Category Archives: vegan

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.

Thoughts on Eating Veggies

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A month back I read a blog talking about bento lunches. After that I got a bento-healthy-lunch kick, and while I was searching for other sites talking about bento lunches and where they get their bento boxes, I stumbled upon a couple of vegan sites. I’d been wanting to add more vegetables to our diet, and the creative dishes I’ve seen on these sites are inspirational. And so, to my meat-and-potatoes hubby’s chagrin, I’ve been trying out the recipes since. Actually, I haven’t even followed the vegan recipes all the way – I use eggs and milk, and sometime I add a little meat just to convince my other half that I won’t be replacing his wool trousers with hemp any time soon.

In fact, I tried vegetarian during my preteen years. At that time, I didn’t want the grown-ups to know my intention, and pretended that I was just being a picky-eater (I figured being a picky-eater would cause less stress all around and less “correctional” measures from my parents.) It wasn’t because I didn’t like eating meat (my mother and my grandmothers are great cooks), but because of the religious books I read in my maternal grandfather’s study. You see, in Taiwan, people grow up with a lot of Taoism and Buddhism ideology infused into them. When asked about their religion, most people would say either Buddhism or Taoism, just because that’s what their parents would say, even if they’ve never touched any holy books of either religion or even know the difference between the two. But everyone can recite some of the Buddhist/Taoist ideas they’ve heard growing up. My maternal grandfather had a lot of religious books, some of them are periodicals, which I suspect were sent to him simply because he was a somewhat visible person in the city’s government. And I used to read whatever printed materials I could lay my hands on. So I read those. This is the type of content you would read in these reading materials: when people die, people will reincarnate to different places/levels, based on their merits and sins while they were alive. And so, if you are a very good person, you just might make it to heaven. If you’re not that good, but okay, you can reincarnate to be a human again. But if you’re a cheater, thief, loan shark, then you may reincarnate to be a pig, a dog, a cat, or a stink bug, etc. So, then the articles drill this idea into you: the pork chop you had last night could be from the pig who used to be your mother-in-law in the last life. In one of these periodicals, there was this special section, where you could have a “tour” of the underworld. The way it went was that the underworld gods had given a special permission for a medium in this temple (which produced the periodical) to tour the underworld in spirit with an underground “official”, and in each “Underworld Travel Note” session he would be describing the scenes he “saw” and transcribing the interviews with various departed souls while he was “there”. (Sounds like a 60 Minutes Barbara Walters exclusive interview, doesn’t it?) Imagine my fear of heaping any more transgressions on my already sinful soul by eating meat at that tender age… Although I never figured out why my maternal grandfather never had an issue with eating meat. My paternal grandfather, on the other hand, never failed to tell us that pigs were raised to be put on the dinner table.

Several of my relatives have embraced vegetarian diet in one form or another: not eating beef, vegetarian breakfast only, as well as a full-fledged ovolacto-vegetarian diet. It would pique their interest to hear about vegetarian/vegan practices in the west. Last summer when my sister visited Taiwan, my paternal grandmother told my sister this story: one afternoon she had a vision, in which her eldest daughter and husband had appeared to her (both of them had died for some time), one on each side. (My grandmother is over 90 years old. She probably dozed off.) She said to the vision of her husband, “I’m not going with you. I’m going with our daughter.” She explained to my sister, “Your aunt was a vegetarian. So she probably went to heaven. As for your grandfather, well, you can’t be so sure…” It’s an issue pertaining to eternal life for her.