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!

So what have the HH, the Girls and I been up to since I last visited this space? Here’s a quick recap:

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. 😉

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I’ve also submitted this recipe to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday event for this week–go check out all the other great recipes!

Last Year at this Time: A DDD Tradition: Inter-Cultural Feasting (Quick and Easy Dal and Chickpea Koftas)

Two Years Ago: Family and Festive Feasting (Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries)

Three Years Ago: Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat

© Diet, Dessert and Dogs


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  1. BTW turkey is kitty crack too. Mine goes NUTZ for it.

  2. I love hearty stews like these, Ricki. Your recipe looks mouthwatering!

  3. What a lovely, cozy summary of your holidays. Thanks for sharing. Reading the newspaper from cover to cover really is a luxury, eh! All of your food looks scrumptious, and your doggies are ever so precious! 🙂

    • Yep, I can’t remember the last time I read the entire paper, actually! But all good things must come to an end. . . reality is settling in again 😉 (And the Girls say, “thanks” and “woof!”). 🙂

  4. Good for you relaxing this weekend. We had our share of relaxing moments this weekend too and it was wonderful. 😉

    I love the pictures of your girls they are so adorable! I would give them all the turkey they wanted, but I am a sap. My felines are equally enthralled with turkey. My parents spoil the “grandcats” with turkey.

    Also I love your sewing machine cabinet, very pretty. 🙂

    BTW I am eagerly awaiting your nut roast recipe. I have not had an excellent “vegan loaf” yet.


    • Thanks, Ali! I do tend to spoil the Girls a little too much, I’m afraid. Then again, they are my babies. 😉 I’m working on the new nutroast, but if you’re looking for one that I already love, here’s my previous recipe. I should have stuck with that one!

  5. Thank you for the pancake shout out!

    I’m happy to see another vegan peacefully coexisting with…well someone who’s not 🙂 We have the same “if you want it, you prepare” it rule in our house, which works really well for us.

    • Cami, those were the best GF pancakes I’ve had so far–love them! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂 And re: the HH and me coexisting, yes, it’s (usually) peaceable. He is very good about cooking his own meat, and also very open minded about eating my food. . .most of the time, my dinner is his side dish, so it seems to work out. Glad it’s the same for you. 🙂

  6. What a shame the nut roast wasn’t quite what you were after. I’m looking forward to hearing how further experiments go! And I can’t wait til hear about your eggplant bacon. All the food sounds excellent and it sounds like a wonderfully relaxing holiday for you – sounds like just what you need!

    I wanted to see the kings speech but we just didn’t get organised to go to the pictures on boxing day as I had hoped! E wanted to see the Tourist but I don’t think Angelina Jolie is enough reason to see a movie

  7. glad to see you’ve been getting in some r&r! i’m off to check out those pancakes… and bookmark this recipe 🙂

  8. Your girls really stole the show this post… those beautiful eyes! No turkey in our house this year, but my omni parents did give some ham and some prawns to certain cats, who have been giving us the eyes ever since! Except for poor Sahara, who has to be careful with her diet because she has a sensitive tummy.

    Sounds like a great Christmas. I too have been enjoying a few days of doing more or less nothing with and feeling just great about it. 😉

    • I have to admit, I’d rather look at the Girls than food (one of the few things in my life that trumps food!). Glad you’re relaxing, too. And have you received your book in the mail yet??

  9. Your sewing machine cabinet reminds me of the treadle machine my Grandmother Mina had (provoking a nostalia attack) 😉 That sweet potato stew sounds wonderful with all the spices. That would be something to put on my New Year’s resolutions to make and share with Rita!

    • I think the machine is, indeed an antique. . . it was a wedding gift, way back when. 😉 The stew is a great new year’s dish–hope you like it!

  10. I also missed my glass of wine this year….. It has been 3 years since I have had wine. It took me 2 years to figure out I had candida. Supposedly I am over it…. but my tongue burns… they say it is an allergy…. to what , I have no idea. Kind of sucks to be us!!

    If you are interested, I have some giveaways going on. Stevia… 4 winners and Tropical Traditions coconut 2 pounds. Also if you have any xylitol recipes, I am giving an apron away for the best recipe.

    Hope you can stop by and check them out. Terry

    • It’s funny, since I was never a huge wine-drinker before the ACD. But I guess when you can’t have any, you miss it. Thanks for the giveaway info–will check it out.

  11. Oh that African Sweet Potato Stew is right up my alley! I make a very similar Ground Nut Stew.. yum!

    My dog gets the same looks on her face with food…. especially meat.. uuggh ( my X eats meat )..

  12. Yet another deligthful post from DDD! Thanks for sharing your time with us, Ricki. 🙂 Love those girls, the eggplant bacon (will be waiting for that recipe for sure!), the Pink CD (adore her!), extended newspaper reading, that stew, and more. 😉

    Hope you continue to relish your wonderful holiday break!


  13. Sounds like you guys have had a great holiday – I can’t even imagine reading the paper in its entirety. I think that will happen when my kids are off at University…
    This recipe looks delish. I will definitely be giving it a try – love the idea of leftovers. We’re big leftover eaters! Merry Christmas Ricki.

  14. I’ll be trying this stew Ricki, it sounds amazingly good and much better than nut roast, which I have never been fond off. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  15. That stew looks really, really scrumptious Ricki! Perhaps I’ll swap in black eyed peas and make this my New Years meal.. hmmm

    Looks like you had a really lovely Christmas, despite the nut roast not being your favorite. I am really jealous of your breakfast, wow!! Looking forward to your eggplant bacon recipe. Happy New Years to you, HH, and the girls!

    • Black eyed peas are a great idea! I find so many legumes can be used interchangeably. And you know, I think that breakfast was the best meal of the weekend! 😉

  16. Your girls are just lovely. 🙂 Loved your recap, though sorry to hear about the nutroast.

    Also: I linked the scrummy looking stew to the Top Ten list i am hosting for Aubree today 🙂

  17. I am always up for a new pancake recipe. I will have to give them a try. The nut butter topping looks delicious. I’ll be awaiting the eggplant bacon recipe. 🙂

    BTW, I have a dog that looks very similar to your tan and black dog.

    • The nut butter is really easy–almost equal parts almond butter and coconut butter, with stevia to taste. Bacon coming up. And send me a pic of your dog–would love to see! 🙂

  18. Well Ricki, if the cookbook author/TV star career doesn’t pan out, you could always become a pet photographer. 😀 The girls are fetching, as always. I loved reading about your low-key holiday — sleeping in, reading the WHOLE paper — sometimes it’s doing little that does a lot for our mental health. The stew looks great — I love African stew. (Back in Wis., my modern sewing machine sits on top of a similar antique sewing cabinet. I sure missed having the sewing machine recently when I replaced a zipper in a child’s sweatshirt by hand.)

    • Ha, ha! Well, *I* think they’re fetching, but of course, I’m biased. 😉 And kudos to you for sewing by hand. In our last move, I seem to have lost the pedal to my (modern) sewing machine so can’t sew anything. Which means nothing has been sewn since we moved in! (okay, I might do a button by hand, but that’s it. . . ).

  19. Ricki, I LOVE your “old” nut loaf recipe! I have made it dozens of times, for company and just for us and it is always ridiculously good; the glorious smell of it cooking is reason enough to make it! I don’t know how you can improve on it…
    Also, I enjoy all the photos of the girls, they are very adorable.
    Best wishes to you, HH, and the puppers for a happy and healthy New Year.

    • Thanks so much, Wendy! I love it too, but I do sometimes want a new loaf with perhaps slightly different flavors. I’ll keep working on it! And hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year, too! 😀

  20. Turkey=doggie crack. Ha! Yes, it does! I have an eternal best friend in my housemate’s dog, Conan, because he got all the scraps from the 20lb. turkey I roasted for myself. (I froze the leftovers)

    Happy New Year, Ricki! Thanks for all your comments, even though I don’t usually see them. 🙂

    • I swear, I’ve never seen Chaser in such a frenzy! It was a little scary 😉 . And I’m so sorry about all those comments. . . maybe I’ll just email them to you!

  21. It’s so funny that this stew was up this week! Great minds must think alike because I made an African Chicken Chickpea Peanut Stew last night and took some inspiration from this post which popped up in my reader just as I was making it – too funny!

    I of course linked you and gave credit. The stew came out amazing and so aromatic! Thanks for some additional inspiration!

  22. Your dogs are so lovely! And I recognise that look too from the identical ones I was getting as I was scraping the dinner plates on Saturday 🙂
    Ps, I feel your pain on the snow front; ours has only just gone but how are they predicting snow AND rain – that’s just adding insult to injury!

  23. This looks fantastic! I’m always looking for ways to get my husband to eat sweet potatoes as he strongly dislikes them – I don’t really blame him as I don’t find the way he grew up eating them very appetizing either. 😛

  24. I know that this is delish because I made a sweet potato stew with black beans that’s absolutely my favorite. Yes, turkey = Dog Crack around here. But, I’ve found that apples, pears, and yes, even carrot = Dog Crack too. (Gotta’ love it!)

    Happy New Year, my friend!

    Much love,

  25. Two sweet lookin’ dogs. One darn delicious lookin’ African Sweet Potato Stew!

  26. Love your recipe for African Stew, I do not use coconut milk. Could you suggest a substitute to use.
    Thank you

    • Eileen, you’d need to find something else equally rich and creamy. I don’t know if you use dairy cream, but that might work. Or try cashew milk. I haven’t tried either one, though, so that’s just a guess!


  1. […] African Sweet Potato Stew (Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs) […]

  2. […] nut meat or cashew red pepper spread and veggies 6. Lentil or bean soups, vegetable soups and stews (easy to freeze for later) 7. Huge salad with greens, veggies, avocado, beans and oil-free dressing […]

  3. […] potato; green leafys such as spinach, collards or kale. Try Orange Cinnamon Mashed Potatoes or  African Sweet Potato Stew as good […]

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