Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How sweet it is

The best part of Thanksgiving, of course, is the gathering of family and friends. Our group is usually small - this year it will be Mom, Dad, my sister Shari, Rusty the springer spaniel, and me – but we are always happy to be able to spend the time together.

The next best part is the sweet-potato pie. That is perhaps the only constant in the ever-changing Harris holiday-meal lineup. My Mom can make a fine sweet potato pie, but these days my Dad usually does the honors, using his mother's recipe. Usually he'll make two pies, one with shredded coconut, and one plain.

While recipes for sweet potato pies often use eggs and milk, it is not difficult to make them vegan. A good recipe for vegan sweet potato pie, from the Los Angeles restaurant Real Food Daily, is available online at http://www.vegparadise.com/otherbirds311.html.

You have to scroll down a bit to get to the pie recipe, but pay attention as you go. The other recipes from Real Food on the same page could make an entire vegetarian Thanksgiving feast: Red Bean, Squash and Okra Stew; Skillet Corn Bread With Scallion Butter; and Garlicky Greens.

Type "vegan sweet potato pie" into any search engine to find many more choices.

The sweet-potato pie tradition comes naturally to a North Carolina family. Our state produces more sweet potatoes than any other state in the U.S. And the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission is happy to share ideas on how to use this bounty at its Web site, www.ncsweetpotatoes.com.

Its featured recipe right now is for Curried Roasted Sweet Potatoes, a Weight Watchers recipe that promises to "Revamp your traditional thinking about sweet potatoes during the holidays." The recipe happens to be vegan, simple and healthy too.

Whatever traditions you enjoy, may your Thanksgiving be joyful and abundant!

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