It’s technically cozy weather season, even though it doesn’t feel like it yet in south Louisiana. Honestly, I haven’t whined this much about the heat and humidity since that summer the air conditioning broke in my station wagon.

I am ready for cozy, hearty meals like lima beans and ham with a side of candied sweet potatoes. I'll just crank the air conditioner down in the house before I fire up the stove.

The farmers market had some lovely sweet potatoes last week, so, of course, I thought I’d give making candied sweet potatoes a whirl. It was pretty easy, and they taste delicious.

When I was a kid growing up in north Louisiana, we made lima beans and ham with large lima beans. It’s nearly impossible to resist the comfort of those big creamy beans simmered low and slow with sweet, salty pork.

Speaking of beans, I heard from a few readers who had trouble with the red beans recipe I shared a few weeks ago. I tested the recipe with 7 cups total cups of liquid. I found that was way too much liquid and ladled about two cups out of the pot, and it still seemed a bit soupy to me. I adjusted the recipe but underestimated it from the feedback. My recommendation is to make sure your beans are covered with broth by an inch, you can always remove some liquid later. Many thanks to the readers who emailed me to work out the problem. We’ll adjust the recipe online.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Makes 4 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

1½-2 pounds sweet potatoes

½ cup butter

½ cup cane syrup

½ cup brown sugar

⅓ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.

2. Peel sweet potatoes and slice about ½-inch thick. Place the slices in the prepared baking dish.

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter with cane syrup and sugar just until sugar dissolves. Do not allow to boil.

4. Remove the sauce from heat. Whisk in salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla.

5. Pour over sliced sweet potatoes.

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6. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Serve immediately.

Lima Beans with Smoked Ham

Makes 6 servings. Recipe is by Teresa Day.

1 pound large lima beans

6 cups chicken or pork broth

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat

1 pound smoked ham, cut in cubes

1 ham hock with fat and bone intact

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Cajun seasoning blend to taste

2 to 4 cups water as needed during cooking

1. Rinse and remove any damaged beans. In a large stockpot, bring beans and broth to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes.

2. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in bacon fat until onions are soft. Add to pot with the beans.

3. Add smoked ham and ham hock to the beans.

4. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy, stirring occasionally.

5. If beans run out of liquid, add a cup of water at a time as needed to keep the beans from drying out or burning on the bottom.

6. Serve hot alone or over rice.


Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at ieatbrla@gmail.com.