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YAMS!February 1, 2007

This is not, nor will it EVER be, a food blog, mostly because that would be truly sad for y'all. I consider hard-boiling eggs a particular talent. You get the picture.

But last night, I had a MAJOR triumph. While in Trader Joe's earlier this week, I picked up a bag of precut yams. Yams. I hate yams, and sweet potatoes, and most squashes, things like that. But I was driven by the desire to actually learn how to cook vegetables, and not just spinach, green beans, or broccoli.

So I bought the yams. Last night I took them out of the bag and got out the How To Cook Everything book. Yeah, nothin'. It basically said that yams suck (and aren't the same thing as sweet potatoes) and when cooked, are too dry to eat, maybe I should use them in a soup. What?

So I turned to the never-fail Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Yams = NOTHING.

I decided to go it alone. This has resulted, in the past, in tears and entire casseroles dumped right into the trash can. But I dropped the yams on a cookie sheet, chopped two cloves of garlic, dumped that on top, added some salt and pepper, poured on a liberal amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossed it in a 400 degree (F) oven, and baked them for 30 minutes.

They were WONDERFUL. That How To Cook Everything guy has NO idea. I forgot to turn them while cooking, so they were crispy and dark on the bottom, and soft in the middle, sweet and tart from the vinegar.

I was just so PROUD of them, that I made something healthy, out of my own brain. I also made some spinach (sauteed with olive oil and garlic until it wilts, lemon on top) and heated up some lentils and rice (Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, see above book ref, YUM), and had a perfect dinner.

Good god! I also made muffins (that turned out well) with oat bran and flax seed meal (see last post's comments for a world of suggestions)! Who am I becoming? What is this?




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Are you vegetarian or vegan? I can rewrite my favorite yam/sweet potato recipe either way. I mean if you are interested!! Easy to prepare.

That sounds delicious! Don't you feel like a total rockstar when you make up good foods out of your imagination? I know I do.

Who is talking shit about yams?

They're nasty with marshmallows on top like my grandma used to make...but other than that.....

I love yams! I think Mark Bittman is sometimes helpful, but limiting.
Glad you liked the muffins!

That's my favorite way to eat spinach. So quick and easy and so very yummy. Perfect with just some couscous.

Am I going to have to try another vegetable???? Sounds like.

Who are you becoming? It's a toss up between MarthafuckingStewart and RachelfuckingRay. I just can't decide.

You most likely bought sweet potatoes and not yams. It's actually pretty rare to find "real" yams in the supermarket (even at Trader Joe's). Most anything called 'yams' in the store is likely to be a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes look sort of like potatoes, but are reddish/orange, whereas yams can grow up to 6 feet long and have kind of a scaley outside and are white on the inside.
Try using sweet potatoes in soup instead of regular potatoes. It's yummy!

Yay for cooking yummy food. It makes meals so much nicer!

Speaking of dinner, we should reschedule. Will you be spinning on Saturday?

I LOVE yams dude! You can just buy a whole yam at the Safeway and poke a couple of holes in it and bake it or nuke it. Add butter and salt/pepper and that's a meal fit for a king.

I also make this http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/108635 that's to die for good. It's similar to your meal. I use sweet onions and buttom mushrooms because I'm lazy. Yum.

ooh, that sounds great....I'm totally gonna steal your yam recipe. or "receipt," as they say in the South where they sometimes cook the yams.

Not that I want this to become a cooking blog either but here, try these:
The Joy of Cooking It's so WAY better than How To Cook Everything.
All recipes.com It's FREE!

They are my tried and true friends in the kitchen. And congrats on the new "Rachael's Sweet Potatoes" recipe!

Those sound sooooo yummy! Yay, you, for cooking veggies!!!

Yup, everything you get in america is a sweet potato, even if they call it a yam.

Try this

cut yams into 1/2" cubes and bke at 375 in a buttered bking dish until tender.

cook one quarter cup water with one quarter cup sugar and a couple of tablespoons of lime juice until all sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thickened and reduced.

Toss yams with syrup and the grated zest of the lime.

Add some chopped chives.

THis is the best thing ever to do with yams!!!

Also, I'm a Fanny Farmer girl, myself.

The best thing I've ever known done with yams is the Yam Burrito from the place around the corner from Lettuce Knit. Oh Dear Gawd those things are good, and I'm not a vegetarian.

I love baked sweet potatoes with lots of melted butter (well- Land-O-Lakes light butter with canola oil so I can pretend it's better for me). I'll usually bake several (put foil or parchment paper on the pan to avoid messy, sticky clean-up) and put the extras in the frige to nuke later. My daughter likes to put brown sugar and butter on top of hers or mash one with butter in a little oven safe bowl, top with marshmallows and bake til the marshmallows turn melty and golden and call it dessert. We'll definitely try yours. I'll forward it to my other garlic-loving daughter too.

mmmm. You should call them, "yamsagogo!" They sound delish. I am a fan of the roots and tubers, anyway. But what you did sounds extra good!
I miss you!

At my house we call them sweet potatoe fries. Along with the olive oil I sprinkle seasoning salt (nasty for you but yummy) or paprika. I've been roasting beets much the same way too. Throw some fresh thyme on if you have it too.
even my kids eat it.

