Ode to Sweet Potatoes

In Union soldier Pvt. Erasmus Anderson’s December 1962 letter home from Memphis, he reveals his secret love.

In the most poignant passage, he tells us that his love of the sweet potatoes is so great that he is already planning to eat them on his return home. Sweet potatoes give him hope.

sweet potatoes

…sweet potatoes which we think cheap at $1.00 a bushel. They are so big and good. I want you to save some seed if you can and if I don’t get home in time you can put them to sprout for I want to have some if I am at home next fall.

I was faced with a bit of dilemma in wanting to share sweet potatoes with you, because I’m pretty sure that Erasmus and his friends in the Union army would just poke the sweet potatoes into the ashes and let them roast. Not much need for a recipe there. I have been known to wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and cook them on the grill, or slice them and toss them with olive oil and grill them along with a few other vegetables, but that is not unusual either.

If we were talking about the Southern army (the sesesh, as Erasmus would call them) I might wax enthusiastic about sweet potato pie. One thing I would never do is inflict upon you a sweet potato casserole recipe that involves marshmallows. Ewwww!

So I decided to go with mashed sweet potatoes.  It is possible that the soldiers might tire of just eating them plain from the fire, and mash them with a bit of butter and even milk, if a cow happened to be somewhere in the neighborhood.  I did allow myself a bit of meander from the ingredients that Erasmus would have on hand. But if you haven’t tried it, trust me, it is a delicious route to take.

Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Sweet potatoes mashed and mixed with Coconut milk for a different vibe.

Ingredients

  • sweet potatoes (One small per person or one large per two people. I used two for two people and had leftovers.)
  • coconut milk (I used about 1/2 cup)
  • butter (I used about 1/4 cup.)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes in chunks.
2. Cook in microwave on on stove top with a tablespoon or two of water until very soft.
3. Slice butter over hot potatoes. Mash with fork, leaving some small lumps.
4. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste
5. Pour in enough coconut milk to make potatoes a creamy consistency, but not runny.

Note

I used the pale sweet potatoes, but this work work for orange yams as well.

I used coconut milk from the dairy case, because I happened to have some, but canned would work. Whatever is handy.

And of course if someone you are cooking for hates coconut, you can use regular milk--but then it is a different dish entirely.

 

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2 thoughts on “Ode to Sweet Potatoes

  1. Kerry Dexter


    Twitter:
    I had not thought of coconut milk with sweet potatoes. I tend to go for the earthy spices with them — turmeric, hot paprika, and such, perhaps with a dash of cinnamon. I do not do the marshmallows either, but one of my good memories is of my grandmother topping sweet potatoes — whole ones, baked in the skin — with marshmallows and putting them back in the oven so they could get all brown on top (caramelized we would say today but I did not know that term as a kid). They looked so pretty when she was done with them! Not so much for the flavor combination — I remember even then separating marshmallow and potatoes out when I ate them, and that way the were each delicious.

    My gran passed on many years back, but while writing this I am thinking, I bet she’d be surprised that this is one of my vivid memories. or maybe not.
    Kerry Dexter would like you to read..Julie Fowlis: Every StoryMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Lots of delicious ideas there for the sweet potato, Kerry.Actually adding some of those spices to the coconut mashed potatoes would be delicious. I imagine your grandmother MIGHT be surprised. I’m always a little surprised at what my grandchildren focus on and what they find unimportant.

      Reply

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