Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Who is surprised to see another black bean and sweet potato combination?  Not I.  Not after how much I loved the last go round (quesadillas).  And no one can be surprised to see a chili recipe in October.

Jordan did some shopping at the Farmers’ Market Saturday and came back with some sweet ‘taters.  We’d been thinking about making a chili this week, so decided to incorporate the taters into our chili.

Crock Pot Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Serves a small army (okay, about 8-9)


  • 3 sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed) We had two regulars and one white sweet potato.
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Red bell pepper (chopped)–not pictured; missed the photo shoot
  • 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 lemon drop peppers (sliced or chopped)–optional
  • 2 T. Cumin–I’m very pro-cumin, though…
  • 2 T. Chili Powder
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pasta noodles–optional

Toss it all in, and let it simmer in the pot until sweet potatoes are tender.  This took about four hours on high.  When all is ready, toss in noodles if you are pro-noodle-in-chili.  Wait about eight more minutes until serving.

I love chili add-ins.  I blame (or thank) my year in Gregory, when I would head to a teammate’s house every [home game] Friday for pre-football game chili.  She had sour cream, multiple types of cheese, tortilla chips, fritos, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Today, we garnished with blue corn chips and goat cheese crumbles.  We forgot about our cilantro until it was too late.  Ah, well, we’ll use that later this week.

Paired with some FM bread, the chili was quite filling. I loved the flavor.  Jordan suggested I made this as an alternative while we’re home for Christmas.  Hope there will be an extra crock pot waiting for us!


Catapult to Success | Teen Read Week

This year’s Teen Read Week Theme is “A MidSummer Knight’s Read.”  All about knights and dragons and medieval times.

Today, we launched fireballs over the castle walls.  Okay, so we launched pennies disguised as fireballs into a box that was poorly-disguised as a castle.  But building catapults was still fun.

We had no instructions, but we did have a diagram.  I had flashbacks to my days at “Engineering for Girls Camp.”

I think that most of the kids a bit overwhelmed at first.  Of course, there was one that had it figured out right away.  He should be an engineer when he grows up 🙂

Here’s my prize product:

I ended up parting with my catapult, since we only had four and probably 12 kids who wanted to take them home.  But at least I know how to make another if I need to launch an attack.

Scenes from the Family Farm

I like taking pictures every time I go home, but fall is an especially fun time to snap away.  I never realized how vasts the cornfields seemed to be or how blue the skies.

My parents own a small hobby farm in rural Wisconsin.  Mostly, they own sheep and raise a garden, but with most farms, there are often other animals around.  Cats and sometimes horses and cattle.  I’d like you all to be able to visit my parents’ place in the fall.

Welcome to a virtual version of the Windy Flats Sheep Farm:

The sheep I don’t mind; the cats are not my favorite, so they didn’t make the photo reel.

I don’t mind the structures…

I don’t mind the gardens, either…

Hope you enjoyed your stay 🙂  Now who wants some pumpkin pie or apple cider?

Quick Trip to Chippewa Moraine Ice Age Center

Ah, the Ice Age Trail.

When I think of hiking during my childhood, I think of the Ice Age Trail.  We took school field trips there probably once a year.  Occasionally, my parents took us on a family day hike.  I also went often with the family of one of my friends.  And once summer, I was a [probably worthless fourth-grade] volunteer at the Ice Age Center.  The trails and center also hold a special place in my heart because my mother’s father used to own some of this land.

The center itself is worth a good visit.  There are oodles of nature videos to choose from in the small theatre room, a hands-on exhibit of how the ice age affected the terrain, and a “mini-zoo” of animals from the area (think snake and turtles).

We didn’t have any time to stop in at the center this go round, since we got to the center a bit late.  From the center, there are three easily accessible trailheads: the Mammoth Nature Trail (.7 miles), the Dry Lake Trail (1.8 miles), and the Circle Loop (4.5 miles).

My father, sister, and I didn’t have oodles of time, so we opted for the Dry Lake Trail. To begin, the trail skirts along a field of rolling hills.

Not long into the hike, we turned back into the woods along the trail.

The leaves, for the most part, had already fallen.  A couple weeks ago, I am sure the leaves would have been in full color.  Still, the fall colors hung around.

Not leaves, but I wanted to include this anyhow:

I snapped a couple photos of my trail mates along the path.  I tried not to be too annoying with my antics.

When the glaciers moved on through, they created many kettle lakes, which are dotted along the trails.  Kettle lakes–a term I remember from the many field trips 🙂  Three different lakes coming your way:

We decided to swing by the back side of the center for a photo op.  Well, let’s be honest, I forced them into it.  But I always love the view from there.

Each time I go home, I like to try to get out to the Ice Age Trail for a bit.  I have big dreams of hiking a lot more of it in the future though.