Sounds like you may need The Enchanted Broccoli Forest if you are trying to become hippie healthnut mama. But, if in doubt, I say, Deep Fry 'em! French Fried Yams sounds gourmet to me!

Yeah - I second the "marthafuckinstewart" comment - that was the first thing that leapt to my mind - knitting? Cooking? MARTHA.

Cooking out of your own brain is the coolest! I know you don't want this to be a cooking blog, but here is this thing I just made out of my own brain and even though my spouses rave about it, I'm still bragging everywhere I go. sigh. Sad, I know.

Anyway, you steam cauliflower and then you shred smoked gouda into some milk in a pan, add a little cheddar and a pinch of dry mustard and like half a tsp of worcestershire sauce. And then just reduce it until it is thick and eat it on the cauliflower. Yum.

That's fabulous! I'm going to have to try that because I really don't care much for yams either. But roasting is great, isn't it? I just made this roast cauliflower recipe and it was wonderful. mmmmmm

People might hate me for this, but I really don't much care for _How to Cook Anything_. We got it several years ago and after a success rate of only 1 recipe out of 5, I gave up on it. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

Instead I have become a Cook's Illustrated evangelist, because these people TELL YOU about things, instead of just leaving it all up to chance. Like why in hell roasting DOES make it taste better. I'm serious, I never used to be much of a cook but I love C.I., I've only ever had 1 or 2 recipes (out of dozens) that weren't extremely tasty.

I got the book _Perfect Vegetables_ and it is wonderful. It's just chapter after chapter of all different kinds of vegetables and tasty ways to cook them: grilled, poached, roasted, raw, whatever. I got it because I didn't know what to do with veggies most of the time, and I've never much cared for them cooked, the way my mom cooked them. Really, I LOVE THIS BOOK. How else the hell was I supposed to discover the joy of leeks?

but be sure and tell them to keep their stupid preview books and not send you any. Gah, I HATE that. It's too bad, because otherwise I love C.I. so. If you want, I have an extra copy (I bought a bunch for xmas presents) and if you send me your address, I'll send it to you. Because I just want to SHARE THE VEGGIE LOVE with everyone!

If you ever get to NZ make sure you taste kumera. It's a sweet potato you can't get anywhere else (ask your mum). They make all other sweet potatoes pale and I miss them They have something flouy and tasteless here in Aus they call 'kumera' but us kiwis know the truth.

I know?! What the heck is going on with all the foodie posts? You know I feel ya.... BTW, I'm stealing that yam recipe. I heart the sweet potato! Also, there's a killer recipe for sweet potatoes in the Dona Tomas cookbook (recipe is called camote). The foodie bit about yams v. sweet potatoes is that 'true' yams can only be found in Africa. What we know as yams here in the states are really sweet potatoes with a marketing spin put on them. More than you needed or wanted to know? Yeah.

Dude, I ate a yam (and tomato and feta) sandwich yesterday at Atlas Cafe (20th & Alabama, SF). It was the bomb. Yams!

As a point of foodie-trivia, those weren't yams. They were a variety of sweet potato; mistakenly called yams, and so described by just about anyone who has never seen, or eaten, a yam.

The true yam is a huge tuber (as much as three feet in length) and running as much as 20 lbs. It's starchy, and bland; native to New Guinea, and other parts of the Sounth Pacific.

True Yams
Special foods - yam

If you are feeling lazy the sweet potatoes taste pretty good tossed only in a good olive oil and sprinkled with ground peppercorns and sea salt. Lala must have some of that in her magnetic spice jar store -- which I covet almost as much as I do Miss Idaho.

And we're having braised spinach just the way you make it but without the lemon because I have no lemon tree in MY backyard. And baked ziti. And maybe something else really large because I walked 4.5 miles today. Across the frozen lake in MY backyard.

Hey, if I can turn into an avid exerciser? You can turn into a cook. Now I just wish I would turn into a cook, too. Is that too much to shoot for in one year, exerciser and cook?

I like sweet potatoes better, but yams are still good. The Cook Everything guy was right if you try to BAKE yams like potatoes, but if you roast them they're lovely. I will have to try the balsamic vinegar though! I usually just roast sweet potatoes in olive oil with fresh garlic and chunked onions, seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a bit of rosemary.

What's with all the anti-Martha-and-Rachel-cooking stuff? Sounds like a great recipe to me.

Rachael, I'll talk food with you anytime.

My favorite thing to do to yam/sweet potatoes is a recipe I got from the Joy of Cooking calendar
Peel the (2-4) tubers. Slice into 1/2" slices. Peel, core, and slice one apple.(granny smiths are great for this) Saute the lot in a couple tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (I'm not so much into the healthy food I guess). When they're partly soft (10-15 min), add 1/2c apple or white grape juice and 1/4c (or less) brown sugar. Put a lid on the whole thing and simmer for 20 min or so, stirring occasionally, until it all cooks down.
Tart, sweet, tender, easy! Yum!

I concur with those who have opined that you were likely working with the sweet potato, and not the yam. I read somewhere that yams are very difficult to find in this country.

And you sell yourself way short in the cooking department. I have been too busy to keep up with my correspondence intentions, but a while back we tried your tuna macaroni casserole and found it to be, as you said, uniquely delicious.

The dish has become an official member of our meal rotation.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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