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December 25, 2021

Christmas tastes like sweet potatoes

This holiday season, let’s celebrate the simple fact of being alive despite the many difficulties we’ve all faced since the arrival of this awful virus. What may come, we are strong, we are fighters, we are resilient.

Back in the good old days, I used to cook a Christmas meal at home for almost 30 people. And for the past two years, we have had to forego the joy of being together. This year, even though health restrictions have relaxed a little, I’ve opted to cancel our traditional Christmas Eve party rather than turn away people in order to respect capacity rules. My family and close friends are very important to me. And it would have been almost impossible to decide who to invite and who not to invite. Simply impossible to choose between Patrice or Marilou, between Stacy or Sergio, between Neil or Eric, between Olivia or William, between Patricia or Helene, etc.

My greatest gift this year is to realize how precious my loved ones are to me. Since we won’t be getting together in a small group, we’ll just have to wait another year to celebrate all together. And no, I won’t feel sad because I’m already dreaming of next year…

Yes, you’ll tell me. As soon as one nasty virus leaves, another variant comes knocking at the door. And maybe we'll have to learn to live like this: triple vaccinated, masked if necessary and extremely cautious.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an optimist. And I do think we will adapt to this new reality. All areas of human activity will have to change: all our institutions, businesses, the arts, our impatient hearts and our constantly alert brains. 

If you are wondering what to serve with the leftover turkey, meat pie or casserole for dinnertime, here is a wonderful recipe for sweet potato casserole from my daughter-in-law’s grandmother.
Believe it or not, this recipe has been framed and mounted on my kitchen wall since 1995.
And every year I make three or four Pyrex dishes of it to please all the people who want to take some home. 

Doris Ashton grew up in the state of GEORGIA, located just above Florida in the southern part of the great American country. In this state, the sweet potato, a root vegetable and distant relative of our potato, was widely grown. And Doris quickly perfected how to cook it and passed her recipes onto her daughter Janice and later, to her daughter’s daughter, Brandy Ashton, who married my first son in 1992.

And that’s how I came to obtain this famous recipe topped with roasted pecans. One mouthful of this sweet potato casserole, and I guarantee you’ll frame the recipe too!

You will need 3 cups of peeled sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes and boiled until tender. Drain well.

Next, put the vegetable in a bowl and mix with 3/4 cups of sugar, 3 tbsp. of butter, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 tbsp. of buttermilk (or 2 tbsp. of milk with 2 drops of vinegar), 1/2 tsp. of salt, 2 eggs and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Mix ingredients well and pour into a buttered Pyrex (or ovenproof) dish.

For the topping, mix in a bowl using a fork: 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, 1 cup of pecans (or walnuts) and 1/3 cup of melted butter.
Spread the topping over the sweet potato mixture using a spoon. Bake for about 35 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F.

I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe depending on how many people you have around the table. And if there is any left over, this marvellous dish can be reheated in the microwave very quickly. 

Did you know that sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, vitamin A and fibre? Sweet potatoes are low in sodium, and even though they are called sweet potatoes, the starch they contain is mostly amylopectin, which gives them a lower glycemic index than traditional potatoes. BON  APPÉTIT!

Psst: I confess that when I first started making this recipe, I would get up at night to eat a little of the leftovers that I had stashed away in the vegetable drawer!