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Instant Pot!

Last week, I wrote a post about the air fryer I’ve recently begun “learning” how to cook with.

I like to share information about products around the holiday season in case you’re thinking of making a purchase.

Today, I want to tell you about my Instant Pot pressure cooker, because I honestly think it’s the best kitchen gadget in the world.

But, before I get started, I wanted to add one last thing regarding my Air Fryer post last week.

Right after writing that post, I attempted cooking fries again.

I used one large russet potato cut into half inch strips, one teaspoon of olive oil, and some seasoning.

The fries came out GREAT and they were very crispy.  (See?  I’m learning!)

One large russet potato made plenty as a side dish for two people.

(It was probably enough for three people, but … yum yum!!)

Okay, now back to the Instant Pot.

instantpot

An Instant Pot is a modern, very updated, pressure cooker but it’s also so much more.

I remember my mom cooking with a pressure cooker (on the stove) and worrying about whether it might blow up.

Instant Pot is electric and has ten (!) built in safety features.

Isn’t everything so much better when you don’t blow up the kitchen??

It really is SO EASY to use.

(I’ll admit, when I first took it out of the box I was a bit intimidated – but that didn’t last long.)

I did the manufacturer’s recommended “water test,” and then I began cooking.

I can make steel cut oats in less than ten minutes.

I can hard “boil” ten eggs in 2-3 minutes.

Homemade soup is a breeze.

Ribs are melt in your mouth tender!

Butternut and/or acorn squash … easy-peasy!

(Seriously, I don’t even cut a huge butternut squash before cooking it! I put it into the Instant Pot whole.  Cutting a raw butternut squash is difficult for most people and impossible for me with my bum arm.  Fifteen minutes of pressure cooking and it’s done!)

Whole artichokes?  Never tasted better!

The Instant Pot has a saute feature so you can brown a piece of meat prior to turning on the pressure feature.

The meat comes out beautifully browned, and falling off the bone tender.

It even has a feature so it can be used as a slow cooker, and another feature so it can be used as a rice cooker.

Yes, that’s right, you can get rid of your crock pot and rice maker and have ONE device that does almost everything.

There are several preset options on it, and there’s also a manual button which gives you a lot of flexibility.

When something is done cooking, the Instant Pot switches into “Keep Warm” mode.

It’s a great feature which allows me to prepare something, walk away, and not have to worry about it.

Lots and lots of people make yogurt in their Instant Pots also.

I haven’t tried it yet, because for some reason, the very thought intimidates me.

But, I’ve been told it’s VERY easy so I’ll gather my courage and try it sometime soon.

Afterall, I love Greek yogurt, so why not make my own?

Cheesecake made in an Instant Pot is also very popular.

(Again, this isn’t something I’ve tried myself yet.  I might try it at Christmas.)

Instant Pot comes in a few different models and sizes.

I purchased the newest version in the six quart, most versatile, size.  (Instant Pot IP DUO60)

It stays on my kitchen counter all the time because I use it so frequently.

They also make an eight quart size for those of you who cook for a lot of people … and have the counter space for it.

(I’ve heard many people like their Instant Pot so much they end up with multiples!)

Honestly, I really, really, LOVE my Instant Pot!

I purchased mine on a one-day sale via Amazon – for less than half price.

They’re also available at WalMart and via the Instant Pot website.

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Air Fryer!

A few weeks ago, I purchased a GoWise Air Fryer.

One of my friends has been raving about his air fryer (the same model I bought) for over a year and it made me curious.

As soon as mine arrived, I began cooking/experimenting.

 

airfryer

GoWise 5.8 qt AirFryer

As background, I normally never fry food.

All I knew about air fryers was that they’re supposed to be convenient to use, a healthy way to cook, and create a “crispiness” similar to what you get if you fry food.

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Crispy Chicken Wing – Cooked in my Air Fryer

I also have to tell you, I’m by no means an expert at using my air fryer.

