Saturday, December 4, 2010

Where in the world is The Distracted Cook? And who ate all the sweet potatoes?

Distractions come in all forms. Some of the most lethal distractions for The Distracted Cook are good news, bad news, no news (aka good news), a new calendar, and HOLIDAYS. Holidays certainly were a big distraction the last two weeks what with all the planning, shopping, cooking, eating and eating again, and then discovering two weeks had gone by. Where was The Distracted Cook all this time? Hmm... right here.

One of the biggest hurdles for The Distracted Cook is avoiding all those really interesting, fascinating, glitzy and sparkly articles about holiday cooking and cleaning. You know the kind - they're everywhere these days. You can't open your email without at least two or three extolling the virtues of doing everything for everybody with lots of time left over to cook, clean, and make yourself into the Distracted Diva. I am here to tell you that the only way to survive this is to ignore them all. Yep, just ignore them all. You know what you have to do - it keeps running through the back of your mind on a daily basis. The Distracted Cook is a big believer in lists. lists, and more lists. Grab that notebook and write down in any order all those things you keep trying to remember: get the turkey, clean the dining room, take the baking pans out of the oven before you preheat it, find all those napkins and iron them, and find that recipe for THE sweet potatoes.

In almost every family or group there is that one recipe that just has to show up on the table or the holiday just isn't right. In this group it is Grandma's Sweet Potatoes. They are wonderful just out of the oven, but even better cold right out of the refrigerator. This remarkable dish goes from a hot "eat your vegetables" dish to a stellar "let's sneak some dessert" dish that you can really dig into.  Kids of all ages are caught sneaking one of the marshmallows off the top! It got so bad the The Distracted Cook changed the recipe from "top with large marshmallows to cover" to what she does now which is to pour about a bag and a half of small marshmallows all over the top.  And when you reheat this wonderful dish, put the last half of the second bag all over the top!

In case your family doesn't have a Grandma's Sweet Potatoes recipe, I'll gladly share ours. And if you missed Thanksgiving don't worry, these are great for Christmas buffets, New Year's Day football marathons, Easter, and probably July 4th if you really like them. Here is the original, one and only, better than good Grandma's Sweet Potatoes recipe from our Grandma!

Sweet Potatoes (For Thanksgiving)

3 cups mashed yams
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup cream (use Pet Milk)
1 small can of crushed pineapple
16 marshmallows

"Use Fresh Yams." Boil yams in skins until tender. Peel and place in mixer. Add melted butter and spices. Whip and add cream until it whips lightly, Add pineapple. Place in casserole and top with marshmallows. Bake at 350 degrees until good and hot.

Variations: almost everyone in the family has changed the recipe due to availability of ingredients or just plain laziness as is the case for The Distracted Cook. Besides using a million small  marshmallows, I also use canned yams instead of fresh ones. That is just me being lazy and I must admit these are so much better if you use the fresh yams. Small children will never notice the difference as long as everyone gets a good chunk of the marshmallows. But those adults with a trained palate will appreciate the subtle and delicious difference the fresh yams make - it's worth it to do it the right way at least once! 

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