Harvest wraps up in October, and it is sad to see gardens covered over for the year. There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the bounties of the year, marked by food, with family and friends. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, delicious treats are ever present through Christmas, all the way to the New Year.
Sam and Heidi Heikes are no strangers to agriculture. Sam’s family have been farming in southeast South Dakota since before the state joined the union, raising a variety of crops and livestock. Heikes began his own career in agriculture, spending 35 years as a production agronomist. In 2010 Sam and his family returned to the land that has held their name in Vermillion since 1946.
Heikes Family Farm has been offering produce to patrons since 2012. Sam says the concept of ‘Buy Fresh Buy Local’ is their business model and stays connected to customers by using a Community Supported Agriculture model. “Growers and consumers provide the mutual support to help the farm succeed, while also sharing in the risks and benefits that result from food production.”
Customer interaction occurs in a variety of ways. Folks head out to the farm on the north side of town along highway 50 to pick up their weekly shares. Ideas regarding how to prepare particular items are free flowing. Sam and Heidi share updates and recipes on their website and are eager to learn from customers.
That connection is reward for the hard work of growing food. When asked what he enjoys the best, Sam Heikes responds, “Seeing all the different produce that we can grow, and seeing happy customers.”
Sam and Heidi enjoy incorporating a variety of their crops into meals at home, asparagus is one ingredient that they like the best. Working on a farm requires a lot of hard work and dedication, still the Heikes family find time to cook as much as they grow, “Yes we enjoy trying new and different recipes with all of our produce.”
Over the winter, producers are able to take a breath and enjoy a small break from their work in fields. “Now is our time, we take a break and reflect on the last year. We enjoy looking at seed catalogs, reading books and getting new ideas for next year's CSA!” says Sam Heikes.
Christmas is a time that allows Sam and Heidi an opportunity to get together with their family and “remember the reason for the season!” Over the years they’ve curated a few of their own favorite recipes, which include suggestions from their customers.
Pie is a popular dish served on many tables through December. Sam Heikes offers a favorite recipe called, “Heikes Family Farm’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie.” It uses fresh sweet potatoes and is a recipe that was shared with them, “We received this recipe from CSA shareholder of ours, she passed it down to us and we love it!”
Sweet potatoes are an item that has a great shelf life. If you’re fortunate enough to have some left over from your own garden, they are easy to store. Sam Heikes explains, “It is best to store sweet potatoes with the dirt on them in a dark area like a basement. Sweet potatoes are a root crop just like potatoes. So, when you harvest them you brush off the dirt and don't wash them until you use them. They will keep better that way.”
Of course, your local producer or grocery will certainly have sweet potatoes on hand as well. Be sure to try making this dessert for your own Christmas celebration.
Heikes Family Farms Perfect Sweet Potato Pie
With fresh sweet potatoes
Submitted by Sam Heikes, Heikes Family Farms in Vermillion, SD
Makes one 9-inch pie (you’ll have some extra batter. I put the extra
batter in a ramekin and cooked it in a water bath for 35 minutes at 350 degrees
or until done.)
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2- 5oz cans evaporated milk (1 1/4 cups)
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoons vanilla
1. Add mashed cooked sweet potatoes, brown sugar, granulated sugar, ground coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, butter
2. Add one 5oz can of evaporated milk to a medium sized pot.
3. Cook on low for about 5 minute, whipping with a wire whisk until butter and brown sugar is well blended, smooth and starts to bubble.
4. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. In a medium sized bowl, beat the 3 eggs with a fork.
6. Add the second 5oz can of evaporated milk, and vanilla to the eggs and continue beating until creamy.
7. Pour the cooled sweet potato mixture into the egg mixture and blend thoroughly with a whisk.
8. Heat oven to 450 degrees with a cookie sheet inside.
9. After heated, pour the filling into the pie shell and put it on the hot cookie sheet.
10. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour more, or until edges and center are raised and puffed.
11. Insert a butter knife into the middle of the pie and if it comes out clean the pie is done.
12. Remove from the oven. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before serving.