The featured book for November 2015 was “Sweet Potato Pie” by Kathleen D. Lindsey. Special guest, community volunteer extraordinaire, Ms. Betty J. Ford, shared a song with the kids. Afterwards, eight-year old Alicia Leilani led the students in creating miniature accordion thankful books.
In addition to chocolate goodies, sweet potato pie from 27th Street Bakery were all donated by retired school teacher, Barbara Lindsey of Inglewood.
Mrs. Abby Fisher’s Sweet Potato Pie
After Thanksgiving dinner, many of us will sit around the dinner table and enjoy a slice of sweet potato pie. One of the earliest published recipes of this fall classic dessert is contained in Abby Fisher’s, What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking: Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc. What makes this recipe different from some of the others is that it is made with orange juice and zest and was popularized by a former slave turned cookbook author named, Abby Fisher.
Born into slavery in South Carolina in 1832, Fisher is the author of the second published African American cookbook in the United States. A product of a French father and a slave mother, Fisher grew up cooking in plantation kitchens where she honed her culinary talents. It is said that Abby “expertly blended African and American cultures by combining the food and spices from two continents. Her unique dishes with their distinctive flavor represented some of the best southern cooking of the day” (blackpast.org).
Free after the Civil War, Fisher and her husband, Alexander, gathered their eleven children and moved to San Francisco, where she entered her food into cooking competitions. A former slave without the benefit of education, Fisher could not read or write, so she was encouraged to dictate her recipes to a transcriber. The ground-breaking result became the first known cookbook published by a former slave that would eventually be auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1984 and purchased by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library.
To see and read it, go to UCLA’s California Digital Library. Shown above is the actual 53rd recipe, sweet potato pie, from page 26 of the book. It calls for simple ingredients and easily adapts to the modern kitchen. However, if you don’t want to make it from scratch, you can always buy one fresh from 27th Street Bakery direct or via Smart & Final (in the “frigidaire” section) or from Altadena’s Dutch Oven. Source: Fisher, Abby. What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (with historical notes by Karen Hess). Applewood Press, 1995.