I’m really embracing winter the last couple of years. Yes, the constant gray and drizzle are still hard for me, but there are some definite perks to the 10 months of the season we get (don’t contradict me. If it’s below 70 and it’s rainy, it’s winter).
Some aspects of winter that I like:
1. Bulky clothing is in. It’s comfortable and cute. OK, so some might not consider my Hanes sweatshirt “cute.” But I throw it on with jeans and I feel ready for a night on the town.
2. Holiday food commercials versus diet commercials. I like seeing special ads, specifically for the white chocolate-covered Oreos that I’m currently cramming in my mouth instead of the reminders every five minutes that I need to get in “bathing suit shape.”
3. Winter vegetables. I know, I know. Pretty lame thing to get excited about, unless you have a couple of children who are convinced that anything green passing their lips is a sure sign that Mom is trying to poison them. My girls are talented. They can grab fistfuls of fried rice in their grubby little paws, cram the whole thing in their mouths and then proceed to carefully spit out every vegetable in the bite. I’ve seen both girls, at one time or another, spit out corn, carrots, and peas from one side of their mouths while still chewing rice and chicken on the other.
So it is to this Herculean display of creative mastication that I dedicate this week’s article to my wintertime BFF — the sweet potato.
And before you go all foodie on me, I know that a lot of people will consider the tuber more of a starch than a true vegetable, but give a mom a break. Let me have this one.
Sweet potatoes are awesome because you can go savory or sweet with them. My family eats a lot of sweet potato fries in the winter months.
Also popular with my family are those occasions when I treat sweet potatoes like a squash and just dice and roast them with a little salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. You can mash them up and eat them plain or even sneak them into enchiladas. As far as vegetables go, they’re really pretty versatile.
But let’s be real. I have something of a sweet tooth, and we’re in the thick of the holiday season. What would Thanksgiving and Christmas be without a little sweet potato casserole goodness?
The original recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and 1½ sticks of butter. I have adapted it to be slightly less artery-clogging, but it’s still not going to win any health and fitness awards. Still, it’s delicious.
I should point out that it’s important to get the potatoes and yams diced small so they’ll bake properly. If you’re like me and you attempt to do a half-inch dice and end up getting something closer to an inch or 1½ inches, don’t panic. Just keep the casserole in the oven for a little bit longer to make sure all the potatoes get cooked through.
I’ll also note that the sweet potatoes out here are a lot different from the kind from my youth. The sweet potatoes most Georgians know are about the size of a russet potato and have coloring similar to yams. I was confused the first time I went grocery shopping for sweet potatoes here and all I could find were enormous, white monstrosities.
I went to three stores trying to find what I knew to be sweet potatoes. Finally I just gave up and used yams. At least they were the right color. Needless to say, I’ve had to adapt the recipes I brought with me from Georgia to accommodate our freakishly large Pacific Northwest sweet potatoes.
Robbin Carollo of Roseburg is a married mother of four children and blogger for Douglas County Moms.