Sweet potato pie!

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In today’s blog post, Chloe will share her experiences with sweet potatoes.

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A big challenge with sharing new foods with someone who has never tried them before is also sharing how to use them. The average person walking through our door has a lot to think about already, and while they may be keen to try an unfamiliar food, they are not always going to be able to remember the quick recipe we verbally share with them, while they’re trying to keep an eye on their kids and pack everything they’re going to eat for a few days into a backpack.

To help with that, we developed small recipe cards with tips and simple recipes that we could hand out with a huge range of different fruits, vegetables and spices.

As part of our community food conversation project, Sarah and I decided to try some of the recipes found in the Food Hamper recipe box. Today I will focus on the sweet potato. Although “regular” potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold and similar) are a staple item in the food hampers we distribute, sweet potatoes are slightly more unusual, and given out as an extra.

During my research for this project, I found that sweet potatoes vary in both colour (from white to red to purple) and size, making them difficult to fully identify. What’s more is that they are frequently confused with yams, which is actually a different vegetable species. Although sweet potatoes are a staple item in parts of Africa and Asia, they are used in desserts around the world as well.

I only started eating sweet potatoes a few years ago, and I found that they have very a similar texture to your average north American potatoes, but a lighter, richer taste. Hence, the sweetness!

The recipe that I decided to try was Sweet Potato Pie. I was immediately curious when I saw this recipe, as I thought that using this vegetable for a dessert would be an interesting experiment.

I have never baked anything on my own-thankfully my mom was around to answer all my questions!

Recipe Ingredients

2 mashed sweet potatoes

½ cup of brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup milk

2 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon of melted butter

Pie plate with pastry shell

I decided to try the recipe on a Sunday. Usually Sundays are busy for me, as they are my only day off, but I decided that baking would be a good break. The entire process took about 2 ½ hours, factoring in time to complete other chores.

When brainstorming about what food items we needed to buy to make this recipe, my mom and I realized that we already had salt, cinnamon, eggs, and butter. The first two ingredients we have had in our shelf for our awhile, so this was a good chance to use them up! Besides that, we bought 4 sweet potatoes (just in case some of them did not bake properly), brown sugar, and a premade frozen pie plate. And instead of buying milk, we decided to use my mom’s half and half cream. She has used this for pumpkin pies in the past, which gives them an extra rich, creamy taste. But I think any milk or cream could be used. Usually, some kind of milk or cream item is given in each food hamper we distribute, and we are occasionally fortunate enough to give out eggs as well. Sarah found a list of items that could also be used as egg substitutes.

The recipe I used mentioned that sweet potatoes take about twice as much time to bake as regular potatoes. For that reason, my mom thought it best to bake the sweet potatoes at 500F for one hour. We also put a few holes in the potatoes to quicken the process.  We put tinfoil at the bottom of the oven to catch the drippings, and turned the potatoes halfway through with tongs. After, we decided to use the two smallest potatoes, and mashed them, but later added a third one, to make sure there was enough for the pie filling. Then, I combined the mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. After, I whisked the eggs, melted the butter in the microwave, and added these ingredients along with the cream into the filling. I carefully poured the mixture into the pie shell, and set the pie to bake at 400F. The recipe said to bake the pie for 45 minutes, but I think I baked it for closer to an hour. A good way to check is to put a toothpick in the center of the pie. If it comes out clean, then the pie is fully cooked.

The pie was delicious! I was very happy that I (basically) made it on my own and it turned out so well. I was also surprised that it took little time to make, and needed very few ingredients. Sarah and I thought that it would look and taste similar to pumpkin pie, which was exactly the case. Feel free to try this recipe at Thanksgiving and see if your family can tell the difference!

And no ingredients were wasted! We ended up using the last sweet potato for mixed mashed potatoes.

In the next blog, Sarah will be discussing how to use blueberries in a number of different ways.

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