Poon With Marshmallows

My sainted grandmother used to make a thing that was called sweet potato poon.

It had marshmallows. That’s all I remember about it. That and the year she was NOT DRUNK, NOT DRUNK I TELL YOU and left it under the broiler until the marshmallows caught on fire.

A few years ago, I went looking for a poon recipe. Couldn’t find one. Not online. Not in my Charleston cookbook. Not in my Oklahoma cookbook.

I chalked it up to family tradition, kind of like the Charleston Shorts cookies she made every year, for which there is no recipe on earth.

Wednesday, I was reflecting on my Thanksgiving menu, and out of the clear blue sky, it hit me—maybe she meant pone. I will chalk this inspiration up to Outlander and Charles Frazier. I searched sweet potato pone and bingo—1 million recipes.

I called cousin Lesley and yelled “She meant PONE!” and because we’re family, she knew exactly what I was talking about. Then we conference called all our parents who happen to be staying in one place this week. We had a good laugh about the little ol’ lady from Charleston

“What is pone?” Lesley asked. Good question, especially since the pictures I was looking at online did not look like the poon I remembered. The official definition is unleavened cornbread in the form of flat oval cakes or loaves, originally as prepared with water by North American Indians and cooked in hot ashes.

No mention of marshmallows. Huh.

Thirty seconds after we hung up with our parents, my mom called me back.

“You aunt just went in and turned on the Today show and GUESS WHAT AL ROKER IS MAKING????”



I could hear my grandmother laughing at me all the way from heaven.

PS: My English/Irish/Hawaiian husband cannot hear this word without snickering, thanks to the 70s. Turns out neither could Twitter after Al Roker’s segment, which drove some folks to investigate further and yes, poon is a Southern variation of the word pone.

PPS: I made the poon. I damn near burned the marshmallows. Broilers are a tricky business and it had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPIKED EGGNOG.


I hate the summers Inland California. Hate is a strong word, I know, but I mean it with every fiber of my being. Sometime in early June, the thermometer hits 97 and it doesn’t dip below that number for the next four months. In other places, summer lasts 75-90 days. Here: 120.

Our summer is like winter in Wisconsin or Maine. The kids cannot go outside for days at a time. We usually have at least one round of over 100 degree temps that lasts for more than 14 days. California homes are not built for this. We have no basements and I was dumb enough to make Shea buy the house without a loft. “Why on earth would we need that open empty space?” I asked him.

Short. Sighted.

Don’t even get me started on the Edison bill. Tier 5? Tier 5 is a common occurrence during July and August. At dusk, when it’s cooled down to 90 and we turn the kids loose in the streets, the moms huddle up and compare bills. We have a house fan, which helps us keep our July and August bills under $400. My neighbors either pay upwards of $600 a month or set the thermostat at 82.

The winters usually calm me down, with a few weeks of frosty, heater required weather in December and January. Not this year. This year it never got cold. Which I think explains why, for the first time since we moved here, we are seeing mosquitos and fleas. And ants. The ants are everywhere, assaulting us from the front door and the garage and up from the slab through the middle of the house and back down the staircase.


It was 89 degrees on Halloween, 85 degrees on Thanksgiving and 80 degrees on Christmas. We got a grand total of 4.9 inches of rain. Our average is 7.6 inches. We haven’t hit the average since 2010.

It’s enough to make me want to throw my shoe at any fool who still insists that climate change is a liberal media myth.

Did I mention that I hate to be hot? More than anything? It’s why we got married at the end of November. It’s why we’re moving to Oregon. I picked the town based on the average high temps in July (89) and December (45). That’s blissful compared to the average temps here in July (100, with some days at the end of the month averaging 103) and December (69).

We’re going up there next week to look for a house. Of course, they’re having a heat wave and the temps are going to be in the 100s all week.


To fend off Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder, I count it down.

From July 1 to October 1 is the 90 days of summer, of which we have 79 left.

School starts in 38 days.

Halloween is in 111 days.

Our projected moving date is in 119 days.

Thanksgiving—which this year falls on our tenth wedding anniversary—is in 138 days.

And attention shoppers, there are only 166 days left until Christmas.

Yeah, I went there.

I’m telling you, it’s the only way to stay sane when it’s 103 at noon.




















Suzanne’s Spicy Pumpkin Pie* ~ Jen

We hope that you are feeling calm and ready for tomorrow. We got this. We all got this.

Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours. We are so thankful to count you among our many graces!


*Courtesy of www.simplyrecipes.com

A few years after I conquered cranberry sauce, I decided to take on pumpkin pie. “How hard could it be?” I asked my cousin over a bottle of wine the night before Thanksgiving. Are you sensing the theme here?

My first attempt was to buy the giant can of Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix and a Pepperidge Farms frozen pie crust. I took it to my mom’s house and proudly called it homemade. The truth is that it was bland.

Then I found a recipe that called for canned pumpkin. I added the spices. That was the year I met and got engaged to the World’s Best Pie Crust Maker, so no frozen crust needed. I also decided to make whipped cream myself. We took it to my mom’s and called it “really homemade”. It was not bland. Everyone loved it.

But then I read that most of what’s in those cans of pumpkin is not really pumpkin as we think of it. In fact, Libby, the world’s leading producer of canned pumpkin, uses a variant of a Dickinson pumpkin called a Libby Select. It’s a GMO.

The jury is still fighting with itself on GMOs, but just to be safe, last year I decided to make a pumpkin pie from scratch starting with the dang pumpkin because (say it with me) “How hard can it be?”

Not hard. All you have to do is buy a pumpkin, cut it in half, pull out the seeds and roast it in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the skins are soft. Let it cool, scrap the pulp into your food processor or blender and hit puree. One medium sized pumpkin will give you at least four cups of puree, which is enough to make 2 pies, plus Vitamins A, C, K and E, good carbs and healthy fiber, magnesium, potassium and iron. And antioxidants, those beloved cancer fighters.

Plus, the pulp freezes beautifully (Lesley, that one’s for you!).

Now I make my pies from scratch. I use Suzanne’s recipe because it makes a spicy, tasty pie.

Suzanne’s Old fashioned Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of pumpkin puree

1 ½ cups heavy cream or one 12 oz can of evaporated milk

½ cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs plus the yoke of a third egg

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon of ground cloves

¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1 good crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Mix sugars, salt, spices and lemon zest in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in pumpkin. Stir in cream. Whisk together until well incorporated.

Pour pie into shell and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool on rack for two hours.

Whipped cream: using the whisk on a stand mixer, or a handheld mixer, blend one cup heavy cream, 1-2 tablespoons sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS: Nine years ago today, I made the best decision of my life and married Shea. It was Thanksgiving weekend, it was raining AND it was the Notre Dame-USC game. Folks showed up anyway. It was awesome. Love you honey! Thank you for this wonderful life!

Not Your Mama’s Sauce ~ Jen

Cooking while drinking = blurry pictures...
Cooking while drinking = blurry pictures…

Fires, Family, Football and Food! We love Thanksgiving here at Full of Graces

We’re coming at you lots this week: Cranberries today, swiss beans tomorrow and spicy pumpkin pie on Wednesday. 

When I decided that I could be a scratch cooking diva in the kitchen, cranberries were my first throw down.

“How hard can it be?” I asked my cousin over a bottle of wine the night before Thanksgiving, 1998.

Well, you can buy a can of cranberry sauce—or worse, that jelly stuff—that may have been fresh six months ago. Or you can buy a bag of cranberries, throw them in a pot with a cup of water and a cup of sugar and cook for ten minutes. Viola! Cranberry sauce.

That’s all it takes. To make it more exciting, I recommend you ask someone in the house if they want to taste a raw cranberry. Those shiny red berries are hard to resist. My cousin is still mad about that one.

Since then, I found two go-to cranberry sauce recipes. I make one or both every year, whether we do turkey or ham. And it turns out that cranberries are super healthy and cancer fighting. Bonus!

The first is a cranberry apricot sauce to serve as a side dish:

California Apricot Cranberry Sauce

½ cup dried apricot halves, cut into strips

¾ cup cranberry juice cocktail

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp minced ginger (use fresh for a strong taste, dried for a lighter taste)

Soak apricots in cranberry juice in a saucepan for ten minutes to soften. Add cranberries, sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and cook uncovered for ten minutes until cranberries pop and sauce thickens.

Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 3 hours.

The second is an orange cranberry Dijon mustard to serve as a relish. This is unbelievable on a slice of ham or a turkey leftover sandwich:

Cranberry Mustard

12 oz bag fresh cranberries

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

½ cup orange juice

2 tsp grated orange zest

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Place cranberries, sugar, water, orange juice and zest in saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook until berries pop and sauce thickens.

Remove from heat. Stir in mustard and butter. Cool and serve.

You could even make these tonight or tomorrow and put them in the fridge. They keep!

Holiday Preview


Dana and I have had a heck of a last few weeks. Rough waters. We love the holidays, but this time of year comes with its own set of rules.

Dana may check out for the next six weeks. Or she may not. It’s her first year without her dad and as far as grieving well goes, I’d say she’s doing a bang up job. But that’s a relative statement. Grieving well means that she wakes up waist deep in memories and sadness on a daily basis. So we decided together to change her status from “Active” to “Write as Needed”. Which means that she may show up here once a week, like normal, or she may take a break. She may post on a Sunday, instead of a Friday.  She may just put up pictures of things that make her smile. As needed. If you don’t mind, please keep her family in your thoughts. This first year will be the hardest.

I’ll still be running my mouth, though, because that’s how we do. If you would like to join us, if you have a guest blogger desire in your heart, let us know!

Here’s a taste of what’s coming down the pipeline:

Thanksgiving recipes! Dana and I have some doozies. No canned cranberries, pumpkin pie filling or cream of mushroom soup necessary.

Advent Ideas! Such an important time of year, and we do it BIG.

Our favorite things! We’ve each made a list of things and places that we love and are so excited to share. Alas, not Oprah style, but there’s a dream for the future.

Healthy Home Giveaway! Dana and I are putting together homemade gift baskets this year, with detergent, dryer balls and deodorant. Of course, we’re going to give one away! Maybe more than one, but I have wound so many balls in the last few days that I might coin a new medical term: dryer ball elbow.

And of course, Christmas time favorites: my great Aunt Honora’s sugar cookies with sour cream that sound strange but are so stinking good, and Dana’s Austrian Vanilla Kipferl.

Don’t forget to see Tuesday’s post for a crazy good discount on a wonderful photographer, and have a peaceful weekend!