Dumpling Parties

My friends and I got together to chat, assemble dumplings, and watch Crazy Rich Asians.

According to our vague recollection, we think it’s been 8 years since we last did this and we loved every second of it. Even when we were using some questionable folding techniques.

Dumpling Obsessed

I have a poorly kept secret to share with you. I love dumplings. Dumplings, by my broad definition, are protein-y type things wrapped in starch-y type things. Those protein-y, starch-y things on things are then cooked somehow… boiled, steamed, fried, baked. There is probably a more technical explanation, but for my purposes this definition is just about perfect. And by “my purposes” I of course mean the express purpose of eating dumplings and trying to figure out how to make them myself.
Take for instance these dumplings here. They have a few names: gyoza, pot stickers, pork dumplings. I’m not sure about the first time I had them, but I’m pretty sure they are what started me on this path of finding/making/eating this type of food. I was so set on finding the perfect recipe and making these dumplings, that my friends hosted a dumpling making party. We probably assembled a couple hundred. We were quite proud of ourselves. After I felt like I’d perfected those, I moved on to:
  • apple dumplings
  • chicken and dumplings
  • samosas (is this a dumpling?)
  • char siu bao (I’m bad at those)
  • xiao long bao (I’m really bad at those)
  • pelmeni
  • empanadas (again, is this really a dumpling?)
  • tamales (def not a dumpling, but also don’t you touch my tamale)
So in the end what I’m wondering is this: What sort of dumpling do I need to tackle next? I know there are many many out there I haven’t heard of, but since I haven’t heard of them how can I possibly ever expect to find/eat/make them?

It’s National Burger Day

In case you’re the sort of person who needs an incentive to eat out, or an incentive to eat a burger, today is a double whammy of incentivizing.image

Today was National Burger Day!

Now I will take any excuse to celebrate, incentive or no, so I mostly had to stop myself from eating burgers twice today. This is the beautiful Brownfield + Nano Fries from The Green Room.

Simple and yummy, organic beef, and hand cut fries.

I might do it again tomorrow. 🙂

The Time I Was Stubborn About Pasta

This is pasta carbonara with extra smokey bacon and extra garlic. I guessed at the proportions of the ingredients, as I often do, so I have no idea how true to form it turned out. It was perfect in my book, but I have very low standards of myself for this dish since the last time I was trying so hard to perfect it was a nightmare.

To give you some context, I had just graduated college and was cooking basically everything out of a skillet so I spent a lot of time with recipes that required only one pan. I also hadn’t yet figured out how a person shops for only one person, so I was still doing that thing where you buy a gallon of milk, two pounds of pasta, 18 eggs, and more bacon than any single girl could possibly consume before reaching food-borne illness stages.

All of this being mapped out at is it, I imagine you’ve figured out that pasta carbonara was for some reason my go-to-meal for a number of evenings alone in my apartment.

This is no simple task.

My First Attempt

My first few tries at this recipe (I was eternally hopeful) were doomed from the beginning. It was the recipe I used today with great success, but along with only owning one shallow skillet, I also only owned a small set of flatware. And wasn’t sure how to properly cook bacon. This recipe required you to strain the pasta (which I sort of managed to do), scoop it out with tongs (which I did not manage to do), and then “toss it vigorously and non-stop” until the “heat of the cooked pasta turned the eggs into a silky sauce”. Garlic factors in there somewhere, but I didn’t have the nerves to give it a go.

I think it’s safe to say I sloshed the pasta around in the egg until it got clumpy and then garnished it with soggy bacon chunks.

My Second Attempt

Having procured a gallon of whole milk (what was I thinking), I set out looking for a recipe that involved cream. Yes, I planned to use whole milk in place of cream. Yes, my mother is French and I know better. I know better now, anyway. I did not know better than. This experience was not dissimilar to attempts prior, but more blatant butchering of the dish took place. I had missed, not only all of the motherly teachings about how to make sauces, I had also magically missed that part about not straight out boiling dairy.

This dish wasn’t even carbonara. It was spaghetti in a weird parmesan, cheese curd sauce, only without the bacon. I was determined to have something tasty to eat and I just ate that on its own.

My Third and Final Attempt

By this point I had, probably, called my mother for advice. To this day I don’t know if she makes this dish, but she’s a great cook in general so the skills are relevant. I don’t remember very, very much about the actual conversation, but I do remember that I managed to strain my pasta. I also remember that I didn’t ask how high one should have the heat when “sautéing garlic until fragrant”. Not very high at all, is the answer, but I was sort of a high-heat-or-no-heat sort of chef at the time and charred the ever loving health benefits out of it. Then threw it all into the pot with the rest of the ingredients without so much as a “my doesn’t that smell bitter?” and mixed it really well.

This was my final and least edible try at the dish. I vowed never to make it again.

Don’t worry, I’ve got this

The biggest lesson I learned from this misadventure is that “one pot” is not synonymous with “simple”. Now that I actually know how to cook, it clearly went just fine. Silky sauce, no dairy, slightly eggy, with a salty touch of bacon.

Fourth time (and many years’ worth of time) is the charm.

Cuppow Season!

The temperatures are reaching up into the 90s in my neck of the woods which means it’s time to switch to iced coffee to get my mornings started right. Which also means it’s time to break out the Cuppow. I make many of my decisions with an eye toward sustainability and conservation and this little drink helper is no different.   

Now, you can ignore the fact that it looks like a sippy cup of you want to. I embrace it. This is my sippy cup of iced coffee.


The Cuppow is actually just that teal plastic insert on top. The rest is a wide-mouth, tall Ball jar and accompanying ring. I purchased metal straws to go in this one for iced drinks, but I also have  a clear one that is just a standard sippy Cuppow variety.

So every morning this summer, I will be having a cold-brewed, caffeinated beverage out of this quirky and charming cup setup (which has admittedly made appearances on some WordCamp videos).

Bring on the heat!

Dutch Baby

I made a dutch baby, sight unseen, and I’m beginning to wonder if it deserves a little more research of the eating variety.  

Dutch Baby 

I made this 10″ beauty for a couple of friends a few weeks ago and you can see that it is super solid. It was more like a cake than anything else. I have heard that it’s a little like a souffle and a little like a pancake. It should puff up nicely at first and then collapse on itself in a pancakey-textured way.
Mine was about two inches thick and remained that way until we ate it. It was tasty – eggy and slightly sweet – but I’m sure I did something wrong along the way.