So Pappaw was Big Daddy’s grandfather. His daddy’s daddy. He was a very big man in stature (very tall) but he had a meek, quiet demeanor about him that made him so lovable. He had a way of laughing that was absolutely endearing and boyish. He was a bossy fellow at times and yet always remained humble. How that is even possible I don’t know. That man was something else. He was 94 when he passed away last Thanksgiving day and he is still missed so much. He was a wonderful cook. I spent a good bit of time with him and he taught me quite a bit. I can still remember when his friend would bring him a big ole box of sweet potatoes. Boy was he ever proud of those babies. They were a certain kind and I cannot remember the name…I just know he would get very excited. After he passed away, Big Daddy went up to the Lodge with his brother and brought back his sweet potato pot. That thing is probably one of my most treasured possessions. But what I treasure more are the memories of the time when Pappaw would stand in front of the stove and cook his delicious sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes are in many ways just like Pappaw was…sweet, simple but yet just enough. These sweet potatoes are not bothered that they are simple…they rather it that way. They are equally at home on your holiday plate next to turkey and dressing as they are next to pork chops. My precious mother in law took over making these when Pappaw finally relinquished his role well past 90 and she does a great job. Still, Pappaw is missed. We make them very much like Pappaw, but still…he is missed. My kids absolutely love this side dish and request for nearly every holiday meal. They are as much of a staple at our house as Momou’s mac and cheese. I have always been a candied yams with marshmallows kind of gal because that is what I was raised on. I still love them and I cannot promise you I won’t be making a small dish of these as well on Thanksgiving day, but Pappaw’s sweet potatoes are really something special. I hope you will try them and smile when you think of Pappaw. Such a great man who made such great sweet potatoes. Pappaw…another one of the many blessings in my life.
Pappaw listens intently as his great grand tells him all about it…
Pappaw’s Sweet Potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 sticks of butter (yes 2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups of sugar (Pappaw would say make sure the package says Pure Cane Sugar…I always do)
1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon
In a big ole skillet or pot, melt your butter over medium heat. Add your peeled and sliced potatoes to the melted butter. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Make sure the potatoes are coated with the butter, sugar mixture. Over low fire, with the lid on, cook the potatoes until they are tender. Stir the potatoes almost constantly to ensure they don’t stick. When you can stick a slice with a fork and it breaks off, they are good and done, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve hot. Repeat every time you want a good heaping helping of down home cooking. Oh and Pappaw always liked to serve these with purple hulls and cornbread.
Pappaw’s trusty sweet potato skillet…lots of delicious food cooked in there. I am so honored to have it.