Harvest moon sweet potato pie
1 9-inch deep-dish unbaked pastry shell
2½ cup sweet potatoes, fresh baked or canned
¾ cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(or substitute 2 or 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spices)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Puree the sweet potatoes until very smooth, and then add the sugar, cream, eggs and spices, blending in well.
Pour the filling into the unbaked shell. Bake until the filling is set, about 50 or 60 minutes, depending on your oven. Let the pie cool at least 30 minutes. Whip the remainder of the cream and sweeten it to taste to use as a topping.
Nothing but freshly-dug sweet potatoes in my pie, I told myself. So, early on a recent Saturday morning, I was out in the field cutting enough freshly turned sweet potatoes to fill a huge bucket. Next time I won't wear sandals! I wasn't the only one thinking about harvest. Cars clogged the lane to the sweet potato field, and happy voices sounded from the bean and pea patches.
While we paid for our 'taters at the farm entrance, I struck up a conversation with owner Janice Long. She told me a little more about the farm. Across the summer they grow some 20 varieties of vegetables for folks to come and self-harvest, plus a field full of flowers-the zinnias were glorious. It's not just Decatur County folks doing the harvesting.
"They come from all over," she told me. They'd had a fellow from Oklahoma just the day before. Then, she recounted a lively encounter between a Swiss woman and a swarm of Decatur County gnats.
She was delighted when I told her I was preparing for the Harvest Moon. Just days before she'd read a wonderful story about this moon and a possum party to the second-grade class she teaches over in Miller County.
As soon as we got home, I stashed the sweet potatoes (except for the two I baked and served for dinner with lots of butter). Janice told me to leave the dirt on the potatoes and put them away. They don't need to be refrigerated and they'll keep a long, long time. She still has some from last year.
I didn't stay home long though. As soon as I'd rinsed off my feet and my sandals, I headed out for the Gilbert Gragg Library and found what I was looking for-Possum's Harvest Moon, by Anne Hunter. It is a great story. Possum wants to have a party to enjoy the enchanting moon, but no one will come. Mice are busy gathering seeds for the winter; all the crickets are worn out from singing all summer; Raccoon is busy catching a few more fish to fatten himself up for the long winter. Poor old Possum, wearing a party hat, sits alone watching the moon.
But wait! Harvest Moon magic! Here come the mice, the crickets bring the katydids and the Raccoon rousts out his friend, Rabbit. Possum's party lasts long into the bright full moon night.
I've returned this delightful book. If you want to share the Harvest Moon with a youngster you love, run on down and get it. Maybe you'll enjoy some sweet potato pie as you watch the moon shine on.
Every moon has a special name. Next month we'll have the Hunter's Moon. It's almost as big and bright as the Harvest Moon, and you can guess the legend behind that. In November, the farmers get to enjoy this glistening moon from the porch while it's the hunters who are out all night trekking their prey.
In honor of the Hunter's Moon, I'm hunting for some good game recipes-deer, wild turkey, quail-but after that wonderful story, no possum or raccoon, please.
Post-script: Don't go running out to the Longs quite yet. With autumn, they've finished harvesting for this year. They'll reopen on Mother's Day, 2008. I'll let you know and maybe pay a longer visit-tomato, cantaloupe, eggplant-oh my!