Marooned under marshmallows
A holiday table seems one-dimensional without the rich orange of ipomoea batatas, referring to both yams (moist and dense, distinct skin) and sweet potatoes (dryer and mealier, monochromatic inside and out). When properly prepared, these tubers don’t need the sickly sweet marshmallow cloak to be festive—instead simply season them sweet or savory and accentuate the flavor with apple cider, crème fraiche and nut oils.
At home, sweet potatoes and yams should be used within a few days of purchase and kept in a cool, airy spot that is NOT refrigerated.
While not related at all to potatoes (but rather to morning glory, as the sprawling growth habit and purple, heart-shaped leaves suggest), these sweets are native to the tropical Americas and thrive especially in Southern areas with long, sunny summers. They tend to be difficult to grow and store, as they require a curing period before putting them to bed for the winter. At home, they should be used within a few days of purchase and kept in a cool, airy spot that is NOT refrigerated. With some practice, sweet potatoes are surprisingly versatile and can be boiled and beaten, layered into a gratin, fried into fries, roasted as wedges, crafted into casserole, pushed into a pie tin, and (of course) served with a bird.—Lisa Reeder
The season of leftovers is upon us! Renovate your freezer and refrigerator by culling out your old condiments and ditching the mystery items; in plasticland, match tops with bottoms and recycle the orphans (or keep them around for segmenting your produce section). Aside from the startling news about leaching plastics, having a serviceable set of food storage containers will make cooking (and cleaning up) more fun.
Nesting glass containers are ideal for freezer storage—and leach-free.
In general, Pyrex and ceramic sets are terrific for cooking purposes (both baking and stovetop) and double as fridge vessels, but are not ideal for freezer storage because they are not transparent. Keep your eyes open for sets at yard sales and thrift stores and church functions—or ask older family members if they would like to pass down their Corningware set! For cold storage (freezer and refrigerator both) choose rectangular nesting glass containers with interchangeable plastic lids. If you are serious about food storage, keep a marker and masking tape in your kitchen and label like the professionals—don’t forget the date.—L.R.