KW Homestead

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Tag: sweet potatoes

Farm Food Friday: Gluten, Flour, & Sugar Free Breakfast Pancakes

I usually skip the simpler carbohydrates if I can, like rice and flour, but that doesn’t make me any less hungry…

After some trial and error, Jason created a fantastic and simple pancake recipe, loaded with calories but low in sugar! What a great and filling breakfast! Plus, it’s fantastic with one of my very favorite foods: grass fed butter.

It’s so simple, you’ll be surprised! You can make these into classic pancakes, or you can take the easy route and bake the batter in the oven as a thicker cake. I enjoy the texture of the baked pancakes better.


  • 6 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 12 duck eggs (or chicken eggs, if you prefer)
  • 1 banana (a browner one is preferable)
  • Powdered ginger
  • Powdered cinnamon
  • Salt



  • Large mixing bowl
  • Potato masher
  • Whisk
  • Mixing spoon
  • 8×11″ oven pan


  • Wash sweet potatoes
  • Bake whole sweet potatoes in the oven on 350 until soft
  • Once cool, peel sweet potatoes and place in the large mixing bowl
  • Peel banana and place with potatoes
  • Mash potatoes and banana until moderately smooth
  • Add 1/3 of eggs and mash/stir together until mixed evenly. Add second and third 1/3 of eggs when previous eggs are mixed in properly and do the same
  • Add a pinch of salt and ginger
  • Add a pinch (or more, if desired) of cinnamon
  • Mix thoroughly with whisk, spoon, and masher, attempting to make the mixture as smooth as possible.
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease 8×11″ pan and pour in mixture
  • Smooth the top of the mixture
  • Bake on 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife can be removed cleanly from cake
  • Enjoy!




Sweet Potato Harvest 2014

Today was a great day to harvest sweet potatoes. The slips we planted months ago have done okay in the garden and it was time to dig them up and see how they made.

geese  sweet potatoes

The goose troop making sure I didn’t miss any sweet potatoes

In preparation for our first frost the other night we cut off the tops off of the sweet potato plants because frost damage enters the tubers from the vine part, and by cutting off the top and leaving the potatoes in the warm ground, we can delay the harvest a few days until it’s more convenient.To add a little bit of extra protection, I covered the sweet potato beds with old bed sheets to keep in a little extra warmth. It definitely worked, and there are no signs of any frost damage.

covering sweet potatoes

cutting the vines off and then covering with a bed sheet can give you a few extra days to harvest your sweet potatoes

We planted 3 different varieties; 1 red porto rican sweet potato (I know, it should be Puerto Rican, but that’s what they call it), 1 yellow porto rican, and 1 korean purple. The porto ricans we grew last year with great success, and the purples were started from tubers from Super G, and international grocery store in Greensboro. They were planted in 4 different locations in the garden. About 1/4 went into one of our new hugelkulture beds, where they were inter-planted with sorghum and cowpeas as a southern style 3 sisters garden. These did the best.

sweet potato varieties

red porto rican, yellow porto rican, and korean purple sweet potatoes

Overall, the yields were not as great as last year, but still okay. We planted them much later than last year, and the fertility in many of the plots were on the low side. Still, we should have plenty of sweet potatoes to last us through the winter and into next year. This means plenty of sweet potato ginger soup! Yes!!

Sweet Potato Slips: The Start of Something Great

Last year’s sweet potato crop was a great one. We are still eating them to this day, and have a few dozen more to go through. This will probably coincide nicely with the first round of early potatoes from the garden, which is exciting because that means we have not had to buy any sort of potato or root tuber since we harvested our potatoes last September, and our sweet potatoes last November. This is definitely one area where even a small homestead can achieve self sufficiency.

jason, placing freshly dug sweet potatoes in a box

Some of last years harvest

In that regard, I tend to favor sweet potatoes as a self reliance crop. They store better, are healthier, are more adapted to our humid summers, are more tolerant of drought and pests, and they are easier to propagate. To start a new crop of sweet potatoes, you must produce slips, small green shoots that sprout from the tubers. These shoots are then pinched, cut, or slipped off and transplanted into the garden. 1 small tuber can produce over 1 dozen slips, and will do so readily in many conditions. Compare this to Irish potatoes, where you plant seed potatoes. These are small potatoes, or chunks of larger potatoes with at least 1 eye. These must be stored from last year’s harvest, and we have found it much easier to store sweet potatoes, which seem to only get better with age, than Irish potatoes, which want to shrivel up and grow numerous long, creepy, eyes.

sweet potato slips in tires

a tire makes a nice place to start some sweet potato slips

Last year, Emma’s father got some sweet potatoes from a local farmer, and started the slips for us. This year, we tried a few different methods on our own and are now overrun with sweet potato slips ready to be transplanted. Some of our slips were started from tubers planted horizontally in tires filled with garden soil. The black tires absorb the heat from the sun, and stimulate slip production and growth. These slips are nice because they are already partially hardened off to the outside world, and are growing roots from the parts of the shoots that are under soil.

mason jar sweet potato slips

The shoots growing out of the tubers are the the slips.

