This week I’m reading Chrystia Freeland’s “Plutocrats” and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness". The first is about the income inequalities between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, and the second is about the history of a multi-million dollar company written by a member of the 1 percent. Thinking about the 1 percent for the past two weeks has made me temporarily forget to be thankful for the things I have.
It has made me question my choices in life. If only I had earned high scores, learned Chinese, gone to Harvard and started my own business right out of college, maybe I‘d be able to fly my whole family out to Cabo for Thanksgiving. Instead I spent my younger years dancing badly at hippie festivals, sewing patchwork hats for all my friends and choosing a college based on how many dreadlocked students were pictured in the brochure. As a result, I currently live paycheck to paycheck and I don’t have any stories that begin with “When I was in the south of France..”.
But I’m in good health. I have a supportive family, super friends, a wonderful boyfriend and I live in one of the greatest cities in the world. My Dad likes to remind me that Neil Sedaka once sang, “I miss the hungry years, the once upon a time, the lovely long ago, we didn't have a dime, those days of me and you, we lost along the way.”
You can’t buy love. You can’t buy a friend (at least not a good one). You can’t put happiness on your Discover card (because nobody takes Discover card). The best things in life are free (except bacon). Here’s an exercise: Ask yourself what your goal in life is. Now ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal. Now ask yourself why again. The final answer is always something along the lines of “because I want to be happy” and happiness is available to all of us, for free, at all times.
So this week, whether you have 23 dollars or 23 billion dollars, be thankful for the time you’ll have with your friends and family, sharing memories, good food and hilarious stories. I’ll leave you with recipes from the Sweet Potato Family Recipe Throwdown my boyfriend and I challenged each other to recently. Share your thoughts, scores, favorite sweet potato recipes and sweet potato stories in the comments below. Happy Thanksgiving!
Mom’s Sugar Crusted Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
4 medium sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/3 cup white or light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1. Fill a large pot with enough cold water to submerge all the potatoes. Add potatoes, cover the pot and place over high heat, cooking for 40 minutes or until a fork slides easily into the fattest part of each potato.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove the potatoes from the pot and rub off the skins under cold running water. Place the potatoes in a foil lined baking pan, topping them with the melted butter and sugar. Roll the potatoes to coat them completely in the butter and sugar. Sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.
3. Bake potatoes uncovered for 1 hour. Serve.
Sissy’s Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4-8 servings
4 large sweet potatoes
1 stick unsalted butter
1 pound light brown sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1. Cut potatoes in large discs, about 4 discs per potato. Steam potatoes in a covered steam basket over a saucepan of boiling water until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the skins and set potatoes aside.
2. Add butter, sugar, water and salt to a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Cook until the mixture is the consistency of honey (this may take 20 minutes or more; keep a close eye on the pan to make sure the liquid doesn’t boil over).
3. Add potatoes to the butter/sugar mixture, folding gently to coat. Cook, continuing to gently turn potatoes, until the liquid becomes the consistency of molasses. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Photos by Alan Foreman