Field Report: Sweet Potato Pie

The day before Thanksgiving was an all-day snow event – something like 16 straight hours of snow. Accumulation wise, not terribly impressive at only about eight inches, but it was really sopping wet, heavy stuff. Perfect for snowball fights, which I had with the kids, and also perfect for plugging up the driveway with a solid cake of snow that can become the proverbial immovable object. As powerful as my little tractor is, it hardly qualifies as an irresistible force, so in heavy storms I need to get out and clear the driveway multiple times.

After the first pass (and the first snowball fight) I was pretty well caked with snow myself, and because I lack the common sense to dress in anything other than cotton, pretty dang cold too. When I finally got back inside, Mrs. P’s Thanksgiving pie bake was in full swing, and the house was warm and delicious smelling. The first thing she said to me when I came in, after “Stop dripping on the floor,” was “Your sweet potatoes are so good!”

Phew! I was actually worried about providing the sweet potatoes out of this year’s harvest. My Thanksgiving sweet potato pie is nearly a sacrament to me, and I was more than a little nervous about committing to the sweets that I grew, not knowing how the flavor developed, and wondering whether I had cured them correctly. But, I fetched three or four pounds of tubers from the root cellar, washed them up, and threw them in the oven while my cornbread was baking before heading out to plow.

With Mrs. P’s endorsement in mind, I tried some of the roasted sweets. Pretty amazing. She had cut some up and left it to cool, and I actually thought it was the pie filling complete with sugar and spice, but it was just roasted sweet potato. I generally don’t like plain sweet potato – too stringy and bland for my tastes. But these were so sweet and complex that I could have eaten the whole bowl. Sweet enough in fact that she had to cut back on the sugar in the recipe to avoid a pie that was too cloying. Guess I nailed it with the curing.

Sweet potato pieAnd the pie itself? Pretty amazing. Not overly sweet – good call on reducing the sugar – and the spice was just right. With my sweet potatoes, eggs fresh from the hens, and a lemon from our indoor Myer lemon tree, it was a pretty complete homestead pie. It would have been hard to go much further with homestead-sourced ingredients – I suppose you can make evaporated milk from fresh cow or goat milk, and wheat flour for the crust is possible on the homestead scale, albeit a pain. Lard would be an awesome shortening, though – far better than Crisco. Not sure how alternate sweeteners like honey or sorghum would work, and the spices would be a problem. Substituting fresh whipped cream for the “plastic poison” on top would be a no-brainer, though. And of course the ultimate in self-reliant feasting would be an off-grid Thanksgiving, with everything prepared using alternate fuels.

Maybe next year.


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