I’m very much a beginner, but I wanted to share with you my initial thoughts.

So far, what I like most about my air fryer is the convenience.

Most foods cook much faster than they would in a conventional oven.

It’s also extremely easy to use and easy to clean after using.

(The basket the food cooks in is nonstick and dishwasher safe.)

I find myself using my air fryer a lot when I need to fix a meal just for myself.

Why heat up my conventional oven, dirty pans, etc., when you can cook a piece of chicken in 20 minutes with nearly no mess?

Also, most foods require NO oil, a spritz of oil from a mister, or (at most) a tablespoon of oil.

Using an air fryer really is a healthy way to cook.

But, I’m also definitely experiencing a beginner’s learning curve.

Knowing how long to cook things has been my biggest challenge.

The first time I cooked chicken breasts, I followed an air fryer recipe.

The chicken breasts came out dry and overcooked.

Now that I’ve done it a few times, they come out great … but I had to experiment a little before I got it right.

While I had guests here, I “air fried” a very large batch of sweet potato fries.

They tasted great, but they weren’t very crispy.

I was disappointed with the lack of crispiness.

I did some research afterward, and I *think* the problem was that I cooked too large of a batch?

An air fryer cooks by circulating hot air around the food.

Small batches of food seem to cook better than large batches.

One of my favorite things, so far, is to toss a medley of vegetables into the air fryer with a light spritzing of olive oil.

Five minutes later I have perfectly “roasted” vegetables.

It’s easy, fast, healthy, and tasty too.

I’m going to cook a whole chicken in it sometime soon.

I also plan to attempt fries again next week.

I think cooking some foods in small batches might be a hassle for people cooking for big families.

But, on the other hand, if you’re cooking for just a few people, an air fryer might be perfect for you.

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November 29, 2016

My family and friends have departed.

I love having people here, but it’s definitely a lot of work.

I was able to do much more this year … it made me realize how much better my arm is than it was a year ago.

Progress is difficult to see on a day in/day out basis.

But, remembering where I was a year ago and where I am now was eye opening – in a good way.

Let’s hope Surgery #12 brings me to the conclusion of my multiple-surgery-journey.

The Newfies were happy with lots of additional attention over Thanksgiving weekend.

Fred The Newf – Two Years Old

Both dogs got “outdoor baths” which kept them clean for about five full seconds.

Frank LOVES the hose and will chase it all over the yard.

Frank The Newf – 9 Months Old – Jumping For Joy!

Fred, on the other hand, stands calmly for his bath.

My son was helping with dog baths and he commented, “Fred really is such a GOOD dog.”

He really is.

I’m so lucky to have him.

“Mom, am I done yet?”

Frank still has his puppy fluff and looks adorable when he’s clean.

Frank – 9 months old – didn’t stay clean long.

Frank is like Pigpen (from Charlie Brown) only in dog form.

Both pups have been sleeping a lot now that our guests are gone.

I think all the attention and excitement wore them out.

They better rest up …

In two weeks, I’ll have guests arriving for several weeks!

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Thanksgiving and Update!

I hoped to have a new product review post up for you this week,

But, I just couldn’t pull it off with a house full of people here.

I’ll definitely have it up for you next week …. it might be something to add to your gift list this holiday season.

Today, I just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I’m very happy to have all my kids here this week … along with some additional friends.

I’ll be cooking nonstop for the next week.

I ordered such a big turkey this year, I’m worried about whether or not it will fit in my oven!

I’m also hoping to enjoy a few hikes (with my camera!) while everyone is here.

Here are a few things I wanted to update you on:

•  Surgery #12 is scheduled, in Los Angeles, for December 27th.  My surgeon is going to be on vacation part of December, so that’s the best I could do.  I think it’s probably a good date because Christmas will be over and I won’t be “fresh surgery miserable” for most of December.  I’ll have family in town and available to help me.  It also allows me to get it over with in the year 2016 which has just been a despicable year.  (It will be my third surgery for 2016.)  I’ll be able to start 2017 with a clean slate … which is, psychologically, so much better than having a surgery in January.  I know it isn’t the simplest of surgeries, but I have more faith in my current surgeon than I’ve ever had in previous ones.

•  I want to publicly thank Paul Newman for being my biggest supporter, cheerleader, and morale booster for the last several years.  He not only figured out the biggest thing wrong with my arm before the surgeons did, he’s given me the support to keep moving forward on what often seems like a never ending journey.

•  I’ll be taking some photos of Fred and Frank for you over Thanksgiving weekend.  Fred continues to be the easiest, most well behaved, dog I’ve ever owned.  Frank continues to be a mischievous hellion … albeit an adorable one.  Frank sneaks into the pool for a swim every chance he gets.  He loves nothing more than to get muddy and come running into the house.  Sometimes Fred looks at me as if to say, “Can you believe the things he gets into, Mom?”

•  I’m still working on my Non-Diet Diet.  I’ve lost some weight pre-holidays so I’m very happy about that.  My goal now, is to maintain through this next week of constant cooking and dining with friends and family.  Then, I hope to lose a couple more pounds prior to Surgery #12 …. if I can pull it off with December parties and holidays?  In any case, my big goal was to begin 2017 weighing less than I did last September when I began my Non-Diet Diet.  I realize I’ll be recuperating in January, but once I get through the first few weeks, I’ll be all set to continue my Non-Diet Diet for a healthier 2017.  I’m so tired of these surgeries throwing my life into chaos.

•  My love affair with art-play continues.  I find myself painting and/or drawing in the evenings on a frequent basis.  I know I won’t have a lot of time for it during the holidays, but I hope to sneak in a few hours prior to my arm being immobilized.  Having never considered myself the least bit artistic, it’s still a surprise to realize how much I enjoy it.  And, every now and again, I actually LIKE something I create.

•  I know a lot of you enjoy my “Things I Love Lately” posts around the holidays.  I’ll try to get a couple up for you in the near future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be back next week!

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Knock, Knock?

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately.

I can’t promise I’ll be any more consistent through the holidays.

But, I wanted to pop in and give you a little update and let you know …

I’m thinking about you even if I haven’t been writing.

I’ve learned I will need to have Surgery #12 on my arm.

I’m trying to come to terms with this news, but I’m not there yet.

I’ve kind of been walking around in a fog.

(I’m pretty sure the hysterics will hit me any minute?)

It has been one year (this week!) since the tendon in my elbow tore.

I’ve had two surgeries in 2016 – a “huge” surgery on my upper arm and shoulder …

And a smaller, less invasive, surgery on my elbow.

Because of my arm, I haven’t taken any big photography jobs since I returned from New Zealand.

And now … I’m looking at yet another surgery.

Why?

Well, a big portion of my elbow tendon has healed, but there’s still a significant area torn where it connects to the bone that has NOT healed.

And, in fact, that particular area hasn’t improved at all in the last four months.

(My doctor looks at it fairly frequently via ultrasound.)

So, this Friday I will be meeting with Dr. Itamura (the orthopedic trauma doctor who specializes in arms and performed my “big” surgery this year.)

Dr. Itamura and I will look at schedules and he will be performing an “open” surgery to reassemble my elbow.

I think I’ll be getting some more metal in my arm, among other things.

I LOVE Dr. Itamura because after ten years (and zillions of orthopedists) he’s the genius that figured out how to remove the vast majority of pain I’ve lived with since the car accident.

I know he’ll do a fantastic job on my elbow also.

The doctors have explained to me, this surgery is the only way to get me “to the finish line” where I will (hopefully) be able to begin using my arm again.

(Will I even know how after ten-plus years of not using it??)

I don’t know when the surgery will be.

I’m hoping I can get it over with as soon as possible so I can begin healing.

My life has been on hold for a year AND I’M LOSING MY MIND not working!!

Dr. Itamura tends to book up a long way in advance.

I’m hoping he can pull some strings and help expedite my surgery.

He’s been very invested in my “case,” but I don’t know what is, and isn’t, possible.

I’ll let you know more when I know more.

In the meantime, I’ll get posts up when I can.

P.S.  2016 sucks!!

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A Birthday Fit For 2016

This year, 2016, has been the worst year of my life for a multitude of reasons.

You would think the year of the car accident would be the worst year.

Or, perhaps, one of the Pain-Off-the-Charts years that followed.

But, even when all of that accident/pain stuff was at its worst, there were still many good things in my life.

But …?

This year has just sucked in nearly every possible way.

So, of course, it’s only fitting I had the worst birthday of my life last week – right?

Why not just finish off the year in a pile of YUCK like the entire rest of the year?

My kids called on my birthday night to chat and that was truly the only positive in the entire day.

Every other person I’d expect to think of me that day, celebrate with me, or reach out to me – forgot or didn’t bother.

I spent the day alone and/or doing errands and chores.

I cried a zillion times because I’ve never felt so unloved.

(A feeling I’m not over still.)

And, eventually, I made the decision I will plan all my future birthdays myself.

Speaking of negative sh*t …

Tomorrow is election day here in the United States.

I think we’ll all be glad when the election is over since this has been the most negative, hate-filled, campaign in our country’s history.

I, honestly, wonder if our country can heal from how badly it’s divided right now.

The other day I heard someone spouting off all sorts of nonsense about the candidates and I was left shaking my head.

Where did this person get their information?

Did they fact check any of it?

It is 2017 and you can google “fact check” after every debate, campaign speech, etc and discover what the ACTUAL facts are.

Guess what?

They often are NOT what you’re reading on Facebook, hearing from a candidate, or hearing in ads and/or the media.

Also?

I would encourage EVERYONE to not only fact check, but to listen to news/read publications from whatever they consider the “enemy camp.”

Yes, that’s right – if you think a network or newspaper/magazine is too liberal/too conservative for your belief system –

I encourage you to read/listen to what is being said with an open mind.

Making an educated decision on a candidate, or proposition, means truly understanding both points of view.

If you only read/listen to things that support your preconceived ideas then you aren’t fully educated on the issues.

Lastly, regardless of the outcome of the election, I hope you will do your part afterward to help heal our country and not further divide it.

We don’t need more hate.

We don’t need more name calling and divisiveness.

Most human beings are good people hoping for a positive future.

Our political system may be flawed, but constantly attacking it (or each other!) won’t solve any problems.

Wouldn’t it be a nice change if people worked WITH the system,

And made changes to it in a nice, pleasant, manner within the laws and structures we have to do so?

I am so ready for 2017!

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10 Facts For My 24th Birthday

Happy 24th birthday to me!

In honor of my (bazillionth) 24th birthday,

I thought I’d share ten things you might not know about me.

  1.  I have a “Twenty Four at Heart” tattoo above my left ankle.
  2. I have 24 AT ❤️ license plates on my car.  fullsizerender-183
  3. I’ve really gotten into painting abstract faces lately.  I’m having lots of fun!  abstract-face-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w
  4. I’m making slow, but steady, progress on losing my “surgery weight,” as I call it.  The non-dieting approach to dieting seems more long-term-realistic than a diet-diet.  (Excuse the exposed bra strap … iPhone photo and I suck at taking photos of myself.)me-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w
  5. I don’t have a favorite TV show, movie, book and/or song.  I guess I’ve never felt strongly enough about entertainment type things to proclaim “favorite.”
  6. The alarm on my phone is the song Suzanne by Journey.  Years ago, an old boyfriend “dedicated” this song to me when I broke up with him and moved out of town.  Prior to that, I didn’t even know Journey had a song titled Suzanne.  It makes me smile when I hear it because everyday I hear my phone yelling “Suzanne!” at me.  And no, it doesn’t make me think about Old Boyfriend.  
  7. I LOVE getting old fashioned snail mail.  It’s especially fun to get packages. (!!)
  8. The scars I have from my car accident don’t faze me at all.  Someone told me I should cover them up because they’re “nasty.”  Why would I do that?  They’re a reflection of my life journey.
  9. I’m more attracted to average looking men who make me laugh than I am towards good looking men who don’t.
  10. So far, my life hasn’t turned out at all how I expected it to.  (That has been both a positive and a negative.)
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Happy Halloween!

