sweet potato

Welcoming 2015 + Sweet Potato Muffins

Sweet Potato Muffins | Eat This Poem

I'm a week late to the intentions/goals/resolutions discussion that ensues this time of year, but my word for 2015 is open

I arrived at this word after several weeks of mostly casual pondering, then when I started reflecting on everything that occurred in 2014, halfway through December I decided. Open was the word. 2014 was a big year in ways that might seem small from the outside, but now I'm ready to go deeper and bring the concept of openness into my daily life. Open to opportunities, possibilities, joy, peace, people, conversations, grace, etc. It's not always easy for me, so I take this as the very best kind of challenge.

To welcome the year, I made muffins. I also made eggs, toast, and bacon, but it's really the muffins that most captured my attention. When I first received Good to the Grain for Christmas several years ago, I devoured it in one sitting. I had been itching to expand into whole grain baking, and Kim Boyce's cookbook was a wealth of knowledge about how to make tasty treats more wholesome.

Before the first pass at this recipe, I noticed a small note that mentioned it could easily be turned into a coffee cake. I love this batter as a coffee cake. Love it. But this year I was feeling the muffins. It might have had something to do with the fact that I FINALLY remembered to buy baking cups at the market, and I needed a reason to use them. Or perhaps I needed to be open to the idea of trying the recipe in its original state. I can't be certain. 

What I am certain of, however, is that if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. Without question these nine words defined 2014 for me. I know I'm better for it. I prefer the person I am today than the person I was a year ago, and the growing pains were worth coming out the other side with more clarity and conviction. 

One of those convictions was the importance of writing and poetry in my life. As absence tends to make the heart grow fonder, the times when I most wanted to write and read last year but didn't have the time or energy only served to remind me how valuable these gifts are. I continue to be overwhelmingly grateful for all of you who share part of your day with me whenever you stop by. 

I hope Eat This Poem and my letters continue to provide inspiration as the new year unfolds.



Slightly adapted from Kim Boyce, Good to the Grain

Embrace the bowls here. There are several components involved in bringing this batter together, and you'll be in wonderful shape if you're thoughtful enough to whisk the dry ingredients together the night before and bake the potatoes well in advance. 

I've made a few changes over the years, like using spelt flour and turbinado sugar, and can't resist a nutty, crunchy topping, either.

2 small sweet potatoes (about 3/4 pound)

Dry Mix
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet Mix
2 ounces fat (I used half butter and half coconut oil)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
6 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped

1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup mixed nuts, chopped (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until tender when pierced with a fork. When they've cooled, peel and leave them whole.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees and put 12 paper liners in a muffin tin. 

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt.

Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer. Attach the paddle and mix on high speed until the butter and sugars are light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the egg and half of the sweet potatoes. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute more, until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until partly combined. Add the buttermilk and yogurt and mix until combined. Next, toss in the chopped dates and the remaining sweet potato; mix until barely combined and pockets of sweet potato can be seen in the batter.

Scoop into muffin cups, then make the topping. combine the sugar and mixed nuts, then sprinkle evenly over the muffins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Serve warm with jam or butter, if desired. 

Objects Are Like a Mirror Held Up + Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

I've had the same keychain for the past 12 years. I received it a few months after turning 18, when I accepted a job to be a lifeguard at my local pool the summer before I left for college. A lifeguard has a few things to carry around at all times, and the red rubber keychain fit around my wrist, keeping my hands free but the pool keys close by. After the summer ended, I put the rest of my keys on it. The key to my dorm room, the car (a white Datsun 280ZX) that I left at home, and the key to my parents house. Then just last week I really looked at it and realized how much time had gone by.

Objects do that. They just live with us, day in and day out, and never change. You might not give the ceramic bowl or shell on the shelf any thought, but then one afternoon you walk, tilt your head, and all the history hits you. How long has that dusty frame been there? What did your my look like when I picked up the shell from Moonstone Beach and tucked it into my purse. Why do I still have high school t-shirts wrinkled in the bottom of my dresser drawer? Suddenly, objects are like a mirror held up, reflecting a version of our former selves.

"Yam" by Bruce Guernsey + Sweet Potato Puree with Charred Corn

How are you coming along on the resolutions you set back in January? One of my 2012 goals that I like very much, is to curate my life. It means I'm going through my closet and getting rid of anything I don't love. I'm not renewing magazines that I don't read cover to cover. I'm only saying yes to social activities that have a value-added component for me. Also, I culled my RSS feed.

Things had gotten out of control the way zucchini plants do this time of year. I'd just had enough. I was subscribed to too many blogs, and I accepted the fact that I couldn't get to them all. Also, my priorities had changed. Since launching The Giving Table last year, you can only imagine how the category of the food system has emerged in my feed. Suddenly, I was subscribing to more and more blogs tackling issues like school lunch reform, the food bill, and global hunger, and reading less design blogs. So I took the plunge. I kept the handful of design blogs I really enjoyed, and let my new priorities lead the way. Even worse, I was subscribed to well over 100 food blogs, which wasn't sustainable, either, so I hit delete without remorse.