Over the last few years, my kids and I have dabbled in gardening. This season started on a nearly catastrophic note when severe thunderstorm winds launched our seed starter box off the patio table and into the air, sprinkling our seedlings across our patio. These events rendered my hand-drawn diagram completely useless, and forced us to plant our seedlings in a completely random layout. We dubbed it the Garden of Mysteries.
Oh, well. All’s well that ends well. We soon had cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of herbs popping up everywhere. Some gardening highlights include making our first batch of real homemade tomato sauce, as well as some hot pepper relish from our cute little cayenne peppers. What we grew most obsessed about as the gardening season progressed were the sweet potatoes, even though my kids won’t eat them. I, myself, have been really enjoying eating sweet potatoes for lunch with just a some butter and cinnamon. Yum!
The kids have no interest sharing a sweet potato lunch with me, but their curiosity grew as we tended to the garden. This was due to the very quickly growing vines and the large mound that became the focal point of the garden, commanding any onlooker’s attention. We could hardly stand the anticipation, and dug into the soil when the leaves first began to yellow, a tell-tale sign the potatoes were ready to harvest.
We placed our bets on how many sweet potatoes we would find, and after taking turns loosening the soil, we finally pulled out this:
Now, I’m not sure whether it was something we did, or whether our garden was situated over an old meteor crash site that contaminated our backyard soil with alien matter. Whatever the case, this was the most freakish looking vegetable that I’ve ever seen! Not in the slightest does did it resemble the sweet potatoes that I had grown to love.
We brought them inside and set them on the counter, where they sat, untouched, for almost two weeks. It became a conversation piece, not to mention the butt of many bad jokes. We even debated the winner of a hypothetical Alien Sweet Potato versus Swamp Thing match.
The day finally came where my wife gave me an ultimatum (it’s me or the potato), and since I couldn’t work up the nerve to prepare them in my normal manner, I decided to try making something special and fun for the kids – sweet potato chips! One nice thing about the strange shape of these potatoes was that were perfect for slicing into small chips. I tossed them in olive oil with some salt and rosemary and baked them until lightly browned. Everyone, even the kids, enjoyed the sweet potato chips.
In the end, what started as the stuff garden nightmares are made of became a culinary miracle. The question is, can we recreate the same gardening magic next year?