Robert and Cindy Bradley are Licking Valley Rural Electric Co-op members who live and farm on 275 acres in Morgan County not far from the devastation of last spring’s tornado. Like many in eastern Kentucky, they grow tobacco, along with beef cattle and large gardens, because Cindy does “a lot of canning.”
Several years ago, the Bradleys joined the East Kentucky Sweet Potato Growers’ Association to experiment with a crop that could augment their income without requiring expensive startup equipment or lots of labor. Kentucky studies show that farmers can earn up to $7,000 an acre growing sweet potatoes.
This year the Bradleys planted 10,000 sweet potato plants, digging them out in mid-August, a month earlier than usual. Cindy says they’ll probably plant more next year. “They are really easy” to grow.
Shelf stability was an advantage that appealed to transitioning tobacco growers in the sweet potato project. Once sweet potatoes are cured, they can be stored for a while until they are sold, unlike tomatoes or sweet corn.
The Bradleys haven’t experienced the long-storage qualities, however. Cindy says their potatoes sell out in a month or less.
But Cindy holds some back for holiday baking for herself and others. She bakes “cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, anything sweet,” she says. She also makes casseroles, and twice-baked sweet potatoes (mixing the flesh with brown sugar, butter, coconut, and topping with marshmallows).
Her cupcakes are moist and addictive.
Sweet Potato Cupcakes
1 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
2 medium eggs
1 C cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Extra ground cinnamon (for frosting)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes; add eggs one at a time, beating on low after each addition, then add sweet potato and vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until combined. Spoon batter into baking cups. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before frosting. Recipe doubles easily. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick margarine, room temperature
(I prefer Land O’Lakes)
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 C powdered sugar
Cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth, add vanilla and powdered sugar, then mix until smooth. Frost each cupcake and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Holiday Horseradish Dip
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz) sour cream
1 Tbsp mayonnaise (Merideth prefers Duke’s)
2 tsp pure horseradish
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco hot-pepper sauce
Whisk cream cheese. Add sour cream and whisk. Add mayonnaise, horseradish, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Whisk and refrigerate. It’s best if you chill for several hours or overnight for flavors to blend. Makes 2 cups.
Submitted by MARJORIE MERIDETH, “Miss Marge,” Park City, a Warren RECC member, who says, “This dip is delicious for fried mushrooms, zucchini, green tomatoes, and is also great as a complement for Christmas prime rib.”
SARAH FRITSCHNER coordinates Louisville Farm to Table, a program bringing more Kentucky-grown food into local homes, restaurants, and institutions.