As a member of the Joy the Baker community since 2010, her dad, Mr. Wilson, has a steady presence here. His Sweet Potato Pie recipe is a foundational pillar of this blog. I feel honored to give an outsider’s perspective on how wonderful he is. From what I have seen over the years, Mr. Wilson seems like a man who doesn’t need a lot of words to fill the space. You can talk, or not talk, and his demeanor is the same. In my mind, he’s going to get you to the airport insanely early, almost annoyingly so, but you’re grateful because LAX is a constant nightmare. He knows the short cuts to the restaurant but won’t bug you with them if you’re driving, just to instill confidence in your direction skills. He understands the cool subtleties of choosing the right tie with a suit jacket, but prefers walking shoes above all else. And because he is not my dad, all of this coooould be entirely incorrect, but my gut tells me I’m not far off.
Now, I’ve clearly adopted him as a father in my mind from reading about him over the years, never having once met him. (This coming from the same person that has “I think Barack Obama is my dad,” in her dating profile bio.) I can assuredly say that Mr. Wilson provides a safe space here. His recipes feel like gentle advice – stay steady, don’t rush, be patient. It produces food with love folded into it and amazing daughters like Joy, who knows how special her father is and unselfishly chooses to share his magic with us. I think Mr. Wilson has a lot of readers who have adopted him, too.
Here are a few recipes from Joy’s dad (and ours!) and the best scenarios to use them:
•Dad’s Lemon Chess Pie – With its classic roots and bright notes this pie provides two things at once – it impresses and offers extreme balance. Serve this to your in-laws, your next door neighbor, or your best friend who is visiting from out of town. They’ll “ooh!” and “ahh!” before nodding satisfactorily, knowing you’ve clearly got your life together. Your taxes were filed in February! Strong coffee to accompany is recommended.
•Dad’s One-Pot Hawaiian Chicken – Cool and retro, this updated 70’s staple gives you confidence. It is quick and versatile enough to make for last minute guests or for yourself the night before a big presentation. It says, “you’ve got this!” with effortless ease, and minimal clean up after. Make sure your dinner playlist includes Earth, Wind & Fire.
•Dad’s Best Browned Butter Cookies – To me, this cookie is the all encompassing confection. It can heartily celebrate with you, just as easily as it can soothe a bruised heart. It is both the stern advice and the hug afterwards, an apology and a thank-you. What I’m really trying to say is, you can have this cookie at any time, on any day, and know you’ve made the right decision.
•Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie – 2 New Ways! – Mr. Wilson’s Sweet Potato Pie is the sleeper hit of any holiday party, but these 2 pies see your 10 and gracefully turn the volume to 11. They know their worth on a dessert table. Decadent pecan pralines cover one and artistically torched egg white swirls cover the other. These pies are the deal sealers of holidays – subduing even the faintest doubt that you’re anything less than amazing. Heck, this might earn you a handshake from Mr. Wilson himself (if this was me, I would sob openly).
Happy baking, friends!