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


  • 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)


  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







“Black Eyed Peas, Luck and New Rules!”

Black Eyed Pea SoupAre you superstitious? Are there certain beliefs or lore that have to do with luck that you adhere to? In the Southern United States it is a long held belief that cooking and eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day will bring you good luck all year. It really doesn’t matter how or if you cook them as long as you at least eat them on New Year’s Eve or Day for yearlong prosperity.

The history is long and the writing is vast on this subject. A simple Google search will give you more information than you can imagine. To intrigue you I will just throw out these separate, yet very connected words & phrases, ” Rosh Hashana”, “American South”, “Shephardi Jews”, “legume”, “George Washington Carver” (bless that man!), and “Georgia”.

Dried Black Eyed Peas

My peas ready to be cooked last year. I am pretty much a “doubting Thomas” when it comes to these things, but I do always try to cook a pot of peas on New Year’s Day…just in case. Do not worry if you don’t get to cook Black Eyed Peas on the eve or day of the New Year. I am making a “new rule for the Modern South”. You can now make your favorite “Black Eyed Peas with Ham Hock”, or “Hoppin” John” or “Peas & Greens with Cornbread” whenever you like and you will still have all the good luck and prosperity that you need for the coming year! I am sure of it. New Rule!

A very easy & delicious “Black Eyed Pea Soup with Ham”


1 lb of dried black eyed peas, 1/4 lb mostly lean ham hock,  1 cup chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves crushed, salt & freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups chicken stock


1. Soak black eyed peas in just enough water to cover them for about 2 hours. Drain. Place peas in a stockpot with fresh water just to cover, the ham hock cut into chunks, onions, garlic cloves, salt & pepper & chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer until peas are softened, not mushy. This can take around an hour or two. Taste and adjust seasonings.

2. Serve with warm corn muffins & freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano.

Black Eyed Peas with Parmesamn

Black Eyed Pea Soup

Bon Appetit, Buena Suerte and Happy New Year Y’all and thanks for stopping by.

Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth

Southern Redux – “Greens & Corn Bread”

 “Greens & Cornbread”

My summer garden was not what I had anticipated…too much brutal heat, too little rain. After much garden angst I decided to just stop my incessant watering and let nature run amok. And it did….basically everything except a few tomato plants and my herbs just wilted and died. Nature did its thing and I did mine by letting it do its thing. Such is the life of gardening.

I did not let my summer garden failure stop me from having hope for my late fall-winter garden of greens. I set out plants and sprinkled seeds in late September and this week I harvested my first “greens for dinner”…two kinds of chard & kale, bok choy, collards, spinach, arugula and sorrel..bravo to the winter garden!

If there is one thing we Southerners really love it is our “Greens and Cornbread”. But many of us Southerners (me for one) have childhood memories of having a dinner plate set in front of me with a serving of dark-green-almost-black totally-cooked-beyond-recognition turnip greens or collard greens which I tried to avoid eating by hiding them under some other over-cooked vegetable equally unappetizing looking. I spent lots of my childhood hiding food I did not want to eat under other food I did not want to eat.

Now I rather relish eating a helping of over cooked greens at any of my local “meat & three” restaurants along with a slice of hot cornbread….every now and then. I also relish eating greens cooked my way with hot, buttery cornbread made my way which is what I made for dinner last night.

“Sauteed Mixed Greens with Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins”

 Gather or buy about 6 large handfuls of mixed greens. Rinse in cool water and shake dry. Roughly chop greens.

 Drizzle some good olive oil in a large heavy pan and add chopped greens. Place over medium high heat. Sprinkle 1 finely diced shallot & 1 clove minced garlic over greens. In a few minutes the greens will start to steam and wilt. Gently toss greens as they cook. Add 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a handful of golden raisins, a dash of hot pepper flakes, salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Serve hot wilted greens drizzled with a fruity vinegar such as black fig vinegar or a good balsamic and hot (Kerrygold) buttered cornbread.

“A Simple Cornbread to Enjoy with Greens”

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in an iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet and put it in the oven as you heat it to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together 10 ozs. of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Cornbread Mix, 2 eggs & 1 cup of warm water. The first time I used this cornbread mix I was skeptical, but to my surprise it was very delicious and everyone who has eaten it has no idea it is gluten-free!  The texture is very dense, the flavor not sweet, but buttery. I ignore the directions on the back of the package and just add eggs & water. One of my favorite cornbreads was a “hot water cornbread” my Mother used to make. This is similar. A great find.

Remove hot skillet from the oven and scrape the cornbread batter into the skillet. Put back into oven and bake for about 30 minutes until cornbread is cooked throughout and light golden brown. Serve cornbread slices with a slathering of softened Kerrygold butter alongside a plate of Greens.

So…for you greens and cornbread skeptics, you non-Southerners who think you do not like this traditional  Southern fare, you Southerners who have never eaten greens still a bit crunchy with just the right wilted-ness combined…I ask that you try this simple little set of recipes and let me change your mind.

Bon Appetit Y’all

“A Little Gallery of Greens”

A little bouquet of greens.
Golden Chard
Red Chard
Bok Choy