BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Many area families will enjoy some locally-grown sweet potatoes in their Christmas dinner baskets from the Parish House this year.
Those beautiful green vines we all marveled at in the city planters were sweet potato plants, and they produced over 800 pounds of potatoes this year.
Thank you to Rob Barbor, City Horticulturist; the city garden crew, Raymond Pennington, Katie Davis and Hannah Hanifan; and to all the volunteers who cared for them all season long, and recently harvested, cleaned and delivered the bounty.
Parish House Director Alicia Randolph Rapking shared that they will include the sweet potatoes in the meal baskets to be distributed during the holidays, which include fixings for a traditional ham dinner. Most years, the Parish House gives out around 700 baskets, which provide a holiday dinner for an estimated 2,000 individuals.
“My grandfather was a sweet potato farmer in North Carolina so sweet potatoes are a big part of my heritage. I grew up on them. I love them. I ate them raw when I came home from school because they are sweet. It’s not Christmas without sweet potatoes,” reminisced Randolph Rapking.
This is the third year that the city’s gardens have provided food to the Parish House for the holiday baskets, according to Barbor.
The sweet potatoes –along with the rest of the flowers, plants, and trees–are grown using sustainable, healthy garden practices, without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other harsh chemicals. As such, families who receive them can rinse off any remaining soil and get to work preparing their favorite sweet potato recipe.
Randolph Rapking has shared her favorite here, which was passed down from her mother, Hazel Randolph. What is your favorite sweet potato recipe?
Hazel Randolph’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pineapple
- 6-8 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place sweet potatoes in a large kettle and cover with water; bring to a boil. Boil gently until potatoes can easily be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30-45 minutes. Drain; cool slightly.
- Peel potatoes and place in a large bowl; mash. Stir in butter and sugar until butter is melted. Add pineapple, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.
- Spoon into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Top with marshmallows. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
To learn more about the Upshur County Parish House and their current needs, visit their website at https://www.parishhouse.org/