The e-mail was simple, a group e-mail to everyone in my husband's family.
"Everyone, Thanksgiving is at Pat's house and contact me to sign up for what you are going to bring. Everyone, that is, except Mari. Mari, you are bringing the sweet potatoes."
Grinning, I posted a reply.
There is a story about the sweet potatoes, as there are about most things from my Southern past. If you go to my website and read my Author's page, you will see that I start out with the words "My Mother was Scarlett O'Hara and my Father was John Wayne." Like the John Wayne character type, Dad was a tall, handsome 'man's man', and he had trouble taking care of himself or settling down to one lady. He married well, and often. No woman seemed able to resist trying to look after him. He once took a trip and came back wearing the same pants he left in, berating my Step Mom for "forgeting to pack him any other pants". She lifted up the layer of shirts to show him the pants he was unable to find in the bottom of his suitcase.
Anyway, wife #4 was only one or two years older than Dad's oldest kids, and we were a cruel bunch to her. It didn't matter. She insisted on trying to take the 'Motherly' role, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. We snickered and compared notes, us kids from the three previous marriages, while her kids, younger than any of us by a decade or two, ran free. We had decided that nothing that came from Marilyn could ever be good...until...
The SWEET POTATOES.
We lined up dutifully to eat Thanksgiving at Dad's and marched around getting heaping servings of regular holiday fare until we reached THEM. The rich, buttery orange vegtable lay beneath a crisp topping of butter-browned pecans...no tacky pineapple or little marshmellows for this delicacy! These were the Rolls Royce of Sweet Potatoes, and boy, did Marilyn know it, too! Soon all you saw in the place where they had graced the table was a licked clean dish. (I'm not sure which of the kids actually licked it, but I suspect one of Marilyn's little monster's took care of it.)
Then the inquistion began. "Oh Marilyn, what did you put in those potatoes? Could you just write that recepe down for me? Oh, pretty please? Pretty, pretty please?"
The woman had the fortitude of a gladiator. I won't say what I had to do to get the recepe but let me leave it at this. Every place I ever took these sweet potatoes I got invited back...as long as I turned up with a pan of them in my hands. And in memory of Marilyn, who was so reluctant to share her secrets, I have given the recepe out to as many people as possible who were even vaguely interested in preparing them. I am a sweet little thing! ;-p
Creamed Sweet Potatoes
3 cups sweet potatoes (Canned will do. No one will ever know.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canned cream or evaporated milk
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp. (or more) vanilla flavoring.
Blend and put in a pammed pan.
In another bowl:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup (or more) pecans. More pecans are GREAT!
Sprinkle on top of the potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees until done (When a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.) Recepe can---and perhaps should be--doubled.
Oh yes, try to forget about all of the butter and sugar and pecans in this. It only comes round once--or twice, a year. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!