A Great Snack!

A Great Snack!

It is sunny here this morning. As you can see from the weather information below, our weather is all over the place. Wednesday night is supposed to be -19C, and then the temperatures will swing up again. It has been a bit of a roller coaster through February.

We are enjoying a Statutory Holiday today, Family Day. I would have preferred if it had been called something a little more inclusive, such as Kindness Day, or Friendship Day, which would include families and those who are flying solo through life, but the government decided on Family Day, so Family Day it is. Whatever it is called, it is a welcome break in the dead of winter.

As I sit here typing, I can hear scratchy noises from down in the basement, with intermittent sharp cracking sounds. That would be Attila. Yesterday he moved the freezer out of the way, and finished installing electrical boxes, so that today he could install the last large stretch of wall with vapour barrier today. After he tapes the vapour barrier he will cut and install the last big sheets of drywall. I will help him carry in the drywall, it is so awkward to move it around in the cluttered basement. When the drywall is screwed on, it will be time to tape it, and then paint it.

There are two sections of the basement that will be very difficult to complete. One is the wall behind my canning jars, which will all have to be moved, a daunting task, I have a lot of thinking through before that gets tackled. That wall is insulated, with taped vapour barrier installed, but it needs drywall. The other finicky bit is a 16 inch space behind two full three drawer filing cabinets. Attila only wants to move those once, so he is waiting until we organize down there, and know where they will be placed long-term.

I’ve been having a ball in the kitchen. Yesterday I baked a dozen Cranberry Chocolate Chip Muffins, and used most of the whey I had collected when straining my latest batch of yogurt. A batch of Apple Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Muffins went into the oven after that, and Strawberry Rhubarb Squares went into the oven when they came out. After all that I cooked a pork roast in the Instant Pot, made gravy, and we enjoyed a meat and potatoes dinner.

Condiments from the grocery store have a lot of sodium in them. I have made low-sodium pickles, relish, and chow chow. But I have been craving Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, and Plum Sauce, two favourites that have been off-limits for years due to their high sodium and sugar content. So I thought I would give it a go, making my own. I started with recipes I found on the internet, recipes full of salt and sugar, tasty! But not for me. I omitted the salt called for, and substituted liquid stevia for the sugar called for. For the plum sauce I used pureed pie pumpkin instead of plums. The results were KAPOW! Even Attila choked a bit when he agreed to a taste test. My versions are full of flavour, perhaps a little too acidic, perhaps not. What I am noticing, as I learn to cook with liquid stevia, is that it does not cut the acid the way cane sugar does, so the amount of vinegar may need to be reduced, or perhaps there is another trick yet to be discovered. I use these sauces to mix with noodles and cooked vegetables, so they might be great, or not. I have yet to try them. I won’t share the recipes because they are a work in progress.

My biggest and best project for the weekend turns out to be a vegetable project. When we were shopping for supplies on Saturday, sweet potatoes were on sale, so one was purchased. Today it was peeled and small portion of it was cut into 1/2 inch strips. Out came the Air Fryer, which I’ve not yet used, and Attila uses constantly. He agreed to walk me through the process, to make Sweet Potato Fries. Who knew! I omitted the salt and pepper, and replaced them with 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder (our garden onions dehydrated), then tried the air fryer for the first time. Attila stood by to provide support, as I pushed buttons and learned how to use the appliance. It is very easy to use. WOW! These are so good that not for one second did I miss salt! They are healthy enough that they are good for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks. This Air Fryer has real potential for the low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol eating regime.

Sweet Potato Fries, I love them!
They look a little burnt in the image, but they weren’t, they were nicely browned and a bit crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The picture shows only the half that was left when I remembered to take a picture.

We were talking about which appliance we might prefer, the Instant Pot or the Air Fryer, if we had to choose but one. I would choose the Instant Pot, hands down, and thought Attila would choose the Air Fryer. But no, he also chose the Instant Pot, for its immense versatility in preparing ingredients and whole dishes.

While not in the kitchen, you will find me shuffling our belongings from here to there, as I go through the daily chores. The house is not as cluttered when we first stuffed 1800 square feet of furniture and belongings into a 640 square foot house, but still, it is cluttered with the basement storage under renovation. Eventually the basement will be completely insulated and the daunting task of organization will begin.

We do everything in this little house that we would do if we lived in a bigger house. We grow food, and store all the related equipment. We preserve food, and store all the related equipment. We cook almost everything from scratch, and store the related equipment. Very little goes out to the garbage, or even recycling, and there are weeks where we do not put out anything for garbage pickup or recycling. The renovation projects require equipment and supplies, all stored on site. Every square inch on the main floor of our little house is in constant use.

