Sweet Potatoes in December

by Kimberly Hickok

This past weekend we got our first real snowfall of the season – a little over a foot. Then the temperature plunged into the single digits. On cold, snowy winter nights, nothing’s better than simple comfort food for dinner. Last night we roasted half a chicken and used up the ‘almost dead’ asparagus that was in the fridge.

The first 'real' #snow of the season. Looks like we got about a foot.

A photo posted by Kimberly Hickok (@khickok) on

But the showstopper was the sweet potatoes. What made them especially sweet (pun intended) is that they were from our garden. Last summer I grew sweet potatoes for the first time. Using locally-grown, organic sweet potatoes I started the slips inside last spring.

By the beginning of May I had a few little sprouts coming out of the tubers.

By the beginning of May I had a few little sprouts coming out of the tubers.

I wasn’t really sure what I was doing but we got a pretty good harvest and then they had to cure. Apparently it’s the curing process that makes them sweet. Everything that I read on the internet said that you really don’t want to eat a freshly harvested sweet potato because, well, they’re just not sweet.

Look! A sweet potato - and it's not a little one either. (August 19)

Look! A sweet potato – and it’s not a little one either. (August 19)

So it was really gratifying to eat them last night. I grew up eating them baked, so that’s how I made them. Simply pierce the potatoes with a fork, rub with a little olive oil (my grandmother used lard!), place on a baking sheet and bake at 375F until tender. It will take about an hour.

If you’re impatient like me, give them a head start in the microwave for about 5-7 minutes and then you can reduce your baking time to about 35 minutes or so.

These are so good you won't need butter.

These are so good you won’t need butter. (I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t have butter, just that if you forego the butter, this will still be a stellar eating experience.)

If you can grow your own food to eat fresh or enjoy in the winter months, it’s a wonderful thing. What’s your favorite winter vegetable – home grown or not?

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