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Archive for Wednesday, November 13, 1996

T OVERLOOK ORANGE SPUD

November 13, 1996

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Since I'm the only one in my household who appreciates the sweet potato, eating them has become a solitary activity. I can let go of most other foods my family shuns, but not the orange spud.

For the most part, I keep my craving at bay by popping a sweet potato into the microwave every now and then. I can get to feeling pretty righteous about it, too, since a sweet potato does double-duty as a multivitamin.

Consider, if you will, that one medium sweet potato packs twice the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A as well as big helpings of potassium and calcium. Also weighing in are Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, carotene and protein.

You also get a lot of bang for the calorie with a sweet potato. Until I mash up my spud and start slathering butter all over it, I'm only sending about 140 calories to my waistline.

Sweet potatoes began showing up in local supermarkets after the annual harvest in late summer. To grow your own sweet potatoes, you'll have to plant in late spring to accommodate their 90- to 170-day growing season and extreme sensitivity to frost. The vines of some experimental sweet potatoes I planted this summer succumbed to the autumn chill long before my tomato plants.

What you know about growing white and red potatoes won't help you with sweet potatoes. If your favorite garden store doesn't carry sweet potato plants, which are called slips, you can grow your own from this year's sweet potatoes. (You can use store-bought sweet potatoes, but be sure to grill your produce manager to make sure the spuds haven't been sprayed or waxed with an anti-sprouting agent.)

In mid-March, bury your sweet potatoes in a box of moist sand, sawdust or another loose growing medium and place them where the temperature will remain at 75 degrees to 80 degrees. Each potato will sprout four to six slips.

By mid-May, your slips should be 6 to 9 inches high. Break each one off the potato at the base and plant them in full sun, 6 inches deep (bury each slip up to the bottom leaves) and about a foot apart.

If you mulch your sweet potato patch, you won't need to do a lot of watering. Too much water is more likely to harm your spuds than too little.

Following are two recipes for putting this year's sweet potato harvest to good use. The first, a variation on potato latkes that goes well with applesauce, is from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins' ``The New Basics Cookbook'' and the second is from the November issue of ``Vegetarian Times.''

Sweet Potato Pancakes

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

2 eggs, lightly beaten

ure the spuds haven't been sprayed or waxed with an anti-sprouting agent.)

In mid-March, bury your sweet potatoes in a box of moist sand, sawdust or another loose growing medium and place them where the temperature will remain at 75 degrees to 80 degrees. Each potato will sprout four to six slips.

By mid-May, the grated onion in the center of a clean kitchen towel and wring the liquid out of it. Add the onion to the bowl. Add the flour, nutmeg, curry powder, black pepper, salt and cayenne. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Heat two tablespoons of the butter and one tablespoon of the shortening in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Form the potato mixture into patties and 3 inches in diameter. Cook on both sides to a golden brown and then transfer them to a paper towel-lined baking pan and keep them warm in the oven until serving. Repeat with the rest of potato mixture, butter and shortening. Makes 10 to 12 pancakes (five to six servings).

Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes

6 baked sweet potatoes

juice of 1 medium orange

potatoes in a box of moist sand, sawdust or another loose growing medium and place them where the temperature will remain at 75 degrees to 80 degrees. Each potato will sprout four to six slips.

By mid-May, thwise; scoop out flesh. Set skins aside. Puree the potato flesh in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Spoon puree into the skins and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

A reader called last week to ask when to mow an asparagus patch. Some people wait until spring on the theory that the dead plant matter provides protection in the winter.

I know that the ferns in one of our patches were still green last week, which indicates that they are still feeding the roots of the plant.

However, if the weeds have gotten out of control and you no longer see green ferns, go ahead and mow.

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