It’s hard to believe that I haven’t written anything on this blog in a month…Especially when I went through phases when I’d write twice a week, then at least once a week. Lately I’ve been busy with school and travel and teaching and work, and I haven’t had as much time to cook up new things in the kitchen.
Luckily these potstickers are just the ticket during busy times. They’re customizable. They take a while to mix, fill, and fold. But once the hard work is done, they’re quick to cook… And you can cook them from frozen.
The mushroom & greens filling is savory, a little spicy, but very light. Potstickers cook up with crisp bottoms and delicately soft tops. The filling cooks down in volume, and the mushrooms and cabbage release their liquid to make a sort-of broth.
I like making these potstickers with kale instead of napa cabbage for flavor. (Cabbage just happened to be what was in my fridge.) If you’re going for something more substantial, I’d recommend filling these with sautéed mushrooms and onions. I’ve even made a cooked minced mushroom and nut filling that worked exceptionally well, and made these a lot heartier.
Fourth of July weekend seems like the perfect time to share this lemonade recipe. It’s an easy recipe, and the perfect thirst quencher on a hot afternoon.
This lemonade is made with sweet-tart plums, sugar, water, and lemon. It’s a stunning bright red, and flavorful despite the simple preparation.
If there’s one food item to look forward to in the summer, it’s the baskets of farm-fresh, ultra-ripe, extra sweet fruit at the farmers’ market. I’ve waiting for strawberries all season, and finally picked up a gorgeous basketful at the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market. I like using strawberries to fill and decorate cakes, or cooking them into pies of all kinds.
But there’s an even simpler preparation that yields great rewards. Jam.
This method works with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, stone fruits… Just about any summer fruit works here. But I like strawberries the best, for their fresh flavor and texture.
The simplest and easiest quick jams are just fruit and a little sugar, simmered together until done. You always can fancy-up your jams with all kinds of juices, spices, and flavorings. I chose to add lemon and thyme to my strawberry jam. (Strawberries + thyme are an unexpected flavor combo, but they’re total winners to me!)
I’m always looking for interesting ways to add whole grains to my diet, and for filling dishes that feature raw vegetables. I love make-ahead meals for their ease and simplicity. And light lunches I can eat straight out of my fridge are the absolute best. I’ve been cooking big batches of grains lately, adding them to different meals throughout the week. When I finally realized that I could make tabbouleh with quinoa, I knew it would make it into my regular lunch rotation.
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern herb salad, traditionally made with parsley, mint, tomatoes, onions, and cooked bulgur wheat, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. This version goes a little lighter on the herbs, skips the mint, adds in cucumber, and replaces bulgur with quinoa. Perhaps inauthentic, but delicious nonetheless. It’s still a parsley-heavy grain salad, and makes for a light summertime meal.
It’s hard for me to say “no” to any meal that involves fresh, bright summer vegetables.
I’m currently contemplating a big blog change, because fonts and colors and layouts are important. I’m also doing a project on instagram that involves launching an online handmade store in 100 days. I’m trying to make things and read things and figure out what all of my little projects and hobbies add up to. And all the while, I’m reading 800-page novels and writing papers and taking exams for classes that will be over in a month.
Sure, I constantly have stuff to do, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’m learning so much. I’m learning about the brain and the body, about our strange culture, about the ways that we speak to each other now. I’m learning how to write well and clearly. Most of all, I’m learning that it takes guts and time to make things, and put them out there in the world.
Nothing you ever write or paint or photograph is 100% perfect. Sometimes you have to let it go, say “this is it,” and release your work. Sometimes people will criticize you, or they won’t like what you’re doing. And sometimes you won’t hear a response at all, because nobody will see the thing that you spent hours making. But sometimes, your work will resonate with someone. They will love what you’ve created.
And that feels like winning the lottery. I honestly think that moment of connection is why anyone doing any kind of creative work keeps going. I know it’s why I do.
I never envisioned this blog as a place for how-tos, but I’m liking these simple posts. Photographed step-by-steps of kitchen basics. This might turn into a series.
I’ve shot a few of these posts so far. While I imagined them as a way to share my kitchen knowledge, I’ve actually learned a few new tricks myself. Take this post on artichokes, for example. I had never roasted them before testing out this recipe for the blog.
It has been years since I had an artichoke— three, maybe four years. My parents used to steam them for family dinners every once in a while, but artichokes mostly looked intimidating to me. Sharp, spiky, messy to eat, and how on earth are you supposed to cook them without turning them mushy? The flavor of an artichoke is incredible, but hardly ever seemed with the work.
I’ve eaten steamed artichokes my whole life, which are easy enough to make. But I was recently told that grilled artichokes are the gold standard. I don’t own a grill, and I still haven’t had an artichoke with that special charcoal smokiness. But what I do have is a very hot oven.
I bought a bunch of artichokes and opted to roast them, concentrating their flavor and adding just a touch of caramelization.
There are times for over-the-top cakes, lovingly prepared salads with twelve ingredients, and cups of coffee brewed with exact precision.
Sometimes you just need something simple.
And this strawberry lime iced tea is exceedingly simple. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it feels weekend-appropriate. I made this for a Saturday afternoon picnic with some friends, and it was just right.
Warm weather, sunshine, a beautiful park, and good friends. (I feel lucky to live in Northern California, which is currently 100% snow-free.)
It’s that time of year again. And I am one of those people that gets way too excited for the holidays.
I’ve been listening to Christmas music on Rdio, and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. I’ve started making mental lists of fun winter activities I want to do— the people I want to see, the places I want to visit. I’ve been looking out for the best winter store displays, and wearing flannel and sweaters like they’re going out of style. (This is odd, of course, because I live in Berkeley, California. The weather rarely drops below 55 this time of year.)
But, of course, it’s too early for holiday cheer. Today we pull back. This is a recipe that feels appropriate in November— it’s a real fall treat. It’s something that you eat as the weather grows colder, but doesn’t quite work once Christmas and New Year roll around.
Unless, of course, you just love pumpkin that much. Nothing wrong with that.
Is it the weekend already? These last few days have gone by fast. When you’re crazy busy with school or work or whatever else, it’s easy to let the time fly by. I’ve been taking midterm exams and trying to catch up on readings. It feels like there is rarely any down time.
I think it might be time to hit pause. Do something fun for a change.
This weekend, I’ll be taking a break and treating myself to some healthy and delicious home-cooked food. You can bet that this will be on the list of dishes I make.
Call this the last of the transition meals. We’re officially several days into fall now, but I still have some late-summer vegetables hanging around my fridge. I suppose you do, too? I turned the last of my eggplant and tomatoes into this plate of pasta, a dish warm and hearty enough to fill your belly on a chilly night. I suggest you do the same. If you’re living in a warmer clime (say, in California) these vegetables will be available to you a bit longer.
This is your basic garlic and oil pasta— aglia et olio— topped with seasoned roasted vegetables. It’s incredibly simple to make, but absolutely delicious. Roasting the tomatoes sweetens them and concentrates their flavor. The eggplant turns silky smooth in the oven. Toss the veggies with the garlic pasta, add some parsley and salt, and you have a great meal.
Don’t be afraid of roasting tomatoes! I know I was the first time I tried it— I was afraid they would release their juices, and cook into a watery mess. That didn’t happen, at all. Instead, roasting tomatoes evaporates off some of their liquid and intensifies their flavor. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a little caramelization by the time your pan comes out of the oven.