Published on December 14, 2021

Jan’s Kitchen: The untraditional tradition

By Jan Edwards
The Bulletin

Thanksgiving’s behind us now, and as we travel the road to Christmas, it’s time to bring out time-honored traditions, including recipes.

This Thanksgiving I noticed some little peculiarities even about prepping food for some of the most basic traditional recipes, such as Deviled Eggs. We know you have to hard boil the eggs. But have you ever stopped to think how many ways there are to boil “perfect” hard- boiled eggs?

When I was a new cook, I just put some eggs in water in a pot and boiled them and then peeled them under cold water. I lost about 25% of the “perfect” intact egg. Then Mom showed me her secret.

Put the eggs you want to hard-boil in a pot and cover them with cold water. Add a couple of drops of olive oil and a couple of shakes of salt to the water and slowly bring to a boil.
Boil eggs for 5 minutes, then take off the fire and pour hot water in the sink and run cold water into the pot for a couple of minutes. Peel the eggs under cold running water. I always get 100% “perfect” eggs.

My daughter, who makes the best Deviled Eggs in the country, still had trouble getting “perfect” eggs. A friend of hers told her that her mom put eggs in boiling water (with a spoon) and boiled them. When they were done, she placed them in a container, added a bit of cold water, closed the lid and shook the eggs until they all cracked. Then peeled them under cold running water, and she got “perfect” eggs.

Then I Googled how to make a perfect peeled, hard-boiled egg. There were so many ways I couldn’t count them. So, my point is that just to make a simple traditional dish takes a tradition all its own.

This year, it was my turn to make the Sweet Potato Casserole. Traditionally, it’s packed with sugar. We didn’t want a bunch of leftovers, and I wanted to find something a little better for us. I looked through cookbooks, Googled recipes online, and checked several publications. Then I found it. It called out to me because it made exactly six portions, and we had six people for Thanksgiving.

It was Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups - and when I say Orange Cups, I’m not referring to the color, but the fruit. A little bit different, a little extra work – but oh, SO worth the effort. The recipe calls for marshmallows on the top, and Shirlene didn’t want the marshmallows – so we found out, it was good with or without the marshmallows. We also found out two members of the family don’t eat sweet potatoes at all. So, we also found out that leftovers were better the second day.

So, without more ado, I like to share with you my untraditional traditional Sweet Potato Casserole made in individual portions.

Sweet Potatoes Casserole in Orange Cups

2 lbs. sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup (I used Non-GMO organic brown sugar)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon salt
3 navel oranges
Mini marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork or knife. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.

2. Let sweet potatoes cool several minutes, cut in half and scoop out insides into a large bowl. Mash with butter, brown sugar, evaporated milk and salt until creamy and fluffy.

3. Cut oranges in half and slice a very thin slice from bottoms so they sit flat.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut the inside rim of the orange, removing the orange sections and pulp, leaving just the hallowed-out peel. (You can use the orange remains for fruit salad or juice it.)

5. Fill each orange cup with ¼ cup of sweet potato mixture and top with mini marshmallows. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until marshmallows are lightly browned. Serves 6.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Go out and start a new tradition with your family. Bon Appetit!

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)