I could really be the poster girl for Roanoke–I love this place that much. Every time I go to a potluck or a party or a gathering of some sorts (and especially if I’ve had a glass of wine or two), I inevitably start gushing about how amazing the city is, how wonderful and friendly all the people are, and how many community-oriented food and bicycle opportunities there are here. The old-timers, folks who were born here or have lived here for far too long without leaving and then coming back to see how great it is (see, I’m biased…), mostly roll their eyes at me and say, just live here awhile, you might not feel the same way. I doubt it.


The reason why I doubt it is evidenced in the photograph above. Not only are the mountains beautiful, the produce fresh, local, organic and delicious, and the bike people stellar, but just up the mountain in Floyd there’s a boot stompin’, banjo pickin’, fiddleicious jamboree every Friday night–and I got to dance with the best beard in the building. I never got his name, but this man was awesome. I noticed him immediately: white, long beard, straw hat with random fish fly looking feathers sticking out from it, overalls, and the happiest smile in the country store. We were standing to the edge of the chairs since none were available and when the second band of the night started up, he stepped on over, grabbed my hand, and said “let’s dance!” There was no saying no. I threw my purse (with my camera in it) at E. and bounce-stepped over to the dance floor. Admitting that I had no idea to dance, he just grinned and said “darlin’ it’s easy, just watch my feet” and then laughed. Well…it wasn’t that easy, in fact, I bumbled around fairly painful looking, I’d assume, but he spun me around, said “alright!” every time I followed his lead, and now I can finally say that I have attempted to clog (Appalachian style). So, thank you kind old man with the awesome beard and awesome hat and thank you E. for grabbing some photos of the entire city-girl-trying-to-clog fiasco of 2009 (It was Friday the 13th…coincidence?)

As for the food, well, my car still hasn’t passed inspection (cracked muffler, apparently), and I’ve no money, so my only option was to come home and make cookies. I am my mother’s daughter. When Baking Bites posted a recipe for Sweet Potato Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, I knew I had to make them. The recipe essentially mirrors the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (Crack) Cookies of 2008, so I figured it had to be good. Verdict? Hell yes they’re good! While I made up a tin’s worth for our Classic Horror Film movie night, I definitely saved some dough and have been baking up two or three a day for the past few days. And with sweet potato in them, they’re healthy, right?

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

adapted from Baking Bites

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c Earth Balance, at room temperature
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy yogurt
1/4 cup sweet potato puree (see below for homemade method)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c oats
5 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

To make the sweet potato puree, peel and chop 1 medium-sized sweet potato into 1/2″ dice. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Add the sweet potato to the water and boil for 7-10 minutes until soft when poked with a fork. Remove from heat, drain water, and mash with the fork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, cream the sugars and Earth Balance until fluffy. Add the soy yogurt sweet potato puree, and vanilla, mix to combine.

Add the spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and mix to combine.

Slowly pour in the flour and mix until a dough forms.

Add the oats, chocolate pieces, and pecans and mix just long enough to combine.

Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-15 min, until cookies are set.

Let cool on sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or, if you’re like me, eat them all in one sitting).

Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.

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