We also started some slips in mason jars. We picked small tubers for these and jammed them together in the jars making sure that about half of the tubers were over the top of the jar. A few toothpicks helps to keep everything in place. We then filled the jars with water and placed them in a sunny window. By keeping the jars inside, the temperature never got too cold and was often in the 70-80 degree range that triggers slip production. Slips began to form in about a week, and when they were 5-8 inches long, we separated them from the tuber by pinching, nipping, or cutting it off at the base, and then put them in water to produce roots.

sweet potato slips

Store the slips in water before transplanting so that they start to grow roots.

These slips, along with some given to us by Emma’s dad, will be transplanted soon. Some will go into the new hugelkulture woody beds we are in the process of making, some will go into other beds in the garden, and I want to experiment with some as a ground cover around the fruit trees in our new food forest. I know that this is often done in the tropics and sub-tropics where sweet potatoes are perennial, so I don’t think its too far of a stretch to try it in our temperate climate as an annual herbaceous support species. Either way, we hope that this year’s will match last year’s sweet potato harvest, and we look forward to dining on sweet potato ginger soup, sweet potato fries and hashbrowns, as well as roasting and adding them to hearty stews. Mmmm….

Venison Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Scapes

Tonight we ate dinner out on the porch and watched the fireflies. We ate a version of our savory venison stew, but this time I added a bunch of our freshly cut garlic scapes, and a couple of sweet potatoes from last year’s garden.

venison and sweet potato stew

Venison stew with sweet potatoes and garlic scapes

It was dark out when I took the picture, and we ended up eating out of plastic tuppeware to save on dish use, but it tasted great. The garlic scapes added a great flavor to the broth, and the sweet potatoes were delicious with the tender venison roast. A green pepper, white onion, a healthy splash of red wine, beef broth, and some sage and oregano rounded out the soup, and made for a great meal out in the cool Stokes County air. Yummm!!

farm food friday: roasted sweet potatoes, raw spinach, pecans, and parmesan

jason and i gave my dear friend, georgia, some of our sweet potatoes and she created a delicious recipe from our crop:

she roasted the diced sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil and pink himalayan rock salt on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. then she tossed them with raw spinach, pecans, and fresh grated parmesan.

georgia's meal was well-plated as well as yummy. this is not surprising considering the great artist that she is!

georgia’s meal was well-plated as well as yummy. this is not surprising considering the great artist that she is!

delicious! i believe we’ll have to try that ourselves!



farm food friday: sweet potato ginger soup recipe

this is to be the first of many posts detailing farm fresh recipes with homegrown ingredients!

let’s start with a recipe that suits the cold weather well… perfect for a snow day or gelid temperatures. It also makes use of our abundant sweet potato harvest.

snow day on the farm!

snow day on the farm!

a few days ago, when i had a snow day off from school, i made a triple batch of my sweet potato ginger soup. i made this much because jason’s family is coming to visit soon and my dear friend, who has a marvelous photography and portraiture business in north carolina, is about to have a baby. i wanted to be sure that she had a little bit of easy-to-reheat and nutritious food on hand after the baby comes!

the sweet potatoes i used when making my triple batch

the sweet potatoes i used when making my triple batch

here are the ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (raw, peeled, cut into 1″ chunks)
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • sugar
  • 8 garlic cloves (or even a few more!)
  • garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
  • cayenne pepper
  • 64 oz. chicken broth
  • salt, pepper
  • a food processor or blender

some things to have prepared first:

  • peel and chop up the potatoes (they take a bit of time) and onions
  • set out your food processor/blender
peeling sweet potatoes

peeling sweet potatoes

diced sweet potatoes

diced sweet potatoes







and the directions:

  • heat olive oil in a large pot (don’t skimp on the olive oil, but you can add more later if needed). put in the diced sweet potatoes and onions and cook them on medium for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
sauteing the diced potatoes and onions

sauteing the diced potatoes and onions

  • add thickly sliced garlic cloves. let these ingredients cook for 10-30 minutes on medium (continue to stir frequently), until the potatoes begin to brown and become mushy around the edges.
add garlic cloves to the pot

add garlic cloves to the pot

  • lower the heat and add just a pinch of sugar and all of the butter. allow this to cook at least 10 minutes longer. continue to stir frequently. grate your ginger during this time.
i use a simple, handheld grater for my ginger

i use a simple, handheld grater for my ginger

  • add the ginger, as much cayenne pepper as you like, salt, and pepper. stir and saute for 1 minute, until the ginger becomes fragrant!
  • add 1/3 of the chicken broth. cut back up to medium and simmer for 20+ minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
add chicken broth and continue to simmer

add chicken broth and continue to simmer

  • mash the mix while it cooks and add another 1/3 of the chicken broth. add a bit more garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper (if desired).
mashing the soup!

mashing the soup!

  • once most potatoes and pieces of potatoes are cooked through, cut off the eye of your stove and let the soup cool off sufficiently before placing portions of it in your food processor/blender. i use a cuisinart food processor and it does a great job pureeing the soup. we are hoping to get an immersion blender sometime this summer, though!
  • blend the soup in installments, placing the pureed servings in a separate container. once the soup is all pureed, add it back to the pot and reheat on a medium temperature.
freshly pureed, waiting in a separate container

freshly pureed soup, waiting in a separate container

  • add some or all of the remaining 1/3 of the chicken broth (this depends on how thick you want your final product to be).
  • add more of the spices, if desired.
the finished product. delicious!

the finished product. delicious!

  • serve and eat. yum!

note: i always think it is an excellent idea to make extra and freeze some for a future date. soup reheats so well, after all!


sweet potatoes: jewels of the soil

we have been eating so many of our sweet potatoes this winter, both baked as warm, delicious snacks, or made into my delicious sweet potato ginger soup.

this fall, we had a sweet potato yield of about 12o pounds. this is more than we expected since, frankly, we didn’t really know what to expect because this was our first time growing them.

the recommended planting dates for sweet potatoes in our region are may 15-june 15 and our plants went in the ground on june 11, 2013. the 100+ plants were given to us by my father, and jason planted them 3-6″ deep in two of our raised beds. each plant was 12″ apart within rows, and 36-42″ apart between rows.

the first harvest day: halfway harvested and halfway to go

the first harvest day: halfway harvested and halfway to go

within a few months, the vines went crazy and flourished. we had a small issue with a groundhog who was trying to munch on the vines, but jason dealt with that effectively.

since the average number of days until maturity for sweet potatoes is 105-135 days, we decided to wait until the later end of that spectrum, hoping for larger potatoes. i harvested the first half of the sweet potatoes in mid-october and jason and i harvested the other half together at the very end of october.

jason, placing freshly dug sweet potatoes in a box

jason, placing freshly dug sweet potatoes in a box

since the first frost of fall was on october 22, we cut all of the sweet potato vines off at the ground the night before to make sure that the frost wouldn’t run into the ground and damage the potatoes. this meant that the potatoes sat in the ground for about a week without their vines, which is not a cause for alarm. still, the sooner you harvest the potatoes after cutting off their vines, the better.

i harvested the first half on a harvest day, according to blum’s farmer’s and planter’s almanac. i also encountered a black widow while i dug up the vines, and learned later that black widows love sweet potato vines more than many other hiding spots. be aware while digging up your potatoes of all kinds!

the first harvest: a bushel of potatoes waiting to be cleaned and sorted

the first harvest: potatoes waiting to be cleaned and sorted

neither day that we harvested was sunny, so we did not leave them outside in the sun to cure. instead, we wiped as much dirt off of them as possible, sorted them by size (keeping the tiny potatoes for bolt to eat as treats), and stored them in our guest bedroom/farm room.

sweet potatoes sorted into crates

sweet potatoes sorted into crates

our harvest, stored in the farm room

our harvest, stored in the farm room







we’ve stacked them in multi-tiered, open-air crates to help with the curing and drying process. currently, 3 months later, most of the potatoes continue to store well and we intentionally choose the iffy ones to use first when cooking and baking.

we are proud of our first sweet potato crop and in 2014 we plan to plant even more sweet potato plants than last year! this year, when may comes, we’ll be ready to get those plants in the ground even earlier!


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