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Hello.

Welcome to the weeks of training for my first marathon.

The Best Veggie Dumplings

The Best Veggie Dumplings

Both Alex and my parents have been out of town this past week.  Alex in Hawaii and my parents in Alaska.  I've been sent photos from both the beautiful snow capped mountains of Denali National Park and the palm tree laden beaches of Waikiki.  It's tough to be the only one with no vacation days.  I guess that's the bittersweet thing about having a new job.  Ah, well.  For now, I'm happy living vicariously through them.  

Week 3 Training Schedule

  • Monday: Arms
  • Tuesday: 3 Miles
  • Wednesday: Legs 
  • Thursday: 3 Miles 
  • Friday: Rest/ Stretch
  • Saturday: 6 Miles 
  • Sunday: Rest/ Stretch

While my parents and aunt are in Alaska I agreed to water the plants.  Between going to my parent's house while they're away and Alex being away, I've had a lot of time to myself. 

This quiet week has left me with hours to mull over and build recipes totally uninterrupted. On my car ride to and from work, to and from my parent's house, and when I get home from work, all I think about is "What should I make next?"  I was cooking for one: Me.  There was no pressure for meals to be awe-inspiring--If the recipe fell flat, I could scramble an egg for dinner and call it a night.  I had the freedom to test the waters.  

After being at my parent's place, my childhood home, on Thursday, I felt inspired.  It's amazing how different the home you grew up in feels when you're in it alone as an adult.  

On the drive home from my parent's house, I reminisced about how I came to enjoy cooking as much as I do today.  

I don't remember the exact moment I fell in love with cooking but I do carry a compilation of memories that involve food and cooking and shadowing my mom or my grandmother as they cooked.  

One of my most vivid memories with my paternal grandmother was making dumplings.  She would make rice dumpling wrappers from scratch and wrap dozens of dumplings in an afternoon. I can't remember how I'd end up standing on a chair in the dining room next to her but she was always patient with me.  She would give me a wad of dough, I'd roll it into an imperfect sphere, throw it between the plates of a tortilla press, flatten the dough to make a wrapper, and proceed lop-sidedly fill and fold the dumping into a partially closed pouch.  I would make one or two sad dumplings before my grandmother would gently sculpt a little white dough duckling for me. It was her way of saying, "Alright.  That's enough from you." Still by her side, I'd play with my dough duckling and she'd continue making dumplings. 

I owe a lot of my cooking chops and interest to not only my Po Po but from my paternal grandfather who marathoned KQED cooking shows on the weekend, my maternal grandmother who cooked new, flavorful dishes for dinner, and my mom who would bake with me and show me how to make wontons on the weekends.  Fast forward to today, I make dumplings on my own for Alex and I from the recipes I enjoyed as a kid.  

This veggie pot sticker pays homage to all the cooks in my life.  This recipe is the perfect representation of who I am as a home cook today.  It marries the ingredients that I've discovered and enjoy as an adult with the flavors and food of my childhood.  

To make this recipe, I use the exact same sauces and spices as I do in my mom's pork dumpling recipe.  Between the seasoning in the filling, the crispy bottom of the potsticker, and the dipping sauce, you hardly noticed that this was vegetarian.  I also can't help but mention that the texture is comparable to a pork dumpling.  I know, it's hard to believe, so you'll have to try the recipe for yourself. 

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Pot Stickers 

Ingredients:
Dumplings:
20 sui kau wrappers (round dumpling wrappers)
1 small yam (about 1/2 cup), roasted and peeled
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs liquid aminos
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 Tbs shaoxing wine
1/2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
2 tsp salt

Dipping Sauce:
2 Tbs liquid aminos
1/2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs ginger, shredded
1 Tbs water
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp chili oil
Scallions (optional)

Method:
In a small pot, boil the quinoa in a 1 cup of water.  Let boil for 5 minutes.  Simmer on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Turn off the heat and let cool until ready. 

Heat a small pan over medium heat.  Add raw walnut halves for about 3-5 minutes keeping a close eye on them.  Toss and continue to toast for an additional 3-5 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool, about 5 minutes.  Coarsely chop and set aside.  

In a large bowl, smash the roasted, peeled yam with a fork.  Add cooled quinoa, liquid aminos, shaoxing wine, and salt and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Finally, add baby spinach, toasted walnuts, and toasted sesame oil. Mix together well.  

For the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together and set aside to let flavors marry.  

Now it's time to set your dumpling making station.  Grab your bowl of filling, wrappers, and a small bowl of water (this will be your glue to seal the wrapper).  Take a wrapper in the palm of your hand and fill it with 1 Tbs of filling.  Using your finger, dip into the water and spread a thin layer around the outer edge of the wrapper.  Fold the wrapper in half, gently pinching the center together.  Then starting on one side, crimp the flap closest to you toward the center.  Repeat on the second side. And ta-da!  First dumpling, complete.  Repeat these steps until all your filling/ wrappers are used.  

Heat a pan on high heat.  Add a thin layer of oil to the pan and swirl until the bottom is entirely coated.  Add your dumplings flat side down.  Careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Sear the bottom for a minute on high and then add 1/4 of water to the pan and cover immediately.  (Careful, this step will splatter a bit.)  Turn the heat down to medium.

Steam for 5 minutes or until dumpling wrapper becomes ever so slightly translucent.  Remove the lid, turn the head back up to high, and cook until water is evaporated.  Gently remove from pan with chopsticks or a spatula. 

Serve and enjoy with dipping sauce.  I prefer my dumplings with chopped, raw scallions but you can leave them out if you'd like.  

Serves 2

Protip: 

Freeze whatever you do not eat that day.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then line up your dumplings on the cookie sheet.  Stick in the freezer for 30 minutes.  

Pull the frozen dumplings out of the freezer and place in a zip top bag.  Dumplings will last up to 3-weeks.  

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Nuttzo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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