How Sweet It Is! by Mike Verano

Despite the current stretch of warm weather, it’s finally clear to me that summer is over (the four-story tall Christmas tree outside my office window seems proof positive). The season cycle has turned, bringing shorter days, frosted car windows, and the spectacle of holiday shopping. So, too, has the culinary wheel spun around, leaving behind fruit salads, tomato sandwiches, and chilled soups. This is the season of heavy eating, as in, “If I have another helping of that roast beef tenderloin stuffed with oysters and bacon I’m going to weigh a ton!”

Fortunately for the Off the Vine crowd, the season of stews, casseroles, and slices of meat piled higher than a snow drift after the freak blizzard, does not mean we’re going to pack on pounds of flesh like so many layers of winter clothes. And even if we do slip on an extra pound or two, doesn’t it feel better knowing that they’re wholesome, organic, local pounds?

Is there anything sweeter than sweet potato pie, sweet potato muffins, sweet potato bread? Since you asked, there is, and its Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Bourbon (see below). Is there anything more uplifting than walking past one’s browned front yard only to open the fridge and find deep green kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli; I submit that there is not. Finally, you have to admit that the, “I wonder what’s in my share this time,” feeling is not unlike the holiday sensation of wondering what’s in that brightly colored package.

No matter what you’re celebrating this season, if you gave yourself the gift of an Off the Vine membership then you know it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And, unlike the fitness club membership that was part of last year’s resolution, an Off the Vine membership will always be used.

I say, bring on those cold winter days and those frosty nights, and warm up to home cooking the way it was meant to be. If you need to heat things up even more, you can always mix some left over Bourbon, from your sweet potato recipe, and hot cider. Toss in a cinnamon stick and bask in the glow of the realization that we’re only four weeks away from the seed catalogs showing up.

Happy Holidays to all!

Ben’s Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

( Serves 6 to 8 People )

4 to 6 Medium sweet potatoes
3/4 to 1 Cup Cream
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons Bourbon ( Or More J )
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Butter Pats

Half potatoes long ways and brush with melted butter. Bake at 350, uncovered on a 9 x 13 pan until potatoes are caramelized / browned on top and done.

Let cool and spoon out from skin into a bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients except butter and cinnamon stick. Hand mash and stir together until well mixed. Stir in cinnamon stick. Scoop into 9 x 13 pan and dot with butter pats. Bake 45 min at 350. Serve warm.



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