By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
When he isn’t covering board meetings or talking to old cotton farmers, your reporter at The Liberty Hill Independent also spends a little time in the kitchen.
I’m speaking of course about myself, and though this column has traditionally highlighted the recipes of others in the Liberty Hill community, this week I’d like to share one of my own. After all, I do work here.
I recently dug out an old country cookbook I stole last year (with permission) from my Aunt Judy. It’s a collection of recipes from the teachers association she belonged to back in Cherokee County in East Texas. Of particular interest to me was my aunt’s own recipe in it, an uber-sweet and spicy classic I have strong memories of from my childhood.
Now to clarify, those strong memories aren’t necessarily because it was a good pie (though it was), but because it featured centrally in a tried-and-true exploitation scheme my aunt repeatedly pulled on me.
For much of my childhood, I lived down the road from her. And naturally, as a 10-year old, I could often be found mucking around in the open fields with the other kids, or hidden in some dark corner to play on my gameboy. Many child psychologists call this “unstructured play time crucial to brain development.” But my aunt called it “piddling.” And she had a mind to put that time to good use.
So she would bake this pie, a fairly quick process, and—in a move suspiciously straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting—set it to cool on the windowsill. It’s cinnamon smell would waft for miles around, and had a nearly 100 percent success rate of luring me away from whatever nonsense I was doing at the time and toward her kitchen window.
This would be my crucial mistake, and set in motion a extremely scripted trap that I somehow never learned to evade.
She would appear and invite me inside for a slice.
“Fetch me a fork,” she would say, with which she would dip into the pie before declaring it still too hot to eat. But while you’re here, she’d say, could you take out that trash really quick? I couldn’t say no, of course— a few minutes carrying a stinky bag was an easy trade for a Heavenly-smelling slice. But then the pie would be still too hot, and what would my grandmother think if she let me get third degree burns all over my mouth and become mute for the rest of my life? So we better wait a little while longer.
And while we’re waiting, the dogs’ bowls do need a little filling. (Can do). Actually, these Coke cans also need to be crushed. (Sure thing). Can you figure out what’s wrong with my computer? (No, but I’ll turn it off and on again repeatedly).
And soon enough, through a succession of “quick favors” waiting for the pie to cool, I would suddenly find myself painting her fence. This happened many, many times, and the pie somehow always took several hours to cool. Sometimes an entire day.
But when it did cool— oh man. All the hard work I’d done leading up to that first slice made it all the richer and sweeter, better by miles than if I’d just eaten one right away. At least, that’s what my Aunt Judy told me. Personally I couldn’t taste the difference.
She also used to say, as she was cutting the last slice, “If you are what you eat, then I yam what I yam.”
At the time, I didn’t know what she really meant by that. And actually, I still don’t. But for the record, though all yams are sweet potatoes, not all sweet potatoes are yams. This recipe does not use yams.
Aunt Judy’s Sweet Potato Pie
2 cups Cooked Sweet Potatoes (approximately 1 large sweet potato)
1 ½ cups Skim Milk
2 tbsp. Corn Syrup
4 Egg Whites
¾ cup sugar (less if you prefer – author prefers less)
½ cup Bisquick
1 package Butter Buds (dry)
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp. Ground Ginger
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
2 tsp. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray deep dish pie plate with vegetable spray. Blend all ingredients in blender on High for 1 minute. Pour into pie plate. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Makes 8 servings. Cool and serve. One gram unsaturated fat per serving and no cholesterol.