African Nkyemire (Yams with Mushrooms)

nkyemire

Here we will unfold the mystery behind true yams, American “yams” and sweet potatoes, while partaking in the delightful African yam dish nkyemire.

Background of My Using This African Recipe

This recipe came to me in the early 1980’s, while catering and teaching cooking classes in Billings, MT.  I employed it in a African repast that included bobotie (a lamb dish baked in a curry-custard) and chin-chin (Nigerian wedding pastries), which will be my next two posts.  These outstanding dishes from Africa were among other native delicacies in this colorful dinner, which was one of my most popular classes.

What Are True Yams?

Today’s nkyemire receipt calls for African yams, which differ from what Americans call yams.  Yams, Dioscorea, are a tuber that originated in Africa and Asia, but now  also are commonly found in the Caribbean and Latin America, with 95% being grown in Africa.  Sweet potatoes, Ipomoea batatas, on the other hand, are a starchy root vegetable or tuber, which originated in Central or South America.   1

Columbus introduced the sweet potato to Europe; subsequently it was established in China and the Philippines by the end of the 15th century.  It has now become the second most important vegetable worldwide.  2

True yams differ from sweet potatoes primarily in size and color, for they can grow very large-up to 5 feet and 132 lbs.  These are cylindrical in shape with brown, rough, scaly-textured skin, and their flesh can be white, yellow, purple, or pink.  Their taste is less sweet and much more starchy and dry than sweet potatoes.  3

Sweet Potatoes and “Yams” in America

Sweet potatoes are related to the morning glory family, with an orange flesh, and a white, yellow, purple or orange skin.  This vegetable is sometimes shaped like a potato, though it may be longer and tapered at both ends.  Yams in America differ from true yams, like those found in Africa.  What we call yams here are actually orange-colored sweet potatoes-except those found in certain international food markets.  4

The orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato was introduced to the U.S. in 1930s marketing campaigns.  5  At that time, Americans were only used to the white variety of sweet potato; thus, to distinguish the orange-fleshed potato from this white variety, producers and shippers chose to use an English form of the African name nyami , meaning “to eat”; thus, our word “yam” was adopted.  These yams, however, are vastly different from the true yam, as originated in Africa and Asia.  Yams, as Americans call them, are sweet potatoes in actuality.  6

Importance of Tending to our Memories

One of my catered, African-themed events was a law firm’s employee-appreciation-gathering in Billings, during the summer of 1984; they had imbibed in South African wines and started throwing people in the swimming pool, at which point I gracefully exited the party-my check in hand.

Exposures to food become etched in our minds, as do certain life experiences, such as the one above.  We must be careful as to what we allow our minds to dwell on, as memories surface.  We can override poorer impressions left on our hearts, through purposeful practice, much like we can train ourselves to banish certain distastes, for ailments that were initially displeasing.  All must be properly tended to with diligence.

In this way, we can habituate our beings to let go of unpleasant, reoccurring thoughts, about either ailments or activities.  Indeed, we are responsible to hush these tendencies to recall negative, experiential occurrences created by either food or life.  Note: perhaps this can only done with the mighty help of God; thus, we ask for his gracious, omnipotent assistance.

Enjoy this simple receipt made with American “yams”-sweet potatoes.  If desired, go to an international market to get true yams and thus experience the accurate taste of this native dish.  For other sweet potato recipes, go to Sweet Potato Pie and Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potatoes-vs-yams
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 304.
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potatoes-vs-yams#section3
  4. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/yam-vs-sweet-potato-which-ones-healthier-and-whats-the-difference/article4102306/
  5. Harold McGee, On Food and History  (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 304
  6. https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potatoes-101/difference-between-yam-and-sweet-potato/

yam slices cooked to a golden brown

African Nykemire (Yams with Mushrooms)  Yields: 6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr,  plus 1 1/4 hr ahead of time for baking yams.  Note: if refrigerating yams baked ahead, bring to room temperature several hours before preparing recipe.

3 med/lg yams, or sweet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lbs  (A 5-lb-bag of organic yams is available for $4.95 at Trader Joe’s, or 3 lbs/$3.95.)

2 tbsp lemon juice  (Organic lemons are only $1.69 for 4-6 lemons-1 lb-at Trader’s.)

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped, including green part  (Organic is only slightly more expensive.)

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced fine  (Organic is important, as peppers absorb pesticides readily.)

10 oz mushrooms  (A 10-oz-package of small, white mushrooms is available at Trader Joe’s for $1.79.)

6 tbsp ghee or butter  (Ghee will give the best health benefits and flavor; for easy recipe, see Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.

  1. wrapping yams so juices don’t spill out

    This step may be done ahead of time.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare yams as follows.

  2. Spray yams with a vegetable spray (for an inexpensive, effective spray, combine 97% white distilled vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit three minutes and rinse well.  Wrap in tin foil, carefully gathering the foil at the top, so all the ends point upward; this insures that the juices don’t spill on your oven (see photo above).
  3. Bake yams for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours; watch carefully so yams are rather soft, but not mushy!  Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Peel and cut cooled yams in 1″-thick slices.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice, set aside.
  6. Chop bell pepper and onions-including green part-into small pieces.  Set aside together in a bowl.
  7. cleaning mushrooms with mushroom brush

    Clean mushrooms, by brushing with a mushroom brush (see photo).

