Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Potatoes at Twenty Paces



by Thea Green

I think we solved it. Really, I think TGIF solved a problem that has caused problems for as long as marshmallows and sweet potatoes have coexisted. And how long has that been? I looked it up and the answer is . . . no one is really sure but maybe since the 1920s or 30s, say three or four generations. I also looked up how long a generation is and that answer varies, too, but for our purposes we’ll say twenty five years. Why am I looking things up? Didn’t I introduce myself? Sorry. I’m Thea Green, I’m a librarian, and looking things up is what a librarian does. Especially on the Friday after Thanksgiving when the library is open but everyone else is out shopping or home sleeping off the tryptophan in the turkey. (Tryptophan in turkey may or may not lead to drowsiness. The drowsiness experienced post consumption of Thanksgiving turkey might have more to do with what else is eaten during the meal, carbohydrates for instance. Did I look this up, too? Yes I did.)

So, sweet potatoes and marshmallows: yes or no? To candy or not to candy, that is the question, and let me tell you I have seen the exchange of opinions over that question get very ugly. In fact, I thought we were going to have a showdown in the TGIF workroom last week. Knitting needles at twenty paces. Did I tell you what TGIF is? It’s the loosely-knit group of fiber artists, Thank Goodness It’s Fiber, that meets at the Weaver’s Cat here in Blue Plum. We got to talking at one of our knit nights about plans for Thanksgiving, each of us trying to outdo the others on how behind we were and how frightful our houses looked for company and how many hours we’d be slaving in hot kitchens and then someone brought up the sweet potato question. I thought Ardis might strangle the Spivey twins with the scarf she’s been making for her father-in-law. Even Ernestine got huffy. An unpleasant time was being had by all until Kath came up with the solution. She proposed an actual showdown – sweet potatoes at twenty paces. Place: the Weaver’s Cat. Time: high noon the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Weapons: our favorite sweet potato dish and a serving spoon.

The winner? I think we were all surprised, even Mel. She owns the cafĂ© and I'm sure she thought she had it in the bag. Even I was surprised and I looked up a LOT of recipes before settling on one that included roasted bananas, maple syrup, and pecans. The winner was Joe Dunbar and his sweet potato spears glazed with molasses and horseradish. Horseradish? Really? Yes indeed and I’d be willing to bet every one of us served Joe’s sweets this year. Here’s his recipe. 

Pssst - if you’ve got a recipe you think can top Joe's, let me know. I’d love to take him in a rematch at Christmastime.

Molasses Horseradish Sweet Potato Spears

Serves 8 – 10
preparation time: 45 minutes

3 lb medium sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut lengthwise into 8 to 10 spears.
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons butter (or margarine or heart-healthy substitute)
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup bottled horseradish (including juice)

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 450.

If potato spears are very long, halve them diagonally.  Toss potatoes with oil and salt in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep.) 

Roast in lower third of oven, turning once or twice, until tender, 18 – 22 minutes.  Leave oven on.

While potatoes roast, bring butter, molasses, horseradish to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan, stirring, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to about ¼ cup, 10 or 15 minutes.

Drizzle glaze over cooked sweet potatoes and gently toss until coated. Just before serving, bake glazed sweet potatoes in lower third of oven until hot, 3 – 5 minutes. Note:  Sweet potatoes can be roasted 2 hours ahead.  Toss with glaze and reheat just before serving.  

And now for some fun - In celebration of the holidays, KillerCharacters.com is giving away a book a day. From November 26 to December 25, visit our site and leave a comment, and you'll be entered for that day's giveaway. Return the next day to see if you won. You have thirty chances to win! Be sure to come back each day and leave a new comment to enter the drawing for that day. Good luck. From all the Killer Characters and their authors, Have a very Cozy Christmas!



 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You can find my author, Molly MacRae
at her website and read about some of her
other books, follow her on Facebook or 
Pinterest, or find her the first Monday of 
every month on Amy Alessio's
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





20 comments:

  1. Hmmmmm. The horseradish sounds good, but I think I'll save the molasses for cookies and gingerbread and use olive or canola oil instead of butter. Notice I said *nothing against* marshmallows on sweet potatoes!

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  2. Well, I don't like horseradish at ALL; I usually use brown sugar and butter on sweet potatoes. Marshmallows, oddly enough, I've never tried! Maybe I will!

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    1. Oh, Victoria, so sorry about the horseradish. I LOVE it. It really doesn't come through with too much bite in this recipe, though. Probably because of the molasses and natural sweetness of the potatoes. Your brown sugar and butter sound delish, too!

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  3. I'm a big fan of candied - lots of butter/margarine and brown sugar cooked down until thickened. And it's soooooooooo good on top of the stuffing!

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  4. The recipe sounds intriguing, so I'm definitely going to save it and try it. Must confess, though, that my mother's sweet potato recipe is my all-time favorite. Unfortunately, my mother can't make them as well as my sister, though nobody can figure out why. Even when they both follow the recipe exactly. Any research to suggest why that might happen?

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    1. That's an interesting problem, Jacklyn. I'd love to do some research on this. Do they use exactly the same kind of pan or pot? Sometimes the material, or even the color of a pan can make a difference. Seriously, I'll be happy to try to figure this out. Drop me a line.

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    2. Yes, I think they use exactly the same kind of pot. They live at the same altitude. At one point we thought it might be because my sister only uses real butter and at that time my mother was using margarine. We quickly set her straight on that and hers are better with real butter than they were with margarine, but still not as good as my sister's. It's really funny because we've been trying to figure it out for, oh, 20-25 years, I guess. We just can't find the answer.

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    3. That really is odd. There should be some kind of investigative cooking show to solve riddles like that. I've been making English toffee for decades, using the same pan, the same recipe, and in the last couple of years it quit working. At the last minute, the butter separates out and I'm left with a mess. I can't figure that one out, either.

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  5. This is a recipe I am going to make and soon. Looks yummy!!

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  6. Willow, let me know how it turns out with olive oil. Kath called to say she used Smart Balance with favorable results.

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  7. I must say I have never had sweet potatoes in my 40+ years but this recipe makes me what to give it a try. I am printing ht recipe!

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    1. It's a winner of a recipe, BusyMom. Surprising and taste bud delighting.

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  8. I'm not really into sweet potatoes or marshmallows. I love mashed potatoes. I'm sure I don't like horseradish. I love marshmallows in my hot chocolate or cold cereal.

    I've heard of Last Wool and Testament before and I want to read it.

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    1. I love mashed potatoes, too, and have always favored them over sweet potatoes. What I like about this recipe is that it doesn't taste like I'm eating dessert while I'm eating dinner. Not that I have anything against dessert!

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  9. My mother always put sweet potatoes mixed with orange juice inside the hollowed out oranges. They were dotted with pecans and marshmallows and baked until gooey hot.
    This year I tried a recipe from Bon Appetit, Nov. 2012. "Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Maple" page 90 The potatoes are roasted and served with a sauce that is reminiscent of red eye gravy: coffee (be sure to use some good coffee, not cheap junk), bourbon, and maple syrup, boiled down to concentrate the flavors. It is really good and complements the sweetness of the potatoes beautifully.

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  10. I seem to be the only one in my family who likes sweet potatoes in any form. But maybe this recipe will change their minds. I'm definitely going to give it a try! Thanks!

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  11. this sounds like a great book and like alot will be happening in the book

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  12. My husband LOVES sweet potatoes! I will have to try this. Cara Dube
    Caradube@bellsouth.net

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