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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Sandals and Sweet Potatoes

Katie Gordon

The other day it when I got home from work it was 68 degrees outside!  (For those of you back home in Orange County, that's HOT for March)  I practically ran home, dug out my shorts and Rainbow sandals from the depths of my closet and ran back outside to the park around the corner.  As I wiggled my toes into my sandals, a strange feeling of familiarity came over me.  Now for those of you who don't know, Rainbows are a very personal thing.  They're made to mold to your feet and last for years.  I've tried wearing a pair of my friend's, and they just don't ever feel right.  My rainbows and I are made for each other. 

(yes, that's a hole in the heel...)

So when I slid my feet into them for the first time in 6 months, I felt a deep sense of comfort, like the smell of home when you return from a long trip.  Memories of summers past came rushing back, and I sighed in relief, knowing the worst of the cold weather is now over.  We'll still get plenty of rain.  Here in New England March, April, and May showers bring hot and muggy summers.  But there will be no more snow (at least in excess...fingers crossed), and I can put away my North Face coat that looks like I'm wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

But before we put root vegetable season behind us, I wanted to post this recipe for sweet potatoes that I've been meaning to share with you for quite some time now.  I got it from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks (where I get so many of my recipes), and have made it a few times now.  It only lasts for about a day because Cam and I will eat it for all 3 meals, plus snacks, if possible.  I didn't ever think I liked sweet potatoes.  They sounded good in theory, but seemed too complicated to make.  But when I saw Heidi make them with coconut (my favorite food ever) I figured I'd give them a shot.  And I'm so glad I did!  Sweet potatoes are my new comfort food.  First of all they taste like candy, especially when you add maple syrup and coconut milk like in these ones.  Second of all, they're bright orange...what could be more cheerful in the middle of winter??  The ginger in them adds a subtle kick (as well as digestive health), and the macadamia nuts on top give them a nice crunch that nicely contrasts with the creamy potatoes. 

Enough introduction.  Here's the recipe:

Coconut-Ginger Sweet Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes  1/3 cup coconut milk (NOT light coconut milk) 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt 1/3 cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter  1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven.  Grease a medium-sized casserole dish (Heidi uses 6 ramekins, but I don't have ramekins so I just used the casserole dish).

Wrap each sweet potato in foil and pierce a few times with a fork, then place them in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half (I baked them for closer to an hour and a half to make sure they were really soft).  When you take them out, you should be able to slice through them like soft butter.  Let them cool for a few minutes after taking them out, then cut each in half, and scoop the flesh into a medium mixing bowl.  You should have about 3 cups of sweet potato.  Mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk.  I use an immersion blender, but you could use a hand mixer or food processor as well.  Stir in the ginger, maple syrup, and sea salt and taste.  Now is the time to adjust any of the seasoning if you want to before they're put back in the oven.

Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish, sprinkle the coconut over the top, drizzle with olive oil or butter (I sometimes skip this step,though), and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until the coconut on top is golden.  Remove and sprinkle with the macadamia nuts.

Heidi says this serves about 6.  I eat a lot of it though, so 6 would be stretching it.  These go great with sauteed garlicky greens, grilled chicken, or marinated tofu.  I imagine they could also taste good with some kind of light, herbed fish.  So even though it's been in the 70's and sunny back home, these sweet potatoes can still bring a touch of comfort, and the coconut flavor hints at the summer just around the corner.  Hope you enjoy!