Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Welcome to Inaugural Ball #44

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 21, 2009

Yesterday was a celebratory day from sun-up through well into the evening! It was January 20th, the inauguration day of our 44th president—President Barack Obama. And it was a day packed with great fun, fabulous food, and the camaraderie of good friends!
No, I didn’t travel to DC and brave the chilling temps to watch our new Pres become sworn in, recite the flubbed oath of office, make one of his inspiring speeches, and stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue—though that might have been pretty darned exciting.

Truth is, I didn’t even venture out of my San Fernando Valley house except for the few moments it took to line the walkway to my house with a dozen plastic American flags I had collected over the years from realtors’ 4th of July promotions. Seems my husband caught the Obama fever, too. He posted a sign on the door he calligraphed in red, white, and blue that read “Welcome to Inaugural Ball #44.”
Yes, we were having an unofficial inaugural event of our own by sharing the day with a dozen active and politically savvy friends. We invited them for a potluck lunch and an afternoon glued to the TV to take in the Washington excitement and festivities surrounding the inauguration. The table was set with napkins in the appropriate colors, too, along with a giant stars and stripes candle in the shape of “Uncle Sam’s patriotic hat.”

We honored our new president with a proper toast and dined on comfort foods. We passed the day laughing, shouting, commenting, listening, and were totally transfixed by this historic day that stirred so much hope throughout the nation. The friends who had the endurance to stay for dinner enjoyed a bowl of vegan chili that was cooking in the crockpot all afternoon. The entire event was heartwarming and memorable down to the evening’s ball hopping parties.
It was such a joy watching Barack and Michelle steal a few hugs during their dances at the balls and watch them exchange loving smiles and an occasional peck on the cheek. We even loved her stunning white ball gown and daytime yellow outfit.

I along with my husband and friends are feeling a long-awaited sense of relief that our country will, at last, be in responsible hands. Things are definitely looking up.

Our best to you Barack and Michelle Obama!

Below is my delicious PINE NUT infused potluck contribution to our Inaugural Ball. You don’t have to wait for an inaugural event to enjoy this sumptuous dish. It’s delicious any time. If the quantity is too large, simply cut the recipe in half and bake it in an 8-inch square-baking dish.



An elegant ragout that brings sweet potatoes into the limelight, this dish scents the entire kitchen with seductive aromas while roasting. Although our typical grocery stores make the distinction between yams, which are orange, and sweet potatoes, which are yellow, technically, they are all sweet potatoes. For this dish, I prefer the orange sweet potatoes for their appealing vivid color, though I have sometimes used some of each. Enjoy the bold flavors this entrée brings to the festive season along with its inviting colors and irresistible seasonings and textures. This is an easy, make-ahead dish that tastes even better the next day.

To store in the refrigerator, remove the aluminum foil and cover with plastic wrap. To reheat, replace the aluminum foil and place the baking dish in a cold oven at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, remove the ragout from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Then warm in a preheated 350-degree oven. Serve along with a salad and a vegetable side dish like steamed or sautéed Brussels sprouts or broccoli.

Yield: about 6 to 8 servings

    3 to 3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

    1 large onion, sliced, slices quartered
    2 ribs celery, chopped
    1/4 cup water
    1 tablespoon canola oil

    1 large carrot, coarsely shredded

    4 strips Fakin’ Bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/3 cup raisins
    1/3 cup raw pine nuts
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 pound Lightlife GimmeLean, sausage flavor

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and have ready a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
    2. In a large bowl combine the sweet potato chunks, maple syrup, lemon juice, soy sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger and set aside.
    3. In a large, deep skillet combine the onion, celery, water, and canola oil. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add more water if needed to prevent burning the onions. Add the carrots and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. Transfer the cooked onions and carrots to the bowl with the sweet potatoes, along with the Fakin’ Bacon, raisins, pine nuts, brown sugar, and salt. Stir well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
    5. Break the Gimme Lean sausage into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl, stirring gently.
    6. Transfer the ragout to the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for about 30 minutes.
    7. Remove from the oven, carefully lift the foil, and stir the ragout. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Recover with the aluminum foil and bake another 20 minutes. Spoon the ragout into serving bowls along with some of the sauce.

One Response to “Welcome to Inaugural Ball #44”

  1. Amy said

    Sounds like a great party! Wish I could have joined in the fun. What an exciting new blog! You have so much knowledge to share about nuts and how to use them in delicious recipes. I’m glad that you created this blog.

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