  8. Heat 4 tbsp butter, or better yet ghee, in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Quickly cook mushrooms, after distributing oils evenly throughout; stir frequently and cook just until they are becoming tender.  Remove to a bowl, with a slotted spoon.
  9. Add onions and green pepper to hot liquid, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until limp.  Remove pan from heat.
  10. In another skillet, heat 2 tbsp butter or ghee.  Place yam slices in hot fat, salt and pepper to taste, and cook on both sides, until golden brown (see photo at top of recipe).
  11. Meanwhile, return mushrooms to pan of onions and peppers and add 2 tbsp lemon juice.  Place over medium heat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and heat thoroughly.
  12. Put browned yams on a plate and cover with hot mushroom mixture, see photo at top of entry. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potato pie

sweet potato pie

Sweet potato pie and Christmas go together.  “Ring those Christmas bells; light the Christmas tree!”  This familiar carol burst forth vitally for me first in 1994; then, I had just invited Jesus into my heart.  Incipient, living joy impacted me with this song, in my initial Sunday service, during that month of December.

For decades the Salvation Army has rung those Christmas bells every holiday season; they have invited us always to reach out to the less fortunate.

Last year a dear bell-ringer came into my life; George lite up the Fred Meyer’s grocery store, where I took my daily coffee.  During the holidays, this man reminisced about his mother’s sweet potato pie.  As he formed his words, my heart contrived an extraordinary surprise: I could develop a sweet potato pie for him.

Days later Christmas came alive for me much the same as in 1994: I delivered my newfound creation, this seasonal treat, to my cherished bell-ringer.

My heart leaped with joy, when George returned this year, for once more I got to give my sweet potato pie to him.  May you, too, shower your loved ones this holiday with this blessed recipe!

To learn more about the differences between sweet potatoes and yams go to African Nkyemire.  Also enjoy this tuber in my Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad, 2019/09/05.

  1. dscf0070Sweet Potato Pie  Yields 1-10″ pie.  Total prep time: 3 1/4 hr/  active prep time: 3/4 hr/  baking time: 1 hr (for sweet potatoes the day before) and 1 1/2 hr (for pie the day of).

2 c baked, peeled sweet potatoes, packed down in cup  (You will need 1 1/2 lbs or 2 medium sweet potatoes-note that yams are a variety of sweet potatoes in America.)

1 1/4 c half and half

1 c brown sugar, packed  (Organic is best; available at Trader Joe’s; coconut sugar is also excellent.)

3/4 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)

4 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp vanilla

4 lg eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash sweet potatoes, dry, and pierce with a fork.  Wrap potatoes in foil and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in oven until soft, for about 1 hour, depending on size of potatoes.  Cool.  MAY BE DONE A DAY AHEAD.
  2. Note: if you don’t have a food processor, go to step 5 for doing this by hand.  If using a food processor, place 2 c peeled sweet potatoes in the processor.  Blend well.
  3. Place mashed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and add cream, milk, sugar, salt, spices, and vanilla; blend well with a wire whisk.
  4. Add eggs and beat again; set aside.  Proceed to pie crust.
  5. If doing this by hand, mash well peeled sweet potatoes, with a potato masher or large fork; follow steps 3 and 4.  Set aside when filling is complete.  Proceed to pie crust.

Pie Crust  Yields: 2  pie crusts.  (Note: this recipe requires 3/5’s of these 2 crusts; the rest may be baked into cinnamon sugar strips.)

1 1/4 c unbleached white flour  (Bob’s Red Mill organic is high quality.)

1 c whole wheat pastry flour  (I grind 2/3 c organic soft winter wheat berries, to make 1 c of whole wheat pastry flour.)

1 tsp salt

2/3 c oil  (Grapeseed or canola oil is best.)

1/3 c plus 1 tbsp boiling water

Wax paper  (This makes for a mess-free rolling out of the pie crust.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a fork, blend flours and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix in oil and boiling water until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Form into two balls and cover in plastic wrap.  (One ball should be 3/5’s of the dough; the other smaller ball can be made into cinnamon strips and baked along with the pie.)  Place balls on top of hot oven to keep warm.
  5. Using a rolling-pin, roll out larger ball, between 2-18″ pieces of wax paper. Make a big, slightly oblong circle-12 1/2″ x 15″-with the dough (see above photo).  Peel off top piece of wax paper.  Turn upside down and gently place pie crust over a 10-inch pie plate, with the wax paper side up.  Very carefully peel the wax paper off.  With fingers, seal any cracks in crust and form a rim around the edge of plate with the dough; patch lean areas of the crust with excess from other areas.
  6. Pour the sweet potato puree in the pie crust.  Bake for 1 1/2 hr, or until a knife comes out clean, when inserted in center.
  7. This is good!

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad

 

sprouted quinoa and yam salad

sprouted quinoa and yam salad

Sherry, my beloved friend from Montana, sent me this healthy recipe, which I improved on.  It literally sings in your mouth!

I learned about quinoa from a woman who healed terminal illnesses with food; she was on my sister’s prayer team many years ago.  People from all over the United States were going to Jeanette for her healing ministry with diet; thus, her culinary wisdom became a gold mine for my sister Maureen and me.  Many things that I now recommend originated with her.

We learned that sprouted quinoa was considered the number one power food on planet earth.  Eggs and quinoa are the only foods that have all the amino acids, thus making them a complete protein.

I was a vegetarian for six years in my twenties.  Back then, much of my knowledge for healthy eating came from the marvelous cookbook by Francis Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971).  These recipes utilized balanced combinations of plant foods and dairy; the combining of their differing amino acids complimented each other to make complete proteins.  For instance, its memorable Indian Pudding called for a balance of cornmeal, soy grits, milk, and eggs to form a strong protein; how I relished it hot, with rich vanilla ice cream melting around the edges, and I still do.

I was quite skilled in cooking this way in the 1970’s.  Just prior to moving to Tokyo in the fall of 1981, however, I began eating meat once again.  My father gently reproved me, for waiting until this move to do so, because beef was exorbitantly expensive in Japan, while being relatively cheap in America.  My thinking was that  I needed to be prepared for gracious Oriental hospitality.

Recently I made my friend Sherry’s simple recipe for quinoa and yam salad; nevertheless, I tweaked it.  Its food value is amplified by using what I learned from my sister’s prayer partner, the healer Jeanette.  Here I sprouted this ancient grain from Peru, which increases its food value dramatically.  Also I worked with the colors of the foods (color is real important); I incorporated red raspberries, purple sweet potato, and orange carrots.  Another important recommendation is the use of coconut or avocado oil, which is critical, as olive oil is a carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.

This healthy salad is dynamite!  Make an abundance of it for leftovers.

To learn the differences between sweet potatoes and yams, go to African Nkyemire; for another great recipe using this tuber, go to Sweet Potato Pie, 2016/12/19.

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time 2 days (for sprouting quinoa)/  active prep time: 1 hr.

1 c quinoa, sprouted  (Sprouting directions are below; make 2 days ahead.)

1 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 med yellow onion,  cut in even 1/8-inch slices

1 1/2 c yams, peeled and cut in 5/8-inch cubes  (Organic purple sweet potatoes are ideal; sweet potatoes and yams are just differing names for the same vegetable; they are interchangeable.)

2 med carrots, cut in 5/8-inch cubes

2 stalks celery, cut in 5/8-inch cubes

4 lg garlic cloves, chopped fine  (For easy preparation, may use 2 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s.)

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp Bragg’s Amino Acids  (Available in any health store.)

1 tbsp real maple syrup

3/4 tsp dried cumin

Spinach or lettuce leaves

Fresh raspberries or dried cranberries, for garnish

Agave-roasted nuts  (See recipe in ‘Healthy Green Salads’, 2016/08/15.)

  1. Soak quinoa in ample water for 8 hours; drain well and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing about every 8-12 hours.  The sprouting is complete when legs are at least 1/4 inch long.  (The sprouting may be done in a special sprouting jar, a bowl, or on a tray-if your choice is a tray, use parchment paper both under and on top of the grain.)  Note: this process brings the enzymes alive and increases food value dramatically.  For more details on sprouting see wikihow.com/Sprout-Quinoa
  2. For saving sprouted quinoa, place it in a sealed storage bag or jar, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  Optional: if you are not ready to use the sprouts immediately, you may, with the use of clean parchment paper, spread them on a tray or large plate, to allow excess moisture to dry from sprouts (be sure not to rinse again before you start this drying process).  They should dry in about 12 hours; this aids in long-term storage.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over med/low heat; add onion and caramelize, cook slowly until deep brown in color.  Stir every few minutes until onions begin sticking to bottom of pan and color just starts to turn; then, stir every minute, until dark brown.  For more detail on caramelizing onions, see Caramelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).
  4. In the meantime, spray vegetables with an effective, safe solution (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle); let sit for three minutes; rinse really well.  This kills parasites and cleanses inexpensively.
  5. Rather than peel carrots, scrape them with a sharp knife, to preserve vitamins just under the skin.  Peel yams.  Cut all vegetables into small, 5/8-inch cubes, set aside.
  6. Combine lemon juice, Braggs, maple syrup, and cumin in a large bowl; set aside.
  7. Add vegetables to hot caramelized onions; stir well to distribute oils.   Place 1/4 c water in with vegetables and cook covered, over medium heat,  for about 15 minutes, or until yams are tender, stirring occasionally.
  8. Blend fresh garlic into vegetable mixture; sauté only until you can smell the herb, about 20 seconds (if you are using frozen garlic, cook just until it thaws, stirring well).
  9. Place yam mixture and quinoa in bowl with salad dressing, mix well, chill several hours.
  10. Serve on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach.
  11. Top with fruit and nuts.