White Dog sat at my shoulder and supervised as I adjusted the madeline slicer. "Not too thick or the pieces will be mushy. And not too thin or they will be crisp. They need to be the perfect thickness to be chewy and leathery."
We were slicing sweet potatoes to make yam jerky and her sentiments were being echoed by the five other White dogs arrayed around me as I worked.
"Umm, you guys know the blade on this slicer is VERY sharp, right? So no pushing or shoving and accidently bumping our workspace; I've no desire to spill blood over your treat indulgences."
"How come you are making some of the pieces big and others longer?" Puff complained. "Some of us are going to get gypped." "Dear One, I did not form the shape of the potatoes and I am not going to waste big parts so that I can trim it into a perfect rectangular block to yield exact duplicate strips. Life is sometimes simply luck of the draw."
We sliced up five pounds of the bright orange vegetable and lay the strips on parchment covered cookie sheets. The White Dog Army formed a procession following Steve as he took the pans and placed them in the oven. They all found spots and laid down in the kitchen intently staring at the window of the oven.
"Umm, you guys know that they will need to slowly bake for three hours in there, right? It will be a long time gazing at nothing happening in the oven. You will know when the jerky is done where ever you are in the house; why not go about your normal day?"
"I am just going to nap here," Oso replied flopping over on his side against the cabinets. The others walked out, snooters snuffling to make sure they would indeed be able to track the drying progress.
A little under three hours later, Steve declared the jerky ready to come out of the oven. There was a blizzard of white to escort the trays to the cooling racks where the instructions said the jerky had to cool before being "set." The WDA divided its attentions; half watched the trays and the other half the clock. After 45 minutes they ran out of patience.
Steve handed out samples. The thin slices were pronounced "too crispy" and the thicker ones "gummy." "I TOLD momma when she was slicing," WD moaned but no one spit out the samples. The last taste test produced the "take it and go off by yourself" reaction that indicated that THOSE had hit the mark.
When the WDA returned for more, Steve was closing the jerky in a storage container bound for the refrigerator. The shocked look on the Army's faces made him laugh. "You surely did not think you were going to eat FIVE POUNDS of sweet potatoes in one sitting," he said. The looks he got in return indicated their expectations were not far off of that mark. "Well actually," Yo finally answered, "with evaporation from the drying process it is probably not FIVE pounds..."