This is the season for sweet potato pie, a special treat you can find in the Deep South and make on the South Shore of Tahoe during autumn days. There’s no need to wait until the holiday season when you can whip it up and serve it now when the trees are golden, and the air is crisp. Comfort food, like a hearty sweet potato pie is like pumpkin pie but with a twist of texture and taste.
This pie is simple to make and semi-dense. It consists of one pie shell (homemade or store-bought), sweet potatoes (I sometimes add a yam), milk (your choice), eggs and spices. Since sweet potatoes are a vegetable, this pie can be a side dish or a savory dessert.
A few years ago, I was craving a sweet potato pie before Turkey Day. But after going on a mission to find one, I came back home pie-less. So, that’s when I decided to make the pumpkin pie cousin in the comfort of my kitchen. This week on Wednesday afternoon, while preparing a sweet potato pie, I got a flash of sweet memories when I lived in Southern California. In my youthful and carefree days as a hippie chick with a black lab, boyfriend, girlfriend and plenty of friends in Hollywood, I was the bakeress.
One fall day, in a modest kitchen off Hollywood Boulevard, I made a sweet potato pie upon request. I didn’t have culinary tools but I had a blender, spoon, and basic ingredients for the dish. Once baked, and covered in foil, I added it to a basket full of fried chicken and garden salad. Then, my roommates and friends arrived. We all left in a van headed for Angeles National Forest. It was a day for a picnic and long hike. Laughter led to an impromptu food fight with greens and poultry. But the sweet potato pie was left intact. We settled down and devoured the awesome autumn pie. And this fun-loving memory lingers on in my mind and spirit but the pie has since received a few 21st century healthful tweaks.
Mountain-Style Sweet Potato Pie
3 cooked organic sweet potatoes
2 organic brown eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup organic half and half
1/4 cup unsalted butter, unsalted, melted
2 teaspoons lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 store-bought premium pie shell (or homemade)
Honey, whipped cream, walnuts, chopped for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, sugar, milk, butter, and oil. Beat until smooth. Add flour, and spices. Pour mixture into pre-cooked pie shell (wrapped in foil around the edges so they don’t overcook). Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until toothpick comes out clean, pie is firm. Cool. Drizzle with honey, top with whipped cream, and top with walnuts. Serves 8-10.
As a Northern California native, I admit I miss the companionship of artsy friends. It was my dream to become a writer. While I would love to get a blast from the past, I wouldn’t want to give up my independence, solitude and artistic efforts. I treasure having my own kitchen complete with a stainless steel mixer, kitchen utensils and study amid a mountain setting in the fall. It’s sweet.
Motto: Memories are good, but being in the now with a bushel of experiences is better.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured by the Good Cook Book Club, and the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Currently, she’s writing the Olive Oil second edition. Her website is www.calorey.com.