Food-For-Thought Sweet Potato Pie

Just a Google away you can find all about the birth, life and death of John R. Lewis. Just a Google away you can sift through the important facts, as well as the minutiae. Just a Google away you can see movies of marches, videos of beatings, hear his speeches and we can learn what it meant to be such a man. We should all be grateful.

 There was a proposal recently in Nashville to rename 5th Avenue North to Rep. John R. Lewis Way. From the first I, and many of my neighbors who are lucky enough to live on this street, were pretty thrilled about this proposal. We felt proud. While some of us celebrated, the proposal quickly became a “bone of contention” for others in the neighborhood. I am still thinking on this. Why anyone would be against this street renaming other than a few “inconveniences” is fraught with anxiety about where I live and what this all says about my neighborhood. Could people possibly be worried about property values going down, is it because Mr. Lewis was black, does it remind others about our very checkered history with racism right here in Nashville.  I would rather not have to think on this, but I find I need to. Our neighborhood association board voted against the name change. It seems that our street will partially be renamed, but not all of it, and for that I am disappointed in us as citizens.

Just a Google away you will find that John R. Lewis went to college in Nashville. Much of Nashville was a pivotal location in the Civil Rights Movement, with Lewis leading successful sit-ins at then segregated lunch counters on 5th Avenue North. Some against the renaming of our street to honor John R. Lewis said “we should do more”, I say what could be more long lasting and visible than driving down Rep. John R. Lewis Way every day coming and going, reminding us of him and his goodness. I would have been proud.

Just a Google away I also discovered that one of John R. Lewis’s favorite foods was “Sweet Potato Pie”. So today, in honor of the most honorable of men, I will share with you one of my favorite sweet potato pie recipes from chef and author,  Edna Lewis (no relation to John R. Lewis). It is one fine pie. Make your own “Food-for-Thought Sweet Potato Pie”, slice it and share it, take a bite, and remember.

We must take comfort in the small things. Say their names. BLM.

Food for Thought Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cooked sweet potato pulp, well mashed (Edna Lewis says “sieved” which I did not do)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 (small) eggs, separated (I used large and recipe worked great)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (whole) milk (I used half & half)
  • Two unbaked pie shells (I used refrigerator pastry, you can make your own as well)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat egg whites until frothy.
  3. Put all other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. (This is how I “sieved” the sweet potatoes.)
  4. Fold frothy egg whites into the sweet potato mixture. Pour into pie shells and bake for 40-50 minutes until set. (Cover loosely with foil if crust starts to get too brown.)
  5. Cool 30 minutes before cutting.

My Note: I had never been a big fan of sweet potato pie as most I have eaten have been dense and cold. This pie has a light, airy, almost soufflé quality. It must be the addition of the frothy egg whites. Either way, eaten while warm is a pretty divine culinary experience.

Original recipe by: Edna Lewis, Chef and Author