In times like these, I’m in need of some serious comfort. I work in magazines and it’s very grim seeing your industry on a downhill slide. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about a spate of media-industry lay-offs or a publication closing. So to assuage my fears, I’ve been eating lots of pie. Sweet potato pie.
Sweet potato pie is always on our Thanksgiving table—my family prefers it to pumpkin pie, though the two are similar in texture and taste. But sweet potatoes give the custard a bit more heft and are, as the name implies, more naturally sweet than pumpkins.
I asked my grandma for the family recipe but she pointed me in the direction of my Uncle Richard. “Richard makes the best sweet potato pie,” she said. And after years of eating it, I have to agree that indeed he does.
Richard loves his pies, and when my brother got married in September my uncle helped coordinate the marathon pie-baking party that side of the family held. See, my brother had decided that instead of a groom’s cake he wanted a table filled with pies. And so my family’s repertoire was on full display—chocolate, chess, apple, peanut butter and, of course, Uncle Richard’s sweet potato.
When you make a sweet potato pie, the most important thing is the spice. Richard uses the usual suspects such as cinnamon and nutmeg. But he also adds ginger and cloves, which I think add a bit of heat and zing.
Because of obligations, I’m not going to the farm this Thanksgiving; I’ll miss sharing the day with my family. But still, I am so very thankful for all that I have—I am beyond blessed and feel very, very fortunate.
My heart, however, goes out to those who have lost their jobs. I know that a pie won’t put food on the table or a roof over your head, but perhaps, in that moment when you take a bite, it’ll provide a little bit of sweet soft comfort.
What pies are you making for Thanksgiving?
Uncle Richard’s sweet potato pie
1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes or one 15 oz. can of mashed sweet potatoes
3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup evaporated milk (one 12 oz. can)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine all ingredients in a mixer or blender. (A mixer will leave a few small delectable chunks of sweet potato.)
3. Pour mixture into two nine-inch pie shells (I use my Grandma’s recipe).
4. Bake 55 minutes.
5. Cool before serving. Garnish with whipped cream as desired. Makes two pies.
Uncle Richard’s note: I really enjoy it cold out of the refrigerator the next day for breakfast.
Ginger whipped cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
In a chilled bowl, beat all ingredients with mixer, whisk or egg beater until soft peaks form.