Okay, okay, I lied about the snow in Hawaii...but the kids were pretending that this popcorn was snow! We got our Christmas tree today, which, by the way, is the most gorgeous noble fir I have ever seen. Usually they're a little on the sparse side, but this one is so incredibly full that I get giddy just looking at it. I'm not kidding. It looks like a fake tree it's so perfect.
But fake trees don't have the intoxicantingly pungent evergreen fragrance that now graces the air in our house. I walk around taking deep breaths like I'm huffing or something. :-) Don't make fun of me - I grew up in Oregon, land of evergreen trees and the capital of Christmas tree farms (our tree this year is from, you guessed it...Oregon). Every whiff of that sharp, sweet scent of noble fir brings a million memories rushing back of my childhood days....
But I digress. Since our things are being packed up mid-month, I'm not decorating our tree with our usual array of handmade ornaments and fancy store-bought ones. I keep having to force myself not to decorate for Christmas, but it's really, really hard not to. Especially now that I actually have a blog to post pretty pictures of all the decorations I've made through the years! I have a few photos of previous years, I think I'll have to sneak those in.
We are going to decorate our tree this year with edible or paper ornaments and decorations, so I thought I'd get the kids to help me make some popcorn strings like my family did every year when I was little. As you can see by the pics, my kids are still a little too young. Hazel made a concerted effort to make sure that every piece of popcorn was thrown/spilled onto the floor (note empty bowl at her side), and Eliza played vacuum cleaner instead of threading popcorn (see first photo above). Hyrum did his best for the first foot or two of his string, then he thought it was very funny to crush the popcorn already on his string until it fell off.
When Hazel decided she wanted to spread her carpet of popcorn all over our house (is she being contrary because the poor kid is still sick with a nasty virus, or is she just being a toddler?), and after Eliza tired of being a vaccuum cleaner, I got the broom out and swept up all of our "snow". Our tree sure looks great with our 2-foot-long popcorn garland, I can assure you!
...and now for that Yam recipe I promised you (the one I make every Thanksgiving and Christmas):
6 or 7 whole yams (the kind with orange flesh)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar, PLUS 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk (or a little more if mixture looks too thick for your taste - keep in mind that it will set up after cooking a bit due to the eggs)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon, plus optional dashes of nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, ground ginger, etc. The usual spices in autumn food...add as desired in quantities you prefer
2 tsp vanilla
Okay; now for the directions. Simmer (with lid on pot) whole yams, skin on and with water covering all the yams, until they are extremely soft and tender and skins are falling off. Drain; let cool for awhile until you can handle them. Slip skins off, then mash with electric mixer or KitchenAid. I use the wire attachment that is intended to whip cream or merengue, as it catches a lot of the fibrous strings that are in the yams. When those strings build up on your paddle/wire attachment, don't scrape back into the mashed yams! Discard the stringy fibers.
Add all the above ingredients to the hot mashed yams, then put into LARGE casserole dish. Now for the crust (I'm a girl who likes a lot of topping, but if you don't you can reduce these amounts):
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chopped pecans
Mix all topping ingredients (using one's hands works best) in large bowl, then sprinkle onto yam mixture. Don't press down crust ingredients too hard - it's better if it's crumbly. Bake at 375 for 30 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. If the crust starts getting too dark (like mine did in the photo of my previous post) place a piece of foil loosely over top of dish until the yams get heated thoroughly and the eggs have a chance to finish working their magic.
There you have it! Dessert masquerading as a vegetable. Perfect.
ps This recipe produces a dish big enough for a huge crowd; you can reduce it by half and still feed at least 6 to 10 people....but then there wouldn't be any leftovers, would there? Enjoy!