Newsletters: 17 Nov. 2010

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Nov. 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

About that food…
My family was always very traditional about our Thanksgiving dinner — right down to the jokes about the Candied Yam. Mom only cooked one yam, you see, because it had to be there — marshmallows and all — for the meal to be complete, but Dad was the only one who would actually eat any. I grew up thinking I didn’t like sweet potatoes and yams, then a few years ago someone served me mashed sweet potatoes. I had a spoonful to be polite and discovered they’re actually quite good without the marshmallows. Of course, doing them that way means there’s no bag of slightly stale marshmallows to roast in the fireplace on a cold January evening….

There is a lot of information about roasting turkeys around this time of year so I’ll just give you a couple of links and get on to a less thoroughly discussed facet, one that is becoming increasingly important as families grow smaller: what to do with the leftovers. The first thing I think of for using up leftovers is soup.

Turkey and sweet-potato soup
2 Tb butter
1 onion, in thin slices
1.5 tsp dried sage
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in cubes
1.5 qt chicken broth
2 tsp salt
1/4 lb green beans, in 1/4-in. pieces
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb turkey cutlets, cut into ca. 1.5 x .5-in strips
Melt butter in large pot over med-low. Add onion and sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, ca. 5 min. Add sweet potatoes, broth, 1 t salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, ca. 10 min. Transfer half the soup to a food processor or blender and puree. Return to the pot and add beans, remaining salt, pepper. Simmer until beans are just tender, ca. 8 min. Stir in turkey; cook until turkey is done, ca. 1.5 min.
From: Quick from scratch : one-dish meals. Food & Wine Books, American Express Pub., c2004.

Turkey, carrot, and apple stew
olive-oil nonstick spray
1.25 lb boneless skinless turkey breast slices, in strips
2 onions in wedges
14 oz chicken broth
1 rib celery in 1/4-in slices
1/2 c raisins
6 carrots in 1/4-in slices
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 c chopped apples
2 Tb cornstarch
3 Tb cold water
1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce, or to taste
Coat a nonstick skillet with the spray and heat over med. Add turkey and onions and cook, stirring, until browned, 4-6 min. Combine turkey mixture, broth, celery, raisins, carrots, brown sugar, curry powder, and turmeric in a med. crock pot. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hr, until turkey is cooked through. Stir in apples. Cook another 1-2 min. to soften the apples. In a small cup, whisk together cold water and cornstarch and add; cook another 1-5 min. until sauce is thickened.
From: Essential slow cooker recipes / Carol Heding Munson. Main Street ; Sterling, c2002.

Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.
— Lao-tzu —

It is better to die of indigestion than of starvation.
— Cicero —

Index to all blog posts.

Curried Mustard Greens & Garbanzos with Sweet Potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, in 1/2-inch slices
1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 bunch mustard greens, chopped, stems removed
15 oz. canned diced tomatoes
2 cups garbanzo beans (15 oz can), drained
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Steam sweet potatoes in 2 inches of water in a steamer with a tightly-fitting lid, about 7 minutes. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. broth over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, and mustard greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mustard greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add garbanzos and diced tomatoes, and adjust seasonings. Cook 5 minutes more. Mash sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper; add broth to thin if needed. Serve together.

Adapted from World’s Healthiest Foods

Index to all blog posts.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Sweet potato slow-cooker casserole

2 lb. sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed*; or 2 cans (16 oz. each) canned sweet potatoes/yams, drained and mashed
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
4 eggs

Beat sweet potatoes, milk, sherry, and butter until smooth. Add lemon peel, nutmeg, cayenne, and eggs; beat well. Pour into greased slow-cooker; cover and cook on high 1 hour, then on low 3-4 hours.

Makes about 2 qts.

Adapted from Rival Crock-Pot cooking. Golden Press, c1975. ISBN: 030749263X

*If using leftover mashed sweet potatoes, estimate the amounts of butter and milk or orange juice already used and subtract from amounts of butter and milk to be added.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Ode to the candied yam

When I was young, candied yams* were a Thanksgiving tradition. After the oldest generation was gone, my father was the only one who would eat the stuff, but it had to be on the table, glistening rust-brown with fungus-white marshmallows. It was reduced to a single yam then, in a 6-inch-square dish which would return to the fridge after dinner with a single corner missing. Jokes about the candied yam — without an “s” at the end — became as traditional as the dish itself. By the time I discovered that yams and sweet potatoes in other forms were actually edible, my father was a decade gone and I was in my forties. Funny how childhood impressions endure.

Ode to the candied yam

Oh singular yam, much reviled,
Vegetable more jest than food,
What ill-lived former life has brought you
To this ignominious doom?
Torn from sun-warmed, sleepy soil
To drown in sugar syruped gloom,
Sacrificed to one man’s craving,
Set among marshmallow blooms.
When at last the baking’s over,
Cut by glutinous silver spoon,
One corner only will be eaten
As noses turn up through the room.
Mashed or fried you’re much admired,
Oh, most ancient, noble root,
But you know, because we tell you,
Sugar spoils a savory fruit.

*Or rather, as I discovered recently, candied orange-fleshed sweet pototoes.

Sweet potatoes and yams

native to:
sweet potatoes: tropical regions of the Americas
yams: Asia

in season: fall

Although they serve the same purpose and are used interchangeably in recipes, sweet potatoes and yams are not, in fact, the same thing. However, just in case there was any threat of clarity on the matter, what the supermarkets describe as “Garnet” or “Jewel” yams are in fact orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. For actual yams, you’ll probably have to go to an ethnic market. Both vegetables should be kept out of the fridge in a cool, dark, reasonably dry spot.

Sweet potatoes are slightly more nutritious, but both are good sources of fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, iron, vitamins C and B6, thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid and folates. They both have plenty of antioxidants and very low glycemic indices. Yams are somewhat lower in calories; they have more omega-3s and a unique blend of phytonutrients. Sweet potatoes are significantly higher in vitamin A and anti-inflammatories. Yams can actually worsen symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as IBS, arthritis, and gout, but are thought to help relieve PMS symptoms, while sweet potatoes have a less desirable ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.

Yams are of the genus Dioscorea in the morning glory family and are larger and have a thicker skin. They are used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditional medicine to speed healing of wounds. They may also help stabilize hormonal patterns and lower the risk of osteoporosis.

Sweet potatoes are Ipomoea batatas in the genus Convolvulaceae. Conventionally-grown ones can be treated with dyes or wax and should be peeled before eating, while the skins of organic sweet potatoes can be eaten. Boiling is actually a good way of preparing them, because it makes the beta-carotene and vitamin A more available and lowers their glycemic index (it ends up at about half that of a baked sweet potato). For the best beta-carotene absorption, eat your sweet potatoes with a bit of fat or oil (stir-frying is a good option here). People with oxalate concerns should be careful of sweet potatoes, although they’re not as bad as leafy vegetables such as spinach.

Sweet potatoes can be eaten raw, but yams contain bitter, unhealthy proteins and must be peeled and cooked. One variety, Japanese yam (Dioscorea opposita) is traditionally soaked in a vinegar solution instead of cooking, which amounts to much the same thing.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for cooked yam
label-style nutrition information for cooked sweet potato
yams at Nutrition and You
sweet potatoes at
sweet potatoes and yams at
sweet potatoes compared to white potatoes at Cleveland Clinic

and, just for fun, here’s the classic modern epicLutefisk and yams
Check back tomorrow for my own bit of doggerel about this Thanksgiving favorite (or, if you’re a poetry-lover, maybe not…).

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.