The lap blanket I am crocheting for Attila is coming along slowly, the last ball of yarn for the body of the blanket has been started, and the yarn for the border, picked out by Attila, has been purchased. I anticipate completing this blanket before spring begins. I thought it would be finished last winter, ha! Plans, no use getting too attached to them.



Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 14 February 2020
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -21.7°C
Dew point: -26.4°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: NNW 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -30
Visibility: 24 km

Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 17 February 2020
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.2°C
Dew point: -12.6°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NNE 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -12
Visibility: 24 km


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy
1828 – 1910


  1. Sandy

    The sweet potato fries look delicious. I haven’t bought an air fryer yet. I think I’ve asked this before. If I have, blame it on senior citizen memory fog 🙂 Have you ever considered putting together a healthy cookbook? There must be millions of people who want to eat healthy the way that you do.

  2. Sandy, books are a lot of work, as I discovered when I wrote the two family history books I published. BUT I am increasingly thinking about doing a cookbook, it seems more appealing to me all the time, particularly since I would use it myself, lol!

  3. Teri

    You’re so right about the ups and downs of the weather. The Good thing about it is the swings haven’t been as deep as the last few years. At least not here.

    I tend to look at the American weather pages. NOAA actually has a page for Arctic Oscillations, which causes our ups and downs. I’m not sure how much I can trust them but, except for a minor change in a few days, they’re forecasting no more dips for the next 2 weeks. So, maybe we’re about done with the cold weather.

    I love sweet potato fries! We just get the packaged version. I never noticed salt on there really, so I had to go look at ingredients. I was floored to find 2 kinds of extra starch added and some other things, even though the fries appear to only be cut sweet potatoes. Oh, and a little salt. They had 150 mg of salt for 17 fries, which is about a serving for me.

    DH makes a nice southwestern-ish dip for my fries. It’s very simple: mayonnaise and smoked paprika. Yum!

  4. Teri, it would be great if there were no further big dips in the temperature! I will check out the NOAA weather forecasting, you have mentioned it before.

    Since there is about 70 mg of sodium in a 5 inch sweet potato, it doesn’t sound as if they are adding a lot of salt to the fries, the other starches seem unnecessary. For a snack I would eat about half a sweet potato, 35 mg of sodium. Because I am so restricted, and for me the sodium adds up so very fast, this is a real incentive to make the fries myself. That mayonnaise and smoked paprika dip sounds delicious! I am hoping to use my new condiment sauces for dipping, haven’t tried them yet, that will be the test.

  5. WendyNC

    Sign me up for the cookbook as well! While both the husband and I are fortunate not to have sodium issues, I’ve always had to be careful with sugar and the husband likes it too much! He’s doing most of the cooking these days (lucky me!) and since he actually reads and mostly follows recipes, it’s always good to have another reliable source.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement Wendy! Sugar is my nemesis, I love the stuff. But I am slowly but surely training my palate to enjoy less more. The liquid stevia is a real boon, it helps me keep my sugar levels down to the recommended amount and still not feel deprived. How wonderful that your husband cooks! I love that men cook, there is such heart in it.

  7. WendyNC

    Thanks for that additional information about stevia, Maggie. Husband has been using alternative sweeteners (he started with honey) and has recently started exploring stevia.

    I did the cooking for the first 25+ years of our marriage. Then, as he started working less, he got into the cooking. The first months were rough–reminded me of my college days! But his learning curve was swift and now I get really incredible, nutritious meals every night. It’s a real boon.

  8. Wendy, it is great having home cooked meals, particularly when you don’t have to cook them yourself. I think the results are well worth waiting through the learning curve. We were the opposite, Attila insisted on cooking until the big mistake a few years ago, then I took over, and he cooks occasionally for fun, when the mood strikes him. It is working out well as I have plenty of time to cook and I love it.
    I am using the Now Better Stevia alcohol-free stevia, which I think has no aftertaste, but Attila says he can taste it a bit when I use the equivalent of a couple of cups of sugar. For granulated stevia, I don’t like the products I’ve purchased at the grocery store, they have a definite aftertaste as far as I am concerned, and they are cut with maltodextrin or some other undesriable chemicals. I found a stevia/erythritol granulated product at the Bulk Barn, but I haven’t tried it yet, fingers crossed. I have less objection to erythritol than I do maltodextrin and the other sweeterners added to the grocery store granulated stevia products.

  9. Margarett

    Hi Maggie: So sorry I fell off the face of the earth….I am ok. I don’t have the energy tonight to give details, but I will in the next day or two.
    Talk to you real soon…..margarett

  10. Teri, thanks for the link, desserts aren’t part of our usual fair, but we do love them! I’ll be having a look at all the recipes, and in addition to recipe ideas, I’ll be able to glean some ideas on techniques, win/win.

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