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The Tale of Mr. Sweet Potato Head

Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009, at 9:24 AM

Mr. Sweet Potato Head looks lovely in this delicious cassarole on the buffet at the Book residence in Cape, where he was enjoyed by all.
The story of Mr. Sweet Potato Head has no great political overtones; it involves no momentous movements of enemy forces, and it features no villains or evil witches. It's just a silly, homespun narrative involving a beloved garden tuber.

The tale began last fall when Paul Corbin brought him into the office of the North Stoddard Countian, and said, "Madeline, could you use this sweet potato?" It was ENORMOUS - easily a foot long and five or six inches in diameter. Maybe not a State Fair prize winning entry, but a sizeable specimen, nontheless. Mr. Corbin said it weighed 5 1/4 pounds.

My first reaction was to decline the offer, since I make a point of not cooking at my house (I happen to be Blimpie's best customer). However, Thanksgiving was coming up, as well as Christmas, so I thought maybe this gigantic garden vegetable might just come in handy to feed the hordes of family who could be dropping in.

In fact, we had big plans for Mr. Sweet Potato Head at Thanksgiving, when my daughter and I went to Springfield to spend the holiday with my sister Kathy.

Mr. Potato sat in the open air on my butcher block table in the kitchen until time for the trip to Southwest Missouri. I loaded him up, put him in the floorboard of my Jeep, and headed off on the four-hour trip west.

Once at my sister's house, I unloaded all my luggage, and I thought I also unloaded Mr. Potato Head.

As we began the meal preparations, there was certainly a sweet potato on the kitchen cabinet. And he certainly did look large. We cut him up and made (if I remember right) candied sweet potatoes. My sister secretly wondered what all the fuss was about Mr. Sweet Potato Head's size. He wasn't THAT big. I also thought to myself, "He certainly is more pale than I expected."

Then, when I went out to my Jeep to go home, there in the back floor board lay the REAL Mr. Sweet Potato Head. We had cooked an IMPOSTER!

The real Mr. Potato Head returned to Southeast Missouri, where he once again took his position at the far end of my butcher block table. He soon became a fixture in my kitchen. We had long conversations about the condition of the world and other weighty topics. He was remarkably perceptive for a root vegetable.

The New Year passed, and we still didn't cook Mr. SPH. Spring came, and still no sweet potato pie....or baked sweet potato. July 4th holiday came, I again went to my sister's house, but Mr. SPH stayed home on his table, just chillin' out.

I think he dispaired of ever becoming a useful part of society, when this year's annual Labor Day Festival cranked up in Southeast Missouri.

"Madeline, what are you bringing to the Labor Day meal at my house?" asked my sister-in-law in Cape. AHA! The steel trap of my mind snapped.

Upon investigation, I discovered Mr. Sweet Potato Head was still in excellent condition. My sister, who had come for the occasion, cut him up in a bowl, and we fixed a sweet potato cassarole. We even made it vegan, so my daughter and her boyfriend could eat it.

Here is the recipe, which is DELICIOUS!


3 cups of sweet potatoes, about 4 (Mr. Potato Head came to at least 6), boiled and mashed (or baked)

1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda)

1/2 cup butter or margerine (We use Smart Balance)

2 eggs, beaten (We used egg replacer)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup milk (We used soy milk)

Mix potato, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Place in a 13.9.2-inch baking dish.


1/3 cup butter or margerine

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup pecans, chopped

Melt butter and mix with brown sugar, flour and pecans until crumbly.

Sprinkle topping over potato mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 6-8.

Then, ENJOY!!!

From the remote hills of Tillman, Missouri, where the hummingbirds are becoming few and far between, this is your rural reporter Madeline, getting ready to enjoy a DAY OFF!!!

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Did you check the date stamped on Mr Potato Head? Surely it had expired. I'm gonna take a trip to Mississippi for some sweet potatoes, they're the best I have found. Cheers.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 12:46 PM

Sounds wonderful! My sister makes a mean sweet potato casserole, too. One year, she and I both took sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving--my sister-in-law brought the same. We were all thankful for the yam that year! (with sweet potatoes to spare!)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 2:35 PM

Today I ate at Ryan's in Cape and helped myself to the baked sweet potato AND the candied sweet potato. You can never have too much sweet potato.

By the way, my 27 year old daughter called me last night to ask about some of the products introduced in the sixties (Oprah was doing a sixties show), and she was shocked that the original Mr. Potato Head toy came with only the attachments. We had to add our own potato! Hahaha! I don't remember when it changed.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 5:58 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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