Every Summer growing up my family vacationed at this lovely 'camp' (for lack of a better word) on the west coast (wait for it) of Michigan (there it is...). Think what you may, the coast is absolutely gorgeous in the Summer-soft sandy beaches, water stretching as far as the eye can see, a vast lake of cool fresh water; days spent playing in the surf, until the sun melted against a sherbet sky into the horizon. We would stay up late, roaming (ruling) the grounds, it was our kingdom.
Traditionally, we would go and vacation the first week of August. Each year the same families would reserve their accommodations for the same week the following year; time slipped passed, one summer after the next, reflected in the age of your long lost friends. After the week of seemingly unending bliss my parents would stay on as volunteers to help run the facilities until school started. We would stay in a cabin and eat in the dining hall with the rest of the staff and guests who stayed in accommodations which lacked a kitchen... Think Dirty Dancing, but not as fancy.
One such summer there was a wonderful southern woman who worked in the kitchens, we shall call her Thelma as her name has seemed to slip from my (age addled) mind. I adored her and she took a shying to me and my family. She would call me 'shugga' and 'baaaaybeee' in the way a good southern grandmother would. I was enamored by her spirit, her bright white smile, and her sweet potato pie.
Until that point in my life I don't even think I knew what a sweet potato was. I mean, sure, my aunt would make sweet potato casserole at Christmas, but I can't say that I was ever aware of the sweet potato before this rather transformative moment.
Sweet potatoes are magical. I am pretty much obsessed with them at this point in my life... mashed, roasted, sautéed...don't even get me started on sweet potato fries! GUH. You guys know what I am talking about right? If you don't get it, I feel sorry for you, seriously. You should probably just stop reading this and come back later, it is for the best.
-SWEET POTATO PIE-
What you will need for the filling:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (HOT baby!)
3 sweet potatoes
1/3 cup egg whites mixed with 1 tbsp flax meal (or 2 whole eggs)
1/3 cup coconut oil (or 1 stick of butter)
1/4 cup honey
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Wrap your sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees f for 40-50 minutes (until soft all the way through)*. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, remove the skin. Puree the sweet potatoes in a food processor or Vita Mix.
Combine egg whites, coconut oil, honey, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet potato puree in a bowl. Stirring until silky smooth.
Pour the mixture into a 9x9 baking pan, I lined mine with parchment paper for easy cleanup (HALLA!).
Bake at 425 degrees f for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
What you will need for the candied nuts (... am I the only one who finds that hilarious!?):
1 cup raw pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
drizzle egg white (like a tsp)
1/4 cup coconut sugar
pinch sea salt
Toss pecans in egg white, making sure they are evenly covered. Sprinkle with your sugar, cinnamon, and salt mixture. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees f for 30 ish minutes, stir regularly and keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
Once your filling is done baking allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes and place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly for at least 2 hours prior to serving.
Because this was done like my inside out pumpkin pie (what can I say, I found a 'method' I like and I am sticking to it), you have the ability to plate the desert to your liking, adding as many 'toppings' as you desire- crust, whip, nuts, etc.
This may not be Thelmas traditional idea of a gold ol fashioned southern sweet potata pieeee, but holy shit you guys... it's really good.
What should I make next? I would love to hear your stories of food and the memories they are attached to. Perhaps I can turn a classic 'comfort food' into something a little healthier or better suited for those of us with... picky... insides.
Happy Monday everyone. I hope you have a joy filled week.