Sweet potatoes are undergoing a renaissance. Once a sticky, frumpy food eaten only at Thanksgiving, a renewed appreciation for this root vegetable's powerful nutritional value has made it popular once again. Go ahead and mash sweet potatoes with maple syrup or use them in a marshmallow-studded casserole, but also try baking them like regular potatoes or cutting them into strips, tossing it with oil, and roasting at a high heat for sweet potato oven fries.
The fleshy roots of sweet potato are often mistakenly called yams, which are a different tropical root crop. Sweet potatoes require a long, warm growing season to mature -- which is why they've been a Southern favorite. Plant slips (sprouts) of sweet potatoes after spring weather has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. In cool-summer areas, plant the slips through slits in black plastic mulch, which will warm the soil and speed development.