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 café 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.
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!
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