Category Archives: food

Game Night Hors D’Oeuvres

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Sesame-Covered Sweet Potato Balls

I finally settled on sweet potatoes. I thought I’d do sweet potato balls rolled in crushed/grounded unsalted peanuts. After searching around on the internet though, I decided to modify this recipe on Rasa Malaysia. I didn’t like the fact the original version was deep-fried, so I made mine baked. I also didn’t use as much flour in proportion to the amount of sweet potatoes, which makes the mixture messy and sticky, and cannot be formed into smooth dough. If you do it their way, you can roll the dough into a long rope, and then divide the dough into even sizes. You would also use more agave nectar or sugar since flour would lessen the sweetness.

All in all, this came out pretty good. I think the sesame seeds would taste better if they were lightly toasted in advance. However, I think next time I would revert to my original idea of using crushed/grounded unsalted peanuts instead of the sesame seeds.

sweet potatoes/yams – 2 large (the ones I used came up to a little more than 2 lbs)
whole wheat pastry flour – 6 tablespoons
agave nectar – 2 tablespoons (if you use other forms of sugar, you may need a little more)
hulled sesame seeds (lightly toasted in advance may be better) – about 6 oz
olive oil – 2 tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Don’t peel the sweet potatoes yet. Wash the sweet potatoes, and then boil for 45 minutes. (If you cut them into chunks, you may be able to use less time.) Afterwords, the peels come off easily. Discard the peels. Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Mix in the agave nectar, then Mix in the flour. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, and mix well. On a large plate, scatter a thin layer of sesame seeds. Form golf ball-sized sweet potato balls and coat them with sesame seeds. Repeat and keep replenish the sesame seeds as needed. (In the original recipe they just put a few on, rather than putting so many sesame seeds on that they practically looked like curled-up armadillos. Actually, one of the game night friends joked that they looked like Duncan Donuts Munchkins. Gee, thanks! Not exactly the comparison I was looking for!)

Put the sesame-covered sweet potato balls in greased baking pans in a single layer. (I used two 9×12 pans with this recipe.) Bake for 20 minutes. This makes about 32 balls.

Note: For carrying to game night, it’s safe to combine the two pans of baked sesame-covered sweet potato balls into one pan.

Game Night Dinner

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Navigating the social world with a different idea in food, while not having tons of time to cook and prepare the healthy alternative is definitely challenging. Going to a Game Night on Friday, and the organizer proposed that we should be there by 6:30 because we’ll have “snacks” and therefore didn’t need to eat dinner before. “Snacks are not dinners!” I couldn’t help protest. “Well, if you bring substantial snacks…I’m bringing stuffed mushroom…” Someone else suggested Pig-in-the-Blanket. Um…I put more vegetables, leafy greens, as well as non-processed food in front of my child at meal time. We’ll be eating beforehand for sure. I guess I’m just an uptight Mom. I don’t expect to break friendships because of food preferences. On the other hand, I’m seeing more needs for me to be vocal about my beliefs in healthy eating. Ideas certainly don’t get communicated by osmosis.

Now the interesting question is what will I bring to the party… Something I’ll have time to make, and that at the same time also doesn’t deviate from the nutrient-rich food I advocate… And then after that I have to prepare for a Sunday lunch. Thinking, thinking, thinking…

Nail Soup (or Stone Soup)

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I made my “Nail Soup” today. Without the nail of course. It’s from the Nail Soup story, a variant of the Stone Soup tale. There is no technique to it, just chopped-up Napa Cabbage, fingerling potatoes, if-we-don’t-cook-these-they’ll-go-bad mushrooms, and a chicken breast. Oh, I forgot the corns. Oh well, add it next time. Maybe I’ll get some tofu on the way home tomorrow. That’s what I love about it – no rules what you can put it, just whatever suits your taste. It’s a favorite with MM, since not only she enjoys for dinnertime, she can also take it to preschool with her in her mini thermos. And I love it, because it lasts us two or three meals each time I make it.

As with the majority of things I cook, I prefer to “swamp” the meat with a variety of vegetables, at least a vegetable to meat ratio of 6 to 1. I noticed long ago the meat is pretty much 80% of a typical American meal. Okay, the 80% is a number I grabbed out of the air. But I don’t think it’s far off. How many times you go into restaurant, and the menu lists some kind of meat, with sides of “vegetables”. The side dish is a tiny dish big enough for maybe 3 or 4 florets of broccoli or 5 or 6 sticks of baby carrots. Meanwhile, the “main dish” is a hunk of meat that takes center stage on the plate. Okay, there are salads. And these days, health conscious people would also order items like “wraps”. But, the “main dishes” in this country in general remain to be: meat.

Once, when I was still in school. A friend came to visit one evening and offered to cook for me, while I was doing my homework. There was a package of meat thawing on the counter, and she knew where the fridge was. Very soon, a delicious smell came from the stovetop, and soon we were ready to eat. I looked at the table, and saw that the 1 or 2 lbs of beef had been divided into 2 portions, one for her, and one for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was planning to eat at least 4 meals out of it.

When you look at the minuscule amount of natural vitamins and flavonoids from plants ingested in this kind of diet, it’s very alarming. I’m not an animal activist. I’m not even a vegetarian. But I do see the need for a drastic change in the kind of diet we accept as normal. Synthetic vitamins are not enough. We need real vitamins from real food.