I can’t believe October is already over!

Yesterday was Fred’s second birthday.

Happy 2nd Birthday to Fred The Newf!

He’s the happiest, easiest, most gentle, and most loving dog imaginable.

I’m so lucky to have him in my life.

I’m finally back from my travels.

I was in Hawaii and it was, as it always is, just beautiful.

Morning walks on Maui.

It was hotter than normal in Hawaii during my visit.

I was told they also had an exceptionally hot summer.

Palm trees and beautiful beaches – Maui, Hawaii.

While I was on my trip, I walked, and hiked, and swam a LOT.

I was trying to work off the fancy dinners and drinks even before I consumed them.

I love to swim and the ocean water temperature was absolutely perfect.

(Swimming is so much less painful since my last two surgeries – yay!!  I’m THRILLED!)

A sea turtle smiles for my camera!

I love the sea turtles.

I never tire of watching them and/or swimming with them.

Sunset photos – Maui, Hawaii

I’ve already been back to see Paul Newman.

I’m so grateful he takes such good care of me.

What would I do without him?

My husband has begun his new job – yay!

And, I’m still trying to get caught up on a lot of things that happened while I was gone.

Tomorrow November begins.

I’m always insanely busy with family, and holidays, and year-end madness, during November and December.

I know it will get hectic, but I won’t be sorry to see the end of 2016!

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Friday, October 14th

I’ve got some travel coming up soon.

I’ve been running around trying to get my life in order because I tend to do that before trips.

Sometimes, it feels like I’m preparing for a trip for more days than I’m actually ON the trip.

But, I’m looking forward to getting away.

I’m going to try to unplug as much as possible.

(I can’t take anymore of the political stuff right now – such an ugly election!)

Today, I’m busy with window washers at my house.

I also have multiple appointments (including a visit with Paul Newman),

And, a lot of pre-travel chores.

I don’t know if I’ll have an opportunity to post next week prior to my departure or not.

I’ll try to get a few photos up on social media, regardless.

I always hate leaving my Newfies even when I know they’re in great hands with house sitter friends.

I’ll have to spoil them with a lot of extra attention this weekend.

Fred and I both get terrible separation anxiety when we’re apart.

(Frank has a much more carefree spirit than Fred.)

In any case, I just wanted to pop in and let you know what I’m up to.

I know sometimes people become concerned when I disappear for a bit.

I’m okay, and I’ll be back after my trip for sure ….

And, if possible, I might get a post up prior to leaving.

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October 12, 2016

My son returned to Texas last night.

It’s so hard to say good-bye.

I hate it.

Of course, I fell behind on lots of (boring) stuff while he was here.

It will probably take me a few days to get caught up.

We had fun, but I think Frank (the puppy) had the most fun.

We spent a lot of last weekend in the pool.

frank-lifeguard-dog-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w

Frank, my Newfoundland puppy, never let up on lifeguard duty.

Fred likes to go in the pool to cool off, but puppy Frank is obsessed with swimming every possible second.

He’s a committed water dog and loves to “rescue” people.

For instance, when he sees someone on a float he swims to them, waits for them to grab onto his fur and brings them back to the beach/ramp/entry of the pool.

He does this over and over, and over again.

frank-fred-newfies-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w

Frank and Fred are the best Newfie pool supervisors!

It was the first time I’ve attempted to swim since my surgeries.

I swam laps for about a half hour, taking my time and not pushing it, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well my arm did.

I was sore which is to be expected after all this time,

But not in pain – !!

Yay!!