Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Summer For Sweet Potatoes

Now that the weather is turning here in Middle Tennessee, it's almost hard to remember the oppressive heat we experienced all summer.  I know most of you can relate because it was something nearly the whole country experienced.  It obliterated most of my summer crops for they just could not survive in the 98 degree heat with no relief from even an occasional rain shower.  Having lived and gardened in Florida for most of my life, I nearly always covered up the garden beds for summer knowing it was futile to fight the weeds and heat stroke for a few piddly cherry tomatoes, okra and lima beans.  I stayed inside in the air conditioning and waited for our growing season to begin in October.  I wasn't prepared for TN summers to be even worse.  Although everyone assures me this was a fluke, I am extremely doubtful regarding next summer's garden.  So while I was preparing my fall garden this month, noone was as shocked as I was to see some little red heads poking up from under my sweet potato vine.  Upon closer inspection, I found I had a veritable mine field of huge, hearty sweet potatoes!  I started digging around one plant and pulled out the biggest potato, this gardener had ever seen.  A 5 pounder!!  The diggings from just one plant came home with me that day and provided not only baked sweet potatoes but sweet potato pancakes,

sweet potato chili,

sweet potato gratin and will this weekend become sweet potato pie, with half the batch of potatoes still to be used.  Yesterday, I dug around a second plant and added the bounty to what was left of the first. 

And I still have 7 more plants to dig.  I should get at least a bushel and perhaps a half more.  If anyone wants to pass any sweet potato recipes my way, I welcome them.  In the mean time, here's the Sweet Potato Chili recipe I made.

Pinto Bean Sweet Potato Chili

1 T olive oil
1 Med onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 T chili powder (adjust as necessary)
1 C vegetable broth
1 1-lb. sweet potato (yam), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 Med tomatoes cubed
1 Can Pinto beans drained

Heat olive oil in heavy sauce-pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder and stir 1 minute.  Add broth and potato.  Cover pan; reduce heat to medium and simmer until potato is almost tender, about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and pinto beans.  Simmer uncovered until chili thickens and potato is very tender, about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a touch of mexican cheese shredded on top.

This was so easy and delicious.  A must try this winter!

I used to grow sweet potatoes in Florida many years ago and had completely forgotten how much they loved the heat.  I had one plant that grew year round there and provided me with potatoes all year.  In my California community garden, potatoes were on the banned list so I forgot all about them.  Something tells me I won't be forgetting about these sweet potatoes for a very long time.  It will take me at least two full day to process them for the freezer and we should be having sweet potato dishes until we are in our 80's.  Sweet potato cassarole anyone?


  1. OH WOW! I envy you the ability to get sweet potatoes. We just love them, but regular potatoes are the only potatoes we can grow here - our season is just too short!

  2. eeewwww sweet potatoes :-P

  3. Oh yum! I never tire of sweet potatoes.

  4. If I may quote the awesome song from episode 11......"Buy yams I said"! :o)

  5. Hello, fellow Nashville inhabitant :) I just found your blog (via an old link you posted to the waldorf crafting yahoo group). Your garden from last fall looks gorgeous! I'll bet you are dreaming of spring by now...I know I am. Hope you get back to blogging. I'd love to read more of your adventures especially since we are "neighbors"! (I blog at if you care to visit)