As Thanksgiving approaches, I get kind of sentimental about thinking of all of the people in my life that make me thankful. As I am going down my list, there is one name that sticks out, Brian. Who is Brian, you ask? Well to my brother in laws disappointment, I am not talking about him for once. I am talking about the guy who introduced me to my husband.
Brian and I worked together as chemists when I first got out of college. (Seriously, I was a chemist. This isn’t just a cute way to talk about a “home” lab.) He intimidated me the first time I met him by his knowledge (and good looks). So much that I wouldn’t put down my lunch box for the first part of the day. (Yes, I carried a lunch box in my twenties. It is not like it had Snoopy on it, I wasn’t that cool. )
Brian was my project manager and we spent countless hours together. We would share stories about our lives as we waited for our reactions to complete. During all of this time together, Brian and I became very good friends. (That was before people did the friends with benefits thing, dang it!)
Our relationship was kind of a big brother/little sister thing. He would tease me relentlessly about being a dork and I just looked up to him for being so great. (Maybe we were a little bit more like Greg and Marcia from the Brady Bunch except some of the joking was a little inappropriate for siblings!)
We spent so much time together that I knew the people in his life without actually ever meeting them. They were all characters in a novel that eventually turned into the movie of my life.
One Valentine’s Day weekend, Brian and I went to the movies and met up with his friend Earl (oh and Earl’s date!) It was fun meeting this character that Brian had told me so much about and putting the name and face together. (This is where that whole friends with benefits thing would have made that Valentine’s Day weekend much better!)
Anyhow, months passed and Brian invited me out again with him and Earl. (This time Earl was single, Boo-yah!) We went bowling and like any good big brother, Brian had to point out to Earl that I was checking him out as he threw his ball. (Yep, that was embarrassing.)
The next morning at work, Brian gave me Earl’s phone number and said the infamous words I’ll never forget “Leave me out of this.” Like a self-respecting woman of the 90’s, I waited a few hours before I called Earl and the rest is history.
When I started thinking of my time with Brian, I remembered a dinner we had together early on in our friendship. It was just simple barb-b-q but Brian wanted dessert. (Yep, he was talking about food, no euphemism there.)
The dessert he wanted was a mashed sweet potato streusel. At that time, I was still a picky eater so I was less than thrilled at sharing this with him. I didn’t want to give him ANOTHER excuse to tease me, so I told him that I would try it. (In my head saying “be gentle with me, this is my first time….eating sweet potatoes.”)
The dessert was fabulous with its velvety texture and natural sweetness. The streusel on the top put me over the edge (YES! YES! YES!). I have replicated this dish over the years as one of my favorite “savory” Thanksgiving side dishes.
Streusseled Sweet Potato Casserole
5 pounds of sweet potatoes, cubed
½ cup half and half
½ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup pecans, chopped
¼ cup butter, chilled & chopped
- Preheat oven to 375
- Boil a large pot of water. Gently add potatoes and simmer for about 12 minutes covered, until they are fork tender.
- Mix half & half, syrup, vanilla, salt and egg.
- Add to the cooked potatoes and beat with a hand blender until smooth.
- Spoon into a greased 13 x 9 pan.
Directions for the topping
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and with a pastry cutter or fork, blend them all together until you get a crumbly mixture.
- Sprinkle on top of potatoes
- Bake the dish COVERED for 15 minutes and then uncover it and cook another 25 minutes.
This dish is a great match (or addition) to the sweet potatoes and marshmallow dish that is popular on Thanksgiving tables.
I sing Brian’s praises because he really is a great guy. He used to “make me” thank him every week for dating one of his best friends. He didn’t let me off the hook until Earl and I got married.
Brian found me the perfect match and he will never know how much I will always love him for this gift he gave me. So Thank you Brian, you changed my life.