Sunday, November 24, 2013

dn's Sweet Potato Hummus

Last month, during our Canadian Thanksgiving, I sampled a store bought "Sweet Potato Hummus" at a family gathering. I was surprised at how delicious it was and decided to try and duplicate the recipe.

As usual, I found numerous versions online. Most were quite similar with slight variations in the spices and quantities. The recipe that I finally decided to use as a base starter for my version is from Betty Crocker

I adjusted the tahini and spice quantities downwards. Tahini can make a recipe bitter if you add to much. I also felt that the spices called for would be a little too overpowering and I didn't want something quite as spicy as this sounded. I also added more garlic and the zest of the lemon as it brings extra flavour.

The first time I made this recipe, I used Tahini. I always have cumin in the spice cupboard and had recently bought some of the spices - smoked paprika, coriander and sea salt at a local bulk food store to try in some other recipes, so I was pretty much ready to give it a test.

It smelled delicious but the taste was even better! The flavour was smoky and not overpoweringly hot or spicy. I only gave it a quick taste that first day as many recipes suggested that the flavours needed time to blend and recommended refrigerating overnight before serving. They were right! It was even better the second day!

I took some to a couple of friends for sampling - along with some of my homemadepita chips and a few celery sticks. I received this message later that day: " OMG that dip should be served at restaurants!"

I tried the recipe again this past week. This time, I used cashews rather than tahini. I wasn't sure about the quantity of cashews but guessed at 1/2 cup. It worked perfectly! The other thing I did differently this second time, was saving the liquid from the baked sweet potatoes to re-add in place of any additional water needed at the end of the processing. I measured the liquid that I added to the raw sweet potatoes so that whatever liquid was left over would be concentrated and loaded with the flavour from the sweet potatoes. It would therefore add to the overall flavour - not dilute it like plain water would.

I gave samples of the dip (along with some homemade pita chips) to several people to try. They all thought it was YUMMY!! One of the people admitted they really weren't a fan of sweet potatoes but was willing to give it a try given that they liked the other ingredients. I talked with them a couple days later and they said they were surprised at how delicious this was! They really liked it and wouldn't have known it was sweet potato if I hadn't told them!

Sweet Potatoes and Yams are readily available at very reasonable prices during the autumn and winter months, so why not take advantage and try a new recipe!? Sweet Potato Hummus is a great addition to your holiday gathering or any time of year!

So here is my version of "Sweet Potato Hummus" You choose whether to use tahini or cashews!

dn's Sweet Potato Hummus   
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 lb/454g)
1 lemon
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) chick peas, drained, rinsed
1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini OR 1/2 cup cashews
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 - 4 Tablespoons water - as needed
 Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in an oven proof dish and add 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bake in 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly. 

Drain the excess liquid into a small bowl and reserve. If you pre-weighed the sweet potato you don't have to bother measuring by cup - otherwise mash and measure to know how much you really have. You should get approx 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups.

Zest the lemon then juice, removing seeds. You should get about 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Add the cooled sweet potatoes, zest, lemon juice, chick peas, tahini/cashews (either or - NOT both!) garlic, sea salt, smoked paprika, coriander and cumin to a food processor. Cover and pulse a few times then blend till smooth (about 2-3 minutes), stopping to wipe down the sides a couple times. Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 Tablespoon at a time - processing in between each to thoroughly combine till desired consistency. (Note that the amount of liquid/water needed will vary depending on the amount of sweet potato and lemon juice added.)  
Transfer to a sealable container and chill several hours or overnight before serving to allow the flavours to blend. Serve with pita chips and raw veggies. Makes about 3 cups.

- When I made this, I used part of a sweet potato as the ones I had were well over a pound. The piece I cut off, was about 19 oz/540g so I ended up with a bit over 1 1/2 cups when mashed.
- Baking the sweet potato in a covered dish gives it a nicer richer flavour than boiling or microwaving it. Well worth the extra time to do it in the oven!
- If your sweet potato weighs less or measures less once mashed, you may want to reduce the spices just a smidgen - i.e. scant measures rather than the full ones listed, This of course, depends on how spicy you like things! You can always add more spice but you can't take it out once it is in so give it a taste to make sure before adding more!
- When I zest a lemon, I go pretty much to the white flesh with my zester so get quite a bit more zest than most people do.
- Cut back a bit on the salt if you use salted cashews.
- Also, I believe something would be lost in the flavour if you used sweet paprika rather than the smoky variety.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Will NOT Play This Game!

If you have any type of online presence on social media sites, you've no doubt seen some of the crazy games that are spreading. These aren't the same as game invites that have you using special game apps or boards to play games with your friends. Those can be annoying all on their own!

What I am referring to are the "status" type games.

One that I've seen a fair bit of is the "Giraffe" A rather ridiculous riddle is posted which is specifically designed to confuse the reader into submitting a wrong answer. You are asked to "private message" your answer to the poster. If you get it wrong (majority do) then you have to change your profile pic to a giraffe for 3 days and repost the question to your friends/followers. In other words, you have to spread the humiliation.

At least with that game you are aware that it is a "game" and have the option to take your chances of becoming a giraffe.

There are however, far more embarrassing games out there just waiting for you and your friends to fall into.

Case in point: An online friend who is known for posting some rather interesting updates and rants recently posted this status: "I am gonna confess, support me!"

Hmm, was this a joke? I wasn't sure, but given their past comments, I wondered if something they had said had gotten them in some kind of trouble. So, I responded: "What did you do now?" There were a couple responses from others, but nothing from the poster. Odd. Later that day, I received the following private message:

"You should have never commented HAHAHA! You fell into the trap. This is a game. The person who likes/comments has to choose one of the following to post on his/her timeline.
1. I've been in 42 relationships
2. I think I like someone, what should I do?
3. My mom arranged me for a blind date
4. Someone invited me to be a prostitute, what should I do?
5. I forgotten to wear my underwear today
6. I am gonna confess, support me
7. I still love my ex
8. I just got me some good good
9. I think I'm going gay
10. I'm pregnant
11. I want another baby
Note: you should not explain anything, just post and leave it for at least a day. Im also a victim lol"

Seriously?? I knew my friend had not created this joke and was just following along with the "rules" as they had been given. Trying to be a "good sport" and laugh at their own naivety to fall for the trap. Get it over with and move on.

What was I supposed to do now?

I knew in my heart that I could not play this game and that I needed to explain my reasoning to my friend. I took some time to think about how to express my opinions. I sent this response (slightly edited to protect privacy on both sides) the next morning:

"Good morning – Given your comments of late, I assumed this was some kind of reference to that and further comment was to follow. It NEVER occurred to me that this was a game.

One of the things I pride myself on is a great sense of humour and can enjoy a good joke or knowingly choose to participate (or not) in things such as the giraffe thing that was going around.

BUT to be honest, I don’t find these type of blindside games funny at all. The possible status updates are suggestive, humiliating and some are in very poor taste.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this. As someone who has been teased, and humiliated by people (some who knew me and some who didn’t) my entire life, I can not in good conscience subject myself or the valued friends I do have here to this game – especially those that are minors and those who have stuck by me through some very difficult times. Good natured teasing and jokes are one thing but I will not knowingly participate in someone else being humiliate/embarrassed.

If you feel this makes me a party pooper/poor sport so be it but I will not play this game. I do value your friendship, Hopefully, you will not hold this against me and our friendship can continue as it has."

My friend messaged back that all was good and that they totally agreed with what I said and the post had been removed. Our friendship was solid.

That meant a lot to me to know that they understood and recognized the potential problems with these kind of games.

What consenting adults do to tease or prank each other among themselves is one thing - but it throws it into a whole other world to bring those games into public view via the internet. Personally, I've never been a fan of the blindside type humour that has become so prevalent in our society. It is nothing new of course, but this type of humour has become more rampant in recent years. A sad commentary on our society that people must be humiliated to empower others.

Social media has lowered this "humour" to a whole new level with the blindside style posts/games. These posts are deliberately designed to reel you, your friends, family and followers into their cesspool of humiliation, If they got caught, then so should you! Let's all jump in the quicksand! No one gets hurt right?


By participating in these games, we are demeaning not only ourselves but potentially our friends and loved ones who also care about us. We are not required to stoop to the low brow humour of the depraved minds who create these humiliating games. We have the right and the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and our friends. If the people who do choose to participate in these games are not understanding in our desire to step away, then we are far better off without them in our lives.

Standing up for ourselves and saying no isn't easy. It takes a lot of courage. Sometimes you lose friends in the process but you regain and maintain your self respect. You become a stronger person.

I've proudly hung this "pyramid people" poster in my home since I bought it back in the late 80's: 
From this image it may be hard to tell, but there is a look of fear and disbelief on the purple guys face that is priceless! It is as if the person is saying "How dare someone walk away from the crowd! We need the strength of the minions to survive!"

The look of pure joy on the little red guys face as he walks away from the pyramid gives me strength to face whatever comes my way! It reminds me that I am a unique person who is capable of making my own decisions and I will not be drawn into group mentality.

I found this image online a couple years ago
For me, it is a symbol of unity. We are standing together - side by side - all on the same level. A hope that someday we will all find a way to get along as equals - regardless of our gender, orientation. race, religion or beliefs. A time when there is no bullying, or a need for humiliating other living beings.

May all of us find that peace.