Thanksgiving Recipes: Tracy’s Ginger/Lime Yams; Cheese Pumpkins and Carrots



Hazel, Henry, Rose, and a cousin–Thanksgiving 2012

Why am I posting Thanksgiving recipes in June? Because that’s how long it took me to get around to it.

(If you really want to know, I got the yam recipe from Tracy after Thanksgiving of 2010.)

I haven’t tried the yam recipe yet, but I’ve eaten the ones Tracy makes, and they’re by far my favorite way to eat yams (which I usually don’t care for). Unlike the various traditional sweetened yams that use marshmallows or sugar, this is essentially a savory recipe–and it’s very, very good. You should try it.

Tracy’s Ginger/Lime Yams

1/2 stick of butter

2-3 large yams*

one large yellow onion

small hand of ginger

1/4 cup olive oil

dash of salt

one lime

turbanado or brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a glass or porcelain baking dish, almost melt butter in the microwave. Peel and slice yams lengthwise into quarters, and then into 1/4 to 1/8 inch slices; dice or ribbon the onion; and finely dice a small hand of ginger by pulling it apart, scraping off the skin, cutting lengthwise into strips, and slicing across the grain as thinly as possible.  Place all three root vegetables in the butter, and mix in 1/4 cup olive oil and a dash of salt.

The butter and oil combined should just coat the mix, and ideally the pan should be large enough that the yams are only a few layers thick (otherwise, cooking time will increase).  Halve and thoroughly squeeze out the juice of the lime evenly over the yams, followed by a light sprinkling of turbanado or brown sugar, a scarcely visible amount.

Cover pan with foil and bake at least 45 minutes, until the yams are quite tender and the onions are translucent and soft.  The last few minutes of cooking are optionally broiling (no foil) with a fresh sprinkling of sugar.

*Apparently true yams, an African staple, are hardly available here. American grocery stores use “yam” to mean the softer varieties of sweet potato with a reddish peel and orange flesh, which is what this recipe calls for.

Tracy_Hazel_Thanksgiving_2010I thought I had a photo of the yams, but I don’t, but here’s a picture of Tracy with Hazel–who wasn’t feeling very well two-and-a-half years ago, on Thanksgiving of 2010. (Curiously enough, this past week she was similarly sick–she had a fever and would put herself down for long naps every day. I think she’s all better now.)


These pumpkins and carrots were a tradition in my mom’s family. They are a little messy and time-intensive to do. (And the scale is a little funny, with the carrots as big as pumpkins.) But my kids think they’re fun to make, and they do taste good on a cracker.

I lied about having a recipe for them. But this is more-or-less how we make them:

Soften one or two 8 oz packages of cream cheese, and beat the cream cheese in a mixer. (A food processor would also probably work well, if I had one.) Grate a comparable quantity of sharp cheddar cheese, add it, and blend it in. Add seasonings to taste–Dean’s usually in charge of this task, and likes to add things such as onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. He also sometimes adds a little red food coloring for a darker orange color.

When you’re happy with the flavor, put the mixture in the fridge to firm up before shaping. Then roll pumpkins into balls and draw lines on them with a toothpick, and roll cylinders with one pointed end for the carrots. Use fresh parsley for the leaves and stems.



Rose always thinks it’s weird to see photos of herself from before she wore glasses; she thinks she doesn’t look like herself. I just feel sad she lived in a blurry world for so long.

And as long as I’m posting Thanksgiving stuff, here are some pretty leaves we made this past fall, using the instructions and template that you’ll find here.



Rose, Henry, and Hazel performing “We Want Underwear For Christmas,” an original song composed and choreographed by Mabel. Unfortunately, Mabel hasn’t granted a public license for the performance.

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6 Responses to Thanksgiving Recipes: Tracy’s Ginger/Lime Yams; Cheese Pumpkins and Carrots

  1. Betsy says:

    Whoa, I had no idea you made your pumpkins and carrots with cream cheese. We just use straight sharp cheddar.

    • zstitches says:

      How do you get it soft enough to work with? Just grate it and then mix it?

      • Betsy says:

        Nope, no grating. Just cut off a chunk, knead it a little with (very clean) hands, and roll into a ball or cone. Is the cream cheese way the method your mother used? I do wonder how our grandmother did it (if she did at all).

        • zstitches says:

          I really can’t remember if my mom taught me to use cream cheese or if that was our innovation. I guess I’ll have to wait for her to chime in. 🙂

        • Your grandmother did it just like your family does, Betsy. It was already an old tradition in her family before your dad and I were kids. I don’t know where it originated–I wish I’d thought to ask her if she knew! We’d try to put the cheese out so it would be at room temperature before we started. I still do it “straight” too, but vary it sometimes with the cream cheese addition, which started when I had some particularly crumbly Cheddar that just wouldn’t form or mold. I liked the flavor, so I began using cream cheese occasionally, alternatively to Cheddar alone. After shaping them they’re always easier to pick up for eating if they’re refrigerated for a while. It isn’t truly Thanksgiving without them for me. And Zina, that top photo is magazine-worthy. So is Tracy’s fantastic sweet potato dish.

  2. I’m feeling quite nostalgic for the underwear-for-Christmas song. Plus it reminded me of another Thanksgiving or FHE where when my children were young we were going around the circle trying to elicit things each of us was grateful for. Nobody could quite get into a serious mood about it, culminating in a total crack-up when one of the kids (which one?) said he (I’m sure it was one of the boys) was thankful he didn’t have exploding underwear. It became a family meme persisting to this day. Kind of eerie when you think of that terrorist….

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