Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making The Most Of A Poor Harvest

This is half the sweet potato harvest for this fall:  it's all from one leftover 'Beauregard' planted near the tomato forest.  You may remember that this one plant easily covered 20 square feet and was pruned by repeatedly driving over it.  Maybe that had something to do with it...

Only one bucket!
Anyway, when all was said and done, we only got about four pounds of potatoes from that patch.  We decided to eat it all in one sitting.  If your heart is in good condition, you can make this recipe too: Sweet Potatoes Anna, modeled after the buttery French classic, Pommes Anna.  Preheat your oven to 400°.

Makes the Chief Engineer very nervous.
Now's your chance to use your mandoline that's been gathering dust all this time.  Slice about 3 pounds of potatoes as thinly as you can.  Mine are really too thick, but it won't matter much.  Melt a stick of butter (yes, an entire stick).

Rinsed and drained
Butter the bottom of a cast iron skillet or other ovenproof shallow pan, then arrange fans of potato slices.  When the first layer is completed, brush it with melted butter.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and maybe a little bit of chopped fresh or dried thyme. 

Ready for oven!
Continue making buttered layers of seasoned sweet potatoes.  You'll need to press down with a spatula every so often, so that the layers compress together.  When you run out of sweet potatoes, pour the rest of the butter over the top (if there is any), sprinkle a final time with salt, pepper and thyme.  Pop into the hot oven for 30-45 minutes.  Keep a watchful eye after 30 minutes: it may burn on the top before it cooks all the way through, especially if your slices are thicker.  It's done when it's easily pierced with a knife or fork.

No inverting: it's a weeknight.
Remove from the oven.  If you're feeling quite like a TV chef, you can invert it onto a plate.  Otherwise, just serve and eat.  Last night, we had braised baby bok choy with ours.

We're hoping for better production from our other sweet potato patch.  It's planted with 'Bunch Porto Rican,' more plants, but in a smaller spot.  We'll see!


  1. It may have been a small harvest but it looks like a delicious one!

  2. It is delicious! More butter than we eat in a month, but almost worth it...

  3. That is a wonderful way to make sweet potatoes. I never tried it this way, but you can bet I will now. It looked delicious. Thanks for the lovely images to go with the recipe.

  4. Have just found another blogger who loves your poem. http://www.diannehofmeyr.com/2010/04/11/abundant-words/