Halloween ceased to entertain me the day I quit trick-or-treating. I do not like to dress up, I don't like it when others dress up and I don't know who they are, and I will only go back to Disneyland if I have a grandchild that wants to attend...those big Goofy, Mickey and Donald characters totally creep me out. Give me a giant pink fluff of cotton candy, a greasy corn dog with mustard and a scarier-than-crap roller coaster to puke it all up on and I'm good. Except I've never puked on any ride...captain thrill-seeker is my middle name.
I live where no children venture on Halloween, so not only do I escape the trap of buying candy, only to have to buy it again....and again.....and...(you get it) because I have absolutely no control and if I did dress up I would only be able to go as Jabba the Hut because of it, but I don't even have to buy a PUMPKIN. When my kids were little I had to carve theirs because they were weak and useless, then they got older and I had to carve them because they were whiny and insincere....there is just about nothing as gross and scraping out slimy pumpkin guts so you don't have strings and slime hanging visibly in the holes you cut later. That and I'm a perfectionist so I had to "help" to make sure it was regulation pumpkin faces...sorry kids, you know I couldn't help myself, right? All this makes me supremely happy that I live in the black forest where children dare not venture on that spookiest of nights.
Growing up living in the suburbia surrounding Portland proper, we had free reign of approximately 6 blocks by 6 blocks, and were sent out at an early age on our own, back when kids either didn't get picked up off the streets by child molestors, or their parents never reported it because they were tired of their insincerity anyway. The older kids would ditch us younger ones when they were out of sight of the house, so we really were on our own for the most part. You knew not to go to houses with the lights off, knew that if someone left candy outside the door because they "weren't home" that the best you could get there was the container they left it in, and always, ALWAYS yelled "THANK YOU" in fear that word would get back to your parents and they would invoke "Prima Chochta", or first shot at any of your chocolate when you got home. Then there was the ritual "sorting of the booty" at home, where trades, bargains and sniping candy from each other when we weren't looking was great sport. The only part I didn't like was wearing a nasty plastic mask...gross and sweaty, and you could smell your own bad breath. Ahhh, the good old days....
So back to Thanksgiving....I noticed that my hero PW has begun posting Thanksgiving recipes, and I would like to do the same - I just wish she would not pre-empt me with her similar masterpieces of deliciousness. But I will say, as good as her Soul Sweet Potatoes looks, I think mine is better....my biggest problem with sweet tater dishes is the mush, and I have found a way to minimize that (OK, to a degree...). I started with a recipe from a magazine (probably fooling no one in that doctors office by tearing it out slowly so they wouldn't notice), then changed a few ingredients, added a few more, used different cooking tecniques, and basically made something completely different. It has my very own "Moose Approved" stamp....people who would not eat sweet potatoes had seconds, thirds AND leftovers...I absolutely LOVE it when that happens! So enjoy, and don't be afraid to put gravy on it.....sweet/salty really turns my crank, and it makes it seem less like dessert and more like a side that way!
Momma Moose's Sweet Potato & Apple Crisp
This is sooooooo good in place of the overly insipid and mushy yam/marshmallow abomination still served in some backward homes at Thanksgiving, and much like candy corn, will not be solely enjoyed just once a year for the first two or three bites before your blood sugar spikes and you ruin your Gramma's living room drapes and her mother's antique lampshade making a fool of yourself. I could eat this stuff year round...see if you agree.
3 large yams (the darker ones that are orangey inside)
3 large sweet potatoes (yellowish brown skins with yellow inside)
2 baking apples...really any kind, just not red delicious
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. flour
1/3 C. butter, cold
1/3 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. pecans, chopped coarsley (optional...but I am a nut person)
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 or similar sized pan or casserole, set aside. Wash potatoes, then poke a few holes in each one and put in the oven on a cookie sheet and roast at 375 until tender, probably at least 45 minutes. Turn oven down to 325. Let potatoes cool until you can handle, then peel and cut into 1" cubes, keeping colors separate, just like laundry. You wouldn't want your yams turning yellow or your sweet taters turning orange, would you? I have my reasons, just do it.
Peel, core and cut apples into 1"cubes, put in skillet with the 1/2 C each butter and brown sugar until apples are fork tender and sauce is thickened. Layer half of the yellow potatoes, half the orange yams (here's your reason - mixing the colors together causes them to mush, and I TOLD you I don't like it mushy), then sprinkle with salt (pepper if you like). Spoon half of the apples/sauce over all, then layer the other half of the sweet potatoes and yams on top, salt (pepper) again, and put remaining apples/sauce over all.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon together, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly, stir in pecans if desired. Sprinkle over spuds and apples, pat yourself on the back for making something that looks ridiculously good, then bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes or until heated through, bubbly around the edges and lightly browned. This is another of those dishes that, if you don't let it cool long enough before first taste, will cause you to not be able to taste anything the rest of the day because it WILL burn your taste buds right off...you've been warned. But when you do the angels will sing, virgins will weep, and God will send rays of sunshine to dance across the look you have on your face when you first come to realize that sweet potatoes can aspire to heights far beyond a can of slimy yams and a half a bag of marshmallows. And Happy Halloween....BOO!