Writing My Life

Now and Then


Day 24 ~ Yammy Yums!

As the channel 2 news wrapped up, I told Hubby I’d hurry to bed as soon as I posted an entry about yams on my blog. His comments about the exciting topic were less that supportive, but hey! It’s day 24, and while one of my blogging friends is writing about monkeys, I’m at least focusing upon something related to Thanksgiving!! (Although I do have a good monkey story.)

A reasonable facsimile of Mom’s famous candied yams!

About those yams – well, today I worked in the office – as opposed to visiting schools – and overheard a discussion about an item on my colleague’s Thanksgiving menu: candied yams. Suddenly, I lost all interest in solving the problems of an online writing program as I listened to Lucy share the directions for candying yams.

While this intriguing topic doesn’t perk the interest of many people, it caught my attention because the description of her mom’s candied yams sounded like OUR Thanksgiving side-dish! This was startling because I have NEVER heard of any family who cooks up these tubers like my mom does.

A Google search will bring up recipes for candied yams, and I imagine that if I looked long and hard enough, I MIGHT find something close. But that hasn’t happened yet. The recipes I’ve found pale in comparison to Mom’s NON-recipe because they suggest that you candy the yams in the oven, or that you use CANNED yams – yucky! Every one also included melting marshmallows on top – no, No, NO!!! (I realize marshmallows and yams are a big part of many traditional turkey dinners, but NOT ours!)

Nevertheless, there was Lucy chattering away about how you precook the yams first, and then you peel them. Next, you melt butter over low heat in a large frying pan and add TONS of brown sugar until it dissolves into a RICH, caramel-like syrup – only REALLY thick. Finally, you place the sliced yams into the mixture and slowly coat each piece.

How could this be? I thought our yams were a deep, dark family secret as safely kept as the Colonel’s recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. I couldn’t believe it! For years, I watched Dad carve the turkey while Mom slathered chunks of yams with the gooey substance mere minutes before we sat down to chow down. It was the LAST completed dish and one of, if not THE, favorite part of the entire meal. And now I questioned the originality of Mom’s NONrecipe for FAMOUS candied yams. I just assumed the dish was her creation alone because NO ONE ever served them to me – EVER!!!

But there it was. Evidence that sometime back in the 1940s or 50s a recipe for super sugary candied yams circulated neighborhoods, churches, and the food sections of newspapers. While others moved onto easier recipes – ones you could whip up in advance – our family – okay, AND Lucy’s, too – have hung onto the yummiest yam fixin’s in the world!