Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day & Sweet Potato Surprise

Here is a picture of my Mother taken March 5 when we met in Augusta for the birth of the twins. She would probably hate this shot but I love it. She is 84 years old and is in great health. She has always taken care of herself and still works out at the gym several times a week.

Here she is with Daddy, holding one of the twins. They are both looking at the other twin, who is in the process of being waken from sleep, by orders of the lactation nurse, to get a little more practice latching on.

(From Mama's Recipe Collection)

My Mother is a marvelous cook and loves to cook. I loved spending time with her in the kitchen when I was growing up, watching her, and when I got old enough, helping her. She is my inspiration. She still loves trying out new recipes and every time we talk, we talk about what we have been cooking.

We both love getting in the kitchen together to make feasts for family and friends. We love planning the meals, making our shopping list, and going to the grocery store. Bringing in the bags of food is a bit of a chore and the clean up is not fun, but neither of us really minds. She is better at washing china and polishing silver. I am better at scrubbing pans.

When Mama and Daddy were visiting for the week of Thanksgiving, we were watching an episode of Paula Deen. Paula made what she called Sweet Potato Balls and it evoked a memory in Mama. She said her grandmother used to make them and called them Sweet Potato Surprises.

Mama told me of when she was a girl, there would be big Sunday dinners at Granny's house. Granny had 12 children, so you can imagine the crowd once all the spouses and children were included. Mama said Granny had a huge round dining room table but it was not large enough for everyone. First the men would sit down and eat. Then the women would eat. And then finally the children got to eat.

Mama said she always prayed there would be one of those Sweet Potato Surprises left by the time she got to eat. Of course there wasn't, but her own Mother would save half of hers. And she said the only piece of fried chicken she ever got was a back.

Mama decided she wanted some of those Sweet Potato Surprises and here are the ones she made.

Sweet Potato Surprise
(A Paula Deen recipe)


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large marshmallow per potato ball


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.


  1. Love me some Memoma. Both of you are fabulous cooks. Happy Mother's Day!

  2. Lovely tribute to your Mother. I love the old fashion marshmallow casserole and these would be fun to make!

  3. I never really liked the sweet potato, marshmallow, brown sugar thing, but these are so cute. I do love sweet potatoes/yams with savoury things though. I think I'd do it with rosemary and garlic and panko bread crumbs and stuff it with a cube of gruyere. Now that would be a surprise!

  4. I prefer my sweet potatoes/yams on the savoury side. I'd make this with rosemary and garlic and maybe orange peel coated in panko and stuffed with a cube of gruyere. Now that would be a surprise!

  5. Lynn, that would be a surprise. I love savory sweet potato dishes also. I'll have to give your idea a go.

  6. I love the story about her family eating in phases. Today we complain about having to cook for a family of 4; just imagine 40 plus every weekend. Our moms and grandmas really were wonder women.