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Iris’s Batavian favorite: Gado-Gado (Mix-mix in Malayan)

My Dutch-American friend, Iris (Annika in the story), grew up in Indonesia in the 1930’s. Their Indonesian cook knew gado-gado was her favorite dish and cooked it frequently using vegetables from their garden behind Mansion Iris. We often went to a Thai restaurant in Seattle where Iris could order something similar. The aroma, texture, and taste of food takes us back to favorite (in her case) memories. Iris’s story, Sapphire Promise, begins eighty years ago, where Gado-gado is mentioned several times. I hope you find the recipe timelessly appealing!

Yummy Peanut SAUCE ingredients

2/3 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

1 TBL Soy sauce

2 tsp honey

½ to 1 tsp chili paste or substitute ¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper mixed in 1 TBL catsup

2 large garlic cloves diced very fine

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice 

1 cup water

2 TBL brown sugar

Veggies to steam/Blanch

2 bunches cleaned spinach-thoroughly washed and roots removed (reserve about ¼ of a bunch)

4 cups beansprouts*

2 cups green beans

3 red potatoes sliced thin (as if you were making fried potatoes) 

1 sweet potato sliced thin and cut into bite-sized pieces

Add ins from your refrigerator: sliced mushrooms, yellow snap beans, bok choy, Swiss chard

Fresh Garnish possibilities

4 or 5 boiled eggs, peeled and halved or quartered

1 cucumber, sliced thin on an angle

1 bunch of green onions, washed and diced from the white up an inch or so into the green stem.

Reserved fresh spinach, sliced radishes, tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes

Instructions for a meal that will serve four (ish)

PEANUT SAUCE made easy

Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir regularly and don’t let it come to a boil or it will break. Cook for ten minutes while you clean, chop, and dice. You should be able to drizzle it, so if it thickens, add little dabs of water or coconut milk. Keep it warm on the lowest heat.


Fill a kettle of water big enough to put a six-inch-wide metal strainer/colander in it to a depth of four inches. Bring the water to a boil. You are going to blanche the veggies in it and the colander helps.

Cook the potatoes for about six minutes or until tender but not mushy. Lift them with the colander, shake off most of the water, and transfer them to a platter. Broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, and thinly sliced carrot will take about three minutes, green beans a bit less. Test them to not overcook.

Cook the beansprouts in the same manner for 3 minutes or until just wilted. While still in the colander, press out excess water. *Our local stores do not have sprouts at this time….hopefully in the future.

Add spinach and push the leaves under to submerge them – they will instantly wilt. Remove them, leave in the colander and press out excess water. Bok choy, swiss chard, cabbage, and other greens cook in the same manner.


I pan-fried and then steamed Tofu Vegetable Dumplings (Organic -Vegan). The packaged voluntarily appeared in my Imperfect Produce box. The two resident carnivores liked them alongside the above meal! My son wonders if peanut sauce is the ranch dressing in other parts of the world!   Enjoy a taste of Java!

Sapphire Promise

By Sally Brandle

Loyalty to family. Trusting instincts. The will to survive. These virtues are deeply embedded in a mature Dutch teenager, Annika Wolter. Her attributes prove useful as she navigates typical coming-of-age insecurities and a blossoming romance with a handsome lieutenant in 1939 Batavia, Java.

Nothing prepares her for the distress of Hitler’s attacks on European countries followed by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, toppling her idyllic life in the Dutch East Indies colonial society and separating her from the man she loves. Uplifting events from a true story showcase how determination, nursing basics, and language skills keep a young woman and her mother alive in the worst Japanese internment camp in the Pacific. If you admire clever women and unfailing love in a tropical wartime setting, you will be captivated by Sapphire Promise.

Available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and Large Print  

About the Author:

Multiple-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense, motivating readers to trust their instincts. Growing up as a tomboy alongside brothers prepared her to work in a male-centric industry, raise sons, and create action-packed stories featuring strong women. She thrives on creating unintentional heroines who conquer their vulnerabilities and partner with heroes to outwit cunning villains. Penning Iris’s enhanced memoir presented a challenge to stay true to her life while portraying the colonial aspect of Sapphire Promise in a sensitive manner. Research and consultations with a variety of experts proved invaluable. Sally’s rescued Tuxedo cat, Shepherd dog, and Blue Heeler are her companions during long spells of writing or bouts of tormenting weeds in her garden. Afternoons she often spends riding on the wind with her thirty-one years young Quarter Horse.

Connect with Sally on her Website (EVENTS tab-offers for free Book Club zoom appearances): Facebook: Blog link