Archive for October, 2011

October 29, 2011

October Snow – Pea Dumplings

It’s truly snowing in New York City… in October…

I remember when I was little, all dressed up for Halloween in a princess or angel costume, and my mom made me wear a light jacket or sweatpants over my outfit because there was a chill in the air.  When I was older and went trick or treating with friends, I’d opt to go without the jacket and just be a bit cold.  This year, it’s literally snowing outside two days before Halloween.

I can envision trick-or-treaters in parkas and snow boots, costumes completely hidden and unnecessary.

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I popped in Essex Street Market. I’d never been there because Mike told me it always smells like fish. Curiosity got the best of me and I ventured inside. Overwhelming fish stench; Yes, it definitely smells like fish.

I ran past the endless counters of fish, seeking refuge in the produce section. The prices didn’t seem any better than Keyfood or East Village farms. But, wait! There were sets of veggies wrapped and labelled “$1.00” because there was an excess in the last shipment. I’ll take it! I grabbed some veg for snacks, looked around for some pre-made dumpling sauce (I am in love with Ling Ling dumpling sauce that comes with the potstickers I used to eat by the sackful and wish I had a bottle of it) but alas, I couldn’t find any. I checked out  and I was on my merry way.

Since seeing this 101 cookbooks recipe earlier in the month, I have been curious how difficult it would be to make dumplings. It’s been a month of dumpling-filled dreams, and finally last night Mike and I gave them a try. Earlier in the week I picked up some green onions, ginger, won ton wrappers and bok choy. A cute little cabbage Mike purchased also sat in the fridge. Next to the cabbage was a bowl of wet split peas.

A few things I learned about split peas:

  • The bag says to soak them. Websites say not to. I’m not sure what’s right.
  • They don’t hold their form when they’re cooking. That should have been fairly obvious because they are split and not covered in skin, yet it completely surprised me.
  • I shouldn’t have used so much water. I ended up with a thin pea broth that I had to boil for a crazy long time to reduce it down to a usable pea mush. Had I known they don’t cook like beans, I would have planned that better.
  • Peas make foam! A LOT of foam! I didn’t know what to do with it at first, and then I read that you should skim it off. The stove was covered in white froth, and the whole apartment smelled like peas.
  • I’m not so sure I enjoy cooking split peas.
After the peas were done, I got cracking on the rest of the recipe.  I modified the 101 cookbooks recipe by using green peas, added in cabbage, used red onions instead of shallots because we had a cut red onion in the fridge that I wanted to get out of there, and we used red pepper flakes heated in oil instead of serrano chilles for the sauce.  I admit it was a big project, but it was also pretty fun.
First up, chopping some scallions.

Make the scallion oil…

Set it aside, make the filling according to directions and mix in some sauteed cabbage. Grab your wrappers– I got these at Key Food. Octoberfest optional.

Fill up some wontons with a scoop of cabbage-pea mixture…

Leave them be for a triangular potsticker, or form them into a wonton-y shape.  I liked the triangles.

Pop them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil…

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October 20, 2011

Feelin’ Good Spaghetti Squash!

I just got back from a great day at work, a trip to the tailor, and a run… I’m feelin’ good!

What’s for dinner?  How about something that will keep me feeling light and spry?

Looks like spaghetti… but it’s not!

I’m not going to lie and say it tastes like spaghetti, because, well, it tastes like squash.  But with a nice dose of parmigianno reggiano and a sprinkling of herbs from our “garden” ?  …Can you even call three pots between two apartment buildings a garden?

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October 16, 2011

A New Chapter

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be working outside of the apartment five days a week.  I don’t think it will be a hard transition as I’ve kept pretty busy lately working on multiple projects.

I’m ready for this step.  When I left my last job, I knew what things I wanted to accomplish in the next stage of my life. I’m proud to say I did those things.  I worked on some short-term assignments that built skills I needed to build.  I took the time to enjoy where I’m living and soaked up life in one of the best cities in the world. I made my way to the beach a number of times this summer, a place I treasure because of the way the waves set my soul at peace. I focused on creating a healthier environment for myself and those around me. I built a new home for me and my partner. I strengthened my relationships with the people who mean a great deal to me. Throughout all of this, I looked closely at what should come next, after all of these other things were accomplished. I found what I believe is the right answer.

I’ve felt happiest when I’m working on a few different things and keeping my mind active. By working on three separate-but-related longer-term ventures, I can keep some important ties and create some new ones. The most time-consuming of the three will take what I learned while working on my master’s and build upon it.  I’ll be working on every facet of fundraising for a great non-profit here in the city. What I’ve worked on this summer has definitely prepared me as well.

I’ve got my oatmeal and fresh-picked apple for the morning, and grapes, nuts, oat squares, and ants-on-a-log for lunch. I’ll scope out the kitchen situation tomorrow to see if there’s a fridge or microwave… I’d happily bring zucchini quinoa lasagna or eggplant parm later in the week.

I’m excited. Tomorrow starts the next chapter.

October 14, 2011

Apple Season

My family and I went apple picking last weekend. Let’s just say that will be the last time I go apple picking for at least five years. Without little kids, it just isn’t worth walking through a dusty, winding orchard and stepping on rotting apples to grab a bunch of fruit that I could have gotten for half the price at the farmer’s market.  It just plain feels like work.  That we paid for.

At least they are some darned good apples! Pictured here, with some caramel I had been trying to hunt down.

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