Monthly Archives: November 2013

It grows on you.

“It grows on you.” I have heard this statement, or some variation of it, from countless locals over the past three months. I guess it’s only logical that the number one metaphor used to by people in this agriculture-centric town would be one using an agrarian comparison. What they mean by this farming comparison is that the town endears itself to newcomers over time. I cannot truthfully state that I have as of yet arrived at a place of full-grown attachment to this place, but our lives here are certainly growing more and more full. (And yes, these ‘grow’ word play puns were intended.)

view on my morning run

Trevor is now playing hockey on a men’s rec league two nights per week. Though it is uncomfortably cold at the outdoor rink (I am taking lessons from natives on how to keep warm–one woman brings a portable propane heater and sets it up in the stands!), it is a fun connection to the community here and we are hoping it will also be a good venue for meeting friend-potentials.

men's league hockey game

Notice the score; Trevor is on the “old man” team, which has now been whipped three times in a row by the team composed mainly of men in their late teens and early twenties!

As my search for out-of-home employment slowly moves forward I am finding that my time is steadily filling up, even without a job. I am now a dedicated member of three separate book clubs, an on-call volunteer at the church to prepare snacks for the after school tutoring program, and an accomplished baker of rustic and crusty bread (recipe from Simply So Good). And the walls of our home are filling with my burgeoning “art” projects.

crusty asiago-cheddar bread

We have also determined that Wenatchee is the most happening place around, and have embraced that town as our home base for cultural and commercial needs. Just last weekend, amidst a trip designed to meet the uninspiring dual purposes of dropping off our faulty boat motor for rehabilitation and collecting our finally repaired (and thankfully functional) vacuum cleaner, we discovered the most wonderful indoor market. Wandering among the trendy restaurants, artisan bakeries, and fresh local produce stands it felt like we had been magically transported to Pike Place or Fisherman’s Wharf. Needless to say, I was an instant fan, have already planned a friend meet-up lunch date there, and complained vociferously when it appeared that Trevor had consumed more than half of the INCREDIBLE maple bar we purchased to “share”.

That’s right. I’m ending another post on the topic of maple bars.

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Dumpling deluge

Before I begin here, let me first make it clear that I did not grow up eating dumplings of any kind. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I finally caved in to my parents’ insistence that I would actually enjoy the potstickers they always ordered at our regular strip-mall Chinese food restaurant. They were right. I did like them. Potstickers became my introduction into the dumpling world, and were for many years the only exception to my “no weird squishy foods” rule.

After “growing up” and “moving out” I began experimenting with cooking, enjoying gourmet restaurants, and expanding my, initially very narrow, culinary horizons. Friends who know me well might still say I’m one of the “pickiest” (Isn’t that a negative-feeling word? I prefer the term “discriminating”) eaters they know, but those who have known me the longest are often astonished by the variety of foods that I eat, order, and even make at home.

Since moving to our small rural town I have more time than ever before to try new things in the kitchen. It’s one of the hobbies that gives structure and a sense of productivity to my days. And I recently noticed one curious food that has made three appearances on my home menu in the past few months: dumplings. I’d like to share them with you here, both because they were all AMAZING and because I feel this is a notable milestone in my journey as a food eater.

1. Ricotta-based gnocchi. I followed an extremely simple recipe from delicious days and used the homemade ricotta that I wrote about in My first cheese baby. The only reason that these delicious gnocchi will not become a weekly occurrence at our home is the eye-popping calorie count. I served them tossed in fresh, homemade pesto from the my herb garden and a side salad (a passing acknowledgement to the underwhelming nutritional value of the dinner).

Ingredients for the ricotta gnocchi.

Ingredients for the ricotta gnocchi.

I’m very sorry to report that there were no photos taken of the finished product. They were devoured before anyone could capture proof of their dainty, fluffy, pillowy beauty.

2. Chicken and dumpling soup. I adapted from Annie’s Eats lighter chicken and dumplings, making it still lighter by exchanging pan seared chicken breast for the thighs and wings, but following the dumpling portion of her recipe to a t (or to a Tb, depending on what was called for).

Soup dumplings may not be the prettiest things in the world, but they were scrumptious.

Soup dumplings may not be the prettiest things in the world, but they were scrumptious.

Annie approximates that this recipe will yield 8 servings, and I’m proud/ashamed to admit that my husband and I reduced that to 4, scarfing half of the recipe yield for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day. We just couldn’t keep out of it.

3. POTSTICKERS!!! I have long aspired to try my hand at creating a homemade version of the dumpling that opened my eyes to the great and wonderful world of dumplings, but they seemed very intimidating with all of the requisite rolling, filling, folding, and pleating. I came across this recipe online months ago and relegated it to waiting in my Pinterest food board. I finally found the inspiration and courage to give it a whirl last night. I admit, this was not a simple recipe. My first attempts at forming the pleated little delicacies were lumpy, bulging balls of dough. My first foray into cooking them resulted in smoking, black-bottomed hunks of carcinogens. But I persevered, and my perseverance was rewarded with authentic tasting and reasonably attractive looking potstickers. When Trevor first bit into one he exclaimed, in obvious surprise, “they taste just like potstickers!”.

In fact, I was so happy with the results of those potstickers that weren’t grotesquely misshapen or burnt that today I made another batch of dough and used the remaining filling to create a whole new fleet of these for the freezer. I’m very much looking forward to enjoying them straight from the freezer and into the frying pan without first having to endure an hour of folding and pleating!