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Sweet Taters- Hush My Mouth
Many of us can remember the time when we were school boys and girls growing up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most, if not all of our homes, had a wood cook stove and it was always the first place we would look when we arrived home for an after school snack. Most always we found goodies in the stove warmer. You gotta know after a full day of learning, making those many new wrinkles in our brain with all that book learning made our stomachs which by now were running on empty, growl and groan. Fall of the year or those cold winter days was always special because mama would bake sweet taters! The sweet potatoes had been baked in the old wood stove and there was always a few left over from a previous meal along with a few biscuits left over from breakfast or maybe some cornbread my mama had baked for her and daddy's dinner.
Getting a sweet potato out of the warmer was a great snack for us. They would still be a little bit warm if the stove had been recently used or if not warm, they would be at room temperature. They were lip smacking good them and pure joy for us kids almost as good as unwrapping a nickle candy bar. Peeling away the outer skin from the sweet potato which had shrunk when it had been baked was an easy process. We ate ours right out of the warmer without adding anything. Today with conveniences such as microwaves, heating a sweet potato requires less than a minute and can be topped with some butter,brown sugar, cinnamon or some other favorite spice.
Sweet potatoes,a vegetable from the Morning glory family are grown here in North Carolina especially in Eastern North Carolina where the soil is more suited for growing but had their origins in Central America. They will grow here in WNC and I remember so well my dad getting sweet potato "slips" as they were called from folks who had them and plant them in our family garden. According to the web, Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes back to Europe he had obtained from his explorations in 1492. However way or from what period of history, they found their way to Western North Carolina and just like Irish potatoes, they have been very popular and have many uses.
The sweet potato has found its way to many chain and local restaurant menus as an alternative side dish to the standard white baked potato or fries. They have long been annual favorites served in holiday desserts and in casseroles and those wonderful pies we often ate at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Below you will find a great recipe I am copying and pasting from the web for a sweet potato pie. My mother made the best sweet potato pies and my wife makes a wonderful sweet potato casserole.
- Pastry Pie Dough for 1 (9-inch) pie pan or 1 (10-inch) tart shell, recipe follows
- 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and drained and mashed
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Blind bake tart shell for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour sweet potato mixture into tart shell and return to 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes or until center is set.
Pastry Dough Recipe:
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 12 ounces cold diced butter
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 to 1 cup ice water
In a food processor, combine the flour, butter and salt and pulse until the mixture is very coarse. Pour the flour/butter into a large bowl and add the ice water. Pour out onto a clean, flat surface into a large log. Using the palm of your hand, gently push and pull the mixture to form it into a dough. Do not knead, you are just slightly manipulating it.
Sweet potatoes may be only seasonal additions for most folks and rarely eaten but contain valuable vitamins and minerals our bodies need, these are listed below:
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DVVitamin A38433IU769%Vitamin C39.2mg65%Vitamin D~~Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)1.4mg7%Vitamin K4.6mcg6%Thiamin0.2mg14%Riboflavin0.2mg12%Niacin3.0mg15%Vitamin B60.6mg29%Folate12.0mcg3%Vitamin B120.0mcg0%Pantothenic Acid1.8mg18%Choline26.2mgBetaine69.2mg
MineralsAmounts Per Selected Serving%DVCalcium76.0mg8%Iron1.4mg8%Magnesium54.0mg14%Phosphorus108mg11%Potassium950mg27%Sodium72.0mg3%Zinc0.6mg4%Copper0.3mg16%Manganese1.0mg50%Selenium0.4mcg1%Fluoride~
Sweet potatoes now are available in the frozen food section of most grocery stores prebaked and frozen. Already sliced, they require little in the way of preparation for serving. my wife sometimes adds raisins, sliced apples and a brown sugar sauce that yields a flavorful addition to any meal.