New-Old Traditions: Lucky Dumplings

dumplings1 dumplings2

dumplings4 dumplings3 My favorite family memories consisted sitting around our dining room table, with a big bowl of  minced meat and vegetables, wrapping dumplings.

Our neighbor, Wendy, would come over on a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of freshly made dough, while my mom made the filling. An award deserving duo. My mother would elicit the help of anyone that she could lasso and most of the time we would willfully volunteer, knowing quite clearly that the faster we made the dumplings, the faster we could devour them!

Stories and laughter filled the kitchen as our fingers intuitively folded pleats into the pocket of each dumpling. And of course, the “non-competitive” competition of “whose dumpling looks better” arises every time.

This year, I ventured to continue my family traditions on my own. I adapted a recipe from JackieKaiEllis.com . I added a little more ginger, because I love the extra spicy kick and I always add more vegetables because I love how much more depth I get from more vegetables.

I couldn’t get enough of the sweet smell of chopped Chinese chives dancing through the air, releasing a new crisp movement every time my knife made another cut through the bunch.

My first attempt at making the dough, was quite the dilemma and debacle as every wrapper I made, I gained more respect for Wendy’s skill. Thankfully, I remembered my sweet husband bought me a pasta maker a while ago. I could finally get to the part that I was good at: wrapping the dumplings.

Now I can make new memories to add along to old traditions.

Advertisements
New-Old Traditions: Lucky Dumplings

Gung Hay Fat Choi! Year of the Sheep

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

newyearscandy

No fuss, no mess. My favorite holiday of the year: chinese new year. I love that it lasts for weeks and it’s all about family, good wishes and food.

As a kid we always had a new year candy platter with an impressive array of candy and sweets. Naturally, being the picky eater that I was, I finished off all the ones I loved and didn’t even look at all other options. As an adult on my own, I have the joy of only purchasing the ones I love and leaving out all the others.

My favorite will always be the dried candied lotus seeds. Maybe one year, I’ll learn the meaning behind each candy, but for now, I just love the crunchy sweet and subtle flavor.

The lucky candy will be snacks to take to school for weeks to come. Shiny red wrappers sprinkled around the house nostalgically remind me of new beginnings and the delicious meals in the coming weeks. Apparently, they’re strawberry flavored. I had no idea. all these years. strawberry? Really?

The candied coconut, I never liked, but I knew Bryce would like them. Lo and behold, it’s new years and they’re all gone.

Continuing family and cultural traditions, maybe not in the most traditional way, but in the way I remember and cherish. May the year of the sheep be succesful and be full of happiness for everyone who reads this!

Gung Hay Fat Choi! Year of the Sheep

Grassa

IMG_4390 Casual freshly made pasta. mmm it was melt-in-your-mouth good! The whole time Bryce and I were mmm-ing and ooh-ing with every bite. yenno, the sounds you make when you eat something really good. It’s an automatic reflex, no control whatsoever.

Here, we have pictured on the left is your black pepper tonnarelli with salt and pepper shrimp, lemongrass and fried jalepenos! The shrimp was the prima donna principle of the show. Slightly battered, which gives them a little extra crunch when you bite into it. Although, the jalepenos were a strong candidate for a supporting role. Suprisingly,  the crispy jalepenos weren’t very spicy, but I was too preoccupied with the flavor and texture, that I didn’t even miss it!

Who can say no to pork belly mac and cheese? Two of my favorite things combined into one bowl of greatness. The sauce was so creamy and deep, while the pork belly was like Christmas candy. It was crispy, it was sweet, it was savory. I’ve found my new mac and cheese go-to.

The best part about Grassa is that it’s atmosphere is nice enough to feel like I didn’t waste a Friday night dinner, but casual enough that I don’t feel like I need to wash my hair.

Grassa

Cacao

cacao

The first time I walked into Cacao I instantly fell in love. Probably because they were playing Erykah Badu (my all time fav), but also because they have delicious hot chocolate. This yuppity chocolate joint is the place if you want rich chocolate in multiple varieties and a chill environment. The hot chocolate was more rich than it was sweet, which is perfect! It had more dark chocolate flavors which makes my non-18-year-old taste buds sing sweet songs of elation. Not to mention, they can substitute milk with almond milk or soy milk. It is the quintessential place to catch up with some friends on yet another cold rainy day in Portland.

This last time I made the unfortunate mistake of ordering the Rivoli drinking chocolate with a shortbread cookie. The chocolate was delicious and the cookie was delicious, but after I had a bite of the sweet cookie my dark chocolate drink tasted bitter. bummer. lesson learned. don’t buy the sweet cookie with the dark chocolate… just like ice cream with lemonade….

And how can anyone forget the $50 golden Guadalupe chocolate, in which one day I hope to have the guts to buy.

guadalupe

Cacao

Why do you wipe your chopsticks?

phooregon It is an unwritten rule, that every time you go to a pho restaurant, you wipe off all your utensils with a napkin. You gotta make sure they’re clean right? you don’t want to eat any dirt or anything. …but when you really think about it, it probably doesn’t help at all. But i’ve been doing it since I can remember, and everyone in my family does it and all my friends do it, so why stop now, right? Just one of the many memories attached with my favorite comfort food. pho. It’s best eaten on a cold rainy day, and thank goodness for me, I live in Portland and there are plenty of opportunities for me to crave delicious clear broth. When I was living in Southern California, my roommates and I would rearrange our schedules so that we could have pho when it finally rained. I’m pretty sure I introduced every one of them to pho. (one of my greatest accomplishments.) and nothing felt better than coming in from the cold rain to that warm soup. When my family didn’t know what to do for dinner, or didn’t feel like cooking and wanted a quick cheap meal…Pho Pasteur was always there to help. Now that my husband and I live in Portland, Pho Oregon is our place of choice and it blissfully reminds me of home. Everything from the three foot golden happy budha to the classic plasticware that somehow every single asian restaurant has. So why do I wipe my chopsticks and spoon with a napkin before eating at a pho restaurant? because it tastes better that way.

Why do you wipe your chopsticks?

Boxer Ramen

BoxerRamen

One of my favorite ramen places. It’s quick, easy and delicious. Theres no fuss or mess here, where “substitutions are delightfully declined.” It’s hard for me to order anything but the tonkotsu because of how delicious it is, but the spicy red miso is also a great choice if you like a little more fire in your life. Either way, the broth is to drool over. I dream about that broth all the time. ooh!! and they have that perfectly poached egg that draws you in every time. I love me a good egg.

Lets not forget to pay homage to the greens and sesame, which add a fresh crisp texture to your soupy meal. Highly recommended if you’ve got room in your belly.

Boxer Ramen