The Yams Did It

Farewell, November

I tried, I really did.

For like, three whole days.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

It’s a wonderful website for setting aside the month of November to finally write that novel.

Of course, I signed up three years ago, and I spend the last week of October every year daring myself to jump in the deep end and not look back.

I’ve been wobbling on the diving board for ages and my novel is all of two chapters long.

Maybe next year.

I had much better success with No Shave November.

My sons participated along with me.

They twirled imaginary mustaches and massaged two blond chin hairs, trying to encourage a goatee.

Tomorrow they get to shave.

Frankly, I have a bigger beard on my kneecap.

But whatever.

There were a lot of options for November, some of which are simply on my list of “some day”: International Drum Month, National Inspirational Role Model Month, National Fun With Fondue Month.

What I really feel good about, though, is my unwitting participation in Sweet Potato Awareness Month.

If there’s one thing my family demands on the Thanksgiving table, it’s candied sweet potatoes.

Not yams.

(Whole ‘nother tuber, that is, and very rarely sold in the produce aisle, even if the sign clearly states “YAMS”. Nope. It’s a sweet potato.)

We are very, very, highly aware of the massive steaming tray of candied sweet potatoes that my mom makes faithfully every year.

She makes another whole pan-full and leaves it at home, just for herself, because she knows her daughters won’t be leaving any leftovers.

After all, I’ve been known to rate restaurants entirely on the merit of their sweet potato fries.

Sometimes I’ve made them with pecans and maple syrup instead of brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows.

Once in a while I’ll cheat and buy canned sweet potatoes, mashing them up in the casserole dish, but they aren’t the same.

My sister recently opened my eyes to a new way of preparing them, and really, I should’ve thought of this years ago.

I mean, I am the oldest sister. I know stuff.

Usually, you need to bake whole sweet potatoes on a tray for an hour or so until they are soft; then you peel the wrinkled, sugar-blackened, drippy skins open and scrape out the stringy orange flesh.

I haven’t done a potato in the microwave since the unhappy debacle of 2009.

Enter: the crockpot.

Half inch of water, whole sweet potatoes, low for a few hours or high for three-ish hours. It depends on the fatness of your roots.

But you don’t have to poke them with a fork or scrape burned bits from your pans, and the taters aren’t stringy at all. Just moist and mashy.

Technically, I observed National Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Vegan Month, Gratitude Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Diabetes Month all at the same time.

Take that, November.

Not only did the native americans know you could live off of sweet potatoes in a famine, but these little spuds stabilize blood sugar, and are full of all the good vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Sweet potatoes are also used in estrogen replacement therapy.

Not that I’m looking sideways at my mother or anything.

But it would explain my kneecap.

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