Sunday, November 2, 2008

Southern Cooking With Sweet Potatoes

The other day I stopped at a roadside market stand and purchased some Vardaman sweet potatoes. With the coming of November comes thoughts of the Thanksgiving feast and an important part of Thanksgiving dinner in the South is the sweet potato. It simply wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving meal around these parts without a sweet potato pie.

The sweet potato, botanically known as Ipomoea batatas, is the root of a vine in the morning glory family and native to the American tropics. The sweet potato has been found in Peruvian records from 750 B.C. and Christopher Columbus brought this sweet potato to the New World from Saint Thomas.

Sweet potatoes were cultivated in Virginia as early as 1648 and it has been said to have been taken to New England in 1764.

There are all sorts of recipes for the sweet potato. One of my favorites is candied sweet potatoes. This treat is made with brown sugar and butter. There’s also mashed sweet potatoes made with brown sugar, honey, butter and milk. This potato casserole is topped with marshmallows and baked in the oven. Sometimes folks add pecans and raisins to this treat.

But to me, the best recipe for sweet potatoes is the sweet potato pie made with butter, vanilla and cinnamon. There’s nothing like the aroma of a baking sweet potato pie on a cold late autumn day.

Take time to discover the sweet potato by visiting the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council website. They have a wide selection of tasty Southern recipes including such favorites as Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and Hummingbird Cake.

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