will agree to that but it is not a substitute for the green leafy vegetables.  But it is full of good nutrition.  This is what the website:  potatogoodness.com has to say about the potato. 

"This darling of the dinner table is one of the greatest nutritional values in the produce department.  At just 25 cents per serving, a medium potato (5.3 oz) eaten with it's skin on:
  • Has just 110 calories.
  • Has nearly half your Daily Value of vitamin C (45%)
  • Is one of the best sources of potassium (614 mg) and fiber 2 g) in the produce section  (Did you know potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure?)
  • Is naturally fat-free and sodium-free
  • Contains many of the nutrients the Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans increase in their diet
According to USDA MyPyramid, 1 medium skin-on potato=1 c. starchy vegetables."

Well, that sure sounds good to me!  Let's go make some Chili Cheese Fries! 

That doesn't sound very "healthy"?  Hmmm, maybe not, but they sure are delicious!

Quick & Healthy Fries (Basic Recipe)  Chili Fries (Variation)


Use 2 medium and 1 small
of these beauties!
cooking oil spray
1/1/2 lbs. Russet potatoes, baked but still a little hard
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 Tbls. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:  Preheat oven to 425 and spray a large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. 

  • Okay, there are two schools of thought on using the Microwave Oven.  For those of you who don't mind microwaving....microwave about 2 medium and 1 small potato in a covered dish for 3-4 minutes.
  • For those of you who do mind microwaving, well, bake the potatoes about 30 minutes.
For the next part, skip the rosemary, salt and pepper.

Spice mix:
                                                       1 1/2 tsps. Chili Powder
1 tsp. each:  dried cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and ground cumin

Put these in a small bowl and mix.

Then....cut each potato into 8 wedges. I put the potatoes, oil and seasoning in a large Ziploc bag and mix it all around very gently.  Now spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Spray with olive oil cooking spray, turn wedges and spray again. Bake for 10 minutes more or until fries are golden brown.   (If you are using the Rosemary mixture, you will need to spray the potatoes again then add the Rosemary, salt and pepper.)

Sprinkle 3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese over cooked potatoes and bake for a minute or 2 more to melt cheese. 

Well, that is what the recipe said but I probably used a heaping cup of good old fashioned cheddar.  And left the fries in the oven until the cheese was just about to turn brown.

I like to eat mine with Ranch Dressing and Sandra just likes Ketchup.  And if by any possible chance you have left overs.  Do Not Throw Them Away.  The next morning or when you have a chance,  heat them up, fry yourself a couple eggs and some bacon, make some toast and jelly and a pot of coffee.  Now that's a real Farmer's breakfast!

I will confess.  These are a treat around here. Most of the time we are really good and have baked Sweet Potato fries. 

Word to the wise, pajamas are fine to wear outside when you live in the country, but make sure you always where your cowboy boots! 

For the past 2 weeks I have been house sitting at a home between Winnsboro and Quitman.  I love spending time over there because they are actually in the Pineywoods, unlike our farm which is a bit of Blackland, Post Oak, and maybe a hint of Pineywoods.  In other words, we are diverse, but do not have much of anything. 

So the story begins.....One morning I got up early and decided to go for a walk.  I meandered down the fence line looking at plants.  Crossed the pasture and wondered into the Pineywoods.  I love pine trees.  They remind me of being a kid in my family's Houston backyard. 

I gathered some pine needles, and was heading back to the house.  I stopped at a pretty little clearing and had ventured in about 5 feet, when I felt the need just to stop and commune with Nature.  As I was standing there quietly, I began to hear what I thought were raindrops, and low and behold, those raindrops were coming right at me!   Being so excited that we might actually get some rain, I began to give Thanks for the wonderful rain that was coming my way. 

Yellow Bellied Water Snake
Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster
Mother Nature definitely has a sense of humor because that rustling sound was not raindrops but a large brown snake!  Or MN was having a tremendous laugh at me standing there in my pajamas and cowboy boots.  (In my defense, I was washing clothes!) Well, I stood there a few minutes,  just to see how brave I was and how close I would let it come to me.  The snake decided she wasn't going to have anything to do with me (good snake!) and made a quick lefty and headed back into the brush.

Well, I hate to admit this, but a snake any place but in the water is a COPPERHEAD, and if it is in the water, around the water or wrapped around my toilet, it is a WATER MOCCASIN!

Now that I am  home from the housesitting project, I thought I would like to tell the story of the raindrops that weren't.  So I thought I should do some research on the kind of snake that was lurking on my path.  This water snake is named for it's yellow belly and is a medium sized snake. It is non-poisonous.   And like other water snakes it gives birth to live young.  It eats fish, amphibians and crayfish.  There is no known record of the Yellow Bellied Water Snake ever eating unsuspecting female hikers in their pajamas.  Good, very good! 


Slender Snakecotton
Froelichia gracilis
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Slender Snakecotton

Last Thursday, September 15, we had a meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Winnsboro chapter.  Our speaker unfortunately was unable to attend, so we identified some plants and talked about what just might be blooming now.

Well, one of our members brought this plant to the meeting.  Slender Snakecotton.  Having a real heartfelt interest in the plants growing around me, I took a big sniff of a leaf to see how it smelled, felt the leaves, gently pulled apart the flowers.  If I know what a plant is and it isn't poisonous a little taste helps in identification.  All in the name of herbology, you know!

I noticed a headache coming on towards the end of the meeting.  And by the time I got home I was in full blown allergy attack!  This plant is seriously bad for people with allergies.  Give it a wide berth!  In fact, one of the members was reading off the Internet about this plant and that was one of the descriptions.  High allergen.

It is considered an invasive weed, and as far as my research, there is no known medicinal or food value to this plant. It does look similar to Wooly Croton, but the flowers are on a long stem.

Well, friends, time fies by when you are having fun.  Sandra went to Austin for a wedding this weekend.  She called this morning to let me know she is bringing home lots of plants for the fall/winter garden.  I am so excited.  Maybe, we will have better luck growing veggies now that cooler weather is setting in!

Til next time, Mr. Potato Head recommends you eat your squashes and carrots, oh, and those other leafy green veggies!     Susan

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.
Jerry Chin

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