The Weston A. Price Way

Friday, October 21, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce You - Sweet Potato Biscuits –Eastern Shore, Chincoteague Island, Steamer’s Style!

If you were to research the recipes for Sweet Potato biscuits, that is, after you realize they exist, you would find yourself embarking upon a world of…differences.

The photo to the right is the closest one to what mine look like...Sorry! We had company and mine were all gone before I got a chance to get the photo! If you can imagine a hot-buttered surface, you pretty much have it...I just wanted you to note the thickness and color more than anything.

Well, there are Sweet Potato biscuits then there are Eastern Shore Sweet Potato biscuits, then there are Chincoteague Island Sweet Potato Biscuits, and then, there are what many consider to be the cream of the crop: Steamer’s Sweet Potato Biscuits. No matter which you choose, the internet and Southern cooking arena is full of them.

Having lived on Chincoteague Island not once, but twice, due to my husband's career, I have a fondness for this quaint little island with it's crusty old-timers with hearts of gold. People say they are to themselves, and this may be true. I never experienced that, but then, we went to a church where we were embraced from the beginning...Long before it grew, moved to a larger facility, and then re-built. The same core of folks who loved us at the start loved us in the end. Some have passed on, others have moved, as we have, but never will I forget them. Even as what the islanders termed, 'Come-Here's', we were connected to them in spirit by something much stronger, our love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. The island itself is quiet in the winter and over-crowded in the summer, as it is with so many ocean-side vacation destinations. Surrounded by water, it connects to another island via bridge or boat...Assateague. It was in this land that I first learned of the coveted sweet potato biscuit, and one of my other most favorite goodies, 'Dodie's Cake'.

I don’t make these biscuits that often, but our holidays, and adult kids, call for them. To me, autumn is a holiday. It heralds the arrival of rusty reds and vibrant oranges and yellows…and since sweet potato biscuits are a rustic orange in color, they are perfect for the season. Of course, at Christmas, Easter and all times in-between, I find other excuses to make them. My kids have always loved them, I take them to family and friend functions, and one of our daughters wanted them for her wedding reception, so I obliged. (Picture the Mother-of-the-Bride baking 150 biscuits in a hotel suite’s unfamiliar oven the morning of the wedding!) Anyway, I never, ever make a single batch, so you’ll be getting the recipe that nets about 4 baking sheets of the small-sized biscuits. Mysteriously, these babies never make to the table without at least 10 having ‘vanished into mid-air’ first.

Our favorite sidekicks to Sweet Potato Biscuits are ham. Or honey. Or cream cheese. Ha-ha!...Jam is really good, too. Many slather them in butter. Just as many pop my small versions in their mouths in a single swoop…with nothing but a glass of milk to accompany them. Umm-um! Better than Oreos. The truth is, there isn’t much that isn’t made better with a sweet potato biscuit.

So, here’s my story: I had the Steamer’s Restaurant recipe and have used it for years. Then, when I got the yen to make them this season, and had even posted a bit about them on my Facebook page, it had disappeared. I looked through the internet and discovered the thousands of recipes out there for them. Believe me, I didn’t want to search, but Steamer’s is under new management/ownership and although I could find the biscuits still on their website, I couldn’t find their recipe. I did find one person who claimed hers rivaled Steamer’s, but I took one look at the recipe and knew they wouldn’t come up to standard because they didn’t have one of two things I remembered from my recipe: sugar and butter.

Folks have been toying with the simple recipe for years. Some don’t like the way the original recipes don’t rise much, so they’ve tweaked that. Others have decided to do away with the sugar because it’s sugar. Others have thrown out the butter due to the misguided concept that butter is bad for you. They’ve substituted with falsified fats like Crisco. (Oh, Heavens, I hope if you’re a Weston A. Price-friendly person, you have cleared your cupboard of that enemy to humankind.) Still others have eliminated the fat altogether. Now, come on, the simplest minds know that flavor is carried on the wings of fat! Unfortunately, some of the most intelligent of minds are fooled by the ban on saturated fats, like butter, lard, tallow (suet), and coconut oil. Understand that the big push for fake and highly processed fats comes with a bottom line: Money. Although it seems to be putting funds into your pocket, it’s really putting them, hugely, into the manufacturer’s pockets…And later, the consumer pays dearly in health consequences. See more about fats HERE. And HERE. Or HERE. Or get it right from the ‘horse’s mouth’ at the Weston A. Price website.

I did finally find one simple recipe that seems to have all the same ingredients as the original recipe. I do believe it calls for a little more sugar and I think this could be decreased by a quarter cup. I didn’t do this here, but I wouldn’t be afraid to now that I’ve tasted these. The end consensus in my family, however, is that these are even better than those made in the past. If you want to make them exactly as mine, you will need to use my recipe for Homemade, WAPF-Friendly Baking Mix instead of a processed mix made with compromised ingredients. If you’ve been keeping up, I’m hoping that’s in your freezer ready to go now. If not, you may want to tackle that one day and the biscuits another…just to keep things a little more manageable.

Because this post is rather long, I am going to put baking tips and the recipe in the following post, which you may access now.

See you in the next post!

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