Yamboree's the Place to Beby Lori Grossman
If you're a yam fan, then clear your calendar for October 18-21, 2006. The 69th annual Yamboree is the place to be.
Gilmer, Texas has hosted the East Texas Yamboree since 1935, only skipping two years during World War II. The population of this Northeast Texas town (normally around 34,000) swells to include nearly 100,000 festival-goers each year. Word has spread far and wide so far that cable's Food Network featured the Yamboree on its program All American Festivals.
By the way, the Yam Pie contest rules state that the contest is "for plain yam pies only. The pie should have little or no spice, and no extra ingredients . . . The pie is judged on the taste of the potato." That should be some competition.
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Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes
Yam & Ham Casserole
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart round baking dish; set aside.
Peel the sweet potatoes, removing the thin layer of flesh directly beneath the skin to reveal the bright orange flesh. Slice the sweet potatoes 3/4 inch thick (about 4 cups sliced sweet potatoes).
Arrange half of the sweet potatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Distribute the ham evenly over the sweet potatoes; then scatter the apples evenly over the ham. Arrange the remaining sweet potatoes over the apples; sprinkle with salt and paprika. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, stir brown sugar and bourbon to combine. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the ingredients in the baking dish. Dot with butter.
Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Baste; then bake, uncovered, for an additional 25 minutes. Baste again and serve. Serves 6.
Yummy Yam Balls
Peel the sweet potatoes to reveal the bright orange flesh, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
With your hands, roll the sweet potato mixture around each marshmallow, making 10 balls, each about 2-1/4 inches in diameter. Place them side by side, but not touching, in the prepared baking dish. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add the corn syrup and brown sugar; stir to combine. Cook over low heat only until the mixture is smooth and blended, stirring constantly.
Pour the corn syrup mixture evenly over the yam balls and sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Serves 10.
Kickin' Yam Muffins
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the coffee, melted butter, Tabasco sauce, and sweet potatoes. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened.
Spoon batter into the prepared ramekins or muffin pan, filling cups two-thirds full. Baking may have to be done in batches. If using ramekins, arrange in a circle. Microwave on High for 4 to 5-1/2 minutes, rotating pan or rearranging ramekins halfway through cooking time. A toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin should come out clean and dry. Let stand for 5 minutes. These are best served warm.
Gilmer is located in Upshur County not far from Longview and Tyler among the beautiful pine-covered hills and lakes of Northeast Texas. To be a bit more precise, Gilmer is 120 miles east of Dallas, 225 miles north of Houston, and 80 miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. And here's a bit of trivia for 70's music buffs: Gilmer is the hometown of former Eagles drummer/singer/songwriter Don Henley.
You'll find more information at www.yamboree.com.
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