My recent trip to Devine was great, as was my trip home. In fact, the weather was wonderful until Wednesday evening when the storm hit. Before that happened, we were called and told that a transformer was out and we couldn’t use the space we usually use for bunco! Well, we tried to find someone who could have our bunco at their home and came up empty there also, so it was time to cancel. Of course, by this time the storm was in full force, and after getting drenched when we went to take the baby to meet her mother, I think that truthfully, we were glad it had to be cancelled! We would have never made it trying to unload food with the downpour that was going on. We were planning to serve baked potatoes with all the trimmings…well, we shared with the neighbors, ate some ourselves for our supper, I brought a couple home with me and on Thursday shared mine with my sister, we had one for lunch, and by the time we shared with yet another family, it was down to only four for my daughter and her husband to eat! They were really great baking potatoes and were just perfect with all the trimmings we had.
By the time y’all are reading this, most likely, if all goes according to plan, I will be in Galveston visiting and getting acquainted with my two great grandsons who have just recently moved back to the United States with their parents after being born in New Zealand. They were 1½ and six months of age when they were in Texas in 2016, just in time for my granddaughter’s wedding. The family has been back in the states for several months and they are living in Pennsylvania. Since they had moved just before Christmas, we didn’t get to be with them, but now I am truly looking forward to getting to know them.
Ever since I first saw the vegetable called “Jack Fruit” as I wandered through the produce section of a grocery store, it has made me curious as to what other unusual or different varieties of fruits and vegetables I might find. The first was yucca root, but the information available was too difficult to wade through for a column and I had already done a column on the yucca plant. Since then, there hasn’t been anything that caught my attention until recently when I was in an HEB and there was a vegetable called “Boniato”. This looked interesting however, I’m not sure if it was in Lytle or Victoria, my thought is that since the “Jack Fruit” was in Lytle that is where I probably found them.
The first time I checked online for information there didn’t seem to be very much, mainly stating that it was a potato that was similar to both a sweet potato and a regular potato. This time, I got a little more information, however, if you want recipes, you will have to go to Google and check for yourself, as my computer did not allow me to complete my search.
The boniato is a tuber, as are all potatoes. It is a grayish color with a slightly pink tint. They are not as sweet as other sweet potatoes, but they are very popular in the Caribbean Islands and they seem to be a cross between white potatoes and the sweet potatoes we are familiar with. They seem to predate the time Europeans arrived in the Islands, meaning it is not a food introduced by explorers or slaves, but is native to the Western Hemisphere. Loosely translated, from Spanish, it means “harmless”. The Spanish explorers found many poisonous native plants when they arrived in the islands and this name meant that they could be safely eaten.
The boniato is also known as Cuban sweet potatoes, batatas, white yams and several more names. But, in spite of this, they are not yams. They belong to a completely different genus, Ipomoea batatas.
They are slightly fragile and they bruise easily so must be handled carefully, but they can be used in just about any recipe that is meant for sweet potatoes. In the islands, it is paired with pork as well as with a wide variety of vegetables, including eggplant and arugula. According to the article I found, it can be used as an ingredient in soups and stews and even desserts, as well as sprinkled on pizza or tacos. The main recipe that I found was cooking it and making mashed potatoes with onions.
Florida seems to be the place that produces a bumper crop, growing approximately 5,000 acres of the tuber, and it is very popular there, However Asia lays claim to the greatest production of boniatos, providing about 90 percent of what is grown in the world.
They need to be stored in a cool dry place, as you would other potatoes, however, they do not keep as well as the other potatoes do and need to be used more quickly.
They are rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and many antioxidants, and are also high in fiber.
Meat and Potato Bake
4 or 5 regular cut pork chops
5 or 6 sliced and peeled (medium size) potatoes
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup (I think cream of onion would be good in this)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Spray a 9X13 baking pan or dish with non-stick spray. Layer sliced potatoes on the bottom, overlapping if necessary. Add the seasonings and cover with the soup, right out of the can, do not dilute. Add the pork chops and sprinkle with seasonings; cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until potatoes and meat are done.
The following recipe has nothing to do with potatoes, however, it sounded truly delicious.
Magic Layered Bars
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
½ cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-oz)
1 cup flaked coconut
¾ cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup golden raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (peanuts or pecans)
Preheat oven to 350ºf. Pour melted butter into a 9×13 baking pan or baking dish; tilt pan to coat bottom evenly. Sprinkle the crushed graham crackers evenly over the melted butter; sprinkle with the oatmeal and then drizzle this with the condensed milk. Sprinkle with the coconut, chocolate bits and raisins and top with the nuts.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned; cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes; cut into bars and cool completely. Makes 36 bars.