Christmas, 2010 Recap: Don’t Mess with Tradition (and African Sweet Potato Stew)
[What I should have made for our Christmas dinner this year. . . . ]
What. . . is it December 27th, already?? Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season so far! I must confess, the last few days have been among the laziest of my life. And you know what? It felt great!
The Girls Express their Annoyance. The Girls posed for their 2010 Christmas card, and if all your comments are any indication, they clearly seemed peeved at having to don those costumes. Let’s just say I’ll never be another William Wegman. (“Mum, we weren’t annoyed so much as impatient. . . for our presents! Thanks for those treats we got! And can we have more of that white stuff? Oh, and who is that handsome Weimeraner in that photo?!”).
Start the Day Off Right. After sleeping in until we awoke naturally sans alarm, the HH and I bounded out of bed to open our gifts. And while they were polite enough not to disturb us while we slept, the Girls were certainly lively enough as soon as they confirmed we were awake:
["Elsie, play with me or I will eat you!"]
So, while the HH took the dogs for a trail walk, I set about making a hearty brunch to tide us over until dinnertime:
[These fabulous pancakes, topped with homemade sweet almond-coconut butter and plum sauces, with eggplant bacon (recipe coming soon).]
Best to Stick with Tradition, Even if It’s Non-Traditional. Those of you who’ve been reading DDD for a while will likely recall that our regular holiday tradition for the past few years has been an Indian feast, often shared with the CFO. Well, when my sister couldn’t make it this year, the HH proclaimed, “I want something traditional! I want TURKEY!”.
Whoah. I mean, knock me over with a pinnate leaf!
Regular readers will also know that the HH eats, well, everything. And as long as he prepares his own food, I don’t attempt to influence what he consumes. So off we went to get an organic turkey for him to cook. While he roasted his turkey, I prepared my new recipe for a holiday nutroast.
By 7:00 PM, dinner was finally served. Here’s my plate:
[Clockwise from top: nut roast with cranberry-apple compote; buckwheat sourdough stuffing; garlic mashed potatoes; Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat, all topped with smoky almond gravy after the photo was snapped.]
As I said, I shouldn’t have messed with our (non-traditional) tradition. While tasty enough, my nut roast was not what I’d call a success. I do have an inkling of how to improve it and will share as soon as I give it a try.
Turkey = Doggie Crack. The Girls, on the other hand, devoured their turkey scraps in no short order. This was the first time Chaser ever tasted turkey, and let me tell you, the crazed look it sparked in her eye was even more frenzied than usual. I got the stare pretty much the rest of the day.
[What was that white stuff, Mum? And can I please have some more?"]
And Elsie wasn’t immune, either:
[I've just got to be patient, and I'm sure there will be more turkey forthcoming. . . . "]
It’s Good to Chillax. I think that last week of school, frantic prepping for Christmas, buying a new car (so that the HH can have my old car, since his was totalled) and various and sundry other errands has wiped a goodly portion of my mind clean, sort of the way reformatting clears out your hard drive. I’ve felt pretty much incapable of any sustained thought or activity since Christmas morning, wandering around the past few days in a bit of a haze (albeit with a semi smile on my face and a very full belly), without much to say in this space. The HH is off work until the first week of January, so we’ll be spending quite a bit of time together.
["Life is so rough when you're waiting for turkey. . . *sigh*."]
Yesterday morning, for instance, the HH and I (after sleeping in yet again), spent most of the AM reading the entire newspaper, front to back, for the first time in months.
[The HH's coffee cup, and the news: freak east coast snowstorms and Boxing Day Deals.]
Then we proceeded to clean up the detritus from our Christmas dinner:
[The HH's wine glass, the morning after. Sadly, no wine for me this year. Damn you, ACD!]
We sat by the fireplace, sipped on coffee/matcha tea and listened to music (including my new Pink CD, a gift from the HH):
And then, more relaxing, and some long-awaited fiction-reading for me.
[On the left: my matcha tea. On the right: the HH's wine glass. . . afternoon incarnation.]
I also went to see How Do You Know with my friend Eternal Optimist yesterday afternoon (we had planned on The King’s Speech, but they were sold out; still, Reese Witherspoon is always winsome, and that Paul Rudd is such a cutie).
And now, after even more lounging about today, I finally feel ready to leap back in to cooking and blogging about recipes.
["Elsie, do you think we'll get any more turkey?"]
Sorry to say I won’t be sharing that nut roast recipe just yet.
In the meantime, here’s the recipe for the African Sweet Potato Stew I mentioned in this post, which some of you asked about. It’s a tried-and-true success that I’ve made many times in the past. It’s hearty, filling, with chunks of sweet potato and chickpeas bathed in a rich, creamy coconut milk gravy that’s infused with a variety of spices and the mineral-rich addition of collards.
Perhaps I should add it to the menu for next year’s Christmas feast.
Diet, Dessert and Dogs (http://dietdessertndogs.com)
The list of ingredients does seem long, but so much of this is spice that the actual prep time isn’t as much as you’d think. The recipe makes a huge vat of stew, so you can package and freeze it for later consumption, too.
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut or extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 large onion, chopped
1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chipped
1/2 cup (120 ml) cilantro leaves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (or use 1/2 tsp/1.5 ml chili flakes)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) whole mustard seeds, brown or yellow
2 tsp (10 ml) ground coriander
1 tsp (5 ml) ground turmeric
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper
1 large can (19 oz or 500 ml) diced tomatoes, drained (reserve the juice)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
2-3 medium white potatoes, chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 can (12 oz or 400 ml) coconut milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) natural smooth almond or peanut butter (use almond for ACD)
1 pound (500 g) collard greens, midribs removed and shredded
2 cups (480 ml) cooked chickpeas
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat; add the onion, ginger, garlic and cilantro and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the red pepper, jalapeno, cumin, mustard seeds, corinder, trumeric, paprika and cayenne and cook a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, potatoes and coconut milk; cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
Place the almond butter in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and scoop about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the stew, adding it to the nut butter; mix well, until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the pot and blend it in. Add the collards and chickpeas and continue to cook until the greens are soft, another 5-10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, allow to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness is reached. Serve over rice or cooked quinoa. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: A DDD Tradition: Inter-Cultural Feasting (Quick and Easy Dal and Chickpea Koftas)
Three Years Ago: Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat