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Twice-baked yams with feta and hemp seeds

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In Praise of Leftovers

(Read caption) Twice-baked yams sprinkled with feta and sweetly nutty hemp seeds.

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We just got home from our annual Relax-a-thon with my in-laws in Palm Springs. We had a precious time with them, enjoying being WARM, e-mail-free, and having three generations alive and healthy at the same time. I ate mostly cheese and crackers. 

When we got home and opened the front door, the cold house had that uninhabited smell, and of course, the fridge was empty. Grocery shopping today, all the superfoods looked the best – yams, kale, yogurt, nuts – my body and appetite kicking into post-vacation mode. In a classic Sarah move, I made these yams while the kids cooked up their default Top Ramen. Jade, My best friend in high school, used to make fun of me for this tendency even then – coming home starving and delaying my meal for an hour so I could make what I was craving. No handful of potato chips for me.

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I've felt like a sponge this past month, noticing things, being quiet, feeling less of an need to spread my opinions (don't worry – they're still there!) and more of a need to honor who or what is in front of me. I've been reading a lot about the effect of technology on our relationships. I'm becoming convinced that if we risk in relationship by calling (instead of texting) or dropping by (instead of e-mailing to schedule something 12 weeks in advance), we'll be a lot happier, we'll live longer, and we'll live into the mystery of mutual dependence. It's crazy how our ancestors spent so many years trying to acquire the miracle of hearing one another's voices across the distance and how we're forgetting how to use our voices. Forgetting how to gently ramp-in to a conversation (How are you? I'm calling to ask for a favor) and then to exit (Nice hearing your voice, I have to get going now). All of that is a pain, yes, but it's in the messiness that the good stuff grows. I'm a big fan of texting and e-mailing to schedule things, but if I happen to call you instead, it's not an emergency. I just don't want to lose my voice.

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And it's that in-the-moment-ness that brings me back to the kitchen again and again. I can't phone it in. It's about putting my apron on, emptying that  dishwasher AGAIN, wiping off the cutting board, and taking those minutes just to do one thing – prepare a meal. Three cheers for uni-tasking.

Twice-Baked Yams with Feta and Hemp Seeds
I've joined the hemp seed frenzy. I find them a delicious, nutty addition to lots of things. These yams are subject to so much variation! And so much more interesting than the sweet things we tend to do to yams. They don't need more sweetness.

3 large yams
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
Small handful fresh thyme, finely chopped 
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Lots of salt and pepper 
Hemp seeds and more fresh herbs for sprinkling

1. Poke yams with a fork all over, rub with olive oil, and roast at 350 degrees F., until just done, 40-60 minutes, depending on how big they are. Let cool.

2. Slice in half, spooning out flesh into a bowl, taking care to keep the skins intact. Add all other ingredients except for hemp seeds and extra herbs, mashing with a fork or potato masher until combined and creamy. I like to keep some chunks in mine, but you can mash a lot or a little. Taste, adding more of anything to your liking.

3. Spoon mixture back into skins, top with a little more feta, and bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Broil at the last minute. Take out, top with hemp seeds and herbs.

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Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Chorizo roasted potatoes


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