Lia’s Praline Sweet Potatoes

     “I don’t mean to pry, but what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Alex didn’t know what possessed her to ask, but it was out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
     Lia looked away. She answered without making eye contact. “I’ll just make a small dinner here. My family tried to convince me to come home, but I’m not a huge fan of flying. Trying to do it during the busiest travel week of the year isn’t worth the toll on my psyche.”
     “You’ll come for dinner at my place.” It wasn’t phrased as a question. Alex couldn’t stand the thought of Lia being alone on the holiday.
     “Please don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll be fine.”
     The sharpness in her voice caught Alex off guard. She’d clearly hit a nerve. “I don’t feel sorry for you at all. I’m already having a mishmash of people over. It’ll be casual. And fun.”
     Afraid she was starting to oversell, Alex shut her mouth. She watched Lia mull over the invitation, probably formulating a polite excuse.
     Lia looked her in the eye. “Only if you swear it doesn’t interfere with your plans at all.”
     “The more the merrier. I really do swear. It will be a few people you recognize from the bakery. My sister Meg and her husband will come out from Boston. A new face will liven things up a bit.”
     “Okay. It sounds really nice. Thanks for the invitation. What can I bring?”
     Well, that was easy. Alex mentally patted herself on the back. “Got any Southern specialties up your sleeve?”
     “I do make some mean praline sweet potatoes.”
     “Speak no further.”

Lia shows up to Alex’s with a lot more than sweet potatoes. She’s Southern, after all. She leaves with a lot more than dinner. But that’s another post. Today, we tackle sweet potatoes. This recipe is for a small batch, but is easily doubled. I make them for Thanksgiving, but they’re so good, they don’t really need a reason.

3-4 sweet potatoes
5 T butter, divided
2 T maple whiskey (or 1 T each whiskey and maple syrup)
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pecans
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Prick potatoes with a fork and bake on a foil-lined sheet one hour or until tender. Cool until you can handle them without burning yourself (at least a half hour, up to two hours).

Meanwhile, blend flour, sugar, and 3T butter until crumbly. Add pecans.

Scoop sweet potato flesh into a separate bowl. Whip with remaining butter and maple whiskey until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put sweet potatoes into a shallow baking dish and top with praline topping. (May be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to two days.)

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until topping is brown and crisp and potatoes are heated through. (Will take longer if refrigerated.)

There’s a Pin for That


When I first drafted my author bio, I referenced my love of the South, my longing for a farmhouse (complete with goats), and my mild addiction to Pinterest. Lately, I’ve been so busy writing (and day-jobbing) that I’ve hardly had time for Pinterest, much less goats. I’ve decided this needs to be rectified, stat.

Sure, Pinterest has the potential to create unrealistic expectations of awesomeness. But it’s also full of fun ideas, delicious things, and hot lesbians. (I only discovered the latter recently.)

I also use it for book research. Character ideas, professions, places, rooms, outfits–you name it. It’s a great way to be on Pinterest and tell yourself that you’re “working.”

Do you Pinterest? If you do, I’d love to follow you! Let me know who you are (or follow me and I’ll follow you back).

For Daisy


Daisy was my second foster dog, the first I chose myself and the first I adopted. She was the saddest, most pathetic thing on the Bowling Green, KY SPCA website–a stray whose eyes were practically matted shut when she was brought in. She had intestinal parasites, terrible teeth, and they had no idea if she’d ever been house trained. I had a long talk with the director of Cayuga Dog Rescue, the rescue group I worked with, and accepted that I might be signing up for doggy hospice.


The first night I brought Daisy home, even before I could give her some dinner or a bath, she wandered over to the open basement door and took a head-first tumble down the stairs. I was horrified, but she just picked herself up and trundled along. It was pathetic, but also indomitable in a way.


That sort of set the tone for Daisy. She was a no-nonsense kind of girl, always.

At first she wanted nothing to do with me and wouldn’t even pick up her head. I couldn’t decide if she was dejected or just disinterested. Grooming helped, but she remained aloof and generally put out. I don’t think she had much faith in me.


After getting some teeth pulled and starting thyroid medication, she had more energy. She’d wander to the kitchen to see what I was doing, especially if she thought it might involve treats. Walks to the end of the driveway became strolls around the block. I cried when she wagged her tail the first time. I laughed when she took to rolling around in the grass on warm afternoons.


Whether toppling a trash can or dragging her bed around the house, grudgingly playing with one of the other foster dogs or adamantly refusing to snuggle on the couch with me, she had a get-it-done attitude. In the three and a half years I knew her, not a day went by that she didn’t make me smile. Not in a cute, cuddly way. She was more of a Bea Arthur type. In fact, that was one of her nicknames, along with The Professor, McGruff the Crime Dog, and D-Money. If a dog could be sarcastic, Daisy was.


It was this kind of personality that made it hard for us to admit that she was ready to leave us. Even as she became less mobile and more likely to get stuck behind (or under) furniture, she plodded along. She never did stop eating. She’d house her dinner and, if Oliver was feeling peckish, she’d eat his, too.

But we couldn’t deny that she’d lost her joie de vivre. Watching a video of her tearing around the house after a bath just a few months ago made it evident.

So we said accepted that it was time to say goodbye. She still wasn’t very fond of cuddles, so we expressed our affection with face rubs and a couple of double cheeseburgers. The vet was kind; the whole thing was peaceful and fast. We wrapped her in her favorite blanket and laid her to rest out in the pasture under a beautiful old hickory tree.

Considering the shape she was in when she came to me, Daisy had a remarkably good run, much longer than I thought she’d have. Knowing that helps to balance the sadness.

I think we say this about all our pets, but she really was one of a kind. She’ll be remembered fondly and missed deeply.


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