Ocala Cooks | Jermaine Pearson

Jermaine Pearson and his wife, Rachel, are the owners of Oneness Essentials, an exclusive line of soaps and other skin care essentials. The business was born of necessity, due to his adult-onset dermatitis. Their experimentations in creating natural skin care products were so successful they wanted to share them with others. 

Jermaine, who is a fraud investigator with Hartford Insurance Group’s Ocala office, loves to cook for his family, which includes three young children. He is a master at preparing “soul food” and a recent dinner for family and friends featured his candied yams, along with crispy fried chicken, macaroni and cheese from scratch, collard greens and cornbread.

“What I love most is that soul food breaks racial and cultural barriers and causes everyone to unite at the dinner table over a feast cooked with love,” he says.

Jermaine adds that he and Rachel serve faithfully every week at Souls Harbor First Pentecostal Church of Belleview, where he recently won third place at the annual Fall Chili Cook-off.

Candied Yams


4 pounds sweet potatoes

1 1/4 cups Karo Light Corn Syrup

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup honey 

2 tablespoons vanilla extract 

1 tablespoon cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon salt

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large chunks and place them in a large pot and cover with water. Cook over high heat for about 40 minutes or until they are fork tender. 

While the potatoes are boiling, melt the butter in a small dish in a microwave, for about 30 seconds. In a large baking dish, pour the melted butter on the bottom and add 1 cup of the brown sugar and all the other ingredients (syrup, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt), then stir well and set aside.

When the potatoes are done, strain off the hot water and set them aside to cool, for about 10-15 minutes.  

Set your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the potatoes again, this time into whatever size you prefer. Add the potatoes to the dish of candied sauce and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Place them in the oven and bake for 1 hour uncovered, basting occasionally with the candied sauce from the bottom of the pan.

Ocala Cooks
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