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Abrazos! xox Penny

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Party On!

Hallmark must be in over-drive because it seems I have missed more than several holidays in March already and oodles slipped by me in February. No, not the big ones like Valentines' Day and Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays (remember how fun those were to celebrate separately with a jelly roll "log" cake for Lincoln and sweet cherry something for Washington??) Most of the other "special days" I hadn't heard of but I bet some of you feted the margarita on National Margarita Day, right? Anyone??? I will try to remind those of you who missed it when I remember exactly which day in Feb it was! I have got to read the fine print in my day planner better...certainly it knows all these important dates!! Anyway, onward to March.

March is National Peanut Butter Month and National Have a Friend Over for Dinner Month ( as well as my birth month, Paddy's Day, Daylight Savings Day, Vernal Equinox...) I am not kidding; each week is jam-packed with excuses to have a party or two or three.

March began while I was at my mom's soothing her over the first anniversary of my dad's death. Except for a few blips and crazy weather, things went pretty well. A tear or two or several but overall, she (and I) talked through the remembrances and nearly finished up all the legal/administrative stuff. I am really glad that the first year is behind us. It was great to hear her recall some of their moments together with a little laughter instead of such deep sadness. I do worry about her loneliness and so, among other things I had to do, I also threw a few parties for her pals, not March's dinner idea but lunch.

Both of us love to trying out new recipes on guests (consider yourself warned!) and without knowing it, did give March and peanut butter its due. For one party, our guests were world travelers and so we wanted a fun exotic dish to serve. You can vary this recipe in so many ways. Our guests included two omnivores and two veggies and so I actually made two versions, one with local bay scallops (oh my, they were back in season this year with a salty-sweetness that was amazing!) and the other with tofu. While not a fan of soy, I found this tofu one terrific.

West African Stew

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large white onion, diced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 tart apple, diced (sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 14-ounce can veggie broth
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 pound bay scallops or firm organic tofu ( note: original recipe called for chicken, turkey or shrimp but I had to "make it mine" and substitute sustainable alternatives for omnivores and vegetarians)
1 cup brown rice (cook with 2 cups liquid)

In a large skillet, heat peanut oil over medium heat until hot. Add onions, Worcestershire sauce and minced jalapenos. Saute until onions are brown. Add sweet potato and apple. Stir in 1/2 cup veggie broth. Add peanut butter, stirring until it is absorbed. Turn down heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Add curry, Tabasco, coconut extract, marmalade and simmer 30 minutes, adding remaining broth as needed. While the stew cooks, prepare rice. About 5 minutes before serving, add in scallops or tofu and heat through. To serve, ladle over a bed of rice and top with a merriment of condiments: chopped almonds or peanuts, flaked coconut, sliced bananas, etc.
Serves 4.

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