The story of Sweet Potatoes

I have to like a cookbook that starts with the dessert recipes. It indicates an author who has her priorities straight. And that’s how “Well, Shut My Mouth!: The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook” by Stephanie L. Tyson (John F. Blair, $19.95) begins.

I met Chef Tyson and her life and business partner, Vivian Joyner, several years ago at their popular restaurant in the arts district of Winston-Salem, N.C. It’s taken until now for them to get a book together because, well, they’ve been a little busy. The book’s introduction describes the winding road that Tyson and Joyner took which ended in opening the restaurant in 2003. It’s a little long for cookbook intros, but worth the read, because it gives a good sense of how difficult the process is – particularly for minority women.

The recipe for the sweet potato biscuits that I remember from my visit is in the book. As are recipes for such things as Cheerwine-Glazed Country Ham and Sweet Potato, Corn and Country Ham Risotto. Tyson also includes a plea for readers to fry their own chicken – right on. And the lead-off desserts? Lots of pies, in keeping with the casual, homey nature of the restaurant.

Most of the recipes seem accessible, with a few exceptions that might require some time. One is the intriguing Three Little Pigs: Pork loin wrapped in bacon and stuffed with chopped barbecue. Sounds like turducken for pig lovers.

Tyson will hold book signings in the Triangle area in September: McIntyre’s Fine Books at Fearrington in Pittsboro, N.C., Sept. 4, 2 p.m.; Barnes & Noble in Cary, N.C., Sept. 13, 7 p.m.; and Southwest Regional Library in Durham, N.C., Sept. 25, 3 p.m. She will do a signing and cooking demo at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sept. 3, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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