Life is pretty good right now.
Work has been relaxing, but productive. Summer is approaching and I'm not getting anxious about it. I'm still cooking, but I'm doing it for fun--planning out one dish at a time, going to the grocery store four times a week, buying just the amount that I need, and not worrying about how much money I'm spending.
I planned to write a post like three weeks ago, but I bought a new laptop, and I had to put that together, and then I had to figure out how to move over all the code for this blog onto the new laptop.
But I did it! And now I have some food photos to share (:
I was at Aldi and I saw that their ground pork had $1 OFF stickers on them, and I learned that seafood and ice cream are not the only things I impulsively buy. It was one pound, so I used a tiny amount of it for some stir fry and saved the rest for dumplings.
It had been a while since I made dumplings, so I wanted to put my not-yet-published dumpling recipe to the test. I decided to buy thicker wrappers this time so I could try using the leftovers for scallion pancakes. I think I prefer the thinner ones though. And it turns out I pretty much used exactly one pack of dumpling wrappers for this, so I really could have just bought one pack of thin wrappers and one pack of thick wrappers.
...but I'll get back to the wrappers later. I think I spent about two hours prepping and wrapping and cooking, and probably another hour eating and cleaning. Yup. That was a Tuesday night. You may think that three hours spent on dinner is way too much time, but it was relaxing and it was delicious.
A few days later, I made the scallion pancakes at my friend's house. My original plan was to make them with her, but she was busy with work, so I did basically everything except make the dumpling sauce. Not quite as time consuming as dumplings, but still pretty time consuming. I really enjoyed it though. There is something so nice about working with your hands and being in motion and not having to think or stare at screens. And then I have something I can eat as a result!
The thicker dumpling wrappers were definitely a good choice for these. I thought they were delicious, and my friend thought they tasted pretty good too. I'll have to make these more often.
If I had the time and energy, I think I'd spend three hours cooking every day.
Last May, I visited my dad. This was a hard trip for me because he wasn't feeling well, but I thought it was worth it to be with him to try and help him out. My sister also flew across the country to join for a few days, and I was really really happy that she was there. This was partly because she cooked and baked some amazing food, but really, I just appreciated how her presence was able to lift my spirits.
So I've had carrots sitting in my fridge for a while. Carrots last a while, so it's not a big deal, but I really wanted to get rid of them. For some reason when I was trying to think of a way to use them up, my mind went to hummus.
I love hummus. I love anything with chickpeas. But I think store-bought hummus is pretty terrible so I always make it myself. Apparently authentic hummus is really creamy and smooth but I like mine to have more texture in it. One of my best friends also really likes hummus. She's the same one who occasionally makes gumbo and lets me have some. I had planned a hang-out with her on Saturday, and I wanted to do something nice.
Now I like to make different variations of hummus, and this time I went with jalapeño cilantro hummus. The last time I made this, my friend told me it wasn't jalapeño-y enough. Which really just means it wasn't spicy. I usually de-seed jalapeños when I use them, but for this batch, I used two jalapeños and I mostly kept the seeds in it.
The verdict? It was delicious. Seriously, this is like the best my hummus has ever tasted. I brought the hummus and some pita bread over to my friend's place and she finished it all the same day.
Oh, but I also used some in Mediterranean Hummus Bowls. This recipe has become one of my go-to's.
I know what you're thinking! What about those carrots? Well, don't worry, I didn't forget about them. I had to make more hummus anyway, so I cut up some carrots to dip in the hummus. And I considered taking a picture of it, but it's literally just hummus and carrots, and that's kind of boring. Delicious though.
Today I cooked lunch for my dad. I'll be honest, this stressed me out. My aunt told me I should make something for him, but I had no idea what to cook. I honestly don't know what my dad likes to eat besides burgers, noodles, and coconut macaroons. Work has exhausted me and stressed me out, and I didn't want to think about making a meal. But I had to.
So I went through my food blog. My whole food blog. And I settled on a couple of stir fry dishes: Thai Basil Chicken and Sauteed Green Beans and Eggplant. I made a grocery list and we went to the Korean store. And you know what happened? They were completely out of basil and green beans! So I was freaking out, trying to think of a Plan B, but then my dad said we could stop at a different Asian grocery store.
Okay, so it's already past 1pm, and I'm starting to prep for lunch. I've gotta chop up green beans, eggplant, bell pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, and chicken. I'm really slow. I don't think I actually started cooking until after 2pm. But if my 大姑 (dua go) were here she'd say "Oh, it must be snowing!" because I never cook around my dad's family and they live in the south.
It's one thing to cook in your own kitchen. It's another thing to cook in a kitchen you're unfamiliar with. I know, it's my dad's kitchen. I should be more familiar with it. But neither his stove nor his oven have any numbers on them! I have no idea where "medium heat" is. I couldn't even really use measuring spoons.
But, I made it work. I'm happy. My dad liked the food.
Since I didn't go and see my family on Thanksgiving, my friend invited me over for a (very small) Friendsgiving. Small in the number of people, but definitely not in the amount of food. I offered to bring dumplings, which ended up being a huge hit. I had fish tacos during Chinese New Year last year, so I figured dumplings for Thanksgiving was appropriate.
I actually already had dumplings in my freezer, because of course I did, but I decided to make more because you can never have too many dumplings. At this point, I don't really even use a recipe anymore. This is what I put in the filling this time:
And for the sauce (No measurements, because who knows how much of everything I added):
Of course, the key to making good dumplings is to just microwave a small bit of filling and try it, and if it needs something, add it.
I also had to buy a new non-stick pan because my last one was ruined when we brought it on our last camping trip. This is the first time I attempted to arrange the dumplings in a fancy circle. It did not end up that fancy. I don't know how my sister makes it look so nice.
But as always, it was delicious.
Look at the bottom of that dumpling! You don't want to know how many times I attempted to take a close-up picture of one.