Dorcas Annette Walker
I love recipes that are versatile. Being able to use a recipe in a couple of different ways always fires up my imagination- not that my family thinks I need any help in that department. My sister and I attribute being raised on the edge of poverty to what shaped our artistic minds. I feel sorry for today’s modern child surrounded by technical gadgets that do all kinds of marvelous things at the touch of a button leaving no scope for imagination. Parents often are deceived into thinking that their child will not develop properly without the latest invention on the market. In my day children didn’t expect to be entertained. Instead we were told to go outside and play. On a nice day when I wasn’t helping my brother dig an underground house or construct a teepee out of branches, I was busy setting up my bakery. My main supplies were an empty tin can, water, dirt, and a long board. My fingers learned to shape perfectly formed ridged pie crusts and I made the most delightful looking culinary confections decorated with wild flowers. My imagination transferred over into the real world when I was introduced to the kitchen at a young age. Today I delight in seeking out facts about food and experimenting in the kitchen.
Although people interchangeably use sweet potato or yam, depending on which part of the country you are from, there are distinct differences between the two. A yam shares more traits with a daylily and are considered tubers along with potatoes. True yams have white flesh and are starchier and sweeter than sweet potatoes, although they contain less vitamin A and C. Found mostly in Latin American and Caribbean markets, yams are sold in chunks sealed in plastic wrap. The water yam cultivated in Southeast Asia can grow up to eight feet long and weight over one hundred pounds. There are six hundred varieties of yams, one hundred and fifty cultivated for food, with Africa being the main producer. The annual world production of yams is over thirty million tons. Even though early explorers found many varieties of sweet potatoes and yams it became common to call both by either name. Today the US Department of Agriculture labels yams also as sweet potatoes.
My Heavenly Yam/Pumpkin recipe is one that I created to use either sweet potatoes or pumpkin. Although it takes longer to prepare than some recipes the Heavenly Yam/Pumpkin is an ideal autumn dessert and you can make it up a day ahead of time. From the rich nutty crust to the sweet potato or pumpkin filling surrounded by cream cheese and cool whip this multi-layered dessert is perfect for a family get-to-gether. My Heavenly Yam/Pumpkin takes around forty-five minutes to prepare and this recipe serves eighteen.
Mix together and press in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish:
1½ c self-rising flour
½ c powdered sugar
½ c melted margarine
¼ c chopped pecans or nuts of your choice
Bake at 350º for twenty minutes. Then cool for thirty minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl beat until smooth:
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 c powdered sugar
¼ of a 16 oz container of cool whip
Layer over cooled crust.
In another bowl mix until smooth:
2 c cooked sweet potatoes or pumpkin
¼ c sugar
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
Layer over cream cheese mixture and then top with remaining cool whip. Garnish by sprinkling cinnamon on top, chill, and then serve!
Weekly tip: Potatoes properly stored in a dark, dry, well ventilated place can last from three to six months. Here are a couple of ways to store potatoes: in brown paper sacks, burlap bag, hung in the legs of panty hose, or enclosed in a cardboard box!