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Posted on Apr 19, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Recipes | 16 comments

Updating My Traditions



Thank you to Log Cabin for sponsoring my post about updated traditions in my household. To learn more about Log Cabin Syrups (which are all free of High Fructose Corn Syrup), breakfast for dinner, and other new ways to update traditions in your home, click here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.




If any of you loverly readers out there have perused the sidebar of my blog, you’ll see that under my shining face is a li’l mini-bio of yours truly complete with the word “Whasian.” For those of you who are unaware, “Whasian” is a portmanteau (check out that word usage!) term for people of combined Caucasian and Asian heritage. For example:

White (like my Oregonian Father):


Plus Asian (like my Chinese Mama):


Equals Whasian:


The first photo is of my siblings, myself, and our equally Whasian cousin. Naturally I tried to pick photos that highlight my “mix” the most. Since, you know, I currently look like this:


True story: When my family and I went on a cruise vacation after my Freshman year of college, the boat photographer thought that I was Ben‘s GIRLFRIEND, not his sister! Augh! Gross! The humiliation!

ANYWAY. Growing up, my mom would make us fantastic, home-cooked Chinese meals that she had learned from her mother, that her mother had learned from her mother, and so on, and so forth. Tradition is a HUGE part of Chinese culture, and it also happens to play a big role on Pop’s side of the family tree as well. It’s always been important for me to try and incorporate traditions of both sides of my family into my daily life.

Fully inspired by both my Chinese and Caucasian heritage, I offer you…


Sweet ‘N’ Whasian Tofu
Print this recipe!

This was a brand new recipe for me because until Sunday I have the added challenge of making everything I ate vegan as well, but I think it still definitely embraces its purpose. It’s a healthy, vegan update of one of my mom’s most famed and delicious traditional dishes, Sweet and Sour Pork! Her traditional recipe includes pork butt (heehee) and a sauce that includes a good deal of sugar. I added in some good old fashioned American touches by way of Vermont (maple syrup, a lower calorie sugar alternative) and even good ol’ Oregon in the form of grapes (channeling those Willamette Valley wines!) and a few berries (of the blue variety.)




2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup (normally I would have used organic ketchup, but I was lazy and didn’t want to go to the store, hahaha.)
1 tsp corn starch or flour (I used whole wheat flour)
Salt & Pepper

Whisk sauce ingredients together. Set aside. Ta-da!


Main Dish:

1 block extra firm tofu
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup edamame
1 cup red grapes
1/4 cup blueberries

Press your tofu. You can either do this with a tofu press, which I obviously don’t own, or by putting the block of tofu in between two heavy things lined with paper towels, with more heavy things on top.


See, Laura? I’m already putting my birthday wine to good use! 😉

After the tofu is even firmer and a lot of the moisture has been pressed out of it, cut it into adorable little cubes. Chopping tofu is so fun! If you like, you can throw a quick little marinade over it in a bowl – I did 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to let the flavor really soak in.


Then toss into a sauté pan, heated to medium heat with the oil of your choice (I used coconut.)


I’ve found the secret to really great tofu is to let it sit and cook long enough until it starts to really brown. Mm-mmm. Next step is to toss in the veggies (but not the fruit!)


Remember that sauce we set aside? Add it, yo!


Let the sauce simmer and sizzle and reduce until it’s all delicious and thick and nom-tastic.


Finally toss in the grapes and bluebs, then dish it out! I served up mine on a half-cup of quinoa, so I guess you can add another dimension of America (as in, South, get it?) in for this dish, hehehe.


Consume with chopsticks or fork, at your leisure. 🙂


It turned out great! Sweet, savory, a little sour and totally delicious. Success! What are some ways that you’ve updated some family traditions of your own?


  1. My mom is a foodie and a cook so I think all her children have inherited that. I’m still stalking her for recipes in her arsenal that I want to pass down to my children 🙂

    She’s not a measuring type of chef though so I would think any dish I make that reminds me of her is updated and new.

    I’m potentially going to end up having Indian-Taiwanese babies so that’ll be super interesting to see what happens to them LOL.

    • I can tell from both you AND Diana that you guys are foodies to the core! I love it. 🙂 Also, Indian-Taiwanese? That’s awesome! Think of the food-fusion EXPLOSION… bok choy masala, bubble tea laisses (I don’t know how to spell that, haha) oh the possibilities…

  2. Yum- that looks tasty! Interesting update with adding grapes/blueberries/edamame instead of the pineapple/peppers mom always uses. I’m trying to think what dishes I’ve updated of hers- all I can think of is fried rice. I sort of do an americanized version I guess since I use minced garlic and olive oil instead of ginger and sesame oil. I also add in broccoli/mushrooms along with the egg and soy sauce instead of a more traditional egg/scallion/smallmincedbitofmeat. Does that count?

  3. That dish looks fantastic!

    This made me laugh: “thought that I was Ben‘s GIRLFRIEND, not his sister! Augh! Gross! The humiliation!” haha!!!

    • Oh sure, we can laugh about it NOW… 😉

  4. In my eyes (or mouth, however you want to put it), my parents’ cooking is so good that I don’t know how I could possibly improve it. It just tastes too much like home!

    So instead, I have created my own recipes to add in the family tradition. Everytime I come home, I cook some new concoction for judging. Three of my recipes have been added into the Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners (parmesan brussel sprouts, herbed portebello mushrooms, and pear-cinnamon pie). I guess that I’m more so adding to the tradition than continuing it. Maybe one day I’ll continue/update it.

    • Also, as for the Whasian thing, I GET IT! And you know I get it.
      How many family reunions have I been to on my dad’s side of the family (the white side) and the half that I barely see don’t recognize me and think I’m my cousin’s girlfriend. Bleh!

      • It is a pain only we shall ever know, Rei… sigh.

  5. Impressive!! You’ll have to make it for the rest of us sometime!!

  6. I’ve seen the word “hapa” used more frequently than “whasian” so that’s a new one. 🙂

    • Haha, I’m familiar with that term, too! I’m sticking with Whasian though. It rhymes with so much fun stuff… persuasion, nation, occasion… the wordplay is limitless! 😛

      • Don’t forget “invasion”. A favourite amongst my friends when in Chinatown. 🙂

  7. I love this! I adore tofu! But honestly the berries in it freak me out a little 🙂 but I believe you when you say it’s delicious.

    • It’s so good, I promise!! But I know some people are not a fan of the whole sweet-and-savory combo thing. I think it deserves a chance though… ever tried grapes in your chicken salad? Or dried cranberries in ANYTHING savory?!?! ::drool::

  8. Love it!!!! Looks crazy delicious!


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