Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sweet Potatoes and Thanksgiving

It's been awhile since I've been here...lots of things occupying my time right now, but as I'm standing in my kitchen, my Mom's kitchen, I can't help but think back on past Thanksgivings. Yes, I live now in the house where I grew up, but to me this will always be Mom's kitchen and I think of her every time I fix a big dinner, bake a batch of cookies, or bake a cake. My mother was a very good cook and I like to think she passed some of those skills on to me.

As I worked on the sweet potatoes this morning I (once again!) realize that we're possibly the only people on the earth who eat sweet potatoes the way we do! None of that dried out marshmallow stuff for our family, ours are maple glazed and syrupy...ummm! I honestly never knew there was any other way to eat a sweet potato but that way...seriously! It wasn't until I met my husband and spent my first Thanksgiving at his family's that I was introduced to the "marshmallow" kind and to be honest with you...I was APPALLED!! Now I'm not bashing all you marshmallow sweet potato fans out there, it's just that it's not something that has ever appealed to me. As a kid growing up anything sweet was first on my menu and Mom's sweet potatoes were just that....mash them just a tad with a fork, slap a pat of butter on there, and then drizzle that wonderful syrup on finer eating than that right there!

For years Mom was always our sweet potato cooker, even when Thanksgiving dinners began being held at my house and for years I never asked her exactly HOW to make them, they were Mom's specialty and there wasn't a one of us who didn't like them that way and looked forward to them at Thanksgiving. A few years ago Mom began to decline in health and memory and was no longer able to make the sweet potatoes and so, the job fell to me. I asked Mom at that time if she could tell me how to make them and she gave me her typical "non-measurement" variety recipe (most of Mom's cooking was done this way!). The first year I attempted them I was informed by my daughter that something wasn't right because they DID NOT taste like Grandma's!! And she was right, but in the few years since I have managed to play and test to come up with what I feel is as close as I'll ever get to the traditional, or possibly we've just gotten used to eating them this way and so they seem to taste like traditional! ;)

Either way, I think Mom would be proud of my sweet potatoes this morning. I remembered to allow them to finish cooking in that wonderful syrup so the flavor is shot through each one without them falling apart at the touch of a fork. The syrup is just the right thickness, perfect to spoon over the top once they're on the plate and they look...well, like how I always remembered them!

After my introduction to the marshmallow variety I asked my mother why she made hers the way she did and she told me that was how my Grandma Stevenson made them and being a young bride and a young cook, my Grandma took Mom under her wing and showed her how to fix many of the traditional things that wound up on our table year after year. So not only am I thankful this time of year for a mother who could cook up a storm and make it taste great, but also a grandmother who passed along her ways of doing things. You can bet we'll all be enjoying those sweet potatoes about noon and I'll be hoping that someone will say, "tastes just like Grandma's!"

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and's not just about how you eat your sweet potatoes, but the memories that go along with the eating!