I’m Tired of Pretending

“I’m tired of pretending.”

These were the words I heard from my husband while we sat by the edge of an closed-for-the-season swimming pool in South Carolina over the holiday break. The kids were getting dressed in the locker room after an hour on the tennis court. It was the last week of December and the sun was white in the lonely winter sky.

“Really?” I say. “So that’s it? Fifteen years of marriage and I find this out now?”

“Well, this is important — it’s our first vacation dinner and I don’t want to ruin it by pretending that I like what’s on the table.”

I had just told him I was thinking of making some kind of pork and sweet potato stew with hominy — a riff on a recipe Victoria Granof had developed for Time for Dinner.

“You could’ve told me before now,” I said, at this point more confused than angry. “All those sweet potato fries? All those Thanksgiving mashes with oranges?” The room narrowed and widened simultaneously. The many sweet potato moments in our lives together started pulsing before me like a scene from Run Lola Run. “Your father’s birthday party in our first apartment!” I said, louder than I had intended to. It was one of the first times we had ever entertained, rotating our scrappy desk sideways against the wall to create a makeshift dining room table. “We made Emeril’s Three Potato Lasagna that night — and you ate every bite!”

His eyes were fixed a heron gliding across a lagoon. He said nothing.

“You’re telling me all this time you never liked sweet potatoes?”

“Nope. Not really. Cloying. Overpowering. Too sweet. Like dessert, only bad.” Pause. “Figured I’d tell you before we go shopping. I’m tired of acting like sweet potatoes are good.”

The heron landed on a small upturned log in the lagoon. His eyes scanned the water, like he was looking for some lunch.

“And what about hominy?” I asked. “Should I even bother?” The girls were coming out of the locker room, their hair smooth and brushed in the front, but gnarly and knotted in the back where they couldn’t reach. I looked at him.

“Why don’t you just let me go shopping,” he said.

 Braised Pork in Adobo with No Sweet Potatoes

2 1/2 pound pork loin, salted & peppered
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1  tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
(or 3 tablespoon chili powder instead of above three spices)
1 chipotle in adobo (not the sauce, just the dripping single pepper; you can freeze the rest)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar (or vinegar-based bbq sauce like Shealy’s)
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 medium onion, chopped
handful fresh cilantro

Preheat oven 350°F. In a small-ish Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, over medium-high heat, brown pork in oil on all sides, about 4-5 minutes a side. Add everything else to the pot so the pork is 2/3 immersed in liquid, stirring. Bring to a boil, cover and place in oven for 2-3 hours. Remove pork, shred with two forks, and place back in the braising liquid.

Serve with polenta and shredded cabbage that’s been  tossed with chopped apples, lots of freshly squeezed lime, cumin, a scoop of plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, and olive oil.

P.S. We wanted to do this with hominy instead of polenta but couldn’t find it in where we were staying. (Usually, you can find a 15-ounce can in the Goya section.) If you want to use the hominy, add a can (drained and rinsed) to the stew about 10 minutes before you plan to serve and heat through.

P.P.S Any leftover pork: Amazeballs on nachos under a pile of melted cheese.

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54 Comments

Val

I’m with Andy on this one – I *want* to like sweet potatoes (and beets for that matter), but there’s something terribly strange about how sweet they are, and not in the good way like dessert.
I have to give him credit though – I don’t think I could pretend nearly as long.

Reply
sarah

Hey – that’s a very mean way to start a post! I was alarmed for real that you two were splitting up, and having bought the book and read this blog since its inception years ago, I feel like I know you four. No teasing like that!

Reply
inthefastlane

My husband feels the same way, only he doesn’t pretend. This is an issue because I LOVE sweet potatoes. This is not the only food disagreement we have, however…..ah….blissful married life :)

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amanda

hahaha! my husband and I are closet sweet potatoes haters as well. I want so badly to like them but I just don’t (except for sweet potato fries) ;)

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anna

ha! hilarious, my MIL and i were just discussing that we don’t know any dudes that like sweet potatoes. including my husband. HOWEVER, i chopped them up real small and added them to a roasted veggies for tacos i made last week and he declared the tacos the best ever. it could of been the avocado cream sauce that went with it, though.

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Nikki

About 3 years into our marriage, I discovered that my husband and I were living a bacon lie. That’s right – a bacon lie. I’d been making it extra crispy because his mom does and that’s what I thought he preferred, and I wasn’t willing to advance the cause of slightly softer bacon. Until the texts:
Me: Breakfast for dinner tonight. Sausage or bacon?
Him: Bacon – not too crispy, please.

It was like a revelation and the dark days are over.

But, we both love sweet potatoes. I think.

Reply
Lori

My SO told me maybe 7 years into our relationship that he hates pasta with marinara sauce, which I made all the time since our kids like it (and it’s easy). He also is not a fan of sweet potatoes.

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jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

I just stumbled upon this (gorgeous) blog and read the first line of this post only to think that this was the break up of a marriage (like I HAVE seen/done in the past). Suffice to say, I am relieved your husband loves you, but dislikes sweet potatoes. Phew. Great story (and love your header)!

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Lucy Mitchell

I was about thirty before a saw a sweet potato in the flesh. Before then that my only sighting was in Rachard Scarry books. Even now, they occupy a very small space in the supermarket here (Ireland). Its funny because regular potatoes are still SO popular. And the sweet ones we have are always grown in the States. Maybe we have too much rain? I like them though.

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Charlotte

Ok – now I don’t feel so wierd about the time my husband had something serious to discuss with me and then let me know he didn’t want to eat beef or lamb anymore. And since then even more has come off the will eat list for a variety of reasons (tomatoes, garlic, citrus, fish, seafood, lentils, spicy) but I think sweet potatoes are still on the ok list – we had them in a dish last week that he announced was delish and should be repeated.

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Tabbitha @ Turnip Tootsie

Another wonderful post from DALS! Jenny I was just telling my husband how much I love your blog. Your writing is wonderful, and even though we can’t eat some of the meals (we are those weird vegans) I check into your blog regularly! Glad your husband finally let you know he does not like sweet potatoes. Men!

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Emily

hahahaha – I would totally let him go shopping. Most of the time.

Also – I just read Suffering Succotash…maybe Andy’s secretly a picky eater? ;-)

Reply
Nicole(Whole Strides)

The only way I like sweet potatoes is with butter and sugar involved, which really negates the health benefits I think. Fortunately(I guess), no one else in my family likes them either.

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Tara

I have always felt that I really ought to like sweet potatoes more than I do. But they’re just too, well, sweet, I guess. Apparently I’m not alone. Re: Run, Lola, Run – Wow, haven’t thought of that film in a while. Nice reference.

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Beth

I like almost all foods but can not eat any orange vegetables – no carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash – no matter how many times I try. *shiver*

My husband, on the other hand, does not like fried chicken. Who the heck doesn’t like fried chicken?

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Paper Friday

Ha ha ha… This is so hilarious!! I can sympathise, my husband hates ‘sweet/savoury’ food… So no sweet potatoes, no pumpkin, no squash- carrots just about make the grade!! It is so annoying as I LOVE these things!

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Afton LeSueur

This is my first time at your website, but I just wanted to tell you that I just read your book, and I loved it! I have a serious cookbook addiction, and yours was my favorite I’ve read it ages!

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Kerstin Lock

I love the way you started that post! The recipe looks amazing too, but it’s so great to hear the sacrifices people make when they’re in love.

I don’t know what he’s talking about though, sweet potatoes are the best! :)

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Stearns 205

Great… now I’m getting the “wow, maybe he loved her that much…” business. I waited exactly one meal before I let slip my disdain for any pasta with any red sauce (reminds me of the bleak days of grad school when my grocery list was pasta and whatever red sauce was on sale). My wife is entirely unimpressed with me now (“15 years… you must not love me that much”). Thanks, Andy.

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Nora

I am a longtime blog reader, just bought the book, so first must say thanks, Jenny! You have a lot of pork dishes that sound delicious, but we don’t eat pork. Any suggestions/rules of thumb if subbing chicken or beef? Or are some of the pork recipes better avoided with other meats?

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Gina Crowley

Ha ha..my husband hates sweet potatoes too! Pretty much anything in that family. However, I did turn him on to spaghetti squash…nothing a little butter and parmesan won’t fix.

How’s the 7 recipe challenge coming?

I only have 1 to go. So far I have made:

1. Porcupine meatballs (declared awesome by all)
2. Crockpot split pea soup (split decision)
3. Sweet barbecue salmon (declared particularly awesome by my son..but he loves salmon)
4. Brussells sprouts, italian sausage and cannelini beans (well, I liked it anyway and my son liked the brussells sprouts)
5. Chicken with mushrooms in cream sauce (from one of the Real Simple cookbooks). Loved this.
6. Salmon with swiss chard and warm lentil salad (well, they liked the salmon and the swiss chard wasn’t completely trashed)
7. ??????

I need a big finish but I’ve got to get a meatloaf in here before my husband defects.

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Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks

I am the only one who likes sweet potatoes in my family. My husband says they are too sweet and overpowering, agreeing with Andy. He will tolerate them chopped small, roasted with “regular” potatoes. Once again, a hilarious post.

Reply
Nancy

I recently made the DALS chicken potpie, and was very relieved that the recipe gave me permission to substitute a regular potato for the sweet potato.

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Natalie

Jenny, this recipe looks delicious, but I’m a little confused about substituting chili powder for oregano, cumin and bay leaf. In my experience, chili powder has quite a bit more heat than the other three spices. Is the chili powder version just a spicier alternative version of the recipe? It seems like the flavor would be pretty different. thanks!

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kathy

I couldn’t agree more…..sweet potatoes suck…
We are a yam family. I actually bought some sweet potatoes a couple times by mistake. You have to actually either break the tip off or scrape the skin off with your thumb, to make sure the dreaded sweet potatoe doesn’t make it in by mistake. Yams are darker and orange and sweet potatoes are yellowish. Anything that has to be adulterated like sweet potatoes, are a complete waste of time. Yams….just need salt and butter. The smaller ones taste the best, in the oven unpeeled, a little overdone, yummmm the potatoe scrapped off the peel has to be heaven.

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AmyOhio

Thank you, thank you!

I made this last night for dinner. Wow, it was delicious!! Easy and delicious pork. I liked that it had all the smoky elements I like of BBQ pork, without the overpowering sweetness of traditional BBQ sauce. And my husband, who is not a big fan of “visible” onions in dishes loved it too. Everything cooks down beautifully.

I used the 3 spices instead of chili powder, thinking it would be too spicy for our kiddos. Next time I will cook for closer to 2 hours since it wasn’t quite as “saucy” as the dish you pictured. (I have a weird fear of undercooking large pieces of meat, and cooked it for 3.) Freezing the remaining chipotle peppers individually in foil muffin cups (thanks for the tip!), will make it an easy go-to main dish. Again, I love the great leftover potential. The polenta was great sliced/grilled this morning, as a side to my omlet. And the pork made a fantasic taco for lunch.

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MK

This post makes me want to look up the original recipe you were going to make from Time for Dinner–with sweet potatoes AND pork–and make that. Not only does it sound delicious and hearty, but I imagine I would find joy in making it in bold opposition to my boyfriend & Andy’s misguided tastes.

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Leslie

I hate sweet potatoes with a passion when they have sugar, maple syrup, or marshmallows on them. SO GROSS. Otherwise, I am very fond of them. Cookie and Kate’s blog has a great sweet potato kale soup I’m making tomorrow.

Reply
Andrea

To me, the most shocking thing about this post is that people are able to play tennis outside in December! Not on the Canadian Prairies, that’s for sure! As an aside, Jenny, I made your Rainbow Salad tonight alongside some shrimp scampi. Yum!

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z/v

i will definitely make this
i have leftover wonderful ham in the freezer
and petite peas
the only kind i ever buy from a store
and my mouth is watering.

Reply
Jos

Come eat with us anytime – I ADORE sweet potatoes!!!!! Love them all sliced up layered in a veggie bake – and so doing that tonight! As for pulled pork – leftovers into a taco thank you very much. Yumbo!

Reply
Tabitha

My husband pulled the same stunt on me, after a few years. “I’m not really a fan of soup.” What do you mean? I love all soups, so I was kind of shocked. Then he really let loose, “It’s not food, it’s a drink! Why would someone drink their dinner?!” and so on. I was rather… irked when I thought of how many soups I had so lovingly made and thought, “Perry is really going to like this.” Although, I think the bomb I dropped was bigger when I said, “I hate bacon.” The look on his face…

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Elemjay

Made this last night – fabulous! I cooked for 3 hours and like the previous commentator found there wasn’t quite enough sauce left. Next time I would either add another 1/2 cup water or cook for 2.5 hours. Now to try the leftovers with nachos….!

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Elemjay

Ok had to come back and leave another comment – a-MAY-zing nachos w leftovers! Love it!

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Trese

So. My New Years resolution… To cook at home. I have about 1 pound on pork tenderloin left and need to know what amazeballs are!

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Anne

My husband, though likely being less than completely honest, still claims to like sweet potatoes. Would they just go in when the pot goes in the oven?

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Barbara Leckstein

Kids let you know right away – spitting stuff across the room is usually a clue they don’t like a particular food – too bad adults can’t do things like that, it would make life so much easier.

I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win the Lodge cast iron skillet?

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JenG

I am a newsletter subscriber. Do I win a Lodge cast iron skillet? I have a beloved skillet, but my niece just got her first apartment and it’s her number one request.

I love this recipe–want to make it this weekend for the family, and make the nachos with the leftovers!

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Margo, Thrift at Home

so funny! My husband has dutifully eaten sweet potatoes when I make them, but he would never choose them. I AVOID like the plague all sweet-potato recipes that have sugar in them. We like sweet potatoes baked, then with lots of butter and salt. Or roasted with cumin. Or even better, eaten as oven fries with kimchi on the side. He likes them all right when they are clearly on the